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[UPDATE: Sadly, Ready For Zero is no longer. It’s a shame because it really was an amazing service and I know of many people who benefited and got out of debt thanks to them. If you are looking for an alternative, I highly recommend the app Pay Off Debt. It does cost $4.99 but it is more than worth the price. It uses the snowball method to pay off debt and motivates you to get rid of your debt. It even helps you see your debt balances drop so you can use that as motivation too.]
If you are in debt, I have good news for you – there is a free service that will help with getting out of debt! Before I get into this help, let me start out by saying I know how it feels to be in debt. I hated getting the mail for fear a bill would be in there. I had this weight over me and was embarrassed about my credit card debt. It was not a fun time at all.
I considered help with getting out of credit card debt, but found that the majority of firms out there that claim to help, really don’t help all that much. In fact, they either:
- Report you are working with a debt consolidation company, which dings your credit score
- Consolidate your credit card debt into a manageable payment, but you first default on many of the payments, ruining your credit score
In addition to the 2 items above, these firms also take a fee from you as you are paying off your debt for helping you. I said screw it and went about getting out of debt myself. Fast forward a few years and Ready For Zero is launched. What exactly is Ready For Zero? It’s a service that creates a debt relief plan, customized just for you. And depending on the level of service you want, it’s either free or very affordable. But before we get to the costs, let’s learn a little more about Ready For Zero.
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Ready For Zero Background
Ready For Zero was founded in 2011 to help individuals eliminate their debt on their own. Here is how Ready For Zero talks about itself:
We created ReadyForZero because we needed a way to automatically manage and reduce debt online. In the United States, Americans manage over $11 trillion in personal debt on their own. Reducing debt and protecting credit are common financial goals that affect more than 144 million Americans, and we’re here to help. ReadyForZero can help you better manage credit card, student loan, mortgage, auto loan or other personal debt online – automatically.
Ready For Zero – How It Works
Your first step with Ready For Zero is to sign up for free. The basic account – which will suffice for the majority of users – is 100% FREE (more on this later).
Once you create your account, you add in your debts. You can go about this one of two ways:
- Manually enter your information
- Provide your login details so Ready For Zero can connect to your account automatically
Once you enter your information here and save it, you are taken to this powerful screen:
This shows you how much you owe, how much interest you will pay, and when you will finally get out of debt if you only pay the minimum payment each month.
When you click on the “Improve This” button, you are taken to the screen below.
Here you can adjust how much you can afford to pay each month. Ready For Zero will then adjust your pay off date and tell you how much you will pay in interest, when you will be debt free, and how much you will save over paying just the minimum each month.
From there, you see the plan that Ready For Zero created for you based on the information you entered.
The Nuts And Bolts
Here is how Ready For Zero gets you out of debt. The site uses the snowball method of debt repayment. You will pay the minimum balance on your lowest interest rate debt and pay extra on the highest interest rate debt.
For example, if you have 2 credit cards, one charging 20% interest and the other charging 10% interest, you will pay just the minimum on the 10% interest rate card and whatever else you can afford on the 20% interest rate credit card.
Once the highest interest rate card is paid off, you move on to the next highest interest rate card. Following this method ensures that you pay the least interest possible.
The Pros And Cons Of Ready For Zero
Plan Adjustment – even after you create your plan, you can still change it whenever you want. This is great should your financial circumstances change.
Simple Layout – signing up and creating my fictitious debt plan took me less than 5 minutes. Granted I’ve used this site for a friend, but it is simple to navigate around.
Accountability – the hardest thing about being in debt is admitting it to others and getting help. Ready For Zero helps you get out of debt and doesn’t judge you.
Interest Savings – I like how they work with the goal of paying the least amount of interest with your debt. Many times people do better by paying off their smallest debt balance first because this keeps them motivated since they see progress. But, with Ready For Zero on your side, I feel they help provide the motivation to keep paying off your debt.
Not Reported To Credit Bureaus – as I mentioned in the beginning of this review, many debt consolidation firms will report on your credit report that you are getting help with your debt, which will ding your credit score. Ready For Zero does not report to the credit bureaus so you need not worry about having your score drop when working with Ready For Zero.
It’s Free – to open a basic account, it’s 100% free. I go more into the cost of Ready For Zero below and what added features you can get for a small monthly fee.
