Archive - October, 2006

What was the moment for you?

I am interested in hearing what it was that made you start to take control of your personal finances.

For me, it was when I learned the simple fact that INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO.

I had been through 20 years of formal education including 6 semesters of calculus and advanced calculus. I understood that stuff (back then, anyway), and yet I could not make my money behave.

The moment that I SAW the simple math on paper for my money, I was equipped to manage my money more effectively.

Since that day, the savings account has grown, debt has disappeared, and the stress of paycheck-to-paycheck living has left forever. My marriage is better than it has ever been because of the simple fact that we have removed the number one cause of marital dischord from it – money fights.

So, what was the tipping point for you? What made you take action?

Please e-mail me at with that “moment” that made you take action to manage your money well.

Just a few days away from making a bad decision.

I remember a few years ago, I had the opportunity to purchase some land.

It was about 22 acres of farmland with some drainage creeks through it, but it sounded like a good deal.

I wanted to do this deal. The thought of becoming a land owner was really appealing to me. After all, God stopped making land a long time ago. Plus, it would be really cool to say, “I’m a land owner.” and “I am an owner of land.”

I approached my wife about buying this land. Oh, man! If you are a married man, LEARN this lesson – ALWAYS seek your wife’s input on decisions!

She asked a really tough question, “Where are you going to get the money to buy it?”

I told her that I wanted to borrow the money. I showed her how we could turn this into a pretty profitable investment.

The problem? My assumptions were all wrong. What I thought could do with this land, I could not. As we went through the numbers and as Jenn asked more questions, it became very clear that this would be a major negative financial event in the lives of Joe and Jenn.

I was just a few days away from making a bad decision, but I was able to avoid it by getting Jenn involved and putting the facts on paper.

What decision do you need to get your spouse involved in today?

The challenge of continually learning.

I have spent the last three days at a conference having my mind stretched. I have to admit that it is difficult sometimes to endure mind-stretching teaching/learning experiences.

I believe that it was Thomas Edison that said, “I love to learn. I am just not sure that I like being taught.” Why would he say that? I believe that pride might be at the source of it all. We love to be in the know, but it also happens regularly that we are too prideful to admit that we do not know.

I know that I need to continue to learn. Not just in finances, but in all areas of my life. If I do not continue to learn, I will not grow and develop and accomplish exactly what I was put on this earth to do!

Here is what I have been doing recently to learn:

  • Reading a book on personal finances – specifically on marriage and money
  • Reading a book on leadership – specifically on being a leader of leaders
  • Attending the leadership conference I am currently at
  • Sitting in small group discussions to discuss personal financial management
  • Hanging out with other leaders – not to necessarily discuss leadership
  • Writing thoughts out on paper – really helps to develop ideas/thoughts
  • Prayer – Taking time to reflect
  • Reading the Bible – There is a reason this is the world’s all-time best-seller. The plot is amazing!
  • Attending home groups – doing life together

What have you been doing recently to learn?


Why do many people view challenges as a negative?

“Man, I just do not know how I am going to handle all of these people in our house at Thanksgiving!!!”

You are getting to spend an awesome time with your family and friends!!! That is a POSITIVE in my family!

“Man, I just don’t know what to do with this project. I have never really done something like this before.”

You are getting to learn and grow!!! How awesome to be able to do something new and challenging!

“Man, I just do not know how to get control of our finances. We have never been able to control them well.”

You are gaining control of the number one cause of marital strife! How awesome to be able to work with your spouse and learn and grow together!!!

Enjoy challenges!!! They are your opportunity to learn and grow. Life without variety and a hint of mystery grows bland VERY quickly.

Characteristics of those who fail financially

As I see persons who have failed financially, I have seen at least one of the following characteristics:

– A failure to recognize that emergencies will occur (car breaking down – they break down!; Christmas – It really is in December! People will get sick!)
– A life-controlling issue – addiction to gambling, drugs, alcohol
– Lack of HOPE
– Unwilling to change their behavior
– Lack of medical insurance!
– Lack of a plan
– Unwilling to work together with their spouse
– Uneducated about financial topics

All of these items can be addressed. There is HOPE! You can put together a plan!

I see miracles taking place!

I have always bent toward the optimistic view of life. OK! OK! OK! I really point directly toward the optimistic view of life!

I believe in people’s ability to accomplish exactly what they were put on this earth to do.

It has earned me the title of Mr. Quixotic. You can see the definition here. defines quixotic as being “caught up in the romance of noble deeds and the pursuit of unreachable goals; idealistic without regard to practicality”

Why? Because I believe in people! Because I believe that people are empowered with something called COMMON SENSE! Because I have seen miracles taking place in the lives of people!

