Personal Crowd Funding?

We’ve all heard about the many different crowdfunding organizations out there.  Probably the most famous of them is Kickstarter.  Or maybe Indiegogo.  Adam from Man vs. Debt recently crowdfunded his documentary “I’m Fine, Thanks” through Kickstarter.  Using crowdfunding sites has become pretty popular.  It’s a great way for artists and creators to fund the products that they are creating through the fans while still giving something back to the fans.

Recently, I found a site called GoFundMe.  It’s another crowdfunding site.  Except, in this case, it’s more of a crowd fundraising site.  Personal crowd funding if you will. Individuals and organizations can post a need, and then share it with friends, family, and the public through social sites and links that they can share.  Their friends, family, and anyone else interested can then go and fund the need.  Best I can tell, there aren’t many restrictions at all as to what it is that you can post as a need.  Want to use it to fund the down payment on a house?  It’s been done.   Want to use it to pay for a wedding?  Been done.

go fund me logo

Anytime I see something like this, my mind starts to wander about and find stuff that’s a bit “funny.”  I can see the good of a site like this.  It only takes a few seconds on their homepage to see that there are lots of people using the site to help people in need.  People who have medical issues.  People who have had house fires.  People who want to set up memorial funds.  I can even see how it would be kind of cool to create one to have people contribute to a wedding fund or honeymoon fund instead of buying wedding presents.  But, with every one of those that I see that seem to be legitimate things that people might want to create a fund, I see ones where you really have to wonder what some people are thinking.

For instance.  I ran across one that was a fund to help with the down payment on a new car.  Another asking for help with a down payment on a house.  It’s ones like that where my cynical side really comes out.  I’d like to think that the people really have just had a bit of down luck and just need that little bit to dig themselves out of a hole.  Or that little push to keep going to work.  Or whatever.  But, there’s that personal finance blogger side of me that wants to know why, if you knew you were going to need a car, or wanted to buy a house, weren’t you saving in the first place?

I guess there’s a small chance that the fund wasn’t intended to be seen by anyone more than the persons friends and family.  But, it is public.  And then there’s the question of taxes.  If I go create a fund, call it my retirement fund, and then raise a million dollars, what does Uncle Sam think of that.  I did a little digging, and, according to the sites FAQ section, they state that “most donations on GoFundMe are simply considered to be ‘personal gifts’ which are not taxed as income in the US.”

Which makes me wonder.  Maybe I should create a “don’t want to work anymore” fund. Set a goal of about $45,000 and see if I can’t take a year off work…

What do you think? Am I being too hard on this?  Are you going to go out and give it a try?  Would you give/donate to someone you knew who used it?

Rainbows on the Road

The other day, as my daughter was on her way to the car when I picked her up from daycare.  Along the way, she noticed something on the ground.  In the excited voice of a 4 year old, she said “Daddy!  Look!  A rainbow!”, and then pointed at the spot on the ground she was looking at.  As I got closer, I found that she was looking at a spot on the wet ground where some sort of oily fluid had likely leaked out of the bottom of a vehicle.  Of course, oily fluids, on wet ground tend to separate out into what you and I would probably best describe as an oil slick.  But, to my 4 year old, it was a rainbow on the ground.  As we drove off to pick up her brother at school, I began thinking about what had just happened.

The thoughts were amplified when she noticed another “rainbow” on the ground on the way into the school.  On our way back out of the school, with her brother, she excitedly called her brother over to show him what she had found.  My son is 6 (nearly 7), and so has a slightly more advanced knowledge of the world than his sister.  I fully expected, in the way that only a brother who doesn’t understand a 4 year old is likely to do, that he would quickly dismiss it for what it was, an oil slick on wet ground, and that her excitement would quickly dissipate.  Instead, as she pulled him over and pointed it out, saying “Look!”, he quickly said “A rainbow!”.  He saw it too.

Rainbows on the RoadAs parents, we’re always so excited to teach our children new things.  We’re often quick to correct them when they don’t get something right, or don’t understand it.  They saw a rainbow.  I didn’t.  All I saw was an oil slick.  Obviously, I saw the resemblance.  But, I knew what it really was, so the wonder that my children had for it was lost on me.  But, it kept me thinking.

How often do we take what we know, and use it as a filter for the world.  Surely, that’s what knowledge is for, right?  I know that 1+1=2, and that certain letters spell words, and that drops of oil on wet ground make a oil slick.  Yes, it’s colorful, but it’s an oil slick, not a rainbow.  How many times do we become so certain in our knowledge, and the filtering that we use it for, that we fail to see the rainbow?

How many people out there are so set in the knowledge that a bank is the lender, and use that to filter the idea of peer-to-peer lending as a sham, without allowing for a little of the rainbow to shine through?

The point is this: If you never question what you think you know, how will you ever know if you’re wrong?  Sometimes the formula and constants change.  Sometimes, the environment itself is what has changed.  Heck, look at the newspaper industry.  How long did they refuse to see the emergence of blogs (like this one) as a major change in the dynamic of how people get their news?  Some of them still refuse to see that rainbow.

If you do one thing to improve your personal finance today, question what you think you know.  Most of the time, you’ll still be right.  But, maybe, just maybe, you’ll see a rainbow instead.

What are some rainbows that you’ve found by questioning what you thought was true?  What methods do you use to find the rainbows in your life?

Original Image credit:Oil slick. @blackmetalbike by Growinnc, on Flickr

Are You Waiting on Your Finances to Change?

New years’ is just around the corner.  And along with it, a flood of new years’ resolutions about finances.  People around the world will make resolutions to make more money, save more money, and just improve their finances in general.  Something like 45% will fail within 6 weeks.  Within 6 months, a majority will have failed.  They’ll have failed because they’ve given up.  They’ll have given up because they didn’t take action (or enough action) to make the change that they were seeking.

In short, they are waiting on their finances to change.  Somethings are worth waiting for.  Red lights, for instance will change if you only wait long enough.  The weather, if you wait long enough is likely to change as well.  But, your finances aren’t going to change if you only wait on them to.  If you want them to change, you’ve got to make a directed effort to change them.

new years fireworks

If you’re planning on making a resolution this year, and it doesn’t have to be directly related to finances, make one additional resolution.  The resolution to make an effort to fulfill your resolutions!  Make changes, learn about the steps you need to take to get things moving in the direction you want them to go.  Stop sitting around and waiting on your finances to change for you.  You change them!

Sites like this one are chock full of information on improving your finances.  For most sites, you can easily subscribe to email updates.  Here, you can simply enter your email address in the box under “Subscribe” in the top of the sidebar and click on the “Subscribe” button.

Here’s a few posts to get you started.  (hint: you don’t have to wait until new years to start making changes to change your finances)

Got debt?  Get the debt repayment moving with a Debt Avalanche!

Once you get the debt repayment moving, you’ve got to stay gazelle intense!

Debt gone?  First, congratulations!  Now, get your money working for you.  Perhaps investing in something like a Lending Club account?

Whatever you decide to change this year, make your resolution a true resolution and keep going with it.  If you’re still going strong on it at 6 months, you’ve already done better than the majority of your resolution-making peers!

Will you be making resolutions this year?  Have you in the past?  And did you stick with them?