U.S. ARMY VET and SINGLE MOTHER OF FIVE WINS $5,000 GRAND PRIZE in the BILLION DOLLAR CHALLENGE REWARDS SWEEPSTAKES
Being a solider in the U.S. Army was one of the greatest challenges that Tameka Davis of Fairfield, California faced in life. Her battles with debt proved equally challenging. But after being randomly selected as the Grand Prize winner of the 2017 Billion Dollar Challenge (BDC) Rewards sweepstakes, Tameka said she feels more than blessed, and well on her way to financial freedom.
“I won the Grand Prize? Praise God! In Jesus’ name, I claim it!” was Tameka’s immediate reaction to learning the news that she won the $5,000. She said she’ll use the money to establish an emergency fund for her family – something she wasn’t able to do this same time last year.
Tameka learned about the dfree® Financial Freedom Movement, which launched the BDC, shortly before attending its first West Coast Regional Conference in March 2017. Serving as an intern for the New Dawn Vallejo community redevelopment corporation while working on her bachelor’s degree, Tameka’s boss, Norma Thigpen, sent her to the conference to learn all she could about dfree®. Accustomed to working on projects to help children and victims of domestic violence, Tameka said she wasn’t sure she was the right choice but was excited to learn about something new.
“I was blown away. I didn’t even know such a program existed,” Tameka said. “I was in so much debt. My debt to income ratio was ridiculous.”
Much of her debt resulted from a “terrible divorce” in 2012. After, Tameka ended up moving herself and five young children (now ages 6 to 15) from her home state of Kentucky to California, so the eldest ones could be closer to their father. She said she made the mistake of subletting her home to “friends” while she took on a new rental burden in her new state. Later, she found out the friends failed to pay the mortgage and, eventually, the bank foreclosed on her Kentucky home. By 2013, facing homelessness, she had to declare bankruptcy.
She said she didn’t know what she was going to do until a woman at church, Carrie Rasheed, approached her and told her that God told her to give her a place to stay. For the next five months, Tameka stayed in one room sleeping on a futon while her children slept on a shared bed.
“I had to try and keep them quiet. I would have to get them up at 5 in the morning to get them ready for school,” Tameka said. “It was very, very hard.”
Because she had steady income from her military service, since 2014, Tameka rented and then tried to buy a new home but always was rejected due to the bankruptcy and her debt to income ratio. Then she was sent on a mission to gather data about dfree® to help her boss set up a training program. The conference was held at Mount Calvary Baptist Church in Fairfield.
“The day I walked into that church, I believe that, God used the dfree® program to wake me up and let me see my blessings,” Tameka said. “I had so much debt and so much hurt on top of that debt. Looking at the numbers, I was so focused on the loss I couldn’t look at what I could gain.”
Soaking up as much of the conference as she could, Tameka said she was particularly empowered by a workshop led by dfree® Executive Director Tamika Stembridge. While she gathered material for her boss, she purchased the Say Yes To No Debt: 12 Steps to Financial Freedom book and workbook for herself. Soon after, she followed the books’ guidance.
“I had a hard time tracking receipts,” Tameka said, noting that you don’t have to be a perfect participant to benefit from dfree®. “dfree® made me aware of my spending habits. It helped me free up some money I didn’t realize I had coming in.”
For example, before dfree® she would randomly give her kids money for allowance and not really monitor how they were spending it. She realized that not only was she wasting money but she was teaching her kids to do the same.
“It’s a great loss if we don’t invest in our youth and prepare them. Financial literacy should be part of the curriculum in school,” Tameka said. “I want to leave a legacy for my children.”
Following the dfree® principles and strategy gave her the confidence to do things like negotiate with her creditors and think again about buying a house. She also received support from a team of friends including Preston and Kimberly Jackson and Yvonne Morgan. Tameka said her credit score improved at least 100 points and she eliminated thousands of dollars in debt before closing on her new home in September 2017. She managed to do it while pursuing a bachelor’s degree in human services, which she received from the University of Phoenix in May 2017.
“I prayed and prayed and asked God to order my steps and touch the people’s hearts who were making decisions,” about her financial future, Tameka said. “It changed my perspective entirely.”
When asked to offer advice to others who may be reluctant or afraid to join the dfree® financial freedom movement, Tameka said: “Taking the first step to gain more knowledge is the best thing you can do. If you don’t understand what overwhelming debt can do to your future, you won’t take steps to change it.”
She said she didn’t realize how much money she actually had and what she could do with it to better utilize it until she started reading the books. “The dfree® program has helped me to realize that I am not alone in my debt challenges and it is possible to be debt free, with perseverance, determination and discipline.”
By no means rich, Tameka said she’ll use the prize money to help pay off more debt and establish the emergency fund for her family. “This is the beginning of a new life for me and my children,” she said, with gratitude.
In addition to the top prize, some nine other prizes ranging from $1,000 to $2,500 will be awarded to random winners from entries from states that include California, Missouri, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Texas. Founder and BDC Creator DeForest B. Soaries, Jr. said he was pleased that so many of the winners have changed their lives as part of the financial freedom movement.
“People across the nation are benefiting from the dfree® belief that if we manage our lives well then we will use money strategically to reach our life goals,” Soaries said. “We’re not teaching money management. This is a journey. It is a process and it begins by the way we think about ourselves, the way we think about our money and the way we plan for our future.
COMPLETE LIST OF PRIZE WINNERS
Now, there’s even more incentive to take the Billion Dollar Challenge. Eligible U.S. residents can win cash prizes!
— THE 2017 CONTEST HAS ENDED; CHECK BACK FOR NEW CONTEST AROUND APRIL 2018 —
If you’re on this website, you’re likely in debt and could use extra cash to paydown that debt. BDC wants to help so we’ve created opportunities to win cash prizes. Prize winners will be randomly drawn from all participants who have submitted an entry.
BDC Rewards are only available to legal residents of 50 U.S. states and D.C. who are 18 years of age or older. This section of the BDC website is not directed at non-U.S. residents. Each contest has specific eligibility requirements listed in the Official Rules.