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Money Merge Accounts – Legitimate or a Scam?

by Ryan Guina

What would you say if someone told you that by purchasing a software program and following the directions you could pay off your 30 year mortgage in 11 years and you wouldn’t have to make any financial sacrifices to make it happen? It almost sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

Money Merge Account - legitimate or scam?Before we sign up, we have some questions to ask: can it be done, is it too good to be true, and how? The answer is yes, maybe, and by using a Money Merge Account, which is also known by the term Mortgage Accelerator Program or similar names. But just because it might work,  doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you.

I recently received a reader question about mortgage software accelerator programs:

My husband is trying to convince me to by into a mortgage merge acceleration program using a HELOC.  The cost is $3500.00.  The program supposedly helps to pay your mortgage off in as little as 11 years (if you follow the prescribed advice) by using your HELOC, putting all the expenses on a credit card and paying them off at the end of the month.  It seems too good to be true to me. I’ve never heard of such a thing.  What are your thoughts?

Thanks for the question. Let’s take a look at money merge accounts and how they work, then I will give my thoughts at the end.

What is a money merge account and how does it work?

What is a money merge account? A money merge account is an account backed by a software program that helps users accelerate their mortgage payments to eliminate their mortgage more quickly. It requires users to purchase a proprietary software program, open a HELOC, which is basically a second mortgage on your home, and follow the instructions given by the money merge company.

How does it work? The money merge system works by using a revolving credit line in your HELOC to pay your mortgage. The first step is to buy the software program and open the HELOC. You then borrow a large sum of money against your HELOC and apply it to your mortgage, which reduces the principal, and thus the amount of interest you will pay over the course of your mortgage. Let’s say you borrow $10,000 in your HELOC and apply that to your mortgage. You still owe $10,000, but you owe it against your HELOC, not the mortgage. The interest on your HELOC is calculated differently than your mortgage interest, which is one way a money merge account can help people pay down their mortgage more quickly.

Your next step is to deposit each paycheck into your money merge account, which reduces the amount you owe against your HELOC. You then withdraw money from the money merge account for your monthly expenses (which is essentially borrowing more money from your HELOC). When the next month rolls around the balance remaining in your money merge account is used to pay your mortgage payment, and anything above and beyond your normal mortgage payment is used to pay down the principal, reducing the amount of time it takes to repay your mortgage. The process repeats itself and the money merge accounts use “proprietary software” to calculate the best times to make mortgage payments and borrow more money. Essentially it is a revolving line of credit used to shave small percentages off the amount of mortgage interest you are paying. Here is a simplified step by step process:

  • Buy mortgage software accelerator program (often several thousand dollars)
  • Open a HELOC (a loan secured against your home, often at an adjustable rate, and sometimes through the sponsoring company or its affiliates)
  • Borrow against your HELOC to pay mortgage
  • Deposit your paychecks into the HELOC
  • Pay your bills out of the HELOC
  • Remaining funds go toward mortgage and principle

Simplified example: You earn $4,000 each month in salary and you have $1,500 in living expenses and a $1,500 mortgage payment. You deposit your paycheck and spend the $1,500 on living expenses, leaving $2,500 in your money merge account. The remaining $2,500 is used to cover your mortgage payment, with $1,500 going toward your payment and the extra $1,000 going to pay down the principal. How quickly you can repay your mortgage depends on how much extra cash you have at the end of each month.

Wait a minute? Can’t I do that on my own?

What, can you pay down your mortgage more quickly without spending thousands of dollars on software? Absolutely. All you need to do is pay extra on your mortgage payment each month, or send in payments every two weeks. The only difference with the money merge method is that they use the revolving line of credit with the HELOC to reduce (by a small percentage) the amount of mortgage interest you pay each month.

The key to making a money merge account work is to follow their system explicitly – and that means depositing 100% of your income into the money merge account and using all surplus cash to repay your mortgage. To make this work, you have to make your mortgage repayment your number one financial priority – above paying down any other debts, saving for retirement, or other financial goals.

Can I repay my mortgage in 1/3 to 1/2 of the time without changing my lifestyle?

Maybe. How quickly you can repay your mortgage or how much money you can save depends on how much extra money you can divert toward your mortgage each month. If you already have a huge cash surplus each month, then you can do it. If you are already struggling with debt or barely getting by, then a money merge account isn’t for you. It only works if you can put a lot of extra money toward your mortgage each month.

Are money merge accounts a scam?

Money merge accounts are not a scam in the true sense of the word because there is a product that can work – for some people. But they are often called scams because many money merge products are sold by multi-level marketing companies where some people are more concerned about earning a hefty commission than selling products to people who actually need them.

A money merge account might be beneficial for some people, but they need to run the numbers based on their situation and budget, not make a decision by looking at “customer testimonials” or a text book example with perfect numbers. A money merge account only works for people who already have a budget in place and can divert extra money toward their mortgage each month. A money merge account is not a magic bullet to change your lifestyle and bring you wealth or debt freedom.

Pros and cons of money merge accounts

Pros.

  • The only advantage money merge accounts offer is paying off your mortgage more quickly, which is something you can do on your own.

Cons.

  • Cost of software ($3,500 for the reader who asked the question)
  • Effectiveness. You won’t know how well it works until you try it for several months (and after you spend several grand on software).
  • You need to have a large cash surplus each month for it to be effective.
  • You must make your mortgage repayment your financial priority.

Are money merge accounts a good deal?

A money merge account can work, but it is not a good deal for everyone. For it to work, you need to set your mortgage repayment as your number one financial priority and you need to have a steady stream of excess cash each month. Without surplus money, you won’t be paying any extra on the principal and you will repay your mortgage at the same pace you would have without the money merge software, effectively losing out on the cost of the mortgage software accelerator program.

Alternatives to money merge accounts

  • Pay extra on your mortgage each month
  • Make bi-weekly mortgage payments

My thoughts on money merge accounts: Most people will be better off putting the $3,500 toward their mortgage and making extra payments on their own.

Additional reading about money merge accounts:


Published or updated July 25, 2012.
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{ 68 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Kristen

Ryan, I’m so glad you did this post. I know someone in the mortgage business who touts the “money merge” product. I’ve been doing some research because, even though I think this guy is honest, something about the product just seemed strange to me. I’m always wary of things that seem too good to be true.

It sounds like this, along with most of the financial plans out there, can be beneficial for the right consumer. Not every debt reduction plan or product is a good fit for every person. Thanks for the info.!

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2 Ryan

Absolutely. It’s a matter of finding the right product for the right situation. Money merge accounts probably have their place for some people, but not for everyone.

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3 Evan

From your review, its not a bad product but rather just seems not to be worth the $3,500 since you can perform the system yourself.

What happens if you can’t get a HELOC because of your credit? Does the system have an alternative?

Also, what happens if your HELOC is closed? Does that not matter since the money has been extracted?

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4 Ryan

Evan, most of these products require you to have HELOC, so if you can’t get a HELOC, you can’t participate int he program That makes this is a risky purchase for people with bad credit or who already have a lot of non-mortgage debt. Additionally, many banks are limiting credit right now because of the bad economy, which may make it more difficult for some people to be approved for a HELOC or other loans. To top it off, in rare cases, people may have their line of credit closed if they are deemed to be a risk. If that were to happen, you would no longer be able to participate in a program like this.

