In this age of social media, Payoff.com makes a lot of sense.
That comment isn't an endorsement, nor am I about to embark on a snarky post. I'm just saying that the newest financial money management site seems perfect for our times.
If you haven't heard of Payoff.com -- and you probably haven't because it made its debut on the Internet today, January 5, 2011 -- the site is the latest in a long line of financial money management sites aiming to help people get smart about their money.
You've probably heard of a lot of the others, many of which we've written about before on WalletPop: Mint.com, JustThrive.com, Buxfer.com and Mvelopes.com, for instance.Most of these personal finance management websites are very good at what they do, with each inspiring their own fans and creating ways to stand out from the crowd. Payoff's unique quality is that it's aimed at the Facebook crowd, particularly people who are really into sharing their goals, hopes and dreams with a lot of their friends -- or even with acquaintances and strangers.
For instance, Payoff has launched a contest to get its site going, a "Freedom to Dream Contest." To participate, you need to register as a Payoff.com user and then declare on Facebook that you "like Payoff.com. Then you'll post a story on Payoff's Facebook contest page about what dream you would pursue if you were debt free. Whoever has the most passionate and compelling story, as chosen by the Payoff.com staff, will win $5,000 they can put toward paying off their debt. And Payoff is very serious about helping you pay off your debt. I'm told you won't receive a $5,000 check that you can then use to get deeper into debt (can you say "72-inch plasma TV?"). Instead, you'll tell Payoff where to send the money, and it will send up to $5,000 to whatever creditors you want the money to go to.
Payoff has the familiar elements, where you link your bank accounts to the site, and the site helps you see where your money's going, but there are other social media nods as well, in the sense that you can post your financial dreams and goals and then share advice and insight with other like-minded people trying to pry themselves out of debt. You can also win badges to help serve as a visual reminder of how far you've come in killing off what you owe to creditors. And as an enticement to keep you going down the road to debt recovery, hidden behind some of those badges are cash prizes, like $50.
If you win one of the cash prizes, you redeem what it calls your "sur-prize," and it will send you a check in the mail. I have to chuckle, though, when Payoff.com promotes itself on its website as funding one's dreams. While $50 is nothing to sneeze at -- heck, I'd take it, if I won it -- unless you win a whole lot of these sur-prizes, we're talking about a very tiny bit of funding for your dreams.
As I wandered through the site myself, it certainly seems impressive, though the site's so new that it's too early for me to offer an in-depth critique of it -- you really have to use it for awhile and interact with people to get the full experience, something I haven't had a chance to do yet.
But I think you may just agree with my initial conclusions. If you're a bit of an introvert and don't like to share details about your finances or want the world to know you have any sort of debt, I'm guessing this site, not to mention its contest, probably isn't for you.
But if you're of the my-life-is-an-open-book mentality and feel that everyone probably has some debt, thanks to this recession, and there's no shame in it, and if you're enthusiastic about the wisdom one can find within a crowd, then you've probably found your new favorite personal finance money management site.
Geoff Williams is a regular contributor to WalletPop. He often writes about debt and is the co-author of Living Well with Bad Credit.
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