I have seen marriages being restored! Guess what? I see thousands more being restored!

I have seen HOPE restored! Guess what? I see thousands more have HOPE restored!

I have seen financial situations being miraculously transformed! Guess what? I see thousands more have the same thing happen!

I have seen people begin to pursue their dreams and passions and not being denied. Guess what? I see thousands more doing the same!

I believe that when a person is able to work in their sweet spot – that one thing that turns work into a crusade – their soul is set on fire! It’s effect on others around them is undeniable! I love working – strike that – CRUSADING along side people who are doing exactly what they were made to do.

If that makes me QUIXOTIC, so be it. I just happen to believe that the unrealistic will become reality!

Great ideas mixed with passion will catch fire!

Have you ever saw a successful business and wondered why it became successful?

Take Chick-Fil-A for example. A great product! I LOVE their chicken sandwiches! I LOVE their cole slaw! I REALLY LOVE their sweet tea!

It is a great product!

Do you think that the chicken sandwich would have been known to many if the persons behind the product were not passionate about it?

Here is a hint:


Are you passionate about what you do? Guess what? If you are not, people will be able to tell. They will see it in the way you talk about it. They will sense it in the tone you use. They will recognize it by the way you carelessly refer to it.

However, guess what happens when you ARE passionate about what you do? People notice! They can tell in the way that you obsess over it. In the tone you talk about it. By your enthusiasm! It’s serious! It’s because you are passionate about it!

Well, guess what? I am passionate about helping people with their personal finances! Whether it is someone who is in complete crisis “I’m about to declare bankruptcy”-mode or it is someone looking to tune up the management of their money, I am PASSIONATE about helping them take it to the next level!

I am living, eating, breathing, sleeping, and dreaming about this subject! It is something that I can not get over! I once lived on the B-R-O-K-E side of personal financial management. This is where over 70% of Americans are living TODAY!!! In the world’s wealthiest nation, THIS SHOULD NOT BE!!!

As Americans, we should be able to tell ourselves NO! occasionally. We should be able to be wealthy! We should be able to GIVE, SAVE, and SPEND far more than we are currently able to, but we just cannot deny ourselves!!!

Come over to my side of the fence. Welcome to a world where you manage your money instead of letting your money manage you! Welcome to a world where you can focus on doing that thing that you were created to do! Welcome to a world where you can channel resources to causes that you passionately believe in!

Manage your money instead of letting your money manage you!

What an idea! I am passionate about it.

If great ideas mixed with passion really do catch fire, then an INFERNO is on its way!

Bring it on!

You can’t ever go back.

You can’t ever go back.

No matter how much you want to, it is just not possible. The time has passed. The event has passed. The words were spoken.

You can’t ever go back.

As a result, your relationships will accumulate more and more memories. Hopefully, many of those memories are happy ones. Sadly, there will also be sad ones.

Understand this: You can’t ever go back.

If you do NOT understand this and if it is your expectation that every single one of your friends is perfect, you will be a very depressed individual! Since you can’t ever go back, the inevitable truth is that memories will build onto each other.

Since you can’t ever go back, it means that you need to learn FORGIVENESS and FORGETFULNESS. Your spouse may have done something that impacted you negatively in your finances. Forgive them! You may have done something that caused you to lose a lot of money. Forget about it! Request forgiveness and move on!

If you do not learn that you can’t ever go back AND that people are not perfect AND that your spouse and friends will have some more less stellar moments in the future, you will become a very disgruntled and disillusioned person.

Learn to forgive. Learn to forget. Learn how to move forward TOGETHER!

You can do it! I believe in you!

What do you need to do about this TODAY?

Enthusiasm changes everything!

I love being around enthusiastic people!

You know people like this. They are so excited about everything in life. They want to solve world hunger in the morning and then boil the ocean in the afternoon.

OK. They may be a little unrealistic (or a lot), but I love it! I love being around them! They pump me up! The energy is contagious. It spreads. The positive, can-do attitude is awesome!

When I work around enthusiastic people who believe deeply in the cause they are fighting for, it challenges me to step up my game. It reinforces the passion I have for my life: “To help others accomplish far more than they ever thought possible!”

I am enthusiastic when I say, “I believe in your ability to manage your money and prevent your money from managing you!”.

I am enthusiastic when I say, “If you can do first grade math, you can manage your money well!”

I am enthusiastic when I say, “You CAN be debt-free!”

I am enthusiastic when I say, “I believe in you!”

I am enthusiastic when I say, “You really can reach a day where you do not have to worry about how to pay the next house payment and car payment!”

I believe in you! I want you to win!

I KNOW that there will be some pain as you force your money to behave, but the pain will be short-term if you attack it enthusiastically!

