This is Marc, one of our awesome ReadyForZero users. On a recent visit to San Francisco, we got to meet him in person (and he even made lunch for everyone!)
Months using ReadyForZero: 18
Accounts paid off: 4 of 4
“I really liked the site. It was really clean. I liked how smooth everything looked… it got me hooked in and kept me coming back.”
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I – I took the one less travelled by
– Robert Frost
How many of us would like to have the freedom to work from anywhere in the world? Probably most of us. The idea of kicking back on a beach in Honolulu while conducting a business call or setting up your laptop at a cozy little cafe in Madrid is pretty appealing. But to most of us, it’s an unrealistic goal.
However, for Marc Aarons, the subject of our latest success profile, it’s a goal that feels very real.
While we talk a lot about the importance of pursuing your dreams and why paying off your debt is a big part of that journey, we had never talked to anyone who’d taken so many concrete steps toward achieving such a big goal at such a young age as Marc.
His dream was born when he was still in college. It started innocently enough, when a classmate insisted that he borrow and read a copy of Robert Kiyosaki’s Rich Dad, Poor Dad.
The book gave him his first taste of what it meant to be financially independent. “It changed my entire paradigm,” he told us. And from there, he began reading many other books about personal finance. Eventually the vision of living anywhere in the world and paying bills with passive income and freelance earnings began to take shape.
In his own words, he says it’s as simple as being “debt free and location independent… that right there is pretty much the dream.”
However, he’ll be the first to tell you that there have been many ups and downs while trying to get closer to his goal.
In fact, Marc’s personal story is even more compelling than the headline to this article would indicate. He grew up in Jamaica and by fate and hard work earned a full scholarship to a university in Florida. Even now, he vividly remembers the day that his father, a doctor, pulled him out of his high school classes to talk to a representative from the college.
“My dad for the first time in my life told me to leave school early, to come to this thing,” Marc says. “I was like whoa, this must be serious.”
It was serious, and after receiving the scholarship offer, Marc decided to make the leap and attend college in the U.S., far from his family. He knew it would be an adjustment, but even at that age he loved the idea of exploring the world and finding out what opportunities lay ahead.
After graduating from college, he was ready to jump into business and decided to try his hand at network marketing (also known as multi-level marketing). The way network marketing works is that you must build a team of people around you who help increase your sales, and they in turn build a team around themselves to help increase their own sales.
It’s a model that has worked for some, but comes with significant risk.
Marc says, “I ran with it for two years, built a team of around 15 distributors, and had customers in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom.” But despite growing the operation in a short period of time, revenues were not growing fast enough to meet the increasing costs of running the business. “The amount of money I spent was about $3,000 to $3,300 per year, as opposed to $300 of revenue.”
After over a year of building up his business and his team, Marc realized that the finances of his operation were not going to work. Reluctantly, he left the business. And he took with him over $6,000 in debt on his credit cards.
It could have been a crushing blow, but – true to form – Marc took this experience in stride. He says he learned more than he ever could have imagined from it. And, he says, “I have friendships that have endured. It’s been over five years and I’m still friends with many of the people I recruited, or had been recruited by. I guess everything happens for a reason. You never know what connection will be made, what will be achieved.”
Instead of being demoralized, Marc re-focused on his goal of financial independence and set his sights on priority number one: paying off the debt he had accumulated.
“Just having that [debt] was just… it felt like every time I made a payment, it was like money disappeared into this black hole never to be seen again. I wasn’t getting any benefit from it,” he says.
Like so many others we’ve talked to, he hated to see his money go toward interest/debt payments when it should have been used to pay for things he wanted or needed.
He described his feeling about it to us: “It’s like, ‘there’s another $200, $300, $400 gone this month to nothing. I could be having a good time with it, I could be saving, I could be doing all this other stuff I want to do [and] it’s just limiting my ability to live my life the way I want to live it. I couldn’t stand that.”
In order to pay off his $6,579 credit card debt, Marc knew he would have to do two things: (1) generate more income on a monthly basis and (2) be disciplined about making large payments.
To earn more income, he relied on his entrepreneurial side and started a website, called mobile-broadband-reviews.com, in the hopes of eventually earning passive income that would supplement his other income. The website did well, and sparked an interest in web design.
Eventually, he started doing freelance web design, building upon skills he had begun learning. As he began to get a few freelance jobs, his skills improved. “I started freelancing for other clients, and that took my design skills to a definite different level,” he says. “Clients making requests pushes you into a direction you probably wouldn’t have gone in by yourself. That made a huge difference.”
His new skills made it possible for him to get a full-time web design job in Washington, D.C., where he now lives. But he didn’t stop freelancing – he continued taking freelance jobs to earn extra income.
However, he also realized he needed a way to track his debt repayment so that he could ensure he was going to pay it off – quickly. He told us, “I knew if I did the spreadsheet Excel thing, absolutely nothing would get done. I needed something that would be pretty much automated.” He had been using other sites, but hadn’t found one that worked for managing debt.
Then he found ReadyForZero.
It was just what he needed. “I really liked the site,” he says. “It was really clean.” He was impressed by “how smoothly how everything looked… got me hooked in and kept me coming back.” Using ReadyForZero, Marc made a plan to get out of debt by drastically increasing his payments per month.
And… it worked. He began paying off his debt rapidly. “I was really just on a mission to get back down to not having any credit card debt whatsoever,” he told us.
Over the next 18 months, he made huge strides towards paying off those credit cards. The first one he paid off was the one with the biggest balance on it, and he says the moment he paid it off was memorable. “It felt awesome” he says.
Then, recently, he finally paid off the last card, meaning that he is now completely debt free.
The Road Ahead
With his newfound financial freedom, Marc is back on track to achieving his goal of complete financial independence. For now, he’s continuing to work his full time job and do some freelancing on the side.
Now that his credit score is excellent, he has his sights set on earning frequent flyer miles with a credit card that he is using (and paying off every month, of course!). Eventually he hopes to earn enough frequent flyer miles to travel around the world. “I’m about halfway through it,” he says. “In the next couple of months, I should get enough frequent flyer miles to circle the globe. It’s really cool.”
The plan is to spend time in Brazil, China, and many other countries. And if all goes well, he’ll be able to continue doing freelance work as he travels, which means he will have reached his goal of being able to live anywhere in the world.
We’re glad to have played a part in helping Marc get there. And we’re also inspired by his attitude toward pursuing his dreams. He summed it up to us like this:
Because my life has happened the way that it has, I’ve always had this strangely different outlook of ‘I wonder what else is possible.’ All my life it’s always been, if the opportunity is there, you need to take it because you don’t know what’s going to happen next.
What more can we say? Keep up the good work, Marc!