Forget Big Data—ReadyForZero Helps Tackle Big Debt Using Little Data

Last week Facebook announced two new software platforms that will allow them to process huge amounts of information (the equivalent of hundreds of millions of gigabytes). But while most established companies are busy focusing on "big data," for those faced with massive amounts of student loan (currently estimated at more than $1 trillion) and credit card debt, it’s the "little data" that really matter the most and can be the most overwhelming.

When’s the last time you stopped to read every word on every page (upon page upon page) of the terms and conditions of a credit card statement or home loan application? Instead of simple charts that could help you easily understand that a loan will cost you "X amount of dollars over the next five years" and a way to factor in your current cash flow to help you accurately determine whether you should take on that debt, you get a lot of data—data that can be incredibly confusing.

Factor in the average of three credit cards per U.S. household, and most consumers would probably have a hard time just keeping track of which one has the highest interest rate, let alone analyzing their spending patterns to help them make better financial decisions.

After watching his girlfriend struggle with her student loan debt, Rod Ebrahimi dreamed up the idea for ReadyForZero, a platform that would help her get out of debt without having to go call on external, predatory services. Now, just over a year since their launch, ReadyForZero’s online and mobile platform has helped registered users pay down more than $20 million of their $300 million in total debt.

You only need to take one look at their user interface to appreciate how much easier they’ve made it to understand your current debt situation. Once you link all of your credit card accounts, student loans, auto loans, mortgages, etc., you’re empowered to create a customized get-out-of-debt plan. ReadyForZero then shows you the optimal amount to pay towards each debt every month based on your unique situation. Most importantly, they help you mine all of your "little data" so you’ll know exactly how long it will take you to get out of debt and how much interest you will pay, something that would be difficult, if not impossible to do, if you were relying solely on spreadsheets and those transaction registers you can get for free at your local bank.

With so much of our digital lives being influenced by proprietary algorithms being fueled by big data, it’s great to see startups like ReadyForZero harnessing some of the same technology to help consumers try to crawl out from under what often must feel like an overwhelming avalanche of debt.

Shawn Graham is a marketing and brand strategist for startups and small businesses. Find Shawn at shawngraham.me or continue the conversation on Twitter.

[Images: Flickr user Marcin Wichary and ReadyForZero]

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