Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Finovate 2009: Review

In case you’ve forgotten, Finovate 2009 begins on April 28th. In advance of the conference, we’re profiling a lot of the presenting companies. One of these companies is GoalSpring’s product. is a free tool intended to help users get out of debt. I’ve had a few conversations with the DebtGoal team (I’m an alpha-tester) and they really are passionate about helping people get out of debt, and stay out. While DebtGoal is currently a little rough around the edges, I’m excited to see what’s coming up next—as I know they’re working on some new projects.

Right now with DebtGoal you enter your debts, payments and interest rates (no account numbers or other scary things), aggregation is “in the hopper” in the next phase rollout, but at this point everything is manual data-entry. I’m hoping that they’ll allow an “enter manually” option for technophobes who are nervous about the aggregating systems. I personally love them, but I can understand those who don’t.

Using your outstanding debts and interest rates, DebtGoal produces a payoff plan for you and suggests paying off in the order of highest interest to lowest interest, and based on the minimum payment requirements, it sets payment schedule for you, based on your budget and priorities for these debts. I personally adhere to the “snowball method” of paying the smallest balance first, closing the account and then moving on to the others. I’ve requested that DebtGoal provide both options. Not sure if they’ll be able to incorporate that feature, but it seems like both methods are sound.

Why use a system like DebtGoal? I think it can help if you’re juggling multiple credit accounts and overwhelmed by deciding what to pay on what account. Perhaps you find yourself paying minimums only because you can’t decide or don’t know what to do about the next one. Then you’ll just make a big payment with the “extra” at the end of the month, right? DebtGoal encourages you to make a goal and stick with it. It can also help you plan your monthly budget so you know how much to set aside for each bill.

Another nice feature is that it shows you how long it will take you to get out of debt if you pay only minimum balances. I set a goal to be debt free by the end of this year, and adjusted my budget accordingly. You can chose either a desired debt-free date, or tell DebtGoal your desired combined monthly debt-payment budget, and they will show you the smartest way to allocate, and provide you with a debt-free date based on that plan.

One feature that I really like, and haven’t seen other places, is that it shows new spending separately, by basically showing you that you have to pay A: your regular debt-busting budget amount and B: your new spending to keep up on your goal.

I’ll attach a screenshot here, but for my pride’s sake, I’ve removed my account balances. Rest assured, this will be paid off by year’s end. I’m on track!

If you have debt and you’d like a nice graphical way to tackle that, I’d encourage you to give a try!


Tom said...

I don't see DebtGoal in the FINOVATE list anymore...

Tom said...

I just double-checked...DebtGoal is not on the official list of companies attending but they were selected as one of the presenters in the final round.

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