For over 28 years, Orlando Negron managed airport operations at JFK airport in New York, overseeing FAA operations, snow removal, and tarmac driver training. But VIP visits created the most vivid memories.
“Kings, queens, presidents, I met them all,” he recalls. He met former Presidents Barack Obama, Bill Clinton, and George H.W. Bush and made friends with generations of Air Force One and Marine One advance agents.
When Orlando retired in 2013, he and his wife, Nieves, escaped the long winters and high cost of New Jersey living and moved to Florida. Finding a newly built, stately 3-bed, 3-bath ranch home north of Tampa wasn’t hard. But dealing with the credit card bills, which began to accumulate in part due to the cost of furnishing the home, became a challenge.
Nieves returned to work, quickly finding a job as an accountant for a customs broker in the import-export industry – the same field she had been in when living in New Jersey.
But the credit cards continued to multiply, and the balances crept up. When asked, they had to stop and think exactly how many cards they had. There were eight of them, each with an interest rate between 20 and 29 percent.
When a Figure brochure landed in their mailbox, the free home value estimate caught Orlando’s eye. He showed it to his wife. “We were hesitant about doing something that came through the mail,” he explained, but after seeing the value of their equity they decided to try it out.
They were shocked at how quick the process was. “We knew our credit was good, but we had no idea it would be so fast. We’re like old school, used to doing paperwork,” Nieves told me, recalling the time they did the original mortgage on the house.
This time was different. “We took our finger off the send button and already had an answer,” Nieves said. “We looked at each other and said, 'Could it already be done?'”
“We got through so quick we almost fell off the chair,” Orlando added. Their first call to Figure was on a Saturday, and they had the money in their account the following Friday.
They promptly paid off all their credit cards, along with the final six payments on their 2013 Nissan Altima. They had enough money left over for some kitchen upgrades, new interior paint, and upgraded landscaping — rock areas in place of mulch, new shrubs, and concrete edging. Orlando figures there will be enough money for new gutters.
Aside from some construction work, what’s ahead? For one, no more credit cards. “We’ve locked the credit cards in the safe and they’re staying there,” he said confidently.
Taking care of her high-interest debt was easy, but not everything in Nieves’ life is moving as quickly as she’d like. Her son got married last October, but there are no kids on the horizon. “I guess they want to enjoy themselves and travel,” Nieves said with the tone of someone trying hard to project an air of patience but not quite succeeding.
“All my brothers and sisters have grandchildren,” she says after a short pause. “I’m like what’s going on here? I’m eager for grandchildren but my son just says I’m not there yet, Mom.”