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6 Debt Payoff Apps You’ll Want To Download ASAP

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Paying off debt is usually much harder than accumulating it. But too much debt to your name could make it difficult to accomplish your goals, whether that’s buying a house, getting married or simply keeping up with all your other bills.

Fortunately, there’s plenty of technology out there that can help. All you need is a smartphone and 99 cents (or less) to try out one of these debt payoff apps and finally make some progress.

1. ChangEd

  • Availability: iPhone, Android
  • Cost: Free to download, then $1 per month

The ChangEd app is like Acorns for your student loan debt. After you sync your bank account, the app analyzes your spending and rounds up purchases to the next dollar, then deposits the difference ― your “change” ― into an FDIC-insured account. Once the account reaches $100, ChangEd applies that in payment toward your student loans.

Don’t think $100 here and there will make much of a difference? Say you have a $10,000 student loan at 5 percent interest and 10 years to pay it off. Your monthly payment would be $106 and you’d pay an extra $2,728 in interest charges. But by making just one extra payment of $100, you’d pay off your loan one month faster and knock off $65 in interest.

2. Credit Card Payoff

The average American household with credit card debt carries a balance of $15,482, according to an analysis by NerdWallet. If that includes you, this debt repayment app is a great tool for making a plan to pay it off.

The Credit Card Payoff app allows you to set a time-based goal for paying off your credit card debt and then shows you how much you’d need to pay monthly to reach it.

Want to see how much interest you could save by paying the balance off sooner? Curious how much faster you’ll be debt-free if you add another $50 to your payments? The app has easy-to-read charts that let you compare various plans to figure out which one will work best for you.

3. Debt Free

  • Availability: iPhone
  • Cost: $0.99

The Debt Free app focuses on using the debt snowball strategy to pay off your debt. This method involves paying down the debt with the smallest balance aggressively, while making the minimum payments on the rest. Once that debt is paid off, you take the money you applied to the first debt and roll it into paying off the next-highest balance, creating a snowball effect. This repayment method is effective for people who are motivated by experiencing wins right away.

However, you can opt for other repayment methods as well, such as starting with the highest interest rate, highest balance or a different order you create. You can also compare different strategies to see how each will affect the total interest paid and the amount of time until the debt is eliminated. Debt Free also offers a few helpful calculators, an amortization table detailing the principal, interest and remaining balance associated with each payment, as well as payment notifications.

4. Debt Payoff Assistant

  • Availability: iPhone
  • Cost: Free, or $0.99 for the ad-free Debt Payoff Pro version

The Debt Payoff Assistant app also focuses on the debt snowball method, though you can choose a different strategy if you prefer, such as targeting the highest balances or highest interest rates, or a customized plan created by you. The app also lets you input an unlimited number of debts, including credit cards, student loans, auto loans and more.

The Debt Payoff Assistant will track your payoff efforts and show you a progress bar for each debt. You can drill down into various stats related to your debts, such as total debt, debts remaining, total interest paid, total interest saved, debt payoff date and debt payoff time savings, which the app displays in visually appealing charts and reports. It also lets you track extra payments and reminds you when payments are due.

5. Mint

Mint is a surprisingly robust budgeting app considering that it’s free to use. And though there are mobile apps available for both iPhone and Android, the best features are available via the desktop platform.

In addition to providing detailed spending breakdowns and customizable budgets, you can take advantage of the “Goals” feature to help you stay on track while paying off your debt.

To get started, choose a goal from the list, such as “Pay off credit card debt” or “Pay off loans.” Mint will ask you to choose which of your accounts you’d like to associate with your goal; if you haven’t synced your accounts yet, now’s the time to do it.

Next, Mint will calculate how much you need to save each month in order to reach your goal, which can either be a desired end date or monthly amount. Once you save your goal, Mint will track your progress. You can take advantage of the budgeting tools to find ways to allocate more money toward your goal.

6. Tally

  • Availability: iPhone, Android
  • Cost: Free to download, then monthly interest rate based on creditworthiness

Tally is another credit card payoff app, but with a twist. It’s designed for people with high-interest credit card debt who struggle to pay off the balances each month and need help figuring out the most efficient way to pay down their debts.

Tally is an automated debt manager. The app extends you a line of credit, which it then uses to make payments toward your highest-interest debt while paying the minimums on the rest. You no longer make payments directly to your card issuers. Instead, you pay back the Tally credit line, which should be lower-interest than your credit card debt. Tally promises you’ll never have a late credit card payment and you’ll save money on interest overall.

To qualify for this service, you need a FICO credit score of at least 660 and meet additional eligibility requirements. The good news is Tally runs a soft credit check to determine your eligibility, so your credit score won’t be affected by applying or signing up for the app.