Overall, it seems like an overly expensive way to reduce mortgage debt for most people.

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5 CFL

The HELOC is not required. The system offered by UFF runs with a typical checking and savings account. The HELOC does not really help you payoff any faster,having one is good because it creates flexibility as well as safety. The Key to making the system work is spending less then earned on average monthly.

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6 PK

I was offered a Mortgage Accelerator Program a couple of years ago, however mine was only offered at $40 annual fee for the HELOC. The way my program worked was that it was basically one gigantic HELOC for the entire mortgage balance. I’ve looked into it and my program is no longer offered.

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7 Miranda

I’m a big fan of the pay extra toward your mortgage on your own plan. I know that money merge can help some people, but if you work out a spending plan, you can take care of your mortgage faster — without buying the software. Of course, I would pay off consumer debt and save for retirement before aggressively paying down the mortgage.

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8 Ryan

Great point, Miranda. Paying off consumer debt and preparing for retirement are usually stronger financial goals than prepaying your mortgage. Money Merge Accounts only work if you have a lot of extra money to put toward your mortgage after all debts and retirement contributions have been made. This probably only covers a small number of people.

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9 Paul @ FiscalGeek

The whole idea of taking out more debt to get out of debt quicker is just ridiculous to me. And honestly I have never owned a $3500 piece of software, let alone a web based system. They use a propietary algorithm known as “arithmetic.” Nice article but I just hate the idea that there are people out there feeling like this system is the only way they could get it done meanwhile their HELOC interest and software fee is making the pyramid richer.

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10 Hank

When you can do something similar yourself for next to no cost with just a little discipline, I don’t see the benefit or paying $3,500 for someone else’s system.

A lot of mortgage holders can pay off their loans years in advance with free or low cost systems like paying bi-monthly or adding one extra payment to their account balance once a year. Making one extra mortgage payment per year can help you pay off a 30 year mortgage in as little as 22 years, saving hundreds of thousands in interest payments to the bank.

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11 Everyday Finance

Total waste in my opinion. I did an article on UFirst Financial’s product. I presume your reader was inquiring about the same company. When I asked a co-worker touting this thing about how the numbers look if I just put the $3500 toward my principal today instead of buying this software he was speechless.

Don’t be fooled by the line “you’ll save xxxx dollars in interest!”

Its all about Present Value of money which some people don’t adequately understand before getting involved in these schemes. With interest rates at historic lows and HELOC accounts being pulled in by banks, now is not a great time to be tinkering with this, especially for $3500 (or tens of thousands in interest! if using their ploy). Glad to see your readers see through it; just wait til the MLM crew hits your article – they’ll be here soon I’m sure. They troll for any articles critquing the system.

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12 Financial Samurai

Hey Ryan, great post you got there. Sounds like just another way for banks to make money off of us!

Instead, if you have a HELCO I’d look into using this instead. Pls check out “”Going Broke To Win Big, HELOC Edition – Maximize Your Home Equity.”

I think you’ll find it quite insightful. I’ve imployed this for the past 2 years now, and it has saved me a ton.

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13 Brad Castro

“My thoughts on money merge accounts: Most people will be better off putting the $3,500 toward their mortgage and making extra payments on their own.”

Funny – that was exactly my reaction as I was reading your post.

And as I recall, making mortgage decisions based on low-at-the-moment adjustable rates may not be your best option.

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14 Kirk Kinder

The only other point that the Money Merge folks talk about is how the interest on the HELOC is calculated based on a daily rate so by putting your paycheck in there you can keep the interest costs substantially lower. And, since you leave no money in a checking account earning next to nothing, you can beat the extra payment a month or bi-monthly.

So I did the math on it and this is actually true. However, once you add the $3,500 for the software it no longer makes sense. If you could get this application for $40 or so then it could save a couple grand in interest beyond the extra payment method and leaving money in a low interest checking account.

But, I would just focus on paying down on your own.

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15 Curious Cat Investing Blog

I would never buy this. And paying off a mortgage quickly, with interest rates what they are today makes little sense to me.

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16 John DeFlumeri Jr

Looks scammish to me. Just pat exxtra principal all the time. if you can. No need to buy anthing.

John

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17 No Debt Plan

Just wait until the mortgage accelerator companies find this post… you will have several comments (if you choose to publish them) about how wrong you are.

I just went through it a few months ago when I explained that you should avoid mortgage acceleration programs like the plague. They didn’t take kindly to that.

At the end of the day they show you a lot of complicated charts, use financial terminology, and smoke and mirrors you into missing the fact that the primary reason you pay off your mortgage is you are putting every last cent you have into paying down the principal.

You don’t need to spend $3,500 to do that. Period.

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18 Greg

Thanks so much for providing this information. I have listened to those commercials on the radio for the last year dying to find out what they are all about. Mystery solved!

Everytime I hear something like that I can’t understand why the public doesn’t realize on the other side is somebody that needs to feed their families and pay their taxes (and probably line their pockets with lots of extra $).

If you want to fix your finances or get ahead it always comes back to working hard, educating yourself and making good choices!

Keep up the great work!

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19 JoeTaxpayer

I’ve written quite a bit on this, over 60 pages when compiled into one PDF.
The product doesn’t work as advertised. I’ve proven that over and over on multiple blogs.
It starts with making assumptions that are very unlikely (that one still has 20% of take home pay ‘extra’ at months end to throw at their mortgage) and goes on to offer some very bad math, completely ignoring the most basic financial concepts, such as time value of money. When confronted on this, the sellers of this product quickly turn to name calling, because they are unable to discuss the numbers. I’ve successfully turned many agents who stayed for the discussion, not unlike deprogramming someone kidnapped by a cult. When they have patience and see the numbers, they realize they’d been scammed ans selling the scam to others.

The PDF can be downloaded here: Money Merge Account Links.

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20 Betty Kincaid

I just wanted to highlight 2 great points in the article & comments:

1) Use the $3500 as a principal reduction on your mortgage…even better do that every year.

You can see our calculation on making an annual principal payment versus bi-weekly payments here- http://ctrlyourcash.wordpress.com/2009/06/24/phrenology-astrology-global-warming/

2) These programs only work if you have extra cash each month after paying your bills…Yes, that’s called building wealth. Spend less than you earn, invest the balance.

Unless your mortgage interest rates is over 6%* putting that extra cash into principal pay down will not yield your highest return. I haven’t run the numbers (hey, new post) but I’m sure investing the same amount in a 401(k) or IRA with a modest 5-6% return (adding in the tax benefits would increase the return considerably) would be the better choice.

*If your mortgage interest rate is over 6%, you should refinance today.

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21 CFL

In the interest of full disclosure, I am a United First Financial agent. My partner and I have been in the mortgage business since 1997 specializing in first time buyers and in teaching personal finance literacy (teaching people how to balance a checkbook, manage their expenses and income and treat saving as a requirement).

I do own and sell the MMA and serve as a personal coach to my clients using the program. I fully expect that a certain percentage of readers will discount what I am about to say for that very reason.

