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BFN Giveaway: Win a Premium Membership to BeDebtFreeAmerica.com

January 28, 2010 · Filed Under Giveaways, Paying off Debt · 6 Comments 

Last week I shared a debt repayment calculator site and today I’d like to share another one that you might find interesting.  This week, let’s take a look at BeDebtFreeAmerica.  Also, Chris, the creator of BeDebtFreeAmerica, has donated a certificate for a free Premium membership at the site so let’s take it a step further and run a giveaway, too.  Check out the bottom of the post for details.

What is BeDebtFreeAmerica?

BeDebtFreeAmerica.com

BeDebtFreeAmerica is a “debt elimination tool” that can help you optimize your debt repayment schedule.    It seems to work in the standard manner you would expect from such a site.  You enter all of your debts and their associated information (balance, interest rate, etc) and the software creates a customized, and customizable, plan for you to efficiently pay them all off.

Multiple Reports

BeDebtFreeAmerica provides the user with multiple reports so that can keep on top of your plan and how it is proceeding.  You can view the details for one debt at a time, or a detailed list of every debt, monthly payment, interest paid, balance remaining, or just the stripped down basics of what to pay each month.  For people who like to look at data a bunch of different ways (ok, for nerds like me) this is a handy feature.  Click here to check out a sample account.

The tool appears to use the interest rate method for determining to order of payoff (pay off the highest rate loan first) but the site states that sometimes it chooses to give a smaller debt higher priority in the payoff list a la Dave Ramsey’s debt snowball.  It does provide what I consider to be a nice feature in that you can manually adjust the order the debts are paid off if you decide that you really want to pay off a specific debt first (or last, I guess).

Free “Kick-the-Tires” and Premium Memberships

I like that BeDebtFreeAmerica provides free access as well as a premium membership.  Even the premium component currently only costs $30 for a lifetime membership though, so it’s not exactly big bucks we’re talking about.  The free component provides the basic functionality but you are limited to four debts and it limits some of the capabilities.  For instance, with a premium membership, you can modify interest rates and add extra payments at any time and can view all of the reports (you only get the basic report in the free account).  Check out this comparison for more details.

Overall this looks to be a pretty nice tool and I’d recommend you take a  look at it if you are in need of the assistance.  The ability to try it out via the free membership is a great way to delve into it and take it for a test spin.

Win a Premium Membership

But why settle for the free membership when you win a premium membership!  If you are interested in winning a premium membership to BeDebtFreeAmerica, all you have to do is leave a comment on this post.  Tell us how many debts you are going to pay off with its help….or if you don’t feel like doing that, then just say it’s none of our business!

To Review:

  1. Leave a comment below
  2. Updated: The giveaway will close Tuesday, February 9th, 2010 at 11:59 PM EDT.
  3. I will randomly select a winner using random.org .  The winner will be announced February 10th and I will contact you via email – so please leave a valid email address in your comment.
  4. Good luck!

Weekly Bible Verse – Wise People Save

January 25, 2010 · Filed Under Weekly Bible Verse · 1 Comment 

In the house of the wise are stores of choice food and oil, but a foolish man devours all he has. Proverbs 21:20 (NIV)

Once again we see how extremely practical the Bible turns out to be in its wisdom and advice.  Why should we save some of our income and resources each month?  Is this something we really need to worry about?  Of course, most people would probably say it’s a good idea to save (though saying it and doing it appear to be two very different things in our society nowadays!).  Now we see that this is much more than just simple common sense, rather it is Biblical wisdom!

Depending on the circles that you run in, you might have heard it said that you should not “presume” upon God (that usually means you shouldn’t go into more and more debt assuming that God will bail you out of whatever money problems you bring upon yourself).  Maybe you know it as the story of Joseph shielding Egypt from seven years of famine.  Quite possibly images of Dave Ramsey railing about the importance of an emergency fund run through your head.  Maybe thoughts of your Grandmother’s advice to save up for a rainy day come to mind.  Or you might have read it to your kids as the fable of the ant and the grasshopper.  However you heard it, it means the same thing and it comes from the Bible – wise people do not “devour” all they have, instead they save up for their future needs (to keep Murphy from moving in your spare bedroom as Ramsey might say).

God bless and have a great week…

Check Out SeeBeyond2020.com – Online Debt Repayment Calculator

January 21, 2010 · Filed Under Paying off Debt · 2 Comments 

As I come across interesting and/or helpful sites on the web, I try to pass them along in the hopes that you might find the interesting and/or helpful as well.  Through my personal experience, I’ve seen the freedom that comes with being out of debt and after taking Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University, I’ve seen the power of the debt snowball as a tool to accomplish that goal.  Along those lines, this online debt repayment calculator was brought to my attention: SeeBeyond2020.com.

SeeBeyond2020.com is a subscription service that attempts to provide you with a plan to get out of debt in the shortest amount of time possible.  Now, this is not some debt consolidation deal or anything along those lines.  Instead, it simply provides you with a plan to apply your current payments to your various debts in the most efficient manner to reduce your overall time until you have paid off all your debts and save you some money (hopefully a lot of money). You can see their little “How it Works” section for a bit more detail.  Probably the most interesting thing to investigate if you are considering the service is an actual example plan.

As I mentioned, this service is a yearly subscription service.  And it appears to me that you don’t really get an overall, comprehensive plan.  Instead, I think that you get a monthly email telling you exactly what to do that month with each of your current debts.  For full disclosure purposes – I have not used this service so I can’t offer any personal recommendation one way or another.  In this case, I’m just pointing out a service that you might be interested in investigating. One other note if you are a big Dave Ramsey fan – I was not able to tell if this service followed Ramsey’s debt snowball technique for getting out of debt.  Frankly, I doubt that they do but I am not sure.  UPDATE – per the comment from Roger below, see that SeeBeyond2020 uses a hybrid snowball/avalanche method for determining your payment plan.