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4 things kids need to know about money

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(NC) Responsible spending includes knowing the difference between wants and needs. Back-to-school season, with added expenses and expectations around spending, is the perfect time to not only build your own budget for the year ahead, but also to introduce your own children to the concept of budgeting.

The experts at Capital One break down four basic things that every child should know about money, along with tips for bringing real-life examples into the conversation.

What money is. There’s no need for a full economic lesson,but knowing that money can be exchanged for goods and services, and that the government backs its value, is a great start.
How to earn money. Once your child understands what money is, use this foundational knowledge to connect the concepts of money and work. Start with the simple concept that people go to work in exchange for an income, and explain how it may take time (and work) to save for that new pair of sneakers or backpack. This can help kids develop patience and alleviate the pressure to purchase new items right away that might not be in your budget.
The many ways to pay. While there is a myriad of methods to pay for something in today’s digital age, you can start by explaining the difference between cash, debit and credit. When teaching your kids about credit, real examples help. For instance, if your child insists on a grocery store treat, offer to buy it for them as long as they pay you back from their allowance in a timely manner. If you need a refresher, tools like Capital One’s Credit Keeper can help you better understand your own credit score and the importance of that score to overall financial health.
How to build and follow a budget. This is where earning, spending, saving and sharing all come together. Build a budget that is realistic based on your income and spending needs and take advantage of banking apps to keep tabs on your spending in real-time. Have your kids think about how they might split their allowance into saving, spending and giving back to help them better understand money management.

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20 Percent Of Americans In Relationships Are Committing Financial Infidelity

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Nearly 30 million Americans are hiding a checking, savings, or credit card account from their spouse or live in partner, according to a new survey from CreditCards.com. That’s roughly 1 in 5 that currently have a live in partner or a spouse.

Around 5 million people — or 3 percent — used to commit “financial infidelity,” but no longer do.

Of all the respondents, millennials were more likely than other age groups to hide financial information from their partner. While 15 percent of older generations hid accounts from their partner, 28 percent of millennials were financially dishonest.

Regionally, Americans living in the South and the West were more likely to financially “cheat” than those living in the Northeast and Midwest.

Insecurity about earning and spending could drive some of this infidelity, according to CreditCards.com industry analyst Ted Rossman.

When it comes to millennials, witnessing divorce could have caused those aged 18-37 to try and squirrel away from Rossman calls a “freedom fund”.

“They’ve got this safety net,” Rossman said. They’re asking: “What if this relationship doesn’t work out?”

As bad as physical infidelity

More than half (55 percent) of those surveyed believed that financial infidelity was just as bad as physically cheating. That’s including some 20 percent who believed that financially cheating was worse.

But despite this, most didn’t find this to be a deal breaker.

Over 80 percent surveyed said they would be upset, but wouldn’t end the relationship. Only 2 percent of those asked would end the relationship if they discovered their spouse or partner was hiding $5,000 or more in credit card debt. That number however is highest among those lower middle class households ($30,000-$49,999 income bracket): Nearly 10 percent would break things off as a result.

Roughly 15 percent said they wouldn’t care at all. Studies do show however that money troubles is the leading cause of stress in a relationship.

That’s why, Rossman says, it’s important to share that information with your partner.

“Talking about money with your spouse isn’t always easy, but it has to be done,” he said. “You can still maintain some privacy over your finances, and even keep separate accounts if you and your spouse agree, but you need to get on the same page regarding your general direction, otherwise your financial union is doomed to fail.”

With credit card rates hovering at an average of 19.24 percent APR, hiding financial information from a partner could be financially devastating.

But, Rossman adds, it’s not just about the economic impact but also the erosion of trust.

“More than the dollars and cents is that trust factor,” he said. “I think losing that trust is so hard to regain. That could be a long lasting wedge.”

Kristin Myers is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.

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7 Examples Of Terrible Financial Advice We’ve Heard

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Between television, radio, the internet and well-meaning but presumptuous friends and family, we’re inundated with unsolicited advice on a daily basis. And when it comes to money, there’s a ton of terrible advice out there. Even so-called experts can lead us astray sometimes.

Have you been duped? Here are a few examples of the worst money advice advisers, bloggers and other personal finance pros have heard.

1. Carry a balance to increase your credit score.

Ben Luthi, a money and travel writer, said that a friend once told him that his mortgage loan officer advised him to carry a balance on his credit card in order to improve his credit score. In fact, the loan officer recommended keeping the balance at around 50 percent of his credit limit.

“This is the absolute worst financial advice I’ve ever heard for several reasons,” Luthi said. For one, carrying a credit card balance doesn’t have any effect on your credit at all. “What it does do is ensure that you pay a high interest rate on your balance every month, neutralizing any other benefits you might get from the card,” Luthi explained. “Also, keeping a 50 percent credit utilization is a surefire way to hurt your credit score, not help it.”

