Some of the loneliest moments in my life have been when the weight of debt threatened to completely suffocate me. In those moments, nothing made me feel better. And I didn’t think I had anyone to turn to — mostly because I felt too ashamed to talk about it.
If you’re feeling this way right now, you’re not alone. Even if you’re not comfortable talking to your closest friends or loved ones about your debt, you don’t have to shoulder this burden by yourself. There are plenty of people and tools on your side that can help you break through the cloud of debt.
Here’s how to get debt help when you need it most.
Websites and mobile apps
You might automatically think of turning to people for debt help, but would you believe a website or app can be just as supportive? It’s true!
Debt payoff apps can be the friend you need who’ll never make you feel weird about having debt. The right app can help you strategize, stay motivated, and visualize your progress. Here are a few to consider:
1. Your bank or lender’s website
Financial institutions are finally coming around to embracing technology. That means the bank or lender you’re already working with might have an app to help you pay off your debt.
Here are just a few examples of this:
- Banks are releasing debt payoff apps, such as this one from USAA.
- Credit card companies are too, as can be seen by this example from American Express.
- Even student loan servicers are joining in, as FedLoan Servicing has done.
It’s easy to see if your financial institutions have a debt payoff app to offer. Simply browse their site or mobile app, or contact a customer service representative. If they do have one, you can use it to manage your debt and get additional help all in one place.
Sometimes much of the problem with paying down debt is the feeling that you simply don’t have any extra money to apply to the payment. That’s where ChangEd comes in.
With ChangEd, all of your purchases are rounded up to the next dollar. That spare change then goes directly to a savings account and, once it hits $100, ChangEd sends a payment to your lender. What’s more, there’s a dashboard that enables you to visualize your progress. All this for just $1 per month.
Unfortunately, ChangEd is currently only available for student loans.
3. Debt Payoff Assistant
If you have more than one kind of debt, Debt Payoff Assistant can help. This app doesn’t just let you list more than one debt, it also lets you choose the payoff plan you prefer.
Once you pick your plan, you can see payoff charts and reports, use different calculators, and receive notifications when your payments are due. The app is free, or you can upgrade to Debt Payoff Pro for an ad-free version that costs $0.99.
This is just the beginning of the list. There are many more debt payoff apps to find, and more are popping up every day. Find them anytime by going to your app store and searching for what’s new in debt payoff apps.
4. Websites, blogs, and more
You don’t have to keep your debt help confined to mobile apps. There are plenty of websites and blogs to help as well. Here are just a few to start with:
- Student Loan Hero dashboard
- More finance blogs than you might know what to do with, listed by Rockstar Finance
Browsing the web might not be the same as talking to a person one-on-one. But what it does offer is a wealth of tips and tracking tools, as well as the ability to get the information you’re looking for, even if you’re not yet ready to talk about your debt.
Nonprofit credit counselors
For anyone whose debt has placed them in seriously dire straits, it might be beneficial to seek help from a nonprofit credit counselor. This is someone who can help you create a budget, decide on a debt repayment strategy, and sometimes even negotiate with your lenders.
That said, not all credit counselors are the same. Nonprofit doesn’t mean there are no fees, either. To find a nonprofit credit counselor you can trust, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) can help.
But no matter what kind of credit counselor you work with, follow these guidelines, as outlined by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC):
- Ask about all their services, and avoid counselors that pressure you into a debt management plan before fully evaluating your finances.
- Get all fees in writing before you sign anything.
- Remember: Some organizations may work with you regardless of your ability to pay.
- Ask about their qualifications, if they’re licensed within your state, and how they compensate employees.
As with all financial professionals, if the first person you meet doesn’t listen to you, leaves you in the dark or confused, or pressures you into something you’re not comfortable with, don’t work with them. Keep looking until you find someone you can trust and work with for potentially years to come.
Certified financial planners (CFPs)
Some might think financial planners won’t work with people who have debt. That’s simply not true.
There are three types of financial planners: fee-based, fee-only, and commission-based. Commission-based might sound nice at first, since you won’t have to pay an upfront fee for their services. But few people work for free. If you go to a commission-based financial planner, they’re more likely to recommend products that they get a commission from. Whether or not those products are exactly what you need will depend on that particular planner.
Fee-only planners, however, don’t typically earn a commission. That means you can be sure that the products being recommended are what that planner thinks will help you, and won’t conflict with how he or she earns money.
And while a financial planner’s main goal is to grow your money, that doesn’t mean they can’t help you get out of debt. In fact, seeing a financial planner means hiring someone to coach you through the process — from creating a realistic budget and spending plan, to paying off debt, to turning that money you save when debt-free into savings plans and investments.
You can find certified financial planners in your area with the help of networks such as The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), XY Planning Network, and Garrett Planning Network.
You don’t have to go it alone
The moment I opened up about my debt was the moment things began to change for the positive. I thought keeping it to myself was helping me, but in fact, it was just another way to bury the truth.
When I finally started telling people about it and looking for apps and tools to help, I was able to find the solutions I needed to pay it off. Having debt wasn’t any less painful or frustrating, but I finally had a plan of action.
Don’t go it alone in your debt journey if you don’t have to. Get debt help from the sources above, such as apps, websites, nonprofit credit counselors, or certified financial planners, to make sure you’re getting the information and motivation you need. Get help in a way that you’re comfortable with, create your plan of action, and show your debt who’s boss.
Interested in a personal loan?Here are the top personal loan lenders of 2018!
|Lender||Rates (APR)||Loan Amount|
|1 Includes AutoPay discount. Important Disclosures for SoFi.
2 Important Disclosures for Citizens Bank.
Citizens Bank Disclosures
|7.73% - 29.99%||$1,000 - $50,000|
|5.37% - 14.24%1||$5,000 - $100,000|
|8.00% - 25.00%||$5,000 - $35,000|
|4.99% - 16.24%2||$5,000 - $50,000||Visit Citizens|
|5.99% - 35.89%||$1,000 - $40,000||Visit LendingClub|
|5.25% - 14.24%||$2,000 - $50,000||Visit Earnest|