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Articles of Interest to PC Entrepreneurs

Any of these articles may be republished by other newsletter, magazine or ezine publishers as long as they are posted intact with all credits. If you are an author and would like an article added to this list, email the article in HTML format to mtims(at)matcopublishing.com
Michael A. Tims

In part 1, I presented several shareware software packages which were designed to help you (along with your PC) make financial decisions. Included were shareware programs to manage your business or personal checking account, or to prepare your income tax statement, or to perform accounting chores for small business or personal accounts, or to keep track of business expenses for tax purposes or to choose the best mortgage alternatives on a home purchase you may be contemplating. All these were very worthy topics for financial help type software programs.

Is there any assistance, however, for those of us whose credit is less than sterling or who is already deeper in debt than they would like to be. Well, according to the authors of the shareware programs I reviewed for this article, these programs can, indeed, offer you the financial help you might require.

Shareware is not a type of software, but a marketing concept. You are free to use and evaluate any of these software packages for a reasonable length of time and if you want to continue to use the software, you register it with the author. Registering is the way the author gets paid for his programming efforts. Registering shareware can bring you added benifits as well. You could receive the latest version of the software, a printed manual or some other incentive to register. It depends on the author. If, on the other hand, you no longer find the software useful, you simply stop using it and remove it from your hard disk drive.

DEBT MANAGEMENT If you feel that you are hopelessly in debt, perhaps the program, "Debt Analyzer" by Insight Software might be one way to cope with the problem. This shareware program is available in either DOS or Windows versions and is designed to help reduce and eliminate debt. The program helps you prioritize debts, set up debt consolidation schedules, accelerate debt elimination, etc. Up to 20 debts can be processed at one time and can use minimum payment, current payments or accelerated payments to project debt elimination.

"Debt Manager" by Practical Applications is another debt reduction type shareware package that employs a debt restructuring technique that is said to save, "literally thousands of dollars in unpaid interest penalties". This is the same type of debt repayment method that financial counselors have been using for years. According to the author, "it is now supper convenient to have expert financial help (for debt reduction) in the privacy and comfort of your own home."

"Zilch" by Pinnacle Software is a debt liquidation program designed to "get you out of debt fast". It provides you with a tool for determining how to pay off your debts in the most efficient manner possible. By entering information about your creditors; such as name, APR, balance, payment amounts, etc. the program gets a snap shot of your financial situation. Then if you input a starting month, plan and pledge amount, "Zilch will do the rest". The program assigns a priority to each creditor, performs its calculations and provides a payment plan for getting out of debt. As the author states, by following a plan, "in most instances you can become debt free in half the time it would normally take."

All three of these programs do a creditable job of guiding a person to getting out of debt. Just remember that you didn't get into debt overnight and it will take hard work and perseverance to get yourself out of debt. These shareware programs, however, can give you the incentive and tools needed to become debt free.

CREDIT REPAIRING Ok, so you worked extra hard, made extra payments on your debts and are now relatively debt free. Is there anything you can do to erase the black marks and negative information that keeps showing up on your credit reports?

Shareware programs such as, "Credit Fix" by E.A.P. Software or "Secrets of Credit Repair" by InfoTek Software may be just what the credit doctor ordered to heal your sick financial record. "Secrets" provides the consumer with the knowledge to identify and challenge entries in their credit reports that are either out of date, inaccurate, don't belong to them or can't be verified. The program's author contends that credit repair has become a necessity in this day and age. He says, "With millions of consumers to keep track of, it is no wonder that credit reporting has become a very big industry, which, unfortunatly, dramatically increases the chances of inaccurate information being reported and mistakes being made." This program points you in the right direction to cleaning up your credit. It gives you steps to take, samples of letters to write, where to send them, and more.

"Credit Fix" is a text based information file which, like "Secrets" can assist the individual in improving their credit rating. Explains how to contact the various credit reporting services to obtain a copy of your credit report and then explains how to read the various reports and what steps to take to rectify negative or inaccurate information in your file.

Repairing your own credit seems to be something that most of us could do ourselves if we only knew what steps to take. These two shareware programs provide the information needed so you can proceed in a step-by-step manner.

RETIREMENT PLANNING There is a wealth of information available in the way of shareware programs to help a person plan for his or her retirement and each seems to take a slightly different approach to helping plan for the big day when you can kick back and say goodbye to the job.

One of the easiest retirement planning packages to use is the "Retirement Income Future Forcaster" by Charles Henry. You enter up to 19 variables and the program builds a personal financial model and computes how many years your assets can support the requested annual income with allowances for anticipated inflation.

Another shareware entry in retirement planning is, "Retirement Annuity Calculator" by Dyer's Enterprises. It also tries to answer the question, "Will you be able to retire on the retirement funds that you have set aside or will inflation eat away at them leaving you short"? Alternatively, how much can you withdraw each month from your retirement accounts without over depleting them during your projected retirement period? You enter the amount of your retirement funds, the interest or growth rate you expect to obtain on these funds after your retirement; plus the anticipated inflation rate, your retirement age and your life expectancy age. The program then calculates the answers to the above questions.

One last retirement program to mention is, "RetireA" from Tom McGrath which is a Windows based program to project retirement cash flow. You enter income and expenses; plus a starting year, monthly dollar amount, forecasted percent of change and the number of years in effect. The program then computes monthly cash flow over a selected 30 year period. Included are financial tools to determine the future value of annuities, mortgages, loans, and more. This is a very thorough retirement program that most of us wanting to plan for our retirement can put to good use.

SHAREWARE Keep in mind that neither BBS's nor shareware distributors OWN the shareware they distribute and you are not purchasing the software outright from them. You are paying a disk copying fee only. The individual authors retain ownership of their software and expect you to register it if you find the software helpful and wish to continue using it.

Whether you get your evaluation copies of shareware programs from an online service, shareware distributor or a BBS, such as MATCO BBS, you will be amazed at the quality of software available as shareware. Any shareware you end up registering will be a worthwhile investment.  ===================================================


Michael A. Tims is a retired high school math teacher but has run a mail order business as a sideline for over 20 years. Being a self taught computer NUT, one of his passions has been to find unique ways to use a PC to enhance or enable a small business venture.

Mr. Tims has written numerous magazine articles on PC basics or using a PC in business and is the author of the published book, "101 Computer Related Businesses", as well as a syndicated column called, "PC Biz of the Month".

Visit his new web site at www.matcopublishing.com and let him know what you think of it. Many other articles may be read at www.matcopublishing.com/articles.htm


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