Improve your financial fitness with a few, simple, tools
9:00 AM, Oct 25, 2013
5:54 PM, Oct 24, 2013
Getting out from under debt can sometimes feel like an uphill battle but several websites can make the journey feel a lot less uncertain.
It's important to keep track of your credit score and quickly dispute any mistakes you find on your credit report.
On AnnualCreditReport.com1.usa.gov/Hb3LgQ you can get your free credit report from each of the credit bureaus each year. It's a good idea to visit every three-to-four months so you'll get an annual report from all three each year: Experian, Equifax and TransUnion.
You want to check all three because different bureaus may show different information.
Specifically look for any mistakes and dispute problems immediately.
On Quizzle.com you can also get your free credit score.
On LowCards.com you can search for credit cards based on the features most important to you and your general credit score. You can pick from cards with the lowest annual percentage rate, types of rewards cards or those with no annual fees. Then say what your general credit quality is ranging from no credit history up to excellent. You'll find multiple credit card options to chose from.
Several sites help you calculate how long it will take to pay off your credit card bills and how much you'll pay in interest by the time you reach $0.
On FederalReserve.gov you can see how long it will take to pay off the balance on a credit card plus how much will go directly to interest.
It gives you a good idea how much your debt is really costing.
For example: Say you have a credit card with a $1,000 balance and you're paying 17% APR. Your monthly, minimum, payment will likely be around $20. Making only the minimum payment it will take seven years to pay off the card plus you'll pay $752 in interest. And that's if you don't make any more purchases on the card during that time.
On BankRate.com you'll also find a calculator where you can make adjustments to monthly payments. It lets you see how paying just a little more than the minimum payment can drastically reduce how long it will take to pay off your card plus cut the amount of interest you pay.
Take the same $1,000 balance, same 17% interest rate but pay $25 each month rather than $20.
You'll pay that card off in less than five years instead of seven.
Bump it up to paying $40 each month and now instead of seven years you're paid off in about two and a half years.
KnowWhatCounts.org links you to the consumer-dedicated site of the Oklahoma Society of CPAs. There's helpful information in the Dollars & Sense section and also features several helpful calculators.