Archive - September, 2006

There is POWER in writing things down!

Have you ever told someone that you would do something, and then forgot to do it? That has happened to every one of us.

I remember going to visit a customer that had experienced a quality issue with one of our products. I had a belief that we had not been notified in a timely manner about the quality issue. I was WRONG. This customer pulled out a book and rattled off at least 10 times that he had contacted our team about this exact issue! He had NAMES. He had DATES. He had TIMES. He had the Greenwich Mean Time in which he had contacted them. He had EXACTLY what he had relayed to each individual. There is POWER in writing things down!

By the time he had gotten to relaying to me the fourth call he had made, I really was not interested in hearing any more! I just wanted OUT OF THERE. Why? Because I did not have it written down. My team had not written it down. As a result, we had seriously inconvenienced a customer, and we had look foolish doing it. There is POWER in writing things down!

With this blog, I embarked on a journey to write about personal finances. I wanted to help others improve their own personal financial situation. The end result? I am personally learning more about finances. Why? Because I am writing it down!!! There is POWER in writing things down!

God had approximately 40 authors WRITE THINGS DOWN. Why? Because there is POWER in writing things down!

Write things down! Use the POWER!

Have you saved money for Christmas gifts?

Christmas is only 89 days away. Have you saved any money for it yet?

Christmas should not be an emergency. It happens EVERY SINGLE YEAR on the EXACT SAME DATE. December 25. EVERY YEAR.

When you fail to plan, Christmas becomes an “emergency”, but it should not be that way!

When you plan your spending for Christmas, you will spend less money. Just as when you complete your monthly budget and spend every dollar on purpose, on paper, before the month begins, a spending plan for Christmas will ensure that you spend within your means.

Christmas Fund – Christmas Spending = EXACTLY ZERO

By the way, when you have saved up the money for the gifts and avoid incurring debt, Christmas is so much better!!!

Practicality

Practicality: adj. adapted or designed for actual use; useful

How long does it take for you to determine that something is practical?

I remember a time when I burned some photo files to a CD to take to Wal-Mart for developing. When I got to Wal-Mart, the photo machine would not recognize the files because the disk had not been “finalized”. Now, I am not sure why a disk needs to be “finalized”, but I was VERY IRKED that I could not print my photos. As I have dealt with burning CDs, I have determined that they really are not very practical. They are very susceptible to scratching. They have lots of format types.

To put it simply, burning CDs sucks.

Why do I say this? It is not very practical!!! It fails to produce the expected results regularly!!! AND I have found a better way. I LOVE my memory stick. USB plug and play. Holds a ton of files and is very user friendly. It is more practical.

When it comes to finances, people want practicality. They do not want to hear about a financial tool that works some of the time. They want to hear about a financial tool that works all of the time.

My goal is to create and design financial tools that work ALL OF THE TIME.

Managing personal finances is not for sissies

Like anything worth doing, management of your personal finances takes effort. It takes time. It takes knowledge. It takes want-to. It takes motivation. It also takes HOPE.

If you are like 70% of Americans who live paycheck to paycheck and have NO extra money in savings, it takes a lot of effort just to make the decision to do something different.

I must say, it amazes me how many people will not change their financial behavior simply because of the amount of effort it will take to get their financial affairs in order. They would rather live a life that is tied to money, being in debt, and the stresses related to paycheck-to-paycheck living than expend the effort necessary to win with their finances.

I believe that each person possesses the capability get their financial house in order. I believe that each one can learn how to manage their finances successfully.

Are you willing to expend the effort to turn your financial house around? To make it better? Or are you going to put up with paycheck-to-paycheck living because it is “just too hard”?

Moving Costs – If you ever move …

Moving costs money.

Surprised?

Here are some questions (answers below):

  1. How much does it cost to rent a one-way 26′ box truck for 5 days and unlimited miles?
  2. How much does it cost for boxes?
  3. How much does it cost for the fuel to get from point A to point B?
  4. How much does it cost to rent a car tow dolly?
  5. Have you thought about furniture pads?
  6. How much does it cost to get your old house ready to move out of?
  7. How much does it cost to get your new house ready to move in to?
  8. If you are selling your home, how much does it cost?
    1. One-way rentals are FAR more expensive than returning the rental to the spot you picked up the truck. General costs for a one-way rental is between $1,300 and $2,500.
    2. Boxes. Wow. Moving boxes that you purchase run anywhere from $150 – $500.
    3. Fuel? Depends on the average gas prices. 26′ box trucks get HORRIBLE gas mileage – between 4 and 7 mpg. If you get a diesel, you can expect to get between 8 and 12 mpg.
    4. A car tow dolly will run you around $200
    5. Furniture pads are very cheap. Around $10/dozen. Get at least two dozen more than you think you will need.
    6. Depends greatly on the condition of the home. If you’ve maintained things well, it could be $500 or less. If you haven’t maintained things well, it could be a LOT more.
    7. Depends greatly on the condition of the home. If you negotiate effectively, you can have the house handed over in great condition.
    8. If you use a realtor, selling fees on a home generally run between 4% and 7%. If you sell your home yourself, you can do it for somewhere around $1,500.