Some credit experts recommend keeping your balance below 30 percent of the card limit, but even that’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Keeping your balance as low as possible and paying the bill on time each month is how you improve your score.

2. Avoid credit cards ― period.

Credit cards can be a slippery slope for some people; overspending can lead to a cycle of debt that’s tough to escape.

But avoiding credit cards on principle, something personal finance gurus like Dave Ramsey push hard, robs you of all their potential benefits.

“Credit cards are a good tool for building credit and earning rewards,” explained personal finance writer Kim Porter. “Plus, there are lots of ways to avoid debt, like using the card only for monthly bills, paying off the card every month and tracking your spending.”

If you struggle with debt, a credit card is probably not for you. At least not right now. But if you are on top of your finances and want to leverage debt in a strategic way, a credit card can help you do just that.

3. The mortgage you’re approved for is what you can afford.

“The worst financial advice I hear is to buy as much house as you can afford,” said R.J. Weiss, a certified financial planner who founded the blog The Ways to Wealth. He explained that most lenders use the 28/36 rule to determine how much you can afford to borrow: Up to 28 percent of your monthly gross income can go toward your home, as long as the payments don’t exceed 36 percent of your total monthly debt payments. For example, if you had a credit card, student loan and car loan payment that together totaled $640 a month, your mortgage payment should be no more than $360 (36 percent of $1,000 in total debt payments).

“What homeowners don’t realize is this rule was invented by banks to maximize their bottom line ― not the homeowner’s financial well-being,” Weiss said. “Banks have figured out that this is the largest amount of debt one can take on with a reasonable chance of paying it back, even if that means you have to forego saving for retirement, college or short-term goals.”

4. An expensive house is worth it because of the tax write-off.

Scott Vance, owner of taxvanta.com, said a real estate agent told him when he was younger that it made sense to buy a more expensive house because he had the advantage of writing off the mortgage interest on his taxes.

But let’s stop and think about that for a moment. A deduction simply decreases your taxable income ― it’s not a dollar-for-dollar reduction of your tax bill. So committing to a larger mortgage payment to take a bigger tax deduction still means paying more in the long run. And if that high mortgage payment compromises your ability to keep up on other bills or save money, it’s definitely not worth it.

“Now, as a financial planner focusing on taxes, I see the folly in such advice,” he said, noting that he always advises his client to consider the source of advice before following it. ”Taking tax advice from a Realtor is … like taking medical procedure advice from your hairdresser.”

5. You need a six-month emergency fund.

One thing is true: You need an emergency fund. But when it comes to how much you should save in that fund, it’s different for each person. There’s no cookie-cutter answer that applies to everyone. And yet many experts claim that six months’ worth of expenses is exactly how much you should have socked away in a savings account.

“I work with a lot of Hollywood actors, and six months won’t cut it for these folks,” said Eric D. Matthews, CEO and wealth adviser at EDM Capital. “I also work with executives in the same industry where six months is overkill. You need to strike a balance for your work, industry and craft.”

If you have too little saved, a major financial blow can leave you in debt regardless. And if you set aside too much, you lose returns by leaving the money in a liquid, low-interest savings account. “The generic six months is a nice catch-all, but nowhere near the specific need of the individual’s unique situation… and aren’t we all unique?”

6. You should accept your entire student loan package.

Aside from a house, a college education is often one of the biggest purchases people make in their lifetimes. Often loans are needed to bridge the gap between college savings and that final tuition bill. But just because you’re offered a certain amount doesn’t mean you need to take it all.

“The worst financial advice I received was that I had to accept my entire student loan package and that I had no other options,” said Gina Zakaria, founder of The Frugal Convert. “It cost me a lot in student loan debt. Now I tell everyone that you never have to accept any part of a college financial package that you don’t want to accept.” There are always other options, she said.

7. Only invest in what you know.

Even the great Warren Buffett, considered by many to be the best investor of all time, gets it wrong sometimes. One of his most famous pieces of advice is to only invest in what you know, but that might not be the right guidance for the average investor.

In theory, it makes sense. After all, you don’t want to tie up your money in overly complicated investments you don’t understand. The problem is, most of us are not business experts, and it’s nearly impossible to have deep knowledge of hundreds of securities. “Diversification is key to a good portfolio, and investing in what you know leads to a very un-diversified portfolio,” said Britton Gregory, a certified financial planner and principal of Seaborn Financial. “Instead, invest in a well-diversified portfolio that includes many companies, even ones you’ve never heard of.”

That might mean enlisting the help of a professional, so make sure it’s one who has your best interests at heart.

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