ReadyForZero was encouraging when I had to drop my monthly payment due to an emergency and you guys were like, it’s ok you’re still on track. It was a little cheerleader on my side that motivated me to keep going despite the setback.
What do you get when you mix a 20-year-old girl who has no emergency fund with a puppy that has a potentially fatal heart condition?
Well, for one thing, you get a big credit card bill!
That’s what happened to Katrina, a ReadyForZero user who we talked to last week…
The Debt Story
We first met Katrina on Twitter (where she can be found under the handle @trinalina), and we appreciated her cheerfulness and enthusiasm so much that we wanted to talk to her about her own debt story.
When we did, she told us how her first dog – a puppy she fittingly named “Karma” played a major role in that story. As you can see in the picture below, Karma is a very sweet dog. Unfortunately, when she was less than a year old, Karma was diagnosed with an enlarged heart. The first veterinarian Katrina talked to said that the condition was incurable. “He pointed to his X-ray and pointed to a textbook and told me she was going to die.”
“You can’t tell that to a 20-year-old girl with her first dog,” said Katrina.
Bella (L) and Karma (R)
“So I traveled all the way to Lake Geneva, found out that the vet was indeed wrong, and found out instead of the $6,000 [for the potential surgery] it was only $1,500.” With no emergency fund at the time, she realized the cost of the surgery would have to be paid with credit. “PetSmart had just opened a credit card, so I put all of her surgery on that card, figuring I’d pay it off.” However, as often happens, the debt lasted longer than she planned.
More importantly, though, her puppy was okay. “Thankfully, she’s fine now – she came through it with flying colors,” Katrina told us.
Talk about karma!
While Katrina obviously feels great about her decision to save Karma, she knows that even today it continues to cost her in interest payments on her credit cards. She said she’s also got leftover debt from a few exuberant shopping trips when she was younger. “I got my first credit card right before Black Friday, which was probably the worst idea. And I was visiting family in Georgia, so it was my first credit card, my first Black Friday with all my aunts, and I was ridiculously excited.” She ended up spending more than she wanted to, and that contributed to her total debt.
But recently, Katrina vowed to get serious about paying off her balances, and she’s already making progress toward being debt free.
About four months ago she was browsing Lifehacker.com and started reading about various new online tools that aim to help people get control of their finances. She signed up for all of them, including ReadyForZero. She said, “I joined like 50 websites that day, and you guys are the ones that I still visit multiple times per week.”
We were glad to hear about the lasting impact of our site, and we asked why she found ReadyForZero to be the most helpful for her. She said it helped her stay motivated: “It’s great because every time you’re thinking ‘I’m never going to get out of this hole,’ and you see how much progress you’ve made, it makes it that much easier to keep going.”
She really appreciates the encouragement that ReadyForZero gives her. Her mom is shared on her account so that she gets e-mail showing Katrina’s progress. When she’s doing well, her mom gives her positive feedback. And she likes to get the check mark that comes after going three weeks without spending money on a credit card.
She also likes how the site doesn’t make her feel discouraged when external events force her off her plan for awhile. She said it was “encouraging when I had to drop my monthly payment but you guys were like ‘it’s okay, you’re still on track.’ It’s like a little cheerleader in my head.”
And the fact that the site tells her how much she will save in interest payments is extremely motivating. “I think that really hit me the most. Because you can say ‘Oh, $25 here for this card per month, and so on and so forth, but when you really see how much you pay each day, that’s powerful.”
A More Flexible Future
Now she’s almost 25 percent done paying off her first credit card, and she’s feeling good about getting her financial life on track. About eight months ago, she said, “I did one of those calculators that said if you continue to pay the minimum balance, you would end up paying something like $8,000 in interest over the years. So I thought, ‘no way am I dishing that out to somebody!’
She’s already starting to save on interest payments, and even better, she’s improving her credit, apparently just in time!
“I found out recently that I actually have to move from where I’m renting,” she told us.
“So what’s motivating me is to get my credit score in shape so that I can get good rates and be able to put down a chunk of money, because I’m going to buy instead of renting like I’ve been doing.”
She’s staying motivated and finding new ways to save money: “I’ve cut back extremely in eating out and the amount I spend on groceries, which has actually allowed me to do Farmer’s Market. So I’m spending the money in a healthier way, and I can support local businesses at the same time.”
She says she’ll continue to use ReadyForZero because it takes so little time out of her day. “It’s just so streamlined, and I don’t have to click on 50 different pages, you know. It only takes me 5 minutes every few days. There’s so many sites out there, but yours is so easy – I couldn’t ask for more.”
We’re glad Katrina is on the path toward financial freedom. And we have a hunch that karma (and Karma) may have had something to do with that!
This article is part of our Credit Card Debt Resource Center. If you’re looking for additional information about credit card debt, be sure to pay a visit!