If you have used this tool, please leave a comment to let us know how well it worked for you and  your overall impression and recommendation.

Weekly Bible Verse – The Advantage of Planning

January 18, 2010 · Filed Under Weekly Bible Verse · 1 Comment 

The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.  Proverbs 21:5 (NIV)

Though it seems fairly straightforward, I did find this week’s Bible verse to be an interesting one.  Of course it underscores the importance of taking your time and planning ahead.  It states that being a diligent planner will lead you to success.  Now I certainly consider seeking God’s wisdom and direction when constructing your plans to be an integral part of that diligent planning process.

So, what is so interesting about this verse?  Well, I misread it the first time I looked at it.  As you read through the book of Proverbs, you see a number of verses related to being lazy or a sluggard.  And when I first read this verse, I read it not as being hasty but as being lazy.  But it does not say that being lazy leads to poverty (though I’m sure it does somewhere else); rather it says that being hasty leads down that path.  The lesson is that even though you might try really hard and exert great effort, the fact that you are being hasty, rushing onward, and not taking the necessary time for planning will still lead to failure.  (no, you don’t find it as interesting as I do?)

So, take your time, do your planning, and make sure a significant portion of that planning is seeking God’s will and direction.  Interesting or not, that is good advice to remember.

God bless and have a great week…

Financial Peace University Lesson 13 – The Great Misunderstanding

January 15, 2010 · Filed Under Financial Peace University · Add a Comment 

Unleashing the Power of Generous Giving

This class marks our final FPU lesson and introduced the final baby step.  I appreciated that this lesson was included as the final class in FPU.  I felt it was, in a way, the culmination of all the earlier lessons but not in a wrapup/summary kind of way.  Instead, this lesson answered the question, “Why?”  Why should you be responsible with your finances?  Why should you get out of debt?  Why should you attempt to build wealth?  Is it not simply to have loads of money to greedily hoard for yourself?  Or is it to gain enough to feel like you are self-sufficient and do not need to rely on God?  Thankfully, no.  So why do we do all of this…

Baby Step 7 – Build wealth and give

Dave started off this final lesson with this quote found in the workbook:

You can do everything we teach and you will prosper, but if you don’t understand this lesson, you will never have financial peace.

The “Great Misunderstanding,” as Ramsey calls it, is the incorrect view that the best way to have more money is to hold tightly onto what you already have.  Dave used the visual aid of tightly grasping some cash – yes, you probably won’t lose any out of your hand, but it also won’t be possible for more to get into your hand.  In contrast, when your hand is open and money is able to flow out of it to others, it is also easy for more to flow into your hand as well.

We are asset managers for God

Remember that we are not owners of anything in this world, we are simply stewards, or asset managers, for the real owner – God.  If you have read the Bible, you will see that we are repeatedly told to give …why are we told that so often?  Ramsey presents a number of reasons for this, some of which are:

  • Giving makes us more spiritually mature,  more Christ-like
  • Giving makes us less selfish – less selfish people are more likely to prosper in relationships and wealth
  • Giving is a reminder that we are not the owners – you’re not even giving away your own money
  • Giving is praise and worship
  • Giving is offensive spiritual warfare

Remember, neither God nor the church need your money.  What they need are “sold-out believers” and giving will just a by-product of living out that sold-out faith.

How to Give

You’ve probably heard of what has become a fairly controversial topic in Christian circles – the “tithe.”  You’ve probably heard arguments such as should Christians tithe?  Must they tithe? How should they tithe?  Where should they tithe?  Ramsey addressed these topics in the following way.  First, the tithe is a tenth (that’s literally what “tithe” means) of your “increase.”  The Bible states that you are to give of your “first fruits” – so not what’s left over at the end of the month.  Furthermore, in the Old Testament, God tells the Israelites to bring the tithe into the storehouse of the temple.  This money in the storehouse was used to take care of widows, orphans, and the Levites serving in the temple.  Our modern day analogue is your local church which is still tasked with taking care of widows (including military spouses, single parents, etc), orphans, and your church staff. The Bible also mentions “offerings” separately from the tithe.  These are given above the tithe and are given from your surplus.

So, if I interpreted Ramsey correctly, he suggests that Christians should give 10% of their gross salary to their local church and any offerings above that to other Godly organizations.

Remember this about giving…

Dave then spent a few minutes reminding us about some truths from the Bible.  He started off by telling us that the tithe was not initiated as part of the Old Testament law; it was introduced prior the law.  For instance, Abraham gave a tithe to God and so did Jacob after his ladder dream.  Finally, never give with the motivation of getting what you gave, or more, returned to you (sorry about that if you’re a prosperity gospel kinda person).  We should give because God tells us to give.  Now, God does say that we will be prospered if we do so, but that doesn’t necessarily mean financially prospered.

Wrap-up

Ramsey wrapped up this final class with these two thoughts:

Financial Peace is more than just God’s system for understanding money, becoming debt free, and building wealth.

Financial Peace is when the Great Misunderstanding is understood

So that was the 13th and final class and it was quite motivational to me.  I would love to get to the point, both in attitude and resources, where I could freely give money to help those around me.  How much fun would that be?  Frankly, I’d love to spend my days going around meeting with church planters or missionaries or school administrators or whatever handing out checks.  I’d get business cards printed up that had as my title, “Major Donor.”  Wouldn’t that be so cool!!

I’ll do at least one more FPU post next week – a wrap-up type post of what I learned, what I liked and didn’t like, what steps I still need to accomplish, etc.  In the meantime, with many new FPU classes starting up around now, if you have the opportunity to take part in Financial Peace, I would highly recommend it!

Check out my previous FPU posts:

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