Here is a thought: If you attack your debt today and put together a plan to become debt-free, what day will you become totally free of debt?

So what if it takes as long as 10 years (usually it takes 1.5 to 3 years to become debt-free except for the house)? How old will you be then? 43? 37? 62? You will still have a LOT of life left to live, and it will all be free of the stress created by the way you currently manage your finances!


So you really want to help someone …

In the finance classes that I teach, we have small group discussion time after the lesson. It is an AWESOME time where the class has an opportunity to talk about the good things that have happened with their finances and also the not-so-good things.

As a small group discussion leader, I have learned more from sitting in these discussion groups than I ever would have learned sitting through a finance conference somewhere.

Do you know why? Because people are being real. People are allowing themselves to be transparent so that someone else can learn from the pain of their experience.

As our classes have grown, I have had a need for more small group discussion leaders. When I ask some potential leaders, I have invariably received the response, “Oh, I could never help them with their finances. I am just now getting control of mine!”

You do not know how much I love that response! Why? They are being real! They are humble! They are in EXACTLY the right spot to be an excellent small group discussion leader! They have BEEN THERE, DONE THAT and that allows them to really help someone because they can meet them where they are.

So you really want to help someone … ? Be authentic, be real, meet people where they are, listen to them, and exude HOPE at all times!

To all of the persons who have been involved in a small group discussion – you KNOW exactly what I am talking about.

To all of the persons who have been involved in a small group discussion led by me – first, let me apologize :), second, THANK YOU for letting me learn from you! I rejoice in the opportunity that I have had to potentially help you!

Many days before I go to work, I play the piano. I sit down and play the song “If I Can Help Somebody”. No, I am not making this up! You know why I play this song? Because I LOVE sharing something that has changed my life with others and seeing it help them in real and tangible ways.

Financial Advice to Married Persons

Financial Advice to Married Couples

o Work TOGETHER on your finances!
o Discuss all major purchases BEFORE making the purchase.
o Share ALL FINANCIAL INFORMATION with each other.
o No financial secrets.
o If you work TOGETHER, it will make you stronger.
o Avoid the trap of debt
o Some couples shell out thousands just for their marriage!
§ It is nice to have a great wedding, but to go into debt to do it?
§ Is it worth it?
o After many couples get married, they attempt to get everything that their parents have:
§ House
§ Furniture
§ Cars
§ Boat
o As a result, the first thing they have done as a couple was to strap themselves down under a weight of payments.

o Develop a plan for your future. Make your financial plan support your future plan!

o I recommend that a newlywed couple WAIT at least one year before making any large purchases (> $1000).

o SAVE money for emergencies.
o When you have no savings, every little thing that happens wrong to you (car problem, appliance problem, medical bill) becomes a financial emergency.
o Financial emergencies lead to STRESS.
o With 3 – 6 months of savings JUST SITTING THERE, these financial emergencies will not exist and therefore the stress will also not exist.

o SAVE money for the future!
Ask the following questions:
o Is the fact that you are going to retire someday unknown?
o Is the fact that your children are going to college someday unknown?
o Is the fact that your children are going to get married someday unknown?
o Is the fact that you are going to purchase a house someday unknown?
o Is the fact that you want to go on a nice vacation to Hawaii someday unknown?
o Is the fact that you want to buy a nice boat someday unknown?
o Is the fact that you want to own a nice car someday unknown?
o Is the fact that you want nice furniture someday unknown?
o NONE of these questions are unknown, yet many of us NEVER EVEN BOTHER TO PLAN FOR THEM!!!! The result of NOT PLANNING? They either go ahead with these goals and incur a TON OF DEBT OR they are unable to realize their dreams and instead live a lifetime of woulda, coulda, shoulda regret.

o Pay cash for purchases.
o Saving money takes time.
o Time allows you to truly understand if you really want that item
o It also allows you time to learn what a good deal is for that item

o Hold each other accountable.
o When one of you gets the I want this!!!-itis, the other can calm you down!
o You are stronger TOGETHER.

o Managing your money can be fun. Done correctly,
o It allows you to support VERY WORTHY causes that you strongly believe in!
o It allows you to save more than you ever thought possible.
o It allows you to spend more than you ever thought possible.
o It allows you to give more than you ever thought possible.

Your plans.

Do you have plans for your life?

Do you have things you want to accomplish during your lifetime?

What are you doing about them?

Are they written down?

Have you written out a step-by-step plan on how to achieve these goals?

How much will it cost you to accomplish these goals?

I have found that when individuals are able to establish a direct link between their finances and their lifetime goals, they become rabid animals in pursuit of financial freedom!