I’ve been following any number of blogs offering opinions, advice and discussion centered on the Money Merge Account and the associated math. There are a few points that I’d like to make

Calvin and Joe Taxpayer have contributed mightily to this debate. Their assertion that “you can do this yourself” is absolutely correct. Math is math, money is money and finance is finance. In every example demonstrated to illustrate the flawed math in the MMA, the math used is linear in nature. For example, it is very easy to show an amortization schedule where by additional principal payments shorten the term of a loan, reduce the total interest paid and increase the principal portion of each subsequent scheduled payment. This model is a static representation of constant numbers. In other words, if I send an extra XXXXX dollars to my mortgage each and every month the each and every year, result will be YYYYYY. If my living expenses and my income are exactly the same every month, every year, the math is quite simply, the math.
If that were the case, everyone would be doing this and blogging about it would be moot.

The reality that I’ve experienced with actual clients is that there are very few constants in their “real life” spreadsheets. Monthly living expenses can vary wildly from month to month. This amount includes some very variable items. Things like groceries, gasoline, dining and entertainment, miscellaneous household or automobile repairs, back to school shopping and birthdays and holidays all impact what we spend from month to month. If there is any variability in income, that static model becomes less reliable.
Additionally, few of us are fortunate enough to have a mortgage as our only debt.

With this variability plugged into the equation, the probability that each and every month, XXXXX dollars extra will be sent to the mortgage becomes less and less likely. When unexpected expenses arise, which they always do, the first thing that typically gets reduced is the additional money that you otherwise would have sent to your existing debt.

What the MMA does is capture all money that you don’t spend in those months where there is “average” or below average spending and drives that money into an interest bearing account. That money is accumulated and stored until it reaches a level determined by you as your emergency fund to be used in those months when expenses are greater than average. Any thing above that level (The accumulated money that you haven’t spent) is then applied to the principal balance of one of your existing debts.
If savings or cash accumulation is an immediate focus, the program can be adjusted to focus on building savings rather than paying down debt.

The true value in the program doesn’t lie in the math; it lies in the ability to see visually the impact in dollars, cents, and days that your financial decisions have on your own individual long range plan. To be able to evaluate the future value of savings or investments versus the interest savings achieved in reducing debt in the context of variable income and expenses is the application of the math that most people overlook. This not only allows comparative analysis when evaluating different strategies, but it also promotes good decision making based on the continuous feedback you get when you experience those unanticipated expenses and unexpected occurrences in life.

In my humble opinion, anyone with the desire and focus can do this on their own, in reality the vast majority of people don’t. It’s not because that they don’t have the time or the skill set, it because life doesn’t exist on a spreadsheet, life IS a variable and things always change.

The true measure of whether or not the program is worth $3,500 can best be answered by someone using the program who doesn’t sell it. If someone has been coached properly they stay engaged, use the program and ultimately, see the results. Those individuals will tell you their real life experiences.
This isn’t for everyone and it certainly isn’t a cure all but in the right hands, with the proper support and coaching, it can be a very powerful financial planning tool.

Thanks for reading through.
Cashflow Coach

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22 JoeTaxpayer

CFL,
You state “The true value in the program doesn’t lie in the math; it lies in the ability to see visually the impact in dollars, cents, and days that your financial decisions have on your own individual long range plan.”

Which is a refreshing change from other agents who seem to have trouble understanding this. The free spreadsheet Ryan let me link to on my site provides exactly that. You know how your mortgage is impacted by every dollar you send extra or not. The spreadsheet changes as the number you enter changes.

What no agent want to ever address is how the MMA software is flawed, how it does not choose the optimum HELOC draw leaving far too high an average balance when the HELOC rate exceeds the mortgage, and far too low when the rate is far below the first mortgage. When agents are willing to produce numbers, I show that DIY beats MMA even when MMA cost is ignored, assumed to be zero.

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23 CFL

Who said anything about a HELOC? I’m using my own savings account. The advantages to using a LOC are not significant unless you are consolidating other consumer debt. One important aspect of a LOC is that you can create leverage and arbitrage. For example; in real life, using a LOC as a check book – pay checks in – expenses out – causes multiple changes in the daily balance in real time. This manipulates the interest calculation downward because interest is calculated against the average daily balance. By doing this, you create an Effective rate that is significantly lower than the APR. The effective rate is dependant on the interaction between initial balance owed, the frequency of pay, and the actual disbursement of monies for daily living expenses. This calculation is specific to each individual based on their unique situation.
If you have a LOC rate of 6% and a first mortgage rate of 5.25%, it would make no sense to reposition mortgage debt to the line of credit. If however, with the same two loans, you could achieve an effective rate of 3.5% or 4% on the LOC, would it not make sense to reposition a small part of that mortgage debt to that lower rate?

I have to tell you that this was completely counterintuitive when I first saw this. Until I ran out the numbers based on how an open end loan instrument actually calculates interest when this methodology is employed, it made no sense.

That being said, the line of credit is not very important, it’s not necessary and the benefits, aside from having an “emergency fund” are negligible.

One thing that no one has ever touched on is the subtle psychology the program provides. The financial feedback this provides is almost subconscious in nature.
Think about it, human nature is such that we seek immediate gratification. When we gratify ourselves (buying something “fun” – not a necessity) we release endorphins that stimulate the pleasure centers in our brain. We don’t get that same “juice” by not spending. The program provides constant positive feedback when you spend LESS than you budgeted. This constant re-enforcement changes behavior over time. This is an intangible and not at all apparent until you’ve been on the program for a while. In it’s simplest terms, you are rewarded for good financial behavior, and punished for bad financial behavior.

Thanks again,
Cashflow Coach

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24 JoeTaxpayer

CFL –
Admittedly, I have trouble keeping track of which agents are focusing on which aspect of the system. 99% of them, along with UFirst itself, claims the HELOC use is at the very core of the system, obfuscating the fact that one’s own money is used each month to pay down the mortgage. One popular agent’s site showed how if on the 29th of the month you draw the HELOC down $30,000 and then on the 30th write a check from the HELOC to your first mortgage, that the system just paid for itself ten times over. When I point out that the customer just depleted his entire emergency fund, I am dismissed. These are mere ‘details.’ I need to look at the results, which one can only achieve by spending $3500.
Now, you suggest HELOC use is not even your focus. That’s great. We are back to prepaying each month. Let me be real clear here. There’s one rule: “Make minimum payments on all debt, and at month end, send any remaining cash to the highest interest debt.” This rule beats MMA hands down. No math. The math doesn’t change anything. Of course it does provide that feedback, telling the user the exact second his mortgage will end, as compared to the non-MMA client who either needs to consult a free spreadsheet or heaven forbid, learn to use a $25 financial calculator. The typical non-MMA user will find that his mortgage actually ends about 6 months sooner as that’s the ‘true cost’ of the program. When I am asked about the $3500 so-called ‘investment’, I suggest they take $1000 and go buy a big TV, $25 on the calculator, and put $2475 toward principal.
If you ever want to have a dual, discussing actual numbers right here, I’m game. Let me know, I’ll put up the numbers for you to analyze, if you accept the challenge.

