Archive - August, 2006

Why I do what I do …

I am sick of seeing 60+ year old people who are in debt up to their eyeballs simply because they were not taught sound financial principles.

Because I went through 20 years of school culminating in a graduate degree and never once had a class on how to manage my money.

I want young people to learn this NOW so they do not do all of the dumb things the rest of us have done with money.

To improve marriages and communication within those marriages.

I believe that I what I am teaching is capable of restoring HOPE where there is NO HOPE.

I believe that being saved from the bondage of debt feels very similar to the salvation experience of being saved from my sins. I want to share both of these messages to all who are helped.

Because I have been there, done that … and I want others to avoid that and prevent that.

There is no reason people should be living from paycheck to paycheck in the greatest country on the planet.

There is enough money for everyone on this planet. For most individuals, the problem is not an income problem. It is an outgo problem.

There is HOPE.

I believe in people.

I believe that when people are set free financially, they become able to pursue EXACTLY what they have been made to do!

NUMBER ONE REASON
I have been called by God to do this. It is what I have been put on this earth to do!

The power of vision.

Now time for a story …

It was summertime during 1999. I was headed out to eat lunch with a fellow engineer. We headed off to Los Hermanos in Clemson, SC (does this restaurant still exist?). Little did I know that this was to be a lunch that would change my life forever.

During our lunchtime conversation, he asked me a question I had heard many times before. “Joe”, he said, “If you had a million dollars, what would you do?” Now, I had heard that question asked many times before, but this time I truly thought about it. I had no answer.

It irked me that I could not answer this question. I was very frustrated about it. I was frustrated enough that during that same evening, I shared the question with my wife, Jenn. I told her that I could not answer the question and that I did not know what I would do.

She was surprised and said that I could have at least thought of some vacations we could take. The issue for me was that I truly understood the point of the question. The true point of the question was, “What have I been put on this earth to do?”

I wandered around for the next three years, just wondering. During these three years, I applied myself 100% to the task at hand, but I put myself on alert so I could discover just what I was put on this earth to do.

When I moved back to Indiana in 2002, I finally found it. It was to help others accomplish far more than they ever thought possible. Specifically in the area of their finances. It burns through me to the very core of my soul.

Now, I have been described as slightly energetic in my normal line of work, but I become a passionate, freaked-out, crazed lunatic when it comes to helping others gain control of their finances. This topic brings out an emotion in me that has been otherwise untapped. It is exactly what I have been put on this earth to do.

Now, I have the opportunity to go pursue this calling full-time at New Spring Church. I CAN NOT WAIT!!!

Since I had to wrestle with the question for 4 years before getting to an answer, I am going to ask you:

“If you had a million dollars, what would you do?”

The cliff is behind me!

I have blogged, talked, preached, spoke, rambled, yelled, taught, and thought about jumping off the cliff of “going and doing this personal finance thing full blast” for the past three years.

I have wrestled with leaving Corporate America and the fine paycheck it provides. I have wrestled with this change in my full-time career focus. I have thought about the “what-if scenarios” for so long that it really seemed to be a dream that would not cease. It seemed as if it could never become reality – due to my inability to jump off of this cliff.

I am officially announcing today that the cliff is behind me! I have jumped over the edge! I am “going to do this personal finance thing full blast”. I am going to help broke people become whole financially. I am going to assist others who are doing OK to become OUTSTANDING. I am going to achieve my life’s passion “to help others accomplish far more than they ever thought possible.”

I have officially resigned from my job and have accepted a position with New Spring Church in Anderson, SC! I am VERY EXCITED to be going back to my home church and do ministry with my friends there. The real estate sign is in the yard. The four week notice is ticking away … It is TIME. I have been called to do this. It is what I have been made to do. It is time to walk the talk.

You see, when you spend less than you make, you can do exactly what you have been made to do regardless of the income potential. Regardless of the hardship you may have to endure to get there.

True peace is found by doing that which you were put on this planet to do.

New Spring friends – look out! I am READY TO ROLL!

Budgeting (again!)

I love budgeting. I am a full-fledged nerd. I admit it. That’s fine. I am also not broke anymore!!!

