- My Credentials
- About My Life
- My Story, Part 1: How I Went From Work I Hated to a Work I Love
- My Story, Part 2: A New Map and a Happier Life
- My Story, Part 3: 4 Steps to Turning a Work You Love Into ... a Work You No Longer Love
- My Story, Part 4: Enter My Discovery of the Term, "Infopreneur"
- My Story, Part 5: The Biggest Aha Moment of My Life!
- Want to Discover the Work You Love?
Hi, my name is Dan Peterson, and I am the owner and author of Free-Online-Calculator-Use.com.
I have been creating calculators for websites since 1997, all of which are based on widely-accepted formulas or formulas provided by experts in their respective fields.
I started out creating and licensing calculators for other websites, hundreds of which are still hosting calculators I created years ago. My most notable customers included ING, Caterpillar, DebtProofLiving.com, and FinancialMentor.com.
Later, in 2010, I switched to creating calculators for my consumer-focused website, free-online-calculator-use.com. I've since created 289 calculators for this website, which are used by millions of people every year.
While I have completed Algebra I and II, Accounting I, II, and III, Managerial Accounting, and Business Statistics at Bemidji State University, and have over 30 years of business ownership experience, I don't claim to be an expert in any of the subjects the calculators cover (my expertise is programming online calculators based on known and widely accepted formulas).
However, I do thoroughly research each calculator's underlying formulas and equations before making them and then test them to make sure the results match those of many offline and online calculator resources.
Unlike the calculators that I created for other websites, the financial calculators on free-online-calculator-use.com alert consumers to the hidden consequences of spending and borrowing. I don't tell users how to manage their finances; I only provide them with the negative consequences left out of sales presentations so they can make more informed decisions on their own.
In February of 2019, one of my financial calculators (the Mortgage Recast Calculator) was even referenced in the Wall Street Journal.
About My Life
I was born, raised, and currently reside in Bemidji, Minnesota -- where summers are often described as "three months of bad snowmobiling."
It's a great place to raise a family and has a low cost of living, but living-wage jobs are scarce, and the winters are long and bitter cold.
Not the ideal place for a couple who loves to play golf, but we could never imagine moving away from all of our family and friends.
That's why we must continue to live debt-free and below our means to afford to get away for our annual 10-day winter golfing trip.
One of our other favorite winter activities was watching our kids play hockey. I say "was" because all eight children are now living on their own. So we're hoping one or more of our 17 grandchildren will take up the sport to help make the winters more enjoyable.
We also enjoy cheering for the Minnesota Vikings, the Minnesota Wild, and our hometown high school and college hockey and football teams.
During the summer, we try to get out to the golf course as often as possible between work and our grandkids' baseball and soccer games. Thankfully I built the website and run the golf league for a local golf club in exchange for an annual family membership, so our favorite hobby is far from being cost-prohibitive.
In the fall, I enjoy deer hunting with our family, as well as the annual process of building a backyard ice rink for them to skate on.
I'm also on a mission to try to convince others not to make the same mistake I made during the first half of my working life.
What was my mistake?
In my defense, I lived life exactly as I'd been taught. The mistake was never questioning what I was being taught.
My Story, Part 1: How I Went From Work I Hated to a Work I Love
When I was just ten years old (1969), my mother bought me an 8" x 8" gray spiral notebook to keep track of the money I was earning from my newspaper route.
Opening the first page, she used a straight edge to create five columns. Then, from left to right, she labeled the columns: Date, Description, In, Out, and Balance.
Mom then explained how to use the columns to track how much money I made and where I spent it. I can vividly remember thinking, "Wow! What a cool and fun activity!"
And for the 23 years that followed, I enjoyed tracking my income and expenses more than generating them.
You see, upon leaving high school, I, like many others, chose to put money and income ahead of passion and creative self-expression. So instead of pursuing my passion for working with numbers, I pursued income.
The Money Chase
Believing more money was the key to more happiness, I took every job or business opportunity that came along if it promised to pay me more than my current job or business -- without giving a second thought to whether or not it was suited to who I am. These included:
- Short Order Cook
- Security Guard
- Limber on a Logging Crew
- Mall Maintenance Chief
- Funeral Insurance Salesman
- Cleaning Business Owner
- Restaurant Manager
- Restaurant Owner
And, of course, like almost everyone else, I subsidized my never-enough income level by borrowing as much money as lenders would allow.