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25 CFL

Joe, you will get no argument from me as to the math. All else being equal, this can be done with a spread sheet and calculator, and the results will be the same. Math is math. The system or tool costs $3,500 so the MMA client is behind by that amount. I go back to my original statement that in a static representation, you are absolutely correct. Where it becomes a bit more challenging is when you add several additional debts, planning a large purchase such as a car, funding a 529 college plan, braces for the kids, a home repair or remodel, an interruption in income, retirement funding etc. Now add in the variable nature of our living expenses (don’t care how disciplined or budget conscious you are, life happens and things ALWAYS come up) With real life as a back drop, the decisions you make when you do have a little extra money at the end of the month becomes much more complicated. This is where the average person walks away from their calculator and spreadsheet. They revert back to doing things the way they always have, by the way they’ve been conditioned, back in their comfort zone and making decisions based on emotion not math.

Think about it, if someone truly spends all but $200 or $300 of their income per month, will the really really send some or all of that money to debt, or will they save or spend it. It goes back to human nature and psychology. I’m not talking about the affect of moving $30,000 from one area to another; I’m talking about capturing pennies and days that a spreadsheet ignores. It goes to the time value of money and cash flow efficiency.

On last thing related to cost. Anyone can exercise by walking un and down stairs. They can fill 5 gallon buckets with water to lift weights………and it’s absoloutly free.
How many people buy a BowFlex machine to achieve the same result?

Now picture the BowFlex machine AND a personal fitness coach that comes to your house once a week to monitor your progress and help with your workouts. Who is more likely to continue working out and actually achieve the desired result?

This is how I implement the MMA program with my clients. Like I said in my last post, it isn’t for everyone but in the right hands, with the proper coaching it is a powerful tool.

As far as your challenge goes, I concede. You will ALWAYS out perform MMA in a static hypothetical example.
I would however, offer to up the ante!
I would challenge you by engaging a real client, perhaps someone on this site that has looked at the MMA and is skeptical. Apples to apples, you take their life in its entirety, including all aspects of their finances. Put them on your free spreadsheet, I will put them on my coaching program, and we’ll go through ninety days of real life and we can compare results. That is a challenge I win daily.

Cashflow Coach

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26 JoeTaxpayer

CFL – I applaud you. Trying to switch to something that implies more transactions than are needed to prove anything and then implying some advantage to MMA in said scenario. Where, I, an engineer by schooling simply seek to start from a known point, usually the ‘classic’ example from UF’s videos.
I’ve proven time after time that there is no reasonable scenario in which the savings can exceed the cost. $3500 cannot be made up by the pennies captured on the cash flow of $5000 (again, as UF’s own videos show.) Say what you will about your own happy clients, my rule stated above is flexible, as the extra money will vary each month. If you wish to produce 90 days of transactions, be my guest, I’ll accept that challenge. So long as all assumptions are stated and we’re going in circles with money pulled out of nowhere.

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27 CFL

Joe, I think you misunderstand. I suggest comparing an actual person with real numbers, not forecasts and assumptions based on a hypothetical. Then, take a retrospective look at what had actually transpired over ninety days, and compare the results. I do this regularly with a client BEFORE they buy anything. It is only through this process that the other aspects I mentioned, finances in the context of real life with all the variables that life brings, come into play.
This is the essence of my comment that life doesn’t exist on a spreadsheet. And as I mentioned, the sublime psychology involved is far more powerful than you might realize.
You still haven’t commented on the coaching and support provided AFTER the sale. Can you objectively attach a price to that, to committing to working with someone every week for 8, 10, or 12 years?
Many of my clients have and that price is………………………..$3,500.

You mentioned that your field of expertise is in engineering. I’m sure that your analytical nature leads you to focus on the math. That is your nature. In reality, the math (pre algebra) is relatively simple compared to statistics, finite math and trigonometry.

My degree is in Economics, with a minor is Sociology. After working in financial services for the better part of 25 years, I have found that goals, habits, behavior and positive reinforcement are the real drivers in someone’s financial success or failure. I refer back to the “Bow Flex” analogy.

The challenge stands.

– Cashflow Coach

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28 JoeTaxpayer

CFL –
Clearly I don’t understand. To compare two mortgages, I never felt compelled to get one, live it for 90 says and decide. Life doesn’t live on a spreadsheet, nor in a poorly written program that fails to do what it claims. I agree with you on that.
The coaching after the sale seems to be backed by minimum wage clerks who answer a call center. Since UFirst has a disclaimer that no agent or employee may “offer financial advice” I’d not expect too much.
My graduate degree is in finance, so the fourth grade math aside, all my interaction with agents has shown me that most of them haven’t gotten that far.
We have no challenge because we have no understanding. UF video shows a period of transactions, I can do that as well. If you don’t want to offer your transactions to compare then what is the nature of the challenge? When does your savings cross over the $3500 threshold? I claim never. The ball is in your court.

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29 CFL

You and I agrre on one thing. There are many many agents that have no business representing the product. Unless this is offered by a licensed professional (CFP or licensed advisor) as part of an integrated plan, the benefits to the program won’t be truly realized.

The coaching and support I alluded is performed by ME, and I haven’t worked for minimum wage since 1974. Although UFirst has superior client support, that support is based purley on functionality. My support involves implementation of a financial plan on a day to day, week to week or month to month basis. I have to admit that there is an alterior motive at work. Coaching builds relationships, relationships bring referrals and referrals bring more clients.
You seemed dubious about my “happy Clients”. They have and do speak for themselves. In fact, one of my clients directed me to this blog. His comment to me was “I don’t think he gets it” and I have to agree.

The crossover, IE the ROI, is different for each individual based on their individual cashflow and debt load. Give me a client with actual numbers, let me work with them, and I’ll gladly report on the results.
The challenge still stands!
– Cashflow Coach

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30 JoeTaxpayer

How about someone with $5000/mo net, $200K mortgage, 6% 30 yr, and after the mortgage and all expenses are paid, he has an extra $200 at month end. The pay is semi-monthly, i.e. twice per month, paid on the 1st and 15th, $2500 per. He start this with no savings to speak of and no other debt to quibble over. And the HELOC he has access to is 8% money.

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31 CFL

Hey Joe,
Thanks for responding I was beginning to think you were done playing. I love the simple scenario you are laying out.
Answer the following to help shed some light on this client.

1. How old is this person?
2. What are some future financial goals?
3. Credit cards or access to credit cards?
4. How much available on the HELOC?

With the mortgage you have illustrated the fully amortized payment is $1199.10 and the total interest paid if the client makes regular payments for 360 months is $231,677.
You are using another static example as is always the case in these discussions. That being the case, I assume that your advice to this client, if he truly is focused on getting out of debt, is to send $200 extra each month to his mortgage. Doing so will save $79,801 in interest and pay off the mortgage in 252 months instead of 360.
(Go to countrywide.com and under calculators’ select early payoff.) – Easy to use and accurate

If this individual has net income of $5000 and $200 left after all expenses and obligations are met, that leaves $3,600.90 for those expenditures.

Now Joe, remember we are talking about real life and we are using a real client in this scenario. With this being said my first impression of this client is he spends all but $200 per month and has no savings then the conversation wouldn’t center on software, it would center on the $3,600.90. I would start by identifying where this money goes and how much is truly accounted for.

Groceries – Frequency (how often does he/she shop)
Gas – how often?
Insurances – Amounts and due dates?
Taxes – Monthly, quarterly, semi annual, yearly?
Utilities – Amounts, due dates?
Entertainment
Gifts
Medical
Personal and Misc. Expenses
Misc. household repairs/ maintenance

If after this discussion, the client can truly say that:
– His monthly expenses are always exactly the same at $3,600.90
– He has the focus and discipline to send all $200 of hisextramoney to his mortgage each and every month
– He has no other financial goals
– He isn’t concerned with an emergency fund
Then he isn’t a candidate for this program. We would part as friends and I would ask permission to follow up in six months or so to see how his plan is going.
End of discussion.

