We get dozens of requests at GetRichSlowly.org every day. They are usually queries such as “Can I guest post to promote my business?” (No.) “Will you share our infographic with your readers?” (No.) Last week we received one that intrigued me. The writer had started a crowd-funding effort to pay off his mortgage and he wanted me to share it with the Get Rich Slowly community. I replied, “Why would anyone want to pay off your mortgage? I’d like other people to pay off my mortgage too. What’s in it for them?” His reply and reasoning made me decide to let him tell his story and make his plea to you.

There have been successful crowd-funding efforts in the past couple of years to help people pay their student loans, their personal credit card debt, medical bills and much, much more.

I warned Eric that the attitude of the GRS folks tends toward “be responsible for yourself,” and his request could invoke the wrath of the crowd. (Crowd-sourced vitriol!) But he said he was willing to take it.

Beyond his particular plea, I would like to hear how the GRS community feels about crowd-funding for personal goals. Is this a fad? Or might this become a “pay it forward” movement?

My name is Eric Estrada, and please, don’t let the name fool you, I’m not an actor famous for riding on a CHP motorcycle. I’m actually just a regular guy. I’m 34 years old, I have three kids — two girls, one boy — a fiancée, and a dog named Zero. My fiancée, Jeanette, is a hair stylist and I work for a medical device company as a Quality Process Technician. We pay all of our bills on time, we currently do NOT have any credit card debt, and budget as best as we can for groceries and other miscellaneous monthly costs. I’m not a financial guru, nor do I claim to have all of the answers. Heck, I’ve made some financial decisions in the past that I wish had not and made others that I wish I would have made sooner.

One of the “best” decisions we made was to stop renting and purchase our first home in 2010. As our family was growing rather quickly, we knew it was time to buy a house. Not just any house: It had to be a house that we could raise the kids in and see ourselves living in for a very long time –you know, all the important stuff that everyone else looks at when buying a home. After searching for a few months, and falling in love with many houses that were big, beautiful, and obviously expensive, we decided to stay within our means, and bought a small three-bedroom, two-bath, 1,322-square-foot home with a price tag of $167,100! We found a house that was below market value (I’ll have to write another article on how we found it for such a low price). Although the bigger houses would have been great, especially since we found out we were pregnant with our third child, we decided this small home was just going to have to work.

Estrada house

It’s been four years since we bought our home. We’ve worked really hard to get where we are. For the first time in many years, we have a savings account that we’ve actually saved money in! We’ve sold our new cars and bought much older cars with cash to avoid interest and monthly payments. We don’t eat out as much as we used to. We buy clothes at the second-hand stores. I even grow my beard as long as a I can so I don’t have to buy razors. What? Razors are expensive! Some might even say I’m obsessed with the thought of having financial freedom. Call me crazy, but I like to save anywhere I can.

As frugal as I may sound, I do have a kind heart buried in me. As many of us are, I’m constantly being asked to donate to those in need and, like many of us out there, I do. I donate what I can, when I can, whether it’s the change in my pocket or a few dollars in my wallet. I try to donate whenever possible no matter what the cause is. Obviously, the individuals asking for donations are in need of something or have suffered more than I have, so I donate.

“Donating” is just one of those things we as humans do. Charity has been around forever and I’m sure it will be around for a long time. These days social media plays a huge part in how individuals share their causes and receive donations from all around the world.

The ask

Although I am not personally suffering from any major illness, or living on the streets, I have a goal and that goal is to pay off my mortgage, the last of my debts, to give me “Financial Freedom.” This goal of ours is what led me to create the account gofundme.com/onedollaratatime.

Some of you may say, “I want to pay my mortgage too! Why the hell would I help this guy pay off his?” Some of you may even stop reading here. But to those who keep reading and may want do the same thing, I want you to know I asked myself the same questions. “Could crowd-source funding REALLY help me pay off my mortgage?” I say the answer is YES!

And I’m sure you’ll ask, “What’s in it for me?” For starters, you get to be a part of a fund that helps a family achieve a life-long goal of having financial freedom.

If this still doesn’t answer the questions “what’s in it for me?” or “what do I get for donating?” I answer with a question: “Wouldn’t it be great to be a part of something that helped one family at a time?”

If a regular guy like me was able to actually receive $5 donations from approximately 31,000 people, what stops me from starting an organization that helps others who want to achieve financial freedom? I envision an organization that would collect donations from small private businesses and large corporations to help individuals like you and me achieve the same goals. Of course like any organization, this organization would have stipulations like once a home is paid off, you can’t sell it and buy a bigger house. When we pay off the mortgage, we plan to be mortgage free for the rest of our lives.

The possibilities are endless. Whether you think I’m crazy or you find yourself thinking the same way I do, please hit that share button. If you have an extra $5 in your wallet, please donate. Who knows, once I reach my goal, we can get started on yours.

Reminder: This is a story from one of your fellow readers. Please be nice. It can be scary to put your story out in public for the first time. Remember that this guest author isn’t a paid or professional writer and is just learning about money like you are. Unduly nasty comments on readers stories will be removed.

GRS is committed to helping our readers save and achieve their financial goals. Savings interest rates may be low, but that is all the more reason to shop for the best rate. Find the highest savings interest rates and CD rates from Synchrony Bank, Ally Bank, GE Capital Bank, and more.

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