As a result, at age 30, I found myself trapped by financial obligations in a restaurant business I hated. I was working 80 hours a week in what I had thought was the business of keeping books and creating delicious meals, but instead turned out to be the business of hiring, training, and firing.
Three years later, after 5-years of 80-hour weeks, trying at least to build up equity I could later cash in, an Indian Gaming Casino -- complete with a loss-leader restaurant -- opened its doors just down the road. My restaurant business didn't stand a chance.
So there I was, 33 years old, having spent 15 years chasing after wealth, and all I had to show for it was no income and a mountain of debt.
But the emotional losses from the restaurant's failure paled in comparison to what happened in July of that year (1993). I held the hand of my beloved 55-year-young mother as she lost her battle with ovarian cancer.
Kneeling next to Mom's bed, with tears clouding my vision of her face, holding her lifeless hand, it finally became painfully clear to me what was really important in life.
It wasn't money. It wasn't status symbols. It wasn't expensive homes, cars, clothing, furniture, or vacations. What's important are the people who love and appreciate us for who we are, not for what we have or what we are poised to gain.
And now the most important person in the world to me, the person who had spent years trying to get me to take time off from my money quest to spend more time with her, was gone forever.
It turns out the map I had been duped into following had led me away from happiness, not toward it.
Added On May 13, 2014
In April 2013, my beloved father was diagnosed with lung cancer. After a year-long battle, he passed away on Tuesday, May 6th, 2014, at 75. We just laid him to rest yesterday (May 12th, 2014).
I don't tell you this to gain your sympathy.
Instead, I wanted to share this to tell you that because I had shifted from chasing after money to chasing after freedom from financial obligations, I was able to spend a significant amount of time with my father over the past several years -- including hundreds of hours in the last month of his life -- and was able to be by his side when he died.
I will miss my best friend for the rest of my life. But unlike when my mother passed away, I have no regrets or guilt concerning how much time I spent with him.
If you're not financially free to spend a significant amount of quality time with your loved ones, resolve now to get a handle on your finances. Learn how to live within your means and pay off your debts as quickly as possible.
No matter to what lengths expert marketers and lending institutions try to convince you otherwise, borrowing from tomorrow to "live better today" reduces the amount of time you will get to spend with your loved ones. Don't do it!
Rest in peace Dad. I love you.
My Story, Part 2: A New Map and a Happier Life
Following my beloved mother's death, I spent several months searching for answers to how I ended up broke and unhappy -- despite having read a library full of books written by business and personal finance experts.
After finally concluding that my happiness depended on how much I enjoyed each hour of each day and on serving the needs of others, I spent several weeks creating what I've come to call the Blueprint for My Perfect Day.
This blueprint listed a daily schedule of what I refer to as Labors of Love (either labors I enjoy that cause others to love, appreciate, or admire me, or labors I engage in simply because I love the benefactor).
Once I completed the Blueprint for My Perfect Day, I set out to make it my day-to-day reality.
What followed was a 4-year, hard-fought journey to debt freedom and work that I love -- a work that I could schedule around the most important people and events in my life.
Of course, the work I discovered that I love doing is creating online calculators. So in 1997 I built www.webwinder.com to promote my calculator scripting services.
I started giving away my work for free, and then -- as demand for my ready-made and custom calculators grew -- I began to charge a fee. The higher the demand rose, the higher the fee I needed to charge to avoid having more clients than I could handle.
Eventually, I found myself earning a very nice living working from home -- free to schedule my work around all the important people and events in my life. And for at least the first couple of years, I couldn't have been happier.
However, something began to happen that I never expected ...
I can remember thinking, "What the heck happened?! I used to love creating online calculators, so what has changed?"
My Story, Part 3: 4 Steps to Turning a Work You Love Into ...
a Work You No Longer Love
After questioning the loss of passion for my work for some time, I eventually realized that four distinct things had changed. I now call them the four steps to falling out of love with the work you once loved.
Step #1: Give up creative self-expression. I was now creating more and more calculators based on customers' specifications instead of based on how I would have liked to create them.
Comparatively speaking, this is like asking an artist to paint by the numbers.
Step #2: Work with people who can't make up their minds. In the case of a large majority of the custom calculator projects I took on, the customer would keep changing their minds as to how they wanted the calculator to look and operate. This mind-changing often turned simple projects into long, drawn-out nightmares.