In the passed three years, I have gone through this exercise countless times.
In reality, there are very, very few clients that actually commit to and follow through with a plan such as you describe. It’s just human nature.
Joe, answer this honestly, would your client, with only $200 left over monthly send any of it to his mortgage? Probably not, it’s just human nature.
Would you recommend that he use the HELOC to pay down the mtg.? If so, when and how much?

If you’d like to fill in some of the rather large blanks in your client profile, we can continue to play.

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32 JoeTaxpayer

Now, I’m done.
You’ve made it clear there’s no starting point, and I have neither the time nor patience to answer this level of detailed questions on a hypothetical scenario.

I’m curious why Ufirst gets away with a similar scenario, assuming exactly $1000 extra, and everything else static, but when I offer a similar scenario with less extra income to apply, the questions pour in. You wouldn’t accept such a client? You have my respect. I engaged with an agent who wrote that even with ‘zero’ extra, the system would save years off the mortgage.

If it weren’t for the fact that most agent appear clueless to me and hop on the exaggerated claims make by other agents, the program might never have come to my attention. It’s also clear that you are not just selling this and walking away, but using it as one tool of a much bigger picture. I maintain that with all the interaction you seem to have with clients, you might have avoided using an expensive system such as this, but still, you are not in the same league as other agents.
You are welcome to have the last word, I’m done here.

33 deron

Great idea, but can be managed with a spreadsheet.

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34 CFL

Would you show me how?

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35 GL

I have 5 credit cards with balances and a mortgage with 28 years left on it. I have been trying to pay off the highest interest cards first but find this process to be very slow. I have a little money left over at the end of the month most of the time and try to put a little in savings so I have a just in case fund. Any suggestions? I am open minded.

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36 Ryan
37 CFL

Joe – The first sentence in your last reply is key.
You’ve made it clear there’s no starting point, and I have neither the time nor patience to answer this level of detailed questions on a hypothetical scenario.
There are no hypotheticals that accurately portray real life. The starting point for each individual is specific to their own unique situation.
The examples cited by UFirst are illustrative in nature and can only give very general examples – a base line that that uses static math – precisely what your spreadsheet does. There’s no mystery there. Math is math. The actual client software is dynamically reactive to the ebbs and flows of our daily, weekly and monthly cash flow. It captures ALL the money we don’t spend when we don’t spend it and puts it to work. It doesn’t work with an arbitrary figure of $200 per month.

It provides real time feedback on the consequences of our behavior and spending habits. It is because of this dynamic feedback that the psychology I alluded to earlier comes into play. The net result of this is that the average client ends up AHEAD of the projection of the initial analysis because it helps change the behavior of those who are focused.

Why do I use such an expensive tool to manage this process? Simply put, if I were to manage this process manually for my clients, the cumulative cost of me doing manually what the program does automatically would be far greater than $3,500. They wouldn’t be able to afford my hourly rate and I wouldn’t be able to provide the amount of detailed information the software provides.

Thanks for engaging and offering the last word.
I would only ask that you when critiquing the product do so with the caveat that you don’t own it and have never used it and acknowledge that there are some agents that actually know what there doing.

– Cashflow Coach

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38 Jennene

Ryan
Thank you so much for this great article. You have explained this program much more clearly and in detail. I was recently approached by a rep that told me there was a program that would be something of “added value” that I could present to my customers at no cost to me. It was a presentation of a $3,500 money merge account program. However, there was a cost to me because they wanted me to become an agent for their program for a $99 fee. I was to sell the product but in order to make the most money, I had to sell the business (MLM)!
Some areas were vaguely presented which was a cause for concern to me. For example; not once was a HELOC mentioned as part of the program when it was presented to me. It was only when I researched the company further that I noticed the mention of the HELOC. Although perhaps a legitimate organization and concept, the program is a bit costly for something once clearly explained, most could do on their own. Besides, I think it is better to pay down consumer debt first.

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39 Marty Laws

As someone who has sold the money merge account for 2.5 years, I can honestly tell you that I feel like apologizing to everyone that I sold this plan to (including myself because I believed it). math may be math there’s NO way on this earth that one can pay down or off their mortgage without any affect on the budget. I simply drank the kool-aid and regret it now. IF you need help AND want to pay off your home early AND do not have the discipline to do this on your own, find one of the many programs that cost around $100.00 or so instead of this one.

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40 GL

What happened Marty?

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41 Rick VanGeest

We took the plunge and are now regretting it. Can I get out of the MMA or am I stuck into making the payments with no recourse. I do feel like a friend convinced us to buy into the MMA when we really couldn’t afford it and when I approached U-First about getting out was told flatly no. Do I have any recourse or are we stuck?

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42 Ryan

Rick, I don’t know anything about U-First’s policy, but I recommend reading it thoroughly before making any rash decisions. You might also want to have a nice talk with your friend…

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43 GL

What happened Rick?

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44 Rick VanGeest

We have, shall we say, a friend who convinced us that this was going to be the best and smoothest way to dig ourselves out of debt and that the $3,500. 00 was an investment in our financial success by paying off debt and interest early. The glitch came when we had to finance the ‘investment’ with Ufirst paying them interest and then only being able to carry it on a credit card. We are paying interest twice. Worse yet, our income has taken a dangerous turn downward due to a number of elements in our disfavor. I read the contract I thought thoroughly enough and thought that there was an escape. There doesn’t seem to be. There is a 3 day cooling off period, but after that it seems, you are stuck. I also find that the program itself is really not doing a thing. It just seems like an online bookkeeping tool. I just feel like we have been legally scammed with no escape or recourse. I want out and they won’t let it happen. Any ideas?
Rick…

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45 JoeTaxpayer

I suggest you tell your credit card company to stop paying the charge. If UFirst goes after you, offer to take them to small claims court. I understand they are not inclined to chase these.
Also, I suggest you file a report with the local Better Business Bureau as this is the way to go on record. It may be too late to get your money back that was already taken, but you can help others avoid this scam. Unfortunately, not all scams or MLMs are illegal, just look at how long before Madoff was found out. (Of course his was illegal, I just offer that scams take time to be discovered, and most agents are fond of quoting how few complaints there are.)

46 GL

Rick, instead of taking the approach that Joe talks about why don’t you try this approach. Call Ufirst and say ” My income has changed because of the economy and I can not afford the added expense at this time because of this. Is there something we can do until income is replaced?” Ufirst would respond with a positive answer. Remember you own the software for life and I am sure that your income will come back and at that point you will see that it is much more then a book keeping tool.

If you take this approach instead of blaming the software and making claims that it does not work or you have been scammed you might get a better result . The software did not cause you to loose income and if you were making the money that you said you did when you started this would not be an issue.

Ufirst is not looking to create new problems for you and would certainly help if it was explained correctly.

If you were using the system even with the lower income you would learn the best way to use the cash flow you have to weather the storm with out creating new problems for yourself.

Just a thought.

