Archive - November, 2006

It is time to put together a plan!

How do the Clemson Tigers prepare for a football game?   Do you think they just go to classes all week and then get together on Saturday morning and say, “OK.   We have Virginia Tech coming into town today.   Let’s go out there and play really hard.”

NO!!!   They plan for months for the game!   They watch hours of game tape of the other team.   They put together some plans for each style of play that they have seen the other team run.   They prepare specifically to shut down star players.   They have quarterback meetings, receivers meetings, O-line meetings, running back meetings, D-line meetings, on and on and on.   They even have meetings to arrange other meetings!

Bottom Line:   They have a plan!

What about successful businesses?   Do you think they are guessing about what may or may not work?   No way!   Too much is at stake!   McDonald’s runs food tasting test trials long before a new product hits the market – I love the snack wrap!   What about Best Buy?   Do you think they just put something on the shelf because it is an electronics related item?   No way!   It has to meet certain standards of quality, value, supply, and other important criteria.   Why?   Because the company’s success is at stake!

Bottom Line:   They have a plan!

How much time have you spent on your financial plan?   How much time have you spent on your life plan?   You owe it to yourself to spend time managing “You, Incorporated”.   Put together a plan that allows you to go do exactly what you were put on this earth to do.   That thing you were created for!   You see, if you do not do exactly what you were put on this earth to do – we are all going to miss out in seeing you accomplish it!!!   Put together a plan. Work toward accomplishing it every single day.

Bottom Line:   You can accomplish your life’s dream, that thing you have been created for!   Have a plan!

What is your debt freedom date?

Want to know what your debt freedom date is?

It is pretty easy to calculate.

I do want to say, however, that there is one prerequisite to this calculation. You have to STOP signing up for more debt! If you keep adding more debt, the debt freedom date will keep moving away from you!

So, knowing that you have said NO! to debt from now on, here is how you calculate your debt freedom date.

1. List all of your debts on a sheet of paper. – Like in the example below. You will need your debt name, debt balance, and monthly payment you are making.

Debt Balance Listing

2.   Now, add up all of the balances to obtain a Total Balance.   Do the same for your monthly payments to obtain  your Total Monthly Payments.

Debt Listing with Totals

3.    Now, let’s pretend you just have  one big  debt with one big monthly payment.   That debt is  equal to the total of all of your debts (in this case,  26,445), and  the payments are equal to the total of  all of your monthly payments (in this case, $1,105).   Divide your Total Balance by your Total Monthly Payment:

$26,445/$1,105 = 23.9 months

4.   This will get you really close to your actual debt freedom date.   Yes, I know I did not include interest rates.   I also did not include pay raises, tax refunds, bonuses, money freed up from budget improvements, and sold stuff.   For the average person who does this calculation and then goes after this with much intensity – it is actually accomplished in about 2/3 of the time calculated here.

 You now have your debt freedom date!!!   Post it on the refrigerator!   As you pay off each debt, put a big RED line through it.   It is OK to yell at your debt!

I’m living out a dream

I have a tremendous passion to help others become free of the