I began to understand better what an acquaintance of mine had told me a couple of years earlier. He told me that he had once enjoyed building houses but eventually lost interest due to customers constantly changing their minds about what they "wanted" ... while the home was being built. It was driving him nuts!
Then one day, he decided he wouldn't let indecisive people rob him of what he loved doing. So what did he do? He started building houses based on how he liked to build them and then sold them as completed homes. Not only did he regain the passion he had lost, but he was making twice the money due to never having to make changes to his original plans.
Step #3: Cause others to expect too much from you. Since I was charging a higher and higher fee, it became increasingly difficult to exceed the expectations of my customers -- an ever-increasing source of stress.
Step #4: Work for a cause you don't believe in. I found myself creating online calculators that went against everything I believed in.
Having experienced first-hand the financial and emotional devastation that can come from chasing after money and living beyond my means, creating calculators that promoted borrowing as a means to "easily" get what you want began to wear heavily on my conscience.
Add all of these changes up, and it's no wonder I started to lose interest in creating online calculators.
Thankfully instead of trying to make a career change, I began to look for a way that I could continue to earn a living from creating online calculators -- while solving the four issues that had squelched my passion for it.
My Story, Part 4: Enter My Discovery of the Term, "Infopreneur"
In April of 2010, while looking for a way to get back to the work I had once loved, I happened upon the term "infopreneur."
As it applies to the web, an infopreneur is someone who builds a content-rich website based on a profitable niche for which they are knowledgeable and/or passionate about, and then sells ad space to advertisers who are interested in targeting that niche.
The more I thought about the concept, the more I realized that becoming an infopreneur would solve the four issues that had caused me to lose my passion for creating online calculators.
So, after 4-months of studying the art and science of infopreneurship, I launched the home page of free-online-calculator-use.com. That was twelve years ago (as of the last update of this page), and, until 2020, I couldn't have been happier with the results. Here's why?
- I was free to build online calculators using my own creative self-expression instead of having to "paint by the numbers."
- The income generated from this website has allowed me to be very selective with the custom calculator projects I take on.
- Since I don't charge visitors to use the calculators, it's much easier to meet or exceed their expectations (zero stress).
- I was free to create online calculators to coincide with my values and beliefs (I slept much better).
I was living the life I designed in the Blueprint for My Perfect Day, and it was everything I ever imagined it would be and then some!
My Story, Part 5: The Biggest Aha! Moment of My Life!
In case you would rather watch than read, I am also offering this part of my story as a narrated video. If you prefer reading this part, or wish to view the links referenced in the video, scroll down to read the video's transcript.
Up until the pandemic hit, my financial plan was fully tailored to support my freedom to continue to work at what I love regardless of what it might pay. This meant minimizing expenses, staying debt-free, and setting aside 20% of my profits into federally insured interest-earning accounts (CDs, SEP IRA, etc.).
In other words, my financial success was not measured by how much my investments were earning but by how many years and months I could continue to work at what I love if my income dropped to zero. I've always referred to that time measurement as my Freedom Factor.
Of course, when our government's response to the pandemic was to drop interest rates to zero and rapidly expand the money supply by trillions of dollars (causing inflation to skyrocket to 40-year highs), my Freedom Factor took a major hit.
After realizing the ruling class, not me, had the ultimate control over my Freedom Factor, I knew I needed a new plan to protect it from their freedom-killing policies. But it wasn't until November of 2022 that I began to discover a way to do that.
What happened in November of 2022?
I decided to attempt to create one or more calculators related to cryptocurrencies.
I was highly skeptical of digital currencies, but it seemed there was a lot of demand for crypto calculators. And to be honest, after creating 289 calculators, I was running out of new subjects to cover.
Of course, to create any calculator, I first need to understand the subject matter fully. In this case, the more I studied cryptocurrencies, the more I learned what made Bitcoin a much better store of value than the countless other cryptocurrencies that had copied Bitcoin's blockchain technology (A.K.A., altcoins).
Once I discovered the shortcomings of altcoins, I focused all my research on Bitcoin. And the more I studied Bitcoin and why it was created, the more I realized how illiterate I had been about money, namely how broken and corrupt our current monetary system is and why my Freedom Factor was destined to fall victim to it.
So What Was The Big Aha! Moment?