I regularly encounter people who do not truly understand what it means to budget. They believe that it is a tool that their spouse uses to control them. They believe that it means they will not be able to have fun anymore. They believe that it will not work. I believe that “they” are wrong! “They” are still broke. I am not anymore. It is because Jenn and I began to budget!

Let me explain what a budget really is.

It is a simple math equation:
INCOME – OUTGO = ZERO

It means that you will NOT spend more than you make:
The equation MUST balance to zero. If it is a negative number, you will be burning through your savings account OR turning to debt.

It is spending your money on paper on purpose BEFORE the month begins:
If you spend your money on paper BEFORE you receive it, you will KNOW the fact that money is limited. You will KNOW that you must reduce your spending in order to avoid debt! You will KNOW that you must reduce your spending in order to pay off debt faster!

It is THE ENABLER for achieving financial peace:
By not overspending your income, you are better able to achieve your family’s goals. You will NOT have to work OT in order to pay your debts. You will NOT have to work a second job to earn enough money to pay off your debts. You WILL be able to focus on your family. You WILL be able to focus on doing exactly what you were made to do! You WILL be able to focus on pursuing life to the fullest INSTEAD of having your joy robbed from you!

I was broke until Jenn and I began to budget.

I am at the edge of the cliff …

Will I fly? or Will I flop?

I am at the cliff of jumping into what I was made to do. How should I jump? How far should I jump?

I KNOW the answer.

I will jump with 100% of my effort! I will go after that which I was made for! I will not be denied! I will do everything necessary to achieve that which I have been created to accomplish. I will be faithful.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock.

The time is near.

Time to jump.

Life is so good!

When you have financial peace, you are able to more fully experience life. You are not bound to a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle. You are not in the rat race of earning the money and then turning around and handing it right back out.

Here are some key items I have noticed are different when you achieve financial peace:

  • Clearly understanding of “how much is enough”
  • Able to focus in on what you have been put on this earth to do
  • Reduced stress in life
  • More aware of the pain that others in financial bondage are experiencing
  • Looking for the OPPORTUNITY to give to worthy causes
  • More focus on making a difference with your life

What are you doing to achieve financial peace today?

There is a cliff in front of me …

Should I jump? With or without looking?

Perhaps I should study it a bit.

If I get close to the edge, will I have the opportunity to bail out?

How far down is it?

Will I risk a broken leg or will it be death?

I’m scared. My legs shake. My nerve is almost gone. I feel weak. I feel out of control.

There is a decision you know that you KNOW you need to make about your finances. Stop studying it and MAKE IT HAPPEN!

How do you know when it is time?

I was reading this article the other day. David Bach presents five signs that may be telling you it is time to move on from your current role or job.

I would like to think through this in a little more detail.

It is not surprising to me that nearly half of the people in this nation do not enjoy their jobs.

It is also not surprising to me that nearly every person on this planet wishes to accomplish something great with their life. They want to make a difference to somebody, somewhere. It is a feeling, an urge from the deepest part of the soul, that we have been put on earth to do something with our lives.

This urge is unique to the human race. When was the last time you saw your cat pulling out his surveying equipment to build a bridge across a river so that neighboring cities can visit and conduct commerce more easily? When was the last time you saw a cow pull out his saw and build a house for his fellow cow? It has been awhile since we saw a monkey go to outer space to find out where we came from. I can tell you that this monkey DID NOT WANT TO GO!

(The first four monkeys on rockets to outer space died!)

Anyway, we humans have an inner desire to accomplish something. Something that is beyond ourselves. Something that we cannot deny without serious frustration, sadness, anger, or other strong emotion.

So why do we allow ourselves to work the vast majority of our lives doing something that is not what we were put on this earth to do?

I put forth this simple reason – It is because we are broke.

According to a Bankrate.com nationwide poll, less than 4 in 10 American adults have an emergency fund to fall back on in the event of a financial disaster.

Here is something I am discovering. Many of the jobs that focus on helping people have a better life do not pay enormous wages. These jobs are sponsored by charitable organizations who want to pour as much of their financial resources into the actual helping of people. They do not generate substantial amounts of revenue so they simply cannot compete with the corporate paychecks. They do offer, however, a tremendous opportunity to make a huge difference for our fellow man.