Why is this? It is because they have a CLEAR REASON for why they are pursuing debt freedom! This is powerfully motivating!

If I pay off our debt, my wife can do what she has always wanted to do – stay at home with the children!

If I pay off our debt, I can quit the job that I am not passionate about and pursue the career that I am PASSIONATE about even though it generates less income!

If we invest money every single month, we will be able to retire by the age of 50 and start that children’s mountain camp that we have always dreamed of!

If we have no debt, we will be able to go on a paid-for vacation every year.

If we invest money every single month, we will be able to leave an inheritance for my children.

If we invest money every single month, we will be able to give $100,000 to our local church.

When you have a CLEAR REASON that is WRITTEN down, POWERFUL things happen!

The new school.

I was sitting in a open-house/dedication ceremony for a new school recently. This new school replaced a school that had been built in 1929. It looked just like a WWII bunker.

The speaker said, “A round of applause for so-and-so for the architectural design.”

“A round of applause for so-and-so who led the construction effort.”

“A round of applause for the staff of the school.”

“A round of applause for so-and-so who arranged the financing.”


Now the last school was built 76 years ago!!!! And we had to FINANCE the new school?!! We were using TAX PAYER money to pay interest on a note for a new school when the last school was built 76 years ago!!!

This should not be! At what point in time did we figure out that we might have to replace the school someday?

Do you know that if the school had invested $3.69 per week into an investment, there would have been enough TO PAY CASH for the new building?

Instead, the school and the taxpayers are burdened with the debt.

It’s time to start saving for the replacement of this school!

Do you want your children to manage money the way you do?

Are you satisfied with the way you have managed your personal finances?

If the management of your personal finances was placed on trial before a jury of Your Parents, Jesus, and Your Spouse, would you be found “Guilty – of wanton mismanagement” or would you be found “Outstanding – teach your children and others about how you have done this”?

Now, if someone seven years ago would have asked me the question “Would you want your children to manage money the way you do?”, I would not have known how to respond. The reason? I did not have children at the time.

Now that I am a father, it MATTERS A LOT to me! I mean, look at the other alternatives for her to learn money management from!

  • Congress? Give me a break!!!
  • The President? Give me a break!!!
  • Credit card companies? Wow!
  • Banks? Here’s a clue – Banks are FOR-PROFIT organizations!
  • Schools? They don’t even teach how to balance a checkbook anymore!

I do not know about you, but I want to be a GREAT EXAMPLE for my daughter to follow. In every way! Not just in personal finances, but in every way! I am passionate about this!

It was EMBARRASSING when I truly took the time to look at our financial situation in 2002 and analyze how I was really managing our money.

I was not:

  • working with Jenn to develop a budget TOGETHER
  • asking for her advice on many of the purchases I made
  • stopping the spending when the money ran out
  • telling myself “NO!” to my childish “I want this!” wants

Today, I am willing to sit on trial before a jury of My Parents, Jesus, and My Spouse because THIS MATTERS TO ME!

Systematic Savings & My 529 Plan

“My how the time flies!”

“Was it really 4 years ago that we last talked?”

“Our 20 year high school class reunion is THIS YEAR?!?!!”

Time has remained constant, but as we grow up we get so busy that it really does appear that time flies by!

It was almost 7 years ago that my daughter was born. WOW! I can not hardly believe it. In just 11 years, she will be off to college. UNBELIEVABLE!

Wait a minute … Off to college … Have I started saving for that?

The answer for us is YES!

Here is what we have done to save for her college. We started up a 529 College Savings Plan. It was VERY EASY. I went to our local bank and asked to open a 529 College Savings Plan.

Facts about the 529 College Savings Plan I am involved in:

  • They required a mere $50 minimum amount to open the account.
  • Additional future contributions were required to be at least $25.
  • They ZAP my bank account once a month with an amount I have told them to deduct.
  • The money is invested in mutual funds that I have selected.
  • The money is put in AFTER-TAX, but I am able to withdraw the money (principal PLUS interest) TAX-FREE for my daughters qualified educational expenses.
  • I am ONLY allowed to contribute $298,770 to this account at this time (I suspect that this will pay for college 🙂 )
  • Qualified expenses included tuition, fees, books, supplies, equipment, room and board.
  • If I withdraw the money for non-qualified expenses, the interest earned is subject to income taxes PLUS a 10% penalty.

Do you know how easy it is to contribute a monthly amount to savings when you do not have to do anything? No writing checks. No on-line bill payment. Nothing. It is removed from my checking account automatically, and it is deposited into the 529 account automatically. It is then automatically used to purchase additional units of the mutual funds I have selected.

How sweet is that? Here is an example of what has happened to my 529 plan since it was started in 2003.

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