ReadyForZero Success Profile: Felipe

Total debt paid off: $3,400
Months using ReadyForZero: 7
Accounts paid off: 1 of 4

“When I saw the site I thought ‘pretty cool’ — I loved the user interface… I was expecting it to be decent, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as great as it was. Knowing that I had a clear goal of three years was really motivating. And then seeing the progress bar helped a lot.”

Here at the ReadyForZero headquarters, we’re excited because it seems that just as quickly as we post a ReadyForZero Success Profiles like this one or this one on our blog, we hear from another person who is willing to share their story with us. Eventually, we’re hoping the steady stream of success stories will outpace the speed with which we can get them down on paper!

Our subject for today’s Success Profile is Felipe Delgado, a web developer from Florida. Like so many people in America, he got into debt through the use of that most-tempting-of-tiny-objects: the credit card.

If you’ve owned a credit card (or four), you’ve probably noticed how sometimes your balances can grow rapidly, seemingly overnight – even when you thought you were doing a good job paying them off every month. Let’s be honest, in today’s busy world, it’s easy to get distracted by all the other things in your life.

And that’s when the debt can start to accumulate unexpectedly.

For Felipe, he was pretty vigilant when he first got his credit card. He started out being pretty careful and he was making sure to pay the entire bill every month. “I had a job and was out of college, you know, single, so I’d always pay my credit card balance in full.”

Then life started getting more busy: “When I got married and had a kid, I would sometimes pay the full balance and sometimes pay 80% of the balance, and then eventually even lower. In other words, I wasn’t really paying the full balance [each month].”

Because he was still paying a big chunk of it, though, he figured his debt level would stay manageable. He said, “I kind of tricked myself into thinking I was paying enough – thinking I was paying $500 per month but really I was paying $300, so then there was a $200 balance. And then the next month, I wasn’t paying off that extra $200, so it would just keep adding up.”

Those relatively small amounts began to add up over time. “I thought I was doing well,” he said, “but I wasn’t, and it just crept up over two years. And I noticed the balance going up, and I got another card or two. I don’t know how it happened, but I think every time I was short of cash it was just ‘credit card, credit card’ and then I’d pay most of the balance but really wasn’t paying in full.”

Eventually he realized he was going to have to tackle the problem head on. “Over two years, it just slowly increased to the point where I was owing over 80% on all my cards and I was thinking, ‘Even if I want to charge more to the credit card, I’m not going to be able to.. And that’s when I stopped using them and cut expenses and had to just stop charging.”

He also realized that he needed to start paying down his debt so he could eventually see those balances disappear.

Sometime shortly after vowing to eliminate his debt, he found ReadyForZero (after reading an article about us at HackerNews or TechCrunch). “When I saw [the site] I thought ‘pretty cool’ – I loved the user interface… I was expecting it to be decent, but I wasn’t expecting it to be as great as it was.”

Over time, the site helped him get on track to paying down his balances. He said that being able to create his own plan and see how long it would take to accomplish his goal helped him stay focused. “Knowing that I had a clear goal of three years (which was a conservative estimate) was really motivating. And then seeing the progress bar helped a lot.”

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Of course, one of the hardest parts about making a plan is deciding how much you will pay each month. Felipe said he had struggled to find the right number before using ReadyForZero. “I mean, I was paying a little over the minimum – but I think I picked one number arbitrarily.

“ReadyForZero helped me figure that out more precisely – like pay the minimum and then pay the extra towards this card [with the highest interest rate]… everything was presented in a logical order.

After following his plan, Felipe was able to pay off the first of four credit cards. In fact, he paid it off earlier than expected: “I noticed that I was going to pay off this card in about two months [according to the plan] and that if I paid $60 more I would be able to pay it off completely.

So he broke up the $60 into two pieces and added that to his pre-planned payment. It worked: “I paid it off like a day before the new statement went out,” he said.

He was obviously quite happy to have finished his first card. Laughing, he told us he was hoping for a big celebration once the progress bar on his ReadyForZero account was filled up: “I was expecting balloons and stuff from the website,” he joked.

We told him we’ll work on that for when he pays of his next card!

There’s a good chance he’ll have more success to report soon, because he’s been sticking to his plan. He even said he’d like to visit ReadyForZero more often if possible. “It’s kind of like I wish there was more to do on the website because I just like logging on.”

When we asked what motivates him to become debt free, he said that he looks forward to being able to spend money on the little things once he pays off his balances. “Not feeling guilty about going to a nice restaurant once or twice a week [would be great]. And beyond that. “You know, start thinking about saving for a house or just little things like nicer furniture,” he said.

Here at ReadyForZero, we’re sure Felipe will soon reach his goals, and will be putting in some new couches and/or chairs in no time!

This is the third of what we expect will be many ReadyForZero Success Profiles. If you haven’t seen our first ReadyForZero Success Profile with James LeMosey or our second ReadyForZero Success Profile with Colin, check them out.

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