Jennifer is a small business owner and she loves to travel. We invited her to San Francisco so we could hear how she paid off more than $37,000 in debt.
Months using ReadyForZero: 7
Accounts paid off: 5 of 5
“What I liked about ReadyForZero is that it would send me little reminders and it e-mailed me and it showed me my progress in the charts and graphs – I really love charts and graphs because they kind of put things in perspective for me.”
What’s your dream?
That question is never far from our minds here at ReadyForZero, because it is so central to what we’re trying to do. We want to help you reach a state of financial freedom so you can do exactly what you want to do – whatever it is!
That’s why we were so excited to talk to Jennifer recently about her success paying off her debt. She needed to reduce those credit card account balances in order to make her own dreams a reality: to grow her small business and to continue traveling the world.
And the best part is… she did it:
Those are some nice, shiny gold bars! But I’m getting ahead of myself…
The story actually began for us in the ReadyForZero office on a Monday afternoon in May, when one of us logged into Twitter (I swear we’re not addicted) and noticed this fantastic tweet:
Thanks the Flying Spaghetti Monster for
@readyforzero. I’ll be out of debt (except student loans) next month due to their FREE service!
— Jennifer Dunn (@JennEscalona) May 21, 2012
It’s always such a thrill to see that we’ve helped someone become debt free (and I’m sure if we are addicted to Twitter, it’s because of messages like this!)
So of course, we had to find out what Jennifer’s story was.
And it was a good one. The first thing we learned was that it wasn’t a coincidence that we met Jennifer on Twitter, because as it turns out she is the founder and owner of a social media consulting company called Social Street Media.
She also told us about her love of travel – especially in South America. But she doesn’t just relax when she travels, she keeps on working (remotely, of course).
It takes courage, vision, and extreme dedication to run a small business. And you also need to be okay with taking a risk – professionally and financially – to get your company off the ground. So financial decisions are never simple when you’re trying to build your own company. In Jennifer’s case, she knew that she needed to get her consumer debt paid off before she could take her company goals and her travel goals to the next level.
We think that Jennifer’s story will be inspiring to you, whether your dream is to own your business, travel the world, or something else entirely. Here are a few lessons that Jennifer was kind enough to share with us:
1. Be careful with seemingly innocent purchases
For Jennifer, her first experience with debt began when she was just leaving high school and got her first credit card. She told us, “I guess my first thing I ever bought on credit was a computer, like an old Gateway computer, back in 1998 when I was about 18.”
That one purchase, which seemed like no big deal at the time, turned into a long-term revolving debt that never disappeared over the next few years. In the meantime, as life went on, she accumulated other kinds of debt. She was careful with her money, but certain things, like medical bills and her education, needed to be paid for.
She said, “I pretty much just kept some kind of revolving credit card debt the whole time – and then I also had a car payment, and a medical credit card, and some student loans.”
2. Find a strategy that works for you
With much hard work, Jennifer finished college and eventually launched her consulting business. And yet, the debt was still following her. So she decided it was time to pay it off for good.
She told us, “I did the debt snowball. I would do that over and over and be like, ‘Okay, cool, I can do this.’” And yet, she found that after awhile her progress would tail off. “I would do it online and I would save it in a spreadsheet or something, but I’d forget about it.” It became clear to her that she needed something to help her stay accountable to her plan.
And that’s around the time she found ReadyForZero.
It was at the beginning of 2012, and she had resolved to get out of debt as quickly as possible. When she saw ReadyForZero, she immediately wanted to sign up. “It was great! I thought it was really cute, and I don’t mind putting my financial information into things, so I just went in at the beginning and put all my accounts in there.”
Fortunately, she said the process of creating a plan with ReadyForZero was quite easy. “I moved the little slider around and I was like, ‘Okay, if I put $2,500 on my debt then this is what will happen, or if I put $200 then this is what will happen. It was kind of fun to look at.’”
After that, her commitment to stick with her plan was rock solid. Being able to see her plan visually and focus on her target account helped her stay motivated and stay on track.
3. Focus on changing your habits
Part of what helped her stick with the plan was that she was able to change her habits. As her business became more and more successful, she found that she wasn’t saving the extra money – instead she was spending it. And although she tried to budget and make larger debt payments, it never lasted.
She told us, “I knew I just wasn’t spending my money properly, especially as my business took off. I was wasting money too much.”
But seeing her plan visually in ReadyForZero made a difference for her. She said, “I got on ReadyForZero and, I don’t know, something clicked psychologically.” After that, she was enthusiastic about reducing the debt dramatically every month.
“What I liked about ReadyForZero is that it would send me little reminders and it e-mailed me and it showed me my progress in the charts and graphs – I really love charts and graphs because they kind of put things in perspective for me,” she said.
4. Look for big actions to help you pay off your debt
As she continued to track her plan with ReadyForZero, Jennifer began seeing opportunities to get out of debt faster instead of focusing on opportunities to buy things.
“It gave me a direction and some ideas, like: ‘I could get an iPad or I could pay off some debt.’ And it showed me how much I was paying in interest per day and everything like that. It was just really good for me. it was perfect.”
The most crucial decision she made was to sell her car.
“I was looking at ReadyForZero, and I was like ‘man if I got rid of this car it would help me pay off my debt a lot faster.’ And I had enough cash where I could buy a used a car with cash. So that’s what I did. I sold my car.”
Those are the kinds of big decisions that can really expedite the process of paying off your debt. Once you don’t have that monthly car payment, it frees you up to allocate more money toward your credit cards and other payments. Jennifer said it was an important step in her journey, and helped achieve those 4 gold bars earlier than she expected.
5. Keep your eyes on your prize
The last lesson brings us back to what we discussed at the beginning: the power of using your goals and dreams to motivate you.
Jennifer’s goal was very clear: “What I really wanted was I wanted freedom – to travel and to be able to grow my business in the way I want to.” As long as the debt was hanging around, she couldn’t take any risks with her business and couldn’t travel as much as she wanted to.
Now that the debt is no longer a concern, her goals are within reach. She is going to hire another employee for her business soon, and she plans to make another trip to South America in the near future.
It’s just one more example of a dream that is now easier to accomplish without debt.
Congratulations, Jennifer, and keep up the good work!