Numerous start-ups are trying to address the debt problem in innovative ways, such as San Francisco-based ReadyForZero, which is an online space where users can manage all of their debt. Free of charge, the company pulls together all of a user’s financial information — credit card debt, student loans, income, etc. — and creates a financial plan based on his or her ability to pay. For a premium of $7 a month, users can use ReadyForZero to schedule and make payments on their loans.
ReadyForZero’s “fastest growing segment” is student-loan debt — $250 million out of about $1 billion total, said co-founder Rod Ebrahimi. He said that’s because there is a “need for people to just figure it out” but also because ReadyForZero’s target audience is people in their 20s and 30s, an age where one’s debt is likely to be from student loans.The idea for ReadyForZero was inspired by Ebrahimi’s girlfriend, who one day asked him and his tech friends: “Where do I go to manage all my debt?”“And we had no answer,” Ebrahimi said. So they created the website, which tracks a user’s payment progress, total debt, next steps to take, credit score and more.“I know it seems very small, but just seeing (her debt) visually going down” helped, he said. “And we provide that. She was in the six-figure range in total, so just seeing that number didn’t motivate her to pay it down. (She) just felt like, ‘I can’t do it.’ ReadyForZero made it a little more tangible: ‘This payment will save you this much in this much time’; ‘make an extra payment’; or ‘set up a recurring payment.'”