NEW YORK (MainStreet)–About four years ago, I caught up with the 21st century and moved my banking onto the iPhone. Bill pay, credit cards and account transfers all made the jump onto my handheld device, and although the change didn’t change my life like online banking, it’s been incredibly handy.
But think about the impact of leveraging technology to help you manage your debt. Instead of covering run-of-the-mill banking needs, this could save you from your ever-worsening financial ruin by serving as a financial coach and scheduler in your pocket. At least, that's what Mobile Innovations hopes it has built with its Debt Free app.
Aimed at tech-savvy 20- and 30-somethings, Debt Free tries to help you pay off your loans and credit cards by organizing them all for you under the “snowball method,” an accounting gimmick that essentially means paying your bills one at a time. The timing of this couldn’t be better, as consumer debt has continued to hit young people particularly hard. In a 2009 survey Sallie Mae reported that undergraduate students carry an average credit card balance of $3,173, a number which jumps to $4,100 by graduation. It’s an issue that debt specialists and lawyers have begun seeing on an increasingly frequent basis.
“Most people have large credit card debt, or debts that they owe to large vendors,” according to Ed Grossman, executive director of the Chicago Legal Clinic that runs the Legal Advocates for Consumers in Debt program. Grossman noted that people often don’t necessarily seek out help when they need it, saying that his clinic often has to reach out actively to the community it’s trying to serve.
“In general we have a population that comes based on where the service is,” he said. “We have several programs…we call them circuit rider programs, where we go to them.”