While I can't remember the exact moment it hit me, it was at some point during the following learning path that I discovered how Bitcoin could eventually serve to keep my Money Factor safe from government theft:
- Online Course: Learning Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies, by Tom Geller
- Free Book: Inventing Bitcoin: The Technology Behind the First Truly Scarce and Decentralized Money Explained, by Yan Pritzker
- Book: The Bitcoin Standard, The Decentralized Alternative to Central Banking, by Saifedean Ammous
- Book: Bitcoin Clarity: The Complete Beginners Guide to Understanding, by Kiara Bickers
- Book: Bitcoin Evangelism: Planting Seeds for the Decentralized Revolution, by Brian E. De Mint
- Book: Check Your Financial Privilege: Inside The Global Bitcoin Revolution, by Alex Gladstein
- Countless YouTube Videos: Namely videos related to Michael Saylor, Max Keiser, and Anthony Pompliano.
I purchased all the books listed in audio format and listened to them during my 45-minute, daily exercise skate (or shoveling) on our pond ice rink.
Bitcoin Aha! Moment = Being "Orange Pilled"
Among Bitcoiners, the Bitcoin-Aha!-Moment I experienced is referred to as being "Orange Pilled," which, in my case, was the moment I became aware of how broken and corrupt our current monetary system is.
The movie "The Matrix" was one of my favorite movies. In the movie, the main character is offered a choice between a red pill, which represents the harsh truth, and a blue pill, which represents a comfortable illusion.
After watching the movie, I remember thinking it served as a good metaphor for how I felt about the ruling class. Instead of being plugged into a matrix to serve the machines, we are plugged into a matrix to serve the ruling class.
However, my view of the movie as a metaphor was based on how I felt those in charge are always spreading false information and controlling what people are allowed to know to keep control over the people they rule.
Because they control our educational system, big tech, and the news media, the ruling class ensures we don't get educated on what is actually happening to us, which keeps us living the comfortable illusion that serves their best interests, not ours.
What I failed to realize before getting orange-pilled is how the ruling class also uses monetary policy and the central banking system as part of their process for shaping and controlling our perception of reality.
Even though I've always had a nagging feeling the system was rigged against us average Joe's and Jolene's, up until being "Orange Pilled," I had been living a comfortable illusion with respect to our fiat monetary system (inconvertible paper money made legal tender by a government decree).
Once I became aware of how the ruling class and their fiat money system had controlled my life, and how CBDCs (Central Bank Digital Currencies) will greatly expand their control in the near future, I began to unplug from their matrix.
Unplugging from the Fiat Matrix
Following being Orange Pilled, here is what I did:
- I purchased a small amount of bitcoin for myself to get comfortable with the system.
- I began a slow and measured process to convert my savings from my bank to bitcoin through automated dollar-cost averaging.
- We gave $100 worth of bitcoin to each of our adult children for Christmas. We usually give the kids cash, but the cash would just get absorbed into the abyss of their daily lives. By giving them bitcoin, not only could I keep track of what my gift would be worth if they didn't spend it, but it might also get them interested in learning more about it.
- I signed up to be an affiliate of Swan Bitcoin for the main purpose of incentivizing my friends to open an account and take advantage of their offer to receive $10 worth of free bitcoin.
Once you've been "Orange Pilled," you can't help but want to orange-pill your friends and family.
HODLing vs Attempting to Get Rich Quick
While greatly increasing the value of my savings is certainly possible if Bitcoin eventually becomes the world's reserve currency (at age 63, I may not live to see that day), I am buying bitcoin because:
- I want to cast my vote for its widespread adoption. The greater the number of people who own bitcoin, the more governments and corporations will have no choice but to get on board.
- I hope to regain the freedom of speech I had back when we could speak our minds without fearing our bank accounts could get frozen, or our lives/businesses could get canceled.
- Over the long term, I believe my Freedom Factor is safer from being devalued in bitcoin than the dollars being held in my "federally insured" bank account (see the Consumer Price Index Calculator to see how your savings are continually being devalued).
Bitcoin is still in its infancy, which makes the price extremely volatile. But I'm not concerned about the present price volatility, only with what I believe its price will be ten years from now. This is why I consider myself to be what bitcoiners call a HODler (buy and hold indefinitely).
Over time, as more and more people, businesses, and governments adopt Bitcoin, the fixed supply means the price would likely increase as the demand grows. If that doesn't happen, at least I will feel better knowing I took action to protect the stored value of my work from being cut in half every ten years.