47 JoeTaxpayer

Rick – unfortunately, the guarantee is pretty worthless. It basically states that if the program doesn’t perform as advertised, given your inputs, you can request a refund. Of course the agent had you sign an acknowledgment that he entered your data correctly, which they usually don’t. Of course, you really don’t want to go after your friend, but have you discussed this with him?

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48 Rick

I did read the contract as well as I thought and tried conversing with ‘the friend’ to no avail. I have considered contacting him again to try and get the payments suspended, but I really want to get out of the program entirely and have the feeling that they just won’t let that happen. I would agree that probably no one has ever collected on the guarantee. To be very honest I do feel like I’ve been legally scammed.

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49 Rick VanGeest

Joe Taxpayer,
Thanks for the idea. I called the credit card company last night and they told me that I couldn’t stop the transaction without calling the vender. After some discussion about ufirst not letting me stop the transactions, I cancelled the card to get a new card that will have a new account number on it, which ufirst won’t have. I intend to call the friendly agent and tell him that I have done this and that he is going to have to contact ufirst to stop them from any further lechery. I am waiting for this to hit the proverbial fan.
Rick…

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50 Craig Hansen

Rick,

I wish you the best, and I’m very interested in how this works out for you. UFirst has to know its days are numbered, and whether the expense of chasing you down is worth it to them is debatable.

Let us know how it goes. Maybe your experiences can help some other UFirst clients.

Craig

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51 Rick

Craig,

Funny thing is that I had tried contacting them a couple of times to have them call me back to try and work something out with the account before the payment was to come out of which I heard not a word from them. Quite surprising how fast all of a sudden my phone started ringing when they tried taking the payment from the card account only to find it being declined. I had even called and told someone that the account was being closed and still no call back. I had talked to the agent and told him my intentions and to let him know that I hoped it was not going to affect our friendship which it seems at this point it hasn’t. I am waiting to see if I get something in the mail from ufirst. I am not answering my phone if it appears it’s them calling. I’m not positive as I don’t recognize the number and if has been them calling, they try when I cannot use my cell phone at work and they aren’t leaving messages. My take on it is they should take the money they’ve gotten from me and call it even and if I do talk to them I’ll tell them that. We’ll see.

Rick…

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52 Craig Hansen

They ain’t gonna go for that. You have a problem – you signed an agreement. Not an agreement to lease or rent, but an agreement to buy. UFirst are fighting refund requests, so I figured they would fight people who stopped paying by credit card. They never wanted to use cc payments in the first place – they had no choice when sales started going south.

By all means, make the suggestion and try talking to them. My guess is that they will not be all that nice to you, but I hope I’m wrong.

53 Interested reader

I applaud the Cashflow Coach for defending his profession. He obviously has his clients best interest at heart. If he has worked in the field for 25 years, he must know about people and their financial habits. It sounds like some people need help in reaching their goals. They don’t know how to do it on their own and want the support of another to make it happen.

Lots of us need help to achieve our goals beyond understanding the method and knowing what to do.
Coaching, logging, paying attention to detail are all needed. Positive reinforcement is a must to change habits.
Just take the obesity crisis in America for example. People know what to do..the talk shows and magazines have articles on this all the time. Yet, we are still a country where 60% of us are obese. Why? Simply knowing about what to do or how to do it is not enough. We need each other to help us change. I applaud those who are trying to make a difference in others lives through legitimate, legal methods.

If they are not a legitimate company and the product is not performing as stated when it was sold, then there should be a claim made. However, if you buy a car and you don’t like it after 3 days can you bring it back? If, after looking at all the fine print, you decide to purchase a product, don’t you assume the risk for that product? How can any company survive without putting limitations on refunds?

Like any major out lay of cash, one should always consider the risks involved. If these programs work for some and not for others can we say that the variables in each case must be why they do or do not work? The software works the same for those that work it correctly. Is it safe to say the program works if you work it according to the plan and directions?

Americans are looking for a way to get out of debt faster. If a program will help them and it is a legitimate proven product, then all the more power to them. At least someone is trying to help us change our ways from credit card, overspending, uneducated consumers to a people accountable for our decisions. We can become a people who have a plan, follow through with it and become responsible for our actions. If we continue to do this and more people are educated and participate, we’ll develop a nation of doers and believers! Let’s empower our countrymen!

Just wondering if any of you would make a $3500.00 investment to get out of debt in even a few years less than your current mortgage schedule? If one can make $10,000, $36000.00, $60,000 or $150,000 by following a program by reducing the number of years to pay, I would say that is a good investment on your return!

Then, after all the debt is paid off and they invest what they would have been paying into the mortgage and all other debt, they will begin to create an awesome retirement fund for themselves. Many of us wonder how it feels to be debt free!! Might I dare say, awesome, empowering and confident!

The banks are creating outrageous profits from each and every mortgage or loan signed. I wonder why they don’t offer this product to each and every American? Why don’t they educate us on the value of paying off our debts earlier? Because they are in the business of creating money by using our money (via interest) plus charging interest for the privilege of using other American’s money in a mortgage or loan!

By the way, it just became a law that on your credit card statement the years to payoff that loan with the minimum payment must be shown. How many people figured that out for themselves before this law?

There is always room for the do-it-yourself individual in our world. Just wondering how many of us would fix our own car or plumbing or electrical problems if we could? Some people choose to use the expertise of others to help them move forward in life. And that expertise has a fee.

One thing is certain, if you do nothing to change than it is guaranteed that all will stay the same.

Thank you all for reading these comments. I appreciate all of you who took the time to write, especially those of you who are watchdogs for those who are less knowledgeable.

Like all debates, there are 2 sides to the issue. Let’s understand both and then, after weighing in on the opinions and facts, find something that works for each of us.

But, let’s do something positive for America! Whatever method you choose, let’s get out of debt so we can be truly free and not beholding to the habits that enslave us!

Find a Cashflow Coach or a Joe Taxpayer in your circle to show you the way!
Peace~
Sharon

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54 Hearwhatyouwanttohear

So I didn’t read all the posts on here, but of the ones I did read none of them were people using the Money Merge Account. I use the MMA and I do not use a HELOC to run the program I use my regular checking account. I think it’s easy to jump on the bandwagon and say its a scam when you don’t have all the information. The program has more payment options now, you can do small monthly payments.

The truth is NO you can not pay off your debt as quickly and efficiently as the MMA. You’re foolish if you think you can. Granted if the only debt you have is 1 mtg then yes the program likely won’t make sense as it will just tell you to pay down the principle. However if you do carry more debt such as CC, LOC, student loans, vehicle payment etc. Then the program could potentially do great things for you and eliminate your debt quickly and efficiently.

In my personal situation I can tell you some of the Pros of the program.

– I don’t have to guess what to pay down first which in the past was the debt with the highest interest.
– The program leverages my available credit to minimize the interest on the debt I am carrying.
-The program is not just designed to pay down you r Mtg first. If there is a debt you want to focus on paying off you tell it and the program works to pay it down first.
-All I do is execute what the programs says I don’t have to think about what to pay on what day, the system reminds me.
– It is a great planning tool. If I want to go on a trip in 6 months and say it will cost$4000 I put that into the program and it will prompt me to move money around and save some of my discrectionary income to ensure that I have the money in my savings acct when the time comes. It also tells me the true cost of spending that money as my debt freedom date will change when I add the expense. This is also the case when I have additional income to add to the program my DFD reduces.
-For my wife and I the 2 best things about the program is we are no longer stressed about money, because we have a plan and we can see the cause and effect of the financial choices we make.
&
We don’t fight about money anymore, which has made our relationship much more enjoyable.