Where did you learn to manage your finances?

It is always an interesting to hear others tell me how they learned about how to manage their finances. There are many sources that combine together to make up the average person’s knowledge base for financial management.

Here are some of the sources I have observed/heard/personally experienced:

  • How one’s parents managed their money – This is a VERY LARGE INFLUENCE on one’s knowledge of money management – For good or bad
  • How one’s family managed their money – brothers/sisters/uncles/aunts
  • How one’s friends manage their money – For good or bad
  • Books – I highly recommend “Financial Peace Revisited” by Dave Ramsey, “The Wealthy Barber” by David Chilton, and “Rich Dad. Poor Dad.” and “The Cash Flow Quadrant” by Robert Kiyosaki.
  • TV – This gets a little scary.
  • Auto Dealers – This is more than a little scary.
  • Magazines
  • Newspapers
  • Internet
  • School – elementary/junior high/high school/college
  • Experience – the best teacher of all!
  • General observations of others
  • Financial counselors
  • The Bible – can it get better than this?
  • Church

Regardless of where YOU get your financial knowledge, always check it against the basic equation of:

INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO

If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. If it sounds like get-rich-quick, it is get-poor-quick. If it requires someone with 10 college degrees to explain it to you, then stay away from it.

  • Keep it simple.
  • Stay the course.
  • Avoid debt.
  • Think long-term.
  • Maintain self-discipline and the power to say “NO!” to yourself and others.
  • Wait overnight before making a large purchase.
  • If you have 10 seconds to make the decision, think for the first 9 seconds.

Are you happy with where your finances are today? If you are, pour more coals to what you are doing. If you are not, go obtain some financial wisdom from trustworthy sources.

Wait overnight for that big purchase

I am selling a house right now. Joy. Joy. Joy.

For most people, a home purchase will be the single largest purchase of anything in their entire life. It needs to be done carefully and with much thoroughness to ensure that it is going to be a good purchase. For most people, waiting overnight seems OK before making an offer on a house.

Is this true for other items?

Let’s take a car. How many people do you personally know that one day showed up with a new car, and you didn’t even know that they were looking for a car? I mean, the car they were driving was newer than yours and ran better than yours, yet they showed up with a new car. The people who I know that bought a car this way did not wait overnight before making the purchase. I also know that many of them got ripped off and did not get a good deal on the car because they were caught up in the frenzy of the buying experience.

Let’s take a hobby. Like scrapbooking. This thing has caught on like wildfire. Ladies are spending money like crazy on this really cool way of displaying the family’s photos. The issue happens when the spending happens without thinking and BOOM $300 later you own everything that Creative Memories offers.

How about a boat? What about the RC airplane? What about furniture? What about a high end dog? What about a timeshare?

Think overnight. You will NEVER regret it!

20 years from now …

I wrote on February 8, 2006 about what life will look like in 20 years if mismanagement of our finances were to continue. That post is located here.

My question today is this: Have you changed anything to make your life better in 20 years?

Many times when I write in these blogs I am writing to myself. I am working through thoughts that are helping to shape my life at the current time. That was the case for my “What Will You Say In 20 Years” post.

I am here to tell you that I have taken SUBSTANTIAL steps to modify the picture 20 years from now.

Steps that I have taken.

  • Resigned position in Corporate America to pursue this passion of my life regarding helping others with their personal finances. I am embarking on a CRUSADE against the “I’ll always have a car payment” and “I’ll always be broke” mentality.
  • I am reading even more books. Filling my brain with information.
  • I met with a personal coach on the topic of Executive Leadership. WHAT A GREAT IDEA! It is an opportunity to have a skilled individual who has a vested interest in you as an individual, but no vested interest in the company. As a result, you can bounce ideas off of them without fear of repercussion or retribution. Very cool.

What steps have you taken?

Does God want you to be rich?

So I was briefly reviewing the web pages that I check daily, and I found this article on www.cnn.com. The question being asked is, “Does God want you to be rich?

Very interesting question, indeed.

The question is often asked. It is interesting to see it being approached by Time Magazine.

I would like to ask the question another way. Does God want you to be poor?

In financial counseling, I have never personally encountered anyone who became poor because God made it that way. There is this one man I have read about in the Bible. His name was Job. You can read about him here. After all of his wealth was stripped away, he still honored God. In the end, God blessed him even more in the last days of his life than at the first.

I do not know how often God lets individuals become poor on purpose (like Job), but I have seen example after example after example where poor decisions have been made that led to the person or couple becoming financially strapped.

Let me list some “poor” decisions.

