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Wednesday
Dec122012

Debt Payoff and Credit Card Payment Calculator: Ready For Zero

Despite our promising and ongoing efforts with Internet-derived passive income, a large part of the LTNE experiment is what we early on called “Living (Better) the Old Economy.”  An important part of our effort to live “better” was our need to eliminate a massive amount of debt, but perhaps most importantly, to recast our overall attitudes about spending and debt.  Carrying debt month to month simply didn’t used to be something we worried about.  I make plenty of money and we enjoyed spending it.  Throw in the uncertainty associated with military life-- deployments, time in the field, frequent moves, etc.-- and we simply didn’t worry too much about living it up when we could.

Well, as I’ve pointed out elsewhere here on the site, something changed about a year after my return from Afghanistan in 2009.  At first, I was determined to live like a rock star (well, at least some approximation of that!) and I bought an expensive car, we took expensive vacations, and we ate at expensive restaurants.  After that first year, though, I began to wonder whether any of those things were making me happy, because, in the end, they were fueled by a good paycheck, but also a healthy amount of debt.  In addition, I began to grow concerned about our kids’ views on “stuff,” and consumerism in general.  At least in some small way, my sense was that we weren’t setting a good example for them about the proper places to derive happiness.  For the first time in twenty years, an expiration date also began to materialize with my military career.

All of this fueled a paradigm shift in our approach to our lives, mostly in finance, but also in intentional living, health and wellness, and other areas.  To put it simply, we wanted to live more simply.  

(For a more in-depth look, sign up at the right for our free newsletter and receive instant access to our exclusive guide:  15 Steps to Fix Your Broken Finances and Live a Better Life!) 

On to the point of all of this:  I’m still a fan of technology, gadgets, and the Internet.  I’m constantly on the lookout for neat things that improve our quality of life.  In many cases, this means removing “stuff” from our lives, but in others it simply means finding things that work better.

In this spirit of discovery, I’ve found and used in the last few months a relatively new online service called Ready For Zero, which focuses like a laser on the obvious problem of debt in America.  Recognizing that debt is really a form of slavery, the team at Ready For Zero have crafted a service that genuinely focuses on getting out of debt as quickly as possible, avoiding spending triggers, and then, ultimately, at building wealth

From my perspective, it just works.  Like other aggregator services, you enter your account credentials for your credit accounts and then it puts it all in one place and starts you down a path of paying off your debts as quickly as possible with the most savings, all the while encouraging you to avoid spending.  

Here you can see my own current overview at the Ready for Zero site:

At this point, there isn’t much to see because I’ve paid everything off except my mortgage on our rental home.  For those of you with multiple debts, imagine this screen filled with them!

One of the many things the service does well is point out to you recommended actions, including possible debt consolidation, the organization of all of your important financial information, as well as things like fixing your debt triggers.  Let’s explore the latter.

As you can see, Ready For Zero recommends a range of specific actions that you can take to help shape a debt-free environment.

Clicking the progress tab shows you how far you’ve progressed in your debt elimination.

In my case, I have 20 years of payments remaining on our rental house mortgage (though we have a plan to refinance into a shorter-term, fixed-rate loan through Quicken Loans -- more on that later!).  As we are still facing a transition in a few years, we are currently privileging building liquid assets over paying down our mortgage in a more aggressive way.  Were that not the case, Ready for Zero allows users to adjust their payments to the highest possible amount possible and then, using the debt snowball method of paying off the highest interest rate debts first, calculates the amount of time that it will take to eliminate debts as well as show you how much interest you’ll save by being aggressive with debt reduction! 

Look for instance at the difference between my paying my mortgage at its current rate:

 

And then the results if I were to double my monthly payments:

 

A savings of 13 years, 5 months, and $118,519.35 in interest.  That’s pretty persuasive!

So, if you have any debt at all, I recommend that you give Ready For Zero a look.  It is a free service with bank-grade security, a very elegant and easy-to-use interface, and it might just help you to save hundreds of thousands of dollars and set you on the path to financial well-being!  Plus, they have an iPhone App so you can get your mobile debt reduction groove on!

Do you want to help Live the New Economy?  Link to our content, share with your friends, or use our shopping links!  Thanks!

(The somewhat awkward title of this post is a nod toward Matt and his excellent post on keyword research and blog post optimization.  I've keyword optimized this title using Market Samurai.)  

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