Oh ya and I also use the program to assess buying rental properties, I can see exactly how much passive income I need to justify buying the property.

We’ve been using the program for a 1.5yrs and since we’ve started the program we’ve cut over 2.5yrs off our DFD! if we just keep doing what the program says in 8.17yrs we’ll have 5 properties worth appx $2.7M and all our other debt paid off. My wife and I have become much more aware of our poor spending habits, we’ve become much more disciplined with how we choose to spend.

My only recommendation to anyone looking at the program is hear all the information before you decide.

Couple rules I live by:
– Don’t take advice from anyone more messed up than you are…
-Take advice from people that have what you want not what you don’t want. (I’d wager to bet that most of people writing on these blogs are not debt free, do not own their homes, vehicles etc.)
-If you want something different you have to do something different.
95% of the population in North American will not be able to retire due to poor planning, spending and savings. Based on this stat I am very selective about who I take advice from and you should be too!

Take Care

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55 jeff furlong

i just spent 3500.00 well i gave a 250.00 downpayment and owe the rest i dont get it i dont understand it i dont have time to keep up with it. i was under the impression it works by itself. i told the salesman i hate going on my pc to pay bills and i thought this would be eisier. of course i asked for my money back. they said no. now i have a program i cant use,(my wife has been a legal secretary for 30 years and she got fed up with it too) and it looks like i am out 3500.00 bucks. how can a company that cals itself reputable refuse to give a customer back his money for software he cannot and will not be using. What an expensive mistake. I cant afford this. I wish I wasn`t talked into this by Nate.

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56 jeff furlong

i spent 3500.00 and dont understand how to use it. and i dont have time to use it. i thought it would be less online work than i was doing, but its more. they wont give me my money back so far.I cant use the software. its not fair.

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57 Salliemae

I have been searching and posting on several sites using Money Merge complaints. Glad to have found this one.
Joe Taxpayer and Cashflow Coach, I would be proud to know you. You are both financial gurus.
Cashflow Coach, you are absolutely right about the lessons learned from using the Money Merge Account. It makes you do a 90º turn in thinking and rewards you for non-spending. It is also true that some people need to spend $3500 in order to take the next step. Your attention to the needs of your clients is admirable.
Joe Taxpayer, I like the way you think and how you can prove what you say. That is like finding gold in a mountain stream.
Hearwhatyouwantothear, I am glad you have found the Money Merge account helpful. To be able to have 5 properties in 8 years?! Wow! Don’t know what kind of speed debt/asset boost kind of situation you are in, but more power to you!

So, the Money Merge Account is a great program for some, and isn’t right for others. That is where the my problem with UFF lies.

I have been on the Money Merge Account for 3 months. Intensely, for 3 months. Made all kinds of adjustments, dropped using the HELOC, told to get a “savings” account with check writing privileges (which is another checking account), had many many customer support sessions, looked into Multiple Properties option (additional monthly fee), tried to set up a savings/investment account to multi-task and pay down our mortgage and build up an investment account (not able to do unless I called it an expense account), literally spent hours at a time working with the numbers. Got frustrated, ran into little glitches from time to time, told they would be fixed in the next version, became more frustrated with having to contact customer support each time I wrote a check or made a charge for a larger than normal amount (even though the checking or savings account had funds), and I decided to ask for a refund.

At that point, ladies and gentlemen, the fat lady had a flatulation that stank up the whole shebang and the rose colored flower curtains were pulled back to reveal the ugly side of United First Financial. No refund, no appeal, no, nada, end of story, have a good day. In as many ways you can repeat yourself, that was the answer I got for the last 3 weeks from UFF’s Client services.

Cashflow Coach, if you have any influence or way to reach the top echelon of this pyramid network, please let them know that Nordstrom will take back a pair of shoes even if it is worn, because it has true customer service at its core. By its latest action, United First Financial has shown itself to not give a flying hoot about its customers once they have signed the dotted line. By doing so, they have done fantastic agents and coaches such as yourself a huge dishonor.

So, in ending, I would like to say (but I have forgotten how to say it in Latin), LET THE BUYER BEWARE. It has been a lesson I wish I did not have to learn.

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58 CVan

Hi Ryan,

I have listened to many shows on how to pay down debt. But I bought into the Money Merge Account. I have been using it faithfully since Oct. 2008. I have 23 years left to pay on my mortgage… and have paid off all my other debt first and now am paying off my mortgage.
I like the Money Merge Account… I have mastered it without giving up and it works. I will have my entire mortgage paid off in about 3.5 years. If I did this the traditional way I would be paying for over 23 years.
If you need help they have people willing to help you right on the internet. I have never had all the trouble you all have had. If anyone would like to try it again… I would be willing to donate some time to help you.
Also instead of the big $3500 they now have a montly fee of $49 a month. It’s more affordable. Also they do give trial versions.
Like others said… this system is not for everybody and if you are living on the edge of your income don’t even bother trying this. It won’t save people who spend more then what they make. But for people that are doing well, income is increasing, and you have the desire to get out of debt so you can save more for retirement then it’s a winner.
Most people I know could not do this plan… if I sold this to people I would set up a computer lab to help each person for the first 1/2 year so they can be successful. I am an insurance agent… so I don’t stop at just getting out of debt. I help people to see the big picture to save for retirement to boot.

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59 Joetaxpayer

23 years down to 3.5 ? And you attribute all that savings to MMA?
Funny, UFirst posted a video, search on UFirst Lunch at YouTube. In it, they claim that 2000/yr invested at 6% over 45 years returns 10 million dollars. The true result is less than $500K off by a factor of greater than twenty fold. I politely commented, no name calling, or judgements, just offered the correct numbers. My comment and that of another poster were removed.
MMA is a scam pure and simple. I’ve written dozens of posts on it, and the numbers I offer are beyond refute.

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60 Lee Samuels

I think before you make comments on a program(whatever it may be) you should use it first. Because you are giving false information. I am a client of the money merge system and I don’t have a HELOC. I use my checking and savings. I’ve already paid off several credit cards, my 5 year car loan which at the time I purchased the mma I had 3 years left will be paid in December 2011. I have not changed the way I live. In fact I just got back from a vacation. My discretionary income has gone from $230.00 to $618.00 and I’ve paid off 4 credit cards. Is the program for everyone? NO! If you’re heading towards forcloser or bankputcy of course not! Any program that helps someone get out of debt is a goodthing. It doesn’t matter if they only save you 12 months of debt, thats 12 months that you wont have to pay. I suggest using the program before speaking. The only way to get out of debt is by paying off principle. Come on, it’s not magic it’s just math!

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61 JoeTaxpayer

Lee – I was given access to the tool that produced the analysis, and found that pre-paying, just adding extra to principal each month beats MMA every time.
You say “try it”, there is no trial period. There is a three day right of rescission as with many contracts, but he client is not given the password till day three. To walk into a debate and suggest that people get scammed just to see if it’s truly a scam is nonsense. If MMA lived up to its claims, I’d back off, but I’ve written countless articles and comments with proof that it doesn’t. Do you know who call compound interest “the eighth wonder of the world”? Neither do I, but agents are attributing this quote to Einstein in an effort to add credibility to a scam. Anything to make the sale. No, it’s not magic, it’s a scam.