  • A car financed for 6 years with payments that really can not be afforded. Especially when the vehicle insurance, license plate, and property taxes also go up with the new vehicle.
  • A house with a payment that consumes 50% of take-home pay.
  • A piece of furniture or a ATV that they could not pay cash for and so it was financed for 4 years at 20% interest.
  • Not having an emergency fund with at least $2000 in it. How realistic is it to believe that there will never be a financial emergency in our life?
  • Not thinking about purchases overnight. They are talked in to making a purchase of something they did not NEED by a very talented salesperson. So they bought and now they are paying. (Timeshares are very spur of the moment decisions that are many times a BAD deal.)
  • Not putting money away for the children’s college. If you really do want to help your children out with college, you really should start saving for them. They really are growing older every single day and they will be 18 and headed there before you know it!
  • Not putting money away for your retirement. The word “tire” is in retirement because someday you are going to be very “tired”! If you do not put away money, you will be working when you are very “tired”!

I could list MANY more …

I believe that God has given us this thing called “common sense” and this other thing called a “brain”. He created us in His image. He wants us to think about things. He equipped us to be able to think about purchases and how we should handle our money.

If we truly stopped and thought about our purchases and our overall money management, we would be able to avoid being poor. We could even achieve wealth.

To get it, we need only understand these three things:

  • God is in control
  • INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO
  • We are the managers of our money. We are in control of where our money goes.

Budget + Retirement Savings = Financial Success

There are two critical components to a healthy financial future.

These two items are:

  • Establishing and living by a monthly budget
  • Saving for retirement every single month

Let me tell you about two situations.

Situation One

I have seen situations where a family has not lived by a budget. They do not spend every dollar on paper, on purpose, before the month begins. They have, however, avoided doing DUMB with 000′s behind it. They have some debt, but it is not outrageous. Maybe they have a car loan and some credit card debt.

This family has not lived by a budget, but they have been putting 15% of their pre-tax earnings into a retirement fund (401(k), 403(b), SEP, IRA, Roth IRA, real estate). Every single month. 15% of their pre-tax earnings.

Because this family has avoided signing up for large quantities of debt and has saved systematically for retirement, they will be able to retire with a healthy amount of income.

Situation Two

I have observed a situation where a family has been VERY frugal in their purchases. Never frivolous with their spending. Never turning to debt. They budget every single dollar on paper, on purpose, before the month begins. They live by that budget.

They have, however, forgotten one key line item in the budget: retirement savings. They never were able to force themselves to put away any of their earnings toward retirement. They did not get into the rhythm of putting money towards their retirement every single month.

The result? No debt at retirement, but they are flat broke and totally reliant upon Social Security.

Conclusion

  1. Put money toward your retirement every single month starting this month. Even if it is only $25/month. Do it now! Time is your biggest friend!
  2. Begin budgeting this month! Spend every dollar on paper, on purpose, before the month begins. Live by the budget.
  3. If you do (1) and (2), you will win financially.

I AM SO READY!

In two weeks, I will pack my bags and head off to my new role at New Spring Church in Anderson, SC.

I AM SO READY!

I am ready …

  • to do my part to fulfill the vision cast by Perry last Sunday
  • to ENABLE the community to be financially free and to be freed to do exactly what they have been put on this earth to do
  • to EQUIP others with practical tools and skill sets that enable the vision of New Spring Church to be accomplished

I am PUMPED UP! Helping others win with their finances is EXACTLY what I have been put on this earth to do. Being a leader is EXACTLY what I have been put on this earth to do.

Right now is the right time.

Years from now, will you regret your money management?

Why are you managing money the way you currently are?

Is it because:

  • you have so little money available to you?
  • you earn enough to not really pay attention to your spending?
  • you have an end goal in mind?
  • your parents managed their money this way?
  • you do not want to manage your money the way your parents did?
  • you do not understand how to manage your money?
  • you become frustrated each time you try to develop a plan for your money?
  • you have no hope?

I believe that EVERYONE can manage their finances very well. The largest problem that I encounter is a lack of know-how. Once they are EQUIPPED with a workable budget and other key financial know-how, they begin to really experience excellence in the management of their financial resources.

This leads me to two questions:

  • Why aren’t they equipped to manage their money?
  • Why aren’t they SEEKING to be equipped to manage their money?

Why aren’t they equipped to manage their money?

I went through 20 years of education. K – 12 (13 years), undergraduate degree (4 years), graduate degree (3 years). In those 20 years of education, I NEVER HAD ONE SINGLE COURSE teach me on HOW to manage my money. I learned a lot about earning money, but NOTHING on HOW to manage it once I earned it. This is terrible! Why haven’t they been equipped?

Why aren’t they seeking to be equipped to manage their money?

Fear. Despair. It’s emotional. One spouse is not interested. Frustration. Too busy. Do not know who to listen to or learn from. It is hard to trust someone with this very personal issue.

My Goal: Let it be known that the help we can provide is trustworthy, above reproach, focused on the issues, developed to be easily understood and applied, and is proven to work.