What is Bitcoin?
If you don't know what Bitcoin is (it's not what the headlines and naysayers tell you), there is no way I can fully explain what it is and how it works without turning this page into a book (see the excellent books listed earlier).
To fully understand what Bitcoin is, you will likely need to go through a learning path similar to the one I took. Your decision to begin that path depends on whether or not you wish to stay blue-pilled and continue to live a comfortable illusion or if you wish to expose yourself to the harsh reality of being orange-pilled.
Having said that, to plant a seed, Bitcoin is:
- A digital currency that anyone in the world with an internet connection can access, thereby giving property rights to some oppressed populations for the first time in their lifetimes.
- An unhackable, distributed monetary system that governments or third parties cannot control (censorship resistant).
- A scarce commodity that can never be expanded or debased (inflation resistant).
- A payment system that provides greater security and privacy in transactions.
If you haven't already had your own Bitcoin Aha! Moment and would like to start your journey toward it, I recommend checking out Swan Bitcoin (not yet available to residents of New York, Hawaii, South Dakota, or Texas), an online exchange that:
- Only deals in Bitcoin.
- Makes it extremely easy to open an account and take baby steps toward becoming comfortable with eventually taking custody of your bitcoin.
- Allows you to convert a small number of dollars into bitcoin (no better way to learn about it than having a little skin in the game).
- Makes it super easy to give the gift of bitcoin to your friends and loved ones.
- Offers an automated feature for dollar cost averaging (converting small amounts of dollars from your bank account into bitcoin on a recurring basis). Just set it and forget it.
- Has a mission "to walk alongside you on your journey into Bitcoin, the future of money."
Plus, if you use my affiliate link, you will get a free $10 worth of bitcoin just for opening an account.
Full disclosure: If you use my affiliate link, I will earn 25% of your transaction fees in the form of bitcoin for one year. If you make a $100 deposit, the transaction fee will be $0.99, of which I would earn $0.25 worth of bitcoin (you can also sign up to be an affiliate and help educate others, but I won't earn anything on those you sign up, i.e., it's not a Ponzi or MLM scheme).
So as you can see, there's not much incentive for me other than wanting to help you to learn about Bitcoin and get $10 worth of free bitcoin, and to help grow the network of adopters.
You can also get the following free book (also available in audio format), which helped me to understand what Bitcoin is, how it works, and why it levels the playing field between the ruling class and the rest of us.
Otherwise, if you would rather not use my affiliate link, type SwanBitcoin.com into your web browser (or search for another reputable exchange). In either case, don't buy bitcoin until you can make a fully-informed decision, and only with money that you are willing to lose.
In the meantime, I will update this part of my story as it unfolds. Also, I have set out to create a series of calculators related to Bitcoin, all of which will include information and resources I hope will inspire you to begin your journey to being orange-pilled.
Want to Discover the Work You Love?
If you are looking forward to retirement instead of looking forward to every day of your life, I strongly encourage you to embark on your own journey to find a work that you love.
Contrary to what you've been taught, you don't need a job; you need an income. And the more you become an investor of your time/money instead of just being a spender of your time/money; the less income your work will need to generate to achieve the financial freedom to do what you love.
No matter how unlikely it may seem, there are countless ways for you to earn an income from the work you love. You have to force yourself to take your blinders off so you can see what's been right beside you all along.
To help you to begin your journey to earning a living from a work you love, I highly recommend Dan Miller's book, 48 Days to the Work You love.
It pains me to see so many people going through life hating their work and dreaming of the day they can retire from it -- thinking that's just how life is.
Take it from someone who knows the joy of earning a living from a work I love; nothing could be further from the truth.
Best wishes for your financial happiness!
P.S. Because my website attempts to sell you on the benefits of saving instead of on spending and borrowing, few authoritative websites link to my website (they want you spending and borrowing). This has caused search engines to rank my website lower in the search results. So if you support or receive value from my work, please subscribe to the Ad-Free Member Version of my website (as little as $6.97 per year). If you don't, you may not be able to find my website the next time you search for it.
P.P.S. If you enjoy writing and have a subject you are passionate about, you already have 50% of what you need to succeed as an infopreneur. The other 50% comes from finding a website host that provides you with the tools, knowledge, and step-by-step instructions you need to create a content-rich, keyword-focused, traffic-generating website. I highly recommend Solo Build It! (SBI)