Question of the Day
If you had six month’s worth of expenses saved up and had NO payments, would you continue to do what you are currently doing?

If you had six month’s worth of expenses saved up and had only a house payment, but no other payments – no car payment, no student loan payment, no furniture payment, no boat payment … no payments other than your house, would you continue to do what you are currently doing?

What is that THING that you really want to accomplish with your life? What is that THING that just lights up a passion in you that you just cannot shut up about it? That makes you feel most alive! That makes you KNOW that you are making a difference?

Get debt-free and GO DO IT!

Term Life Insurance

Term Life Insurance is a great deal!

30 year-old male – preferred rate – 20 year level term insurance – $500,000 coverage
$255/year

30 year-old female – preferred rate – 20 year level term insurance – $500,000 coverage
$235/year

Want to know what the current rates are for your age? Go to here to obtain an instant quote WITHOUT HAVING TO ENTER YOUR NAME OR INFORMATION!!! There is a spot for you name and phone number, but you do not have to enter it!

Why is term life insurance a great deal?

  • It transfers risk from you to the insurance company
  • It is cheap! Very cheap relative to cash value, universal, or whole life insurance
  • The premium stays the same for the entire term of the insurance.

You need to have 8X – 10X your annual income in term life insurance. Even if your spouse does not work, you should also have term life insurance on them. Imagine how much it would cost to replace the work they currently do while maintaining your household.

Insurance agents will push you to get whole life, cash value, or universal life insurance. They sell them with the savings component built within it. It is not that they are horribly terrible products (OK, maybe they are HORRIBLE), it is the fact that they are VERY EXPENSIVE when compared to the cost of term life insurance.

GO GET TERM LIFE INSURANCE!!!

Money saving ideas

Pay bills annually.

  • Life Insurance
  • Auto Insurance
  • Gym Membership
  • Internet
  • Subscriptions

Negotiate any large purchase

  • Automobiles
  • Boats
  • House
  • Surgery
  • Video camera
  • Computer
  • TV
  • Furniture
  • Jewelry
  • Vacation Trip

Sleep at least one night before making a large purchase.

Consult with your spouse before making a large purchase.

Drive your car for at least 250,000 miles and 10 years.

Take your lunch to work.

Let your employer pay for your college degree.

Don’t smoke.

Exercise.

Avoid stuff-itis. Ask yourself the question, “Why am I buying this?”

Are you giving?

I remember being taught to give as a child. I was taught in two ways. One way was each time that I earned a little bit of money, I was taught that I should give 10% of it away. POWERFUL STUFF! The other way was when I saw my parents give money away. EVEN MORE POWERFUL!

Giving allows you to put wind in the sails of your dreams. It allows you to invest in those things that you care the most about. It enables you to understand that your resources are able to accomplish far more than you alone could do. You could fund a homeless shelter so that they can feed the down and out. You can give to the Red Cross to help others in the most desperate times of life. You can give to your local church where one can learn about the hope of the world. You can give to individuals who are down on their luck. You can give to friends who are struggling financially. You can give to friends who are serving as missionaries to the most hopeless parts of the world.

You can’t give, however, if all of your money is being sent to Capital One. You can’t give to the things that matter most if you are in debt up to your eyeballs. If you can’t get your budget to balance and every single dollar is spent on your debt, you can’t support the things that you are most passionate about.

When you have financial freedom, you are able to give more than you ever thought possible. WOW! This pumps me up! Paying bills doesn’t pump me up! Helping others accomplish far more than they ever thought possible is what pumps me up!!!

Who are you giving to? I challenge you to give to someone today!

Who should you listen to?

Who should you listen to?

If you are broke, should you listen to a broke person’s advice on how to handle money?

If you are overweight, should you listen to an overweight person’s advice on how to lose weight?

If you are out of shape, should you listen to an out of shape person’s advice on how to become physically fit?

If you do not know how to read … How are you reading this? :)

Who are you listening to for financial advice?

I am listening to Dave Ramsey.

I also listen to David Chilton.