No Linking Accounts – you can link your accounts with Ready For Zero, but you aren’t required to do so. While linking your accounts will make the process even easier, some prefer not to share their login information. This is fine and Ready For Zero will still work for these people. (Below I talk about Ready For Zero security in depth as well.)
Works For All Debt – Ready For Zero works for all of your debts: credit cards, auto loans, personal loans, student loans, mortgages.
Financial Tools – there is a section on the site called “Actions”. In this section are tools to help you get out of debt. You can take a quiz to see if a consolidation loan might be of help to you. There are also lessons to help you get and stay organized as well as helping you to understand what your triggers are. In other words, you will figure out what helps to keep you on track and what typically derails you. By knowing this information, you can better control things, making it more likely you really do get out of debt and stay out of debt.
To be honest, I really struggled with coming with some cons with Ready For Zero. The only one I can think of is the fact that they apply the debt snowball method to highest interest rate first as opposed to smallest balance first. I talked earlier about my view on this and really see this con as a personal preference.
What Does Ready For Zero Cost?
OK, so here is the real deal on the cost for Ready For Zero. If you want a fully customized debt payment plan for you, the cost is: Zero.
With the free account, you can link your accounts if you would want to make the set up and updating process automatic for you. You also get to see interactive charts and graphs of your overall progress. Below is an example.
Additionally, there are two paid plans that you can choose from as well, the Ready For Zero Plus Plan and the Ready For Zero Plus Credit Plan. The picture below shows you what you get with each plan and how much each plan costs. Note that both of these plans include everything you get with the free plan, plus these features:
The Ready For Zero Plus Plan is really a great option. I say this because after you link up your bank account, Ready For Zero will make your monthly payment for you. This is ideal because it automates the entire process for you. Think about how you make a plan to pay a certain amount each month. Then you see a sale at the mall or are inspired to get away for the weekend. You decide to make a smaller monthly payment this month. The next thing you know, one month turns into one year.
Life happens. We lose our focus. By automating things, we don’t have to worry or concern ourselves with losing focus because everything is done for us.
You might be asking how they can offer the free plan for free. Here is how they do it: Ready For Zero partners with other financial firms and lists offers on the site when you log in. Note that Ready For Zero does not sell or share your information with these third party firms. Ready For Zero simply gets a “kickback” from them if you sign up for their services. There is no requirement that you have to sign up with any of the services.
The products and services that are offered are not ones that will harm you financially, but rather will help you get further ahead.
Is Ready For Zero Secure?
Ready For Zero is secure. They use 256 bit SSL encryption (like most banks) for security.
Furthermore, if you link your accounts, they do not store that information so even if someone were to hack into the Ready For Zero server, none of your information would be there. Here is more about their security, in their own words:
Here is the security for the 3rd party partners Ready For Zero works with:
Does Ready For Zero Really Work?
Simply put, yes. But don’t just take my word for it. Here are a handful of Ready For Zero success stories. Ready For Zero helps you to stay accountable and gives you a plan to get out of debt. For many people in debt, they have no clue how to set up a plan. For others, they set up the plan, but then stop using it after a few weeks or months. Ready For Zero helps to keep you on track of getting out of debt.
Why I Recommend Ready For Zero
I recommend Ready For Zero because they are different. Most debt consolidation firms make their money regardless if you get out of debt or not. In fact, I would argue that they don’t really care if you do get out of debt. They are taking their fee off of the top of your monthly payment. And in the process of dealing with them, you are going to ding your credit too.
With Ready For Zero, you get a customized plan, just for you, for free. From there, you can learn about what products might make sense for you and what will help you to stay on track to get out of debt. In other words, Ready For Zero really wants to see you get out of debt. They will help you stay accountable in your journey to get out of debt.
And once you get out of debt, you can start saving and investing for tomorrow with all of the extra money you have. Now instead of working for your money, you can have your money start working for you!
If you are in debt and think Ready For Zero would benefit you, you can click here to sign up. Remember, the basic account (which gives you everything you need to get out of debt) is 100% free. I have used Ready For Zero to help a friend get out of debt and have set up a “dummy account” just to show you the features. But if I were still in debt today, there is no question as to whether or not I would use the service. I would use it in a heartbeat.
I have over 15 years experience in the financial services industry and 20 years investing in the stock market. I have both my undergrad and graduate degrees in Finance, and am FINRA Series 65 licensed and have a Certificate in Financial Planning.
Visit my About Me page to learn more about me and why I am your trusted personal finance expert.