How 3 Pro Athletes Overcame Extreme Debt


Thanks to my Ohio roots, I’ve always been a huge football fan (Who Dey!). From going to Friday night football games as a kid and all through high school to my ritual of watching football all day on fall and winter Sundays, this is a hobby that I’ll never grow tired of. And for those who aren’t fans, there’s another very important football ritual that fans look forward to every year: The NFL Draft.

The NFL Draft is how fans can get a first look at the new talent their teams will be taking on in the next season. But besides getting an early look at the strategy for the next season, there’s another aspect of watching the draft that I love even more: seeing the looks on players’ faces when they get selected. In one instant, everything they worked for their entire lives comes to fruition. Their selection not only means that they’ll get to play professionally, it also usually comes with a fast track to a fat paycheck. Even 2nd and 3rd picks walk away with life-changing contracts.

Imagine being 21 years old and getting the job of your dreams with a multi-million dollar contract to match…

Since it’s so easy to think that more money is the best solution to money problems, my first thought is always, “Wow, how amazing it must be to get paid so much overnight and never have to worry about money again”. Of course, this doesn’t always line up with reality. As seen in our recent post about celebrities who struggle with money, people who suddenly receive bigger paychecks often just end up with bigger money problems. Athletes are no exception to this rule.

On that note, we’re exploring the lives of a few athletes who encountered major debt, why it happened, and how they got through it. There’s a lot to be learned – both in the form of cautionary tales and how to overcome seemingly insurmountable financial issues!

Topics We’re Talking About: Budgeting For The Last Bit of Summer


Hello readers and a happy, happy Friday to you!

This week we’re talking about a topic that I’d almost rather not acknowledge: the end of summer. But instead of focusing on any summertime blues, we’re talking about how to enjoy the end of summer. Specifically, how to budget for one last hurrah before BBQs and pool time comes to a close. One last vacation? Yes, please!

But did you know that a good chunk of Americans are saying no to vacation? At least, according to a study shared by MindBodyGreen. Listing reasons from personal preference to office pressure, the article highlights a variety of reasons for rejecting vacation time. But you may be able to take a guess at the the third most common response for saying nay to a summer break:

“I cannot afford a vacation.”

Ouch. That’s a painful reality to face. Working hard in order to earn a living is a fact of life. But so should taking a break to enjoy all other aspects of life!

So how can you enjoy the best of both worlds? Plan ahead and incorporate frugal fun.

There are tons of ways to enjoy the last bit of summer while also sticking to your budget. If you can’t swing the time off or are feeling particularly inflexible with your spending plan, free or cheap weekend activities are always an option. Planning a budget ahead of time is also a great way to enjoy a vacation guilt free.

So say yay to vacation and check out our top posts to help you budget for the dusk of summer fun:

Selling a Dream: The Trouble With For-Profit Education


For as long as I can remember, I wanted to be a college professor. I dreamt of days sharing the glories of literature with students and nights toiling away grading papers and writing books. There was just one small thing standing in my way: the meager (if not nonexistent) chance an English Lit PhD actually has of actually becoming a professor.

My bubble officially burst one day when my youngest professor took it upon herself to explain the realities of obtaining a PhD. She told me that, when she graduated, there were 4 (4!) tenure-track jobs in the country for her to apply for. In the entire U.S. As if that weren’t bad enough, I also had another dream: a dream of living in New York. In no uncertain terms, my professor told me I’d have to pick one – because both together were unlikely to happen.

I’m not usually one to back down from a challenge, but my desire to create a life in New York proved to be a lot stronger than my desire to become a professor. So I decided to take time off after graduation to figure things out. I started out working at a bank but then I got what I thought was the next best thing to my dream job – I was hired as an admissions counselor for an art school. I went in thinking it was the best of both worlds – but it turned out yet another bubble was getting ready to burst. Why? Because I was working for a for-profit college.

Discover the 9 “Hidden” Features That Can Rock Your ReadyForZero Plan


Full disclosure – I use ReadyForZero. To some, this might not sound shocking but you’d be surprised at the number of times people have asked me if I actually use ReadyForZero or if I simply write about it. To put the question to rest: I am indeed a ReadyForZero user and I also happen to think it’s a pretty useful tool! I might have some natural soft spots for certain areas of our website (ahem, our dear blog) but some of my favorite parts of our product live inside the settings section of my ReadyForZero account. Namely, the added features that allow you to add oomph to your repayment and customize your plan with some personal touches. These extras were created to provide plenty of motivation to help you kick debt’s butt.

So let’s explore all the amazingness contained within the little gear icon on the top right corner of your account.


Similar but NOT the Same: What’s the Difference Between APR and Interest Rate?


When you get any sort of loan, you are going to see terms like “interest rate” and “APR.” Many of us treat these terms as virtually identical, but the truth is that they are different in subtle ways. Understanding these difference can give you greater insight into what you are really paying when it comes to your various debts.

APR vs. Interest Rate with Your Mortgage

The interest rate is the nominal cost, expressed as a percentage, of borrowing money. Your mortgage rate is just the number used to let you know how much the loan will cost. However, the interest rate you are quoted on your mortgage doesn’t usually include all of the fees and other costs associated with your loan.