Robert Kiyosaki is great to listen to.

Most of all, I listen to my wife, Jenn.

News and Notes

  • This is my 100th blog post!!!
  • Melea now has enough in her college fund to pay for a year of college!
  • The fully-funded car fund may be spent soon.
  • Debt is dumb. Figure it out!
  • I almost have a “ZERO” on my FICO (“I love debt”) score. One open credit account – our home mortgage. I can’t wait to make it go BYE-BYE-BYE. My goal is to have a ZERO for this score. Why do you need a great FICO score? TO GET MORE DEBT!!!

People need help!

You have friends that need financial help! You have family members that need financial help! You have co-workers that need financial help! You may need financial help!

The financial help I am speaking of is not the act of giving away money. It is the act of teaching them key personal finance skills. It is teaching them how to put together a monthly zero-based budget. It is teaching them to use an envelope system, putting their cash into envelopes for key expense items and spending only what is in the envelope. There is no trip to the ATM when the envelope runs out of cash, there are creative meals from the cupboards. It is teaching them the lost art of saving so they can pay cash for their purchases. It is teaching them to say “NO!” to debt. It is teaching them the 8th wonder of the world – compound interest. It is teaching them to have a will. It is teaching them to have insurance – health, term-life, auto … It is teaching them to demand a better deal. It is teaching them to have control of their spending habits.

It does not happen overnight. They will screw it up. They will struggle with some items that were easy for you to deal with. They will breeze through other items that were hard for you. They may grow weary of the process, but in the end it will be worth it all. You will have helped to equip them to do exactly what they were put on this earth to do! You will have helped their marriage. You will have changed their children’s entire future!

Who could you help out financially this week? Go spend three hours with someone who needs help. This week!

Why?

When I meet with financially distressed people, they are invariably downhearted.

Why?

How far we’ve come!

I remember the days of frivolous spending. I remember it like it was yesterday. We were spending money that we did not have. We were generally unable to tell ourselves “NO!” to anything that we wanted. It was OK, we told ourselves. We had good jobs. We were college educated. We deserved it. I mean, we lived through our four year (5) vacation … uhhh, I mean college, where a twenty dollar bill made you RICH!

Well, with that thinking we managed to live from paycheck to paycheck for six years. We even had the joy of running up our credit card bills three separate times! WOW! The joy of spending our entire tax refund on paying off credit card bills for items we … well, we could not remember what we had bought with those credit card charges.

Flash forward to today. We have been debt-free except for our house since February 2004, but I have recently had a flashback that had all-too-real feelings associated with it.

Let me explain …

We live in a sandy soil area. If you do not water your grass thoroughly at least once every two days, your grass will wither away, and you will be left with a nice dirt patch. We have heard that dirt patches reduce your home’s value, and it certainly reduces your home’s appearance. It reduces your home’s appearance even further when Mr. Lawn Boy himself lives next door with THE PERFECT MANICURED LAWN. He literally mows the grass every 15 minutes. It is ridiculous how wonderful his lawn looks.

I explained to Jenny that having a dirt patch is a very good thing because we make Mr. Lawn Boy’s yard look that much better. Crickets …

Bottom Line: We decided to install an irrigation system for our lawn this year. We had not saved money specifically for the irrigation system, but we could tap into our new used car fund to pay for it. We reasoned that we could repay the new used car fund over the next few months.

So we did it. We installed the irrigation system. With money we borrowed from our own new used car fund. We BORROWED money FROM OURSELVES! I thought that this would feel OK. I was wrong! It is bad enough to be in debt to someone else. TRY BEING IN DEBT TO YOUR “NEW USED CAR FUND”!

We truly felt like we were in debt. We have recently repaid our “New Used Car Fund” back. WOW! I am glad I am not in debt to ourselves anymore. The feelings were scary!

I got to thinking about this … How far we have come! When we actually feel “in debt” to our “new used car fund”. In old days, we would have taken the money out of a savings fund, but would never repay. Now, it was repaid right on time.

It was a good decision for us to get the irrigation system, but I realized yet again just how bad it feels to be in debt.

How far we’ve come. How far we’ve come.

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