Chuck lives in Arizona and recently used ReadyForZero to pay off $14,000 of credit card debt. Read his full story below.
Months using ReadyForZero: 6
Accounts paid off: 4 of 4
“For me personally, it did exactly what I needed it to do. No more, no less. It just worked.”
A little while ago, we got this tweet from Chuck Reynolds, a WordPress developer and technical SEO based in Arizona:
— Chuck Reynolds (@ChuckReynolds) December 29, 2011
And of course our first thought was, ‘we’ve got to get this guy on the phone to ask about his ReadyForZero experience!’
When we finally talked with him, we found out that in the meantime he had paid off his 4th credit card – so he’s now completely debt free! We also found out that he is quite an impressive guy. In addition to being an all-around web strategy guru, he helped start a Digital Intelligence Firm called VUURR. His company’s website is so awesome that we had to include a little screenshot (Chuck is second from the left):
Between all his different ventures, Chuck is pretty busy, but fortunately he was kind enough to take the time to describe some of the lessons he’s learned on his way to getting out of debt that can help others who might be facing a similar situation:
Lesson 1: Use Low-Interest Loans to Pay for School
When Chuck was in college, he wanted to do the responsible thing and pay for his courses as he went. He figured it would be great to have his degree paid for when he graduated and not have student loans hanging over his head. What he didn’t predict was that by paying for school rather than getting some low-interest student loans, he ended up being in a financially precarious position that required him to rack up other types of debt – with higher interest rates.
He told us, “because I paid off school I didn’t have any money for after school when I had a crappy job and a car that broke down all the time, and I had to try to pay for an apartment… so anything that broke on the car would go on the credit card. And it was just like all these little things added up.”
The problem was that his credit card had a much higher interest rate than any normal student loan. If he had used student loans, his savings and income would have been enough to cover all the monthly expenses that popped up. Instead, he was left putting those costs on his credit card and staring at the high interest rates.
Eventually, to stem the tide of auto repair bills, Chuck bought a new car. But while it cut down on his auto mechanic expenses, it increased his total debt load. There came a point when he saw that he had over $30,000 in debt (including the car loan) and knew that he needed to take drastic action. He realized, “I’m in a ton of trouble with this, I’ve got to get out.”
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Lesson 2: Don’t be afraid to downsize
Once he realized that he needed to act quickly, Chuck made some smart decisions. For one thing, he decided it was time to downsize.
Downsizing can be scary. Most people prefer not to even think about changing their lifestyle, even if it would help them get out of debt faster. However, Chuck didn’t hesitate to do it once he realized it would help him pay off his debt. He said, “My first thing was to pay off the car and then sell that, because I was just riding a motorcycle full time.”
That’s exactly the type of thinking that can really help you get control of your debt and pay it off. By getting out from under the car loan and using the motorcycle as his full-time means of transportation, he was able to give himself a little more room to start cutting down those credit card balances.
Lesson 3: See the big picture, even if it scares you
In order to make progress on paying off the credit cards, Chuck wanted to make a plan, and luckily, that’s when he found ReadyForZero. He said it was a good fit for him: “It was simple, it didn’t cost anything, it had good reminders, and it didn’t bombard me with to do’s.” He liked the fact that it showed him the quickest way to reach his goal of being debt free while still giving him flexibility. “It had a plan, but it allowed me to do it on my own time – it kind of willed me into it without forcing anything on me,” he said.
He really liked the fact that ReadyForZero showed him the big picture – including the amount of interest he would pay if he didn’t start paying off the cards. He told us, “It was scary as hell, honestly. But yeah, it helped to see that.”
More importantly, it showed him exactly where he needed to focus his energies: on the card with the highest interest. He said, “seeing it in ReadyForZero, where it said ‘your interest rate is 25.99 percent,’ I thought, ‘God, that hurts.’”
Lesson 4: Trim your spending, but keep enjoying life
Using his ReadyForZero plan, he started paying off that high interest card as fast as he could. He had been using spreadsheets, but that alone wasn’t enough to help him pay off the debt, because, as he pointed out, what’s in the spreadsheet “is typically past things – like, ‘I made this payment,’ etc.’”
What he needed was a tool that allowed him to forecast how his future finances would be affected by his current debt. He said, “ReadyForZero helped me in understanding how much extra it was costing me for being a lazy *$#%! and not paying it off.”
His plan made him motivated to trim his spending so that he could keep paying more toward his credit cards. “Instead of me buying more toys and shit, it really made me just say, ‘dude, I’ve gotta get rid of these [credit cards], and this is the goal, and I need to fill up that [progress] bar and I need to get it done.’”
He made an effort to cut down his overall spending while still allowing himself to spend on things that were important to him. He said, “my problem is I don’t like to cook.” While he did try making meals at home, it didn’t work for him, in part because he was tired of eating the same old things he’d subsisted on all throughout college. However, he did find ways to reduce other costs: He told himself, “I really don’t need four coffees everyday that cost 8 bucks. And luckily, Rockstar Recovery’s are only like 2 bucks.”
Lesson 5: You must get your own financial education
With financial products getting so complicated these days, and with our culture so geared toward using credit, it’s important to educate yourself on how to protect and grow your money.
Chuck said he wishes he’d received a better financial education when he was younger. He reflected on his mindset after graduating from high school: “I can’t say when I was 18 that I would have been putting a thousand bucks away into an IRA, but when you look at it in your late 20’s [you realize] if you’re doing that from the time you’re 18, then by the time you’re 30 you’ve got a million dollars or more in the bank. All the compounding interest and stuff – nobody teaches you about that.”
We agree that there needs to be more accessible and informative financial education for people of all ages. That’s one of the reasons ReadyForZero was created – to make it easier to navigate the path toward getting out of debt.
Chuck said, “for me personally, it did exactly what I needed it to do. No more no less. It just worked.”
We’re glad that ReadyForZero has helped Chuck become officially debt free!