How Joe Paid Off $24,000 of Debt

Joe and his kids

Joe is a family man who paid off $24,000 of debt using ReadyForZero. This is a summary of his story.

Joe’s Story: Before Credit

Growing up, Joe’s family wasn’t big on credit cards and he himself never saw any reason to use one — at least not before he became an adult. In fact, he made it through the first two and half decades of his life without using credit of any kind. “I didn’t even have my first credit card until I was probably 25 [years old],” he told us. “I just never understood any of that and I didn’t go to college. I mean, I’ve got an eighth-grade education.”

Despite not wielding a college diploma, Joe has done exceptionally well for himself. He’s a self-taught web developer and he is quite skilled at it. His talent and hard work as a developer have allowed him to make a living for himself and his family.

Joe’s Story: Falling Into Credit Card Debt

It wasn’t until later on that the first credit card entered the picture. By that time, Joe had gotten married and had three more kids. His career was still doing well and his finances, while occasionally stretched (like any parent), were in good shape.

Then, in 2008, the global financial crisis dragged the U.S. economy into a recession and Joe’s web development business – like many small businesses – was hit hard. With everyone cutting budgets, it became harder for Joe to find clients. “Like everybody else in America, things got really thin — things got tough.”

“I definitely wasn’t living off of credit cards or running my business on credit cards,” he said, “but every time there was a little emergency, you know if [my wife’s] car had trouble and I was just getting by, I would turn to a credit card and say ‘Well it’s going to be $1500 to replace the transmission and I’ll take care of that in the next three months.’”

Joe’s Story: Digging Out of Debt

Joe began tackling his debt and “somewhere around that time is when I found ReadyForZero,” He liked that it was focused 100% on paying off debt. “There was a very specific focus and that’s what I needed. It certainly wasn’t the only tool I was using at the time, but it was the only one that I didn’t have to come up with on my own. I had spreadsheets and all sorts of little goals [written down] but it was nice that the website itself was in tune with exactly what I wanted. It was about paying down debt. Period.”

He made a plan, using ReadyForZero, and was concentrating on getting out of debt as fast as possible. “I did kind of stick with what mathematically made sense, paying down the highest interest card first,” he said.

Joe’s Story: Finally Becoming Debt Free

Finally, before 2012 was even over, Joe had done it. He’d paid off his credit cards. He was ecstatic. “All of a sudden it felt like I was making a lot more money than I had been making. I didn’t realize how much money I was really making [due to the credit card payments].” Escaping those monthly credit card payments was a blessing for Joe.

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  • Nice interview and congrats Joe – your kids look pretty happy to be out of debt!! 🙂

    Regarding the goals, I’ve found that this has been my single most beneficial action regarding my finacial position. Writing down my net wealth, writing down a budget and then matching that to specific goals has really helped me move forward in my goal towards financial freedom.

    I’m glad that it had the same impact for you.

    • Thanks! You’re right – the goals (and taking the time to write them down and match them to your budget) can really make a big difference.

  • MirrorMirror

    He’s married…Did his wife NOT help with paying down this debt???

    He mentioned that he would use the credit cards in emergencies like when his wife’s car needed a transmission…So she HELPED run up the bills as well.

    If she DID in fact help him to pay down his debt…then this story should have reflected that.