debt toolbox

You’re not alone — a lot of people have debt. The average American owes $38,000. Everyone has to start somewhere. We’ve rounded up some of the best self-help books, podcasts and apps to get you out of debt.


Crack open one of these financial books, two of the most popular at the Columbia Public Library.

The Financial Diet: A Total Beginner’s Guide to Getting Good with Money, by Chelsea Fagan

Fagan, co-founder of the popular website and YouTube channel The Financial Diet, brings her can-do attitude and real-world advice to her latest book. The New York Times, Refinery29 and Real Simple all gave glowing reviews of the 2018 book, which aims to help readers make smart financial decisions the grown- up way. Fagan understands the challenges 20-somethings face and offers insights in her first book I’m Only Here for the Wifi: A Complete Guide to Reluctant Adulthood.

Recommended chapter: Chapter Four centers on food and includes 10 commandments to live by when it comes to grocery shopping. For starters, if you buy it, you need to find a way to eat it.

The Total Money Makeover, by Dave Ramsey

This isn’t a financial help book; This is the financial help book. Over 5 million copies of the book have sold, and for good reason. Ramsey emphasizes seven “baby steps” to guide you through your debt journey, starting with creating an emergency fund. Ideally, you’ll feel more financially stable by the end. He also includes stories from people who have followed his advice and succeeded.

Recommended chapter: Chapter Seven focuses on the debt snowball effect. Ramsey is a major advocate of this method, which starts by whittling away your smallest debts before tackling massive ones.


Get out your headphones, and turn the volume up on these podcasts, top-rated by Apple listeners.

Listen Money Matters
  • People behind it: Andrew Fiebert and Matt Giovanisci
  • How often: weekly
  • Since: 2013
  • Apple rating: 4.5/5 stars

In their self-proclaimed “not your father’s boring money show,” Fiebert and Giovanisci encourage listeners to free their inner financial badasses. The podcast starts with a beer review, then gets into the nitty gritty of finance. They’re talking assets, diversifying your portfolio, the time value of money and other concepts you forgot to pay attention to in your Intro to Finance class.

Recommended episode: “Investing in the Age of Anxiety with The Broke Millennial” helps break down why it freaks us out to invest and why it shouldn’t.

Afford Anything
  • Who’s behind it: Paula Pant
  • How often: weekly
  • Since: 2016
  • Apple rating: 4.5/5 stars

Pant, an investor and finance writer, has one guiding principle: You can afford anything, but not everything. She has worked her way to financial freedom. Now, she’s sharing her best tips and having her special guests dish on theirs, too. At the end of each episode, Pant offers action steps so that listeners walk away having learned something applicable.

Recommended episode: “The Latte Factor with David Bach” brings into perspective the purchases that make a big impact. Don’t worry, there are expenses other than your Starbucks habit to cut.


Make room on your homescreen for these budgeting apps. If they’re good enough for App Store reviewers, then they’re good enough for us.


This app takes the age-old budgeting method of divvying cash into envelopes and supplements it with technological touches. These include a pie chart and an income vs. spending report to help you understand your net expenses. Another big advantage of Goodbudget is that you can easily share finances and budget information with your significant other.


PocketGuard breaks down your finances and makes sure you’re getting the best deals possible. PocketGuard shows how much you spend in niche categories, such as parking or coffee shops. The app monitors for the best deals on the market and will let you know if you’re paying too much for services, such as your phone bill, by showing the lowest prices.

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