With a mortgage, you want to be more concerned about the annual percentage rate (APR). The APR on a mortgage is a broad expression of the total annualized cost of borrowing the money. Included in the APR are your points, closing costs, broker fees, and other costs as well as your interest rate. The APR is more inclusive.

The government has laws governing how the APR is determined, and this is the number you should look at when comparing different mortgage terms. You do need to be careful about comparing adjustable-rate loans, though. The APRs on adjustable-rate loans won’t reflect future changes, so it’s important to understand what could happen in the future with an adjustable-rate loan. In many cases, it makes more sense to stick with a fixed-rate mortgage so you always know what to expect.

Since the APR on a mortgage includes several other costs, it should be higher than the loan’s interest rate. The only way this wouldn’t be the case is if the lender is rebating some of your expenses. Make sure to ask questions if you see something that doesn’t seem quite right.

How a Financial Planner and Her Husband Manage Their Debt


The author of this post is Ann Arceo, a guest contributor to the ReadyForZero Blog.

As a financial planner, I definitely feel the pressure to make sure my husband and I keep our finances in tiptop shape. I want to “walk the walk” not just “talk the talk,” but I must admit that following my own advice hasn’t always been easy. Even though now my husband and I don’t carry much debt and we normally pay off our credit cards each month, we didn’t start off our marriage debt free. I came into the marriage with student loans and a balance on my credit card, and deciding as a team how to pay back what I owed wasn’t easy.

Will A Day Come When Our Entire Daily Lives Are Scored?


Scoring can be a double-edged sword. It’s useful for the scorer because it allows them to evaluate how much a person has learned or how well they’ve done – and it can be used as a predictor for future behavior. We see this in test scores in the classroom, scores in competitions, and credit scores that allow a lender to determine the creditworthiness of a borrower.

While not always fun, scores can be useful to the person being scored as well. If we ever want to improve at anything, we need a baseline – a starting point – to help us evaluate our growth as time goes on. And seeing low scores in specific areas shows us exactly what we need to focus on. Bonus: for the competitive-natured, scores are a great tool for motivation to improve.

But the disadvantage of scoring can get in the way of any true evaluation (for the scorer) and improvement (for the person being scored):

The knowledge that we’re being scored can cause us to focus more on the score than the skill.

It happens with credit scores as many worry more about their score than their actual financial health, with students who are forced to learn for tests if they want to succeed instead of truly learning the material, and now it might be happening for drivers too. The question is, with our societal focus on scores (whether that focus be good or bad), are we nearing a time when our entire daily lives are saved as data and scored?

What Happens If I Lose My Job?


There are few things in life that can make your heart plummet to your gut quicker than sudden job loss. One day you’re trucking along, making all kinds of financial plans, and the next day everything grinds to a halt. And if you were struggling financially to begin with, then this halt in pay can be terrifying.

The worst part is, no matter the reason for the job loss, it’s nearly impossible to not feel like a failure when it happens.

If you’ve recently lost your job, don’t let the feeling of failure overcome you. Sudden job loss happens to everyone. In fact, you’d be hard-pressed to find an adult who hasn’t been through it at least once in their lives. (I know I have!)

Those who get through this are the ones who take the bull by the horns and act fast. So before any negative feelings get you down, make a plan so you can get back and at ‘em in no time. Here’s how:

1. See if You Qualify for Unemployment

The first thing you should do is find out if you qualify for unemployment. While unemployment won’t fully cover your previous income, it will at least give you something while you search for a new job. The U.S. Department of Labor is a great place to start, so follow these steps to find out if you qualify and how to file a claim:

1) Go to this page and scroll down to “Filing a Claim”
2) After that, you should see this link to view qualifications by state. You’ll then see a map:

3) Click on your state and then find the link that tells you how to file a “UI” claim.

Once you file for unemployment, remain mindful of the requirements you’ll need to fulfill in order to receive and continue receiving unemployment. For example, you may need to show proof of having applied for a certain amount of jobs per week. Be diligent about this process or you could lose this aid.

How Long Does a Bad Mark Stay On Your Credit Report?


Did you cringe the last time you downloaded your free annual credit reports? Or perhaps you don’t even want to look at them because you don’t want to be reminded of the financial and personal messes that have shown up?

There’s hope for you yet, because bad marks on your credit report do not last forever. While the average length of time is 7 years, how long your bad mark will stay on your specific credit report depends on a variety of factors such as the type of mark it is.

Since credit scores and credit reports are used in everything from potential landlords determining your reliability to your new employer checking up on you, it’s important that you get an idea of when your bad marks will be erased from your report.

Let’s take a look.

Optimization, Education, and Getting In Touch With Your Emotions: Our Best Posts from July

Roadside flower

You can tell a lot about a person by their favorite things… or nothing at all, depending on what kind of things you’re talking about. Being the organizational wizard that I am, I love lists and that seems to lend itself to having a favorite for everything. For instance, my favorite color is purple, my favorite season is Summer, and my favorite month is August. Why? And what do these things say about me? I have no idea.

But, before I harken to my great love for August – even though it signifies a near end to my favorite season (at least Fall is my second favorite season…) – let’s talk about some great things that happened in July! More specifically, let’s talk about the best posts (dare I say some of our favorites?) from July 2014!