When I was paying off my debts, I frequently had to rely on websites to help me figure out my finances. I mentioned before how Suze Orman was able to open my eyes to the world of personal finance. When I needed to figure out what to do with my own situation, I had to turn to the internet for help because I didn’t really know how to start. I also couldn’t afford to hire a financial advisor or pay professional for any type of financial advice. The best way I could help myself was to find some free resources online.
When you are in a lot of debt, it’s very difficult sometimes to think that you can get out of the hole that you’ve created yourself. At times, it was really difficult to know where to get started. I think that’s one of the reasons why people who are bad with money and found themselves in debt despair of ever getting things right back on track. They give up hope and think they can’t do anything about it so why even bother? They lose the motivation to get better. It’s the same way with losing weight.
For me, I found myself really desperate at one point and really needed motivation and inspiration to get me going. Luckily, I was able to find a couple of websites that were very powerful in driving me to get out of debt quickly. Here are the websites that helped me pay off my student loan debts.
This website was able to help me see the progress that I’ve been making in paying down my debt. Psychologically, this is the most powerful tool that I could use to motivate myself. By plugging in my numbers and seeing how I could affect my remaining principal, I felt like I was doing something to crawl out of the hole. It really felt liberating to know that every month, each payment I was making was helping me get closer and closer to nothing. With steady progress, I went from having $65,000 to $0.
What was great was that I could experiment with the information I entered. For example, if I increased the monthly payments I would make, I could see that the time it would take me to pay off the loans would decrease. Instead of maybe eight years to pay it off, it would be five years. Not only that, the less time it took to me to pay off my loans, the less interest rates I would be paying to the government. Less interest payments meant more money in my own pocket.
Before founder Alexa VonToeble sold the website to Northwestern Mutual in 2015, I was constantly on learnvest.com looking at my net worth. Back then, you created an account and plugged in your numbers, specifically your assets and your debt. The dashboard then automatically calculated your net worth. I started off with about $45,000 in the red and slowly watched it go from negative to positive.
By tracking my net worth, I made paying down my debt into a game. On the one hand I had my liabilities, my debts in red, but every time I made a payment, I watched that number get closer and closer to the green side of the equation. This was also a very motivating factor in helping me pay off my debt. The graph showed a mountain of all my debts in red and every payment I made the mountain smaller. I really loved the progress I saw.
I wish I had taken a photo of it back then, but the website has changed so much. They no longer have this option on their website. It is mostly a magazine style journal. However, nowadays, I still check my net worth and use Personal Capital to do it.
Since the net worth tracker is no longer available at Learnvest, I use the free dashboard at Personal Capital. I know that there are other websites that feature calculators for figuring out your net worth, but I honestly haven’t looked at them. I am more comfortable with this website and feel confident about recommending it to others. It is free, but you have to link your accounts to it. What I liked about the original Learnvest dashboard was that you didn’t need to link it directly to your financial accounts. You could just manually plug in the amount into the appropriate spaces. Again, the Personal Capital dashboard is just a great alternative to checking your net worth.
Once I started getting closer to the positive side of my net worth equation, I was able to become more comfortable with the idea of investing and saving for retirement. In order to become used to the idea of investing in the stock market and overcoming my fear, I needed to study all about it. Learnvest articles helped me do that. I would read the articles and nod each time each concept made sense. However, I needed more concrete information so I started looking at investopedia.com. They had a really good series on basic concepts such as stocks and bonds and how the market worked. I really had to start from scratch, so that was a good way of learning it and getting rid of the fear in me. As I learned more about the markets and how investing worked, I went all in and started investing whatever I could.
Again, I checked a lot of websites when I was paying off debt, but these three were the ones I was constantly checking. It was really a way to track my progress. By being able to track hard numbers and see how much of my debt was going down, I was able to remain focused and motivated. It gave me the goal that I was aiming for. Once you’ve set your goal, the best way to get there was to stay the course. It helps if you have signs that assure you you’re in the right direction. I used these sites as my guide posts.
I hope these websites can help others, too.