Rule # 1 – Make all minimum payments due each month
Rule #2 – At month end, take all extra funds and send to highest rate debt.
Rule #3 – There is no rule #3

No smoke, no mirrors, the above is the fastest way to pay off everything.

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62 SallieMae

Lee,
I am neither heading toward bankruptcy or foreclosure. We have a very comfortable life with bills under control and investments doing well.
I signed up with U1st because the idea of using their “algorithmic math” appealed to me and I was in awe of the original projection that would have us paying off our 30 year jumbo home mortgage in 7 years, then 9, then 13, then 16 years – our years to payoff kept changing because the austerity of the expense to income to maintain our discretionary income level in order to use all toward principal payments was unsustainable for me.
I also got tired very quickly of having to pull money from the checking account into the “savings” account and paying bills that way instead of just straight from the checking account. I kept asking HOW does it work that way and was always told “It just does” . They even claimed that I was making the maximum use of the interest rate (.25%!) as part of their reasoning.
If this is such a great program and system, they should be a great company. If the shoe doesn’t fit even though it was sold like it was a great fit, then one should be able to get a refund, even a partial one don’t you think? Would you expect to pay $3500 for a pair of shoes at Goodwill and not be able to return them if they don’t fit after a while, or would you think you could expect to pay $3500 for a pair of shoes from Nordstroms and get your money back because you decided it just wasn’t the right shoe for you? If I am going shopping for a killer pair of shoes and willing to spend a lot of money, I’ll shop at Nordstroms.
Glad the MMA worked out for you. I hope if you are an agent you make your clients very aware of their no return policy. I became an agent at first because I wanted to help more people save tons of money. I am so glad I didn’t sell a program to anyone. That there shoe don’t fit most of the people I know – not with that price tag or with that no money back guarantee.

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63 Ben

Beautiful and succinct overview… thank you!!! I recently was given the money merge account pitch by someone, and the way he explained it made it seem that by not changing my monthly payments at all, I could shave years off my mortgage and tens of thousands off the total interest paid on my mortgage. When pressed with my questions, I then realized that was a lie, because the whole thing is predicated on increased payments using whatever ‘discretionary’ income you have have left over at the end of the month! Like you say in your article, I can put that money into my mortgage myself for free, and save myself the $3500 fee for having someone else tell me what I already know! That said, I’m sure it’s a GREAT system for people with HORRIBLE self discipline who wouldn’t actually do it on their own!

Cheers from Manitoba :)

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64 JoeTaxpayer

Ben – those with no self discipline don’t have much, if any, extra money that would make this system work.
The presumption (in their example) that someone netting $5K/mo has $1K free cash in their budget is absurd. But it’s what their scam is based on. No matter what you tell them, they’ll say it’s there, but 20% left over? If you push them, they’ll tell you to stop depositing to your 401(k) even if it’s matched. They have one goal, to take your $3500.

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65 Jack

Why in the world would you pay down your mortgage given the low interest rate environment? I get how the program works (and I concede it does in the right hands) yet in my opinion there are far better alternatives.

I came to this site bc I hear of many people buying into this multi-level marketing scheme and I wanted to understand how it worked before passing judgement.

Lets just say you have a 4% mortgage. After tax deductions (say 25%), your true cost of borrowing is only 3% (1-.25*4). Therefore you are basically borrowing money from the bank for almost free with the perk of getting the government to pay you back 25% on interest come tax time . So I’ll say it again, why would you give up that tax reimbursement by paying principal early?

That said, under the mma program the benefit to paying extra principal every month is forgoing the 4% interest cost. You receive a 4% guaranteed rate of return on that money! Sounds great right?!

Not so fast. What if instead you directed that cashflow to a retirement (no tax) or taxable account (leverage favovable capital gains tax of 15%) earning 6% (you shouldn’t have to take much risk over a 30 year period). Theoretically, that money would grow at a faster rate than the interest owed and you would come out ahead. You could always flip it in 30 years and use that pot of money (which would compound to presumably large number) and pay off your mortgage. You could also invest the $3500 cost of software and earn 6%. Meanwhile, you let inflation destroy the value of the mortgage where as time goes on, the monthly payment won’t feel as substantial and you won’t feel as pinched as in using the mma program (no headaches as well)!

Finally, the biggest benefit is that the money you saved to a brokerage account is fully liquid and accessible unlike the equity in the home (ill call it dead equity bc it’s not earning you anything when tied up in you house). The money invested can continue to grow and you can use it to generate you retirement income. Said another way, if you put all your savings throughout into your home you would get a late start of accumulating retirement assets (compounding doesn’t work in short periods), then you will have nothing to very little to draw on in retirement!! All your money will be locked up in your home!!

I would challenge someone to provide a rebuttal to my thinking. In conclusion, I believe this is a far better alternative than the hassle of mma.

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66 Ryan Guina

Jack, I agree with your statement regarding the MMA program – it’s not a great option for all the reasons you mentioned. But I can also understand why some people want to pay off their mortgages early. I don’t make mortgage prepayment my #1 financial goal, but I do prepay it a little each month. Here is what I do first – max out my IRA and 401k, save a little extra for other goals things (taxable investments, vacation fund, emergency fund, etc.). Then I round up my mortgage and pay extra. In the long run, I prefer to eliminate my mortgage because paying a little extra each month will save me tens of thousands in the long run. More importantly, eliminating my mortgage will increase my monthly cash flow, and that is a huge benefit to me. I think cash flow is vastly underrated. It gives you financial flexibility and frees up cash for other investments.

So I agree – mortgage prepayment shouldn’t be the #1 financial priority for most people. But it is a good option for many people if they are reaching their other financial goals and can afford to throw a little extra money at their mortgage each month. In the long run, debt needs to be eliminated, regardless of the interest rates.

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67 sarah

We have a program such as that described (we paid $2500) based on advice from our financial advisor. We paid off our mortgage last month, in under 8 years, saving us over $200K in interest. We chose to purchase a home for less than what we were approved and generally live below our means, so we have the discretionary income to let this to work really well for us.

As someone who is NOT financially minded, I do not think I would have had the confidence to submit hefty payments (think $6K to $17K at a time) to the principal without the program and a HELOC to back it up.

It is an amazing feeling to know that cost is gone and we can focus on college funds and retirement. Good luck to all looking for ways to tackle that mortgage!

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68 BJ

Nobody ever mentions that, unless you can afford to make these extra payments, you are trading your (lower) mortgage interest for a higher interest rate in your HELOC. So, you borrow $1,000 @8% to pay down a mortgage @ 5%? Then pay down the HELOC on your next paycheck? Imagine doing that consistently for 13 years. Add up all the HELOC interest and see how cool that looks to you.

The alternative is to *gasp* wait until you have the money, and while your waiting just pay that 5% interests **that you’re paying anyway** rather than borrowing at a higher rate to pay earlier. It costs more that way, and you eliminate a huge portion of your interest savings.

There are no shortcuts. If you can’t afford to pay early, paying extra interest is not going to make you afford it. Unless you want a paid off house with a $80,000 HELOC balance!

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