Debt Reduction Software
One of the best ways to get a handle on your finances is to get out of debt. There are several debt-reduction software programs available to help you budget your money and get out of debt. Here are some ideas for programs that can help you manage your money while paying off your debt.
1. Online Programs
Mint.com is a free website from the makers of the Quicken financial software that allows you to keep track of various aspects of your money. You can link your bank accounts and loan accounts to get automatic balances and payments all in one place. You can set a monthly budget, set up savings plans, and then watch your progress toward your goals. There is a "Goals" option for paying off loans and credit cards that allows you to see how changing your monthly payment affects your debt. Mint.com works better for accounts that you link to online. I find it cumbersome when you have to add an account manually because it’s not in the pre-approved list of accounts. Mint.com is free to use.
Savvymoney.com is another great resource that allows you to create a budget, review your spending, link your financial accounts, make a plan for paying down your debt, and keep track of your progress.Savvymoney also offers plenty of advice and tips for taking control of your financial situation. It is easy to manually add accounts that don’t link automatically. This is a subscription-based website that costs $11.95 a month, or $7.45 a month if you pay annually.
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Mvelopes.com allows you to enter your income and set up “envelopes” for each expense. You can link your other bank accounts automatically or manually. There is a free version and a premier version that costs $9.95 a month. The free version allows you to enter up to four bank accounts while the premier version has no limit. The Debt Center which allows you to manage your debts is only available in the premier version. The premier version also offers an integrated bill pay feature.
Neobudget is a simple online program that also uses the envelope system to manage your spending and keep track of your balances. Its main use if for budgeting, but it does offer a debt worksheet to help you decide what to pay off first. The free version limits you to one bank account and 10 envelopes. It does allow you to import transactions from files. The paid version costs $4 a month, $19 for 6 months, or $38 for one year. If you want to do more than keep track of income and outgo, I would recommend a more fully-featured program.
2. Offline Programs
Quicken offers a variety of software programs for money management. They offer an easy-to-use interface and several money and debt management options. You can keep track of your budget, your accounts, your payments and your debts. Keeping the data on your computer as opposed to using an online system helps protect your privacy. The Quicken products range in price from $39.00 to $109.99.
- Debt Quencher
Debt Quencher is a program for Macintosh computers only. It allows you to enter your debt accounts and choose some “what if” scenarios to help you get out of debt quickly. You can adjust your payments according to minimum payment, highest balance, lowest balance, or highest interest so that you can achieve your own personal goals with the debt that you currently have. To save your data, you need to purchase the software for $14.99.
- Debt Analyzer
Debt analyzer is a simple program for Windows that allows you to enter your household budget and your debt accounts. It offers three methods for attacking your debt, and it allows you to take your monthly surplus income and apply it to your debt. Debt analyzer allows you to track your progress as you work on your goals. There is a free trial for 30 days, but after the trial, the software will cost you $29.95.
- Zilch Standard
Zilch Standard is a program for Windows that keeps track of all aspects of your debt and then quickly turns it into a detailed monthly debt elimination plan. You can print out your monthly payment schedule based on your goals. The software works well, but the interface seems a little old. This software costs $39.95.
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Utah State University professors developed this easy-to-use software to help consumers find the quickest way out of debt. The software includes calculators that allow you to gauge your spending, find out when you will be debt-free, as well as learn about finances using PowerPoint presentations, articles and fact sheets. Powerpay is a free program.
3. Spreadsheet Tools
- Debt Reduction Calculator for Excel
This tool has built-in calculators that allow you to automatically calculate the total amount owed and the total interest paid on your debt accounts using Microsoft Excel. You choose whether you want to use the snowball or avalanche method to tackle your debt. The snowball method tackles the debt with the lowest balances first, while the avalanche method targets the debt with the highest interest rates. This is a free tool available for download at cnet.com.
- Debt Snowball Spreadsheet Calculator
This calculator for Microsoft Excel allows you to enter your debts from smallest to largest balance. You can enter an extra “snowball” payment for an entry then see the amortization for your debt, along with the date when you will have it paid off. This is a free tool.
As your work toward a healthier financial future, these tools can help you to reach your goals more quickly. As with anything worthwhile in life, a healthy financial situation takes time and effort, but these tools help make it simple. If you have used any of these tools or have a favorite that's not on the list, please feel free to tell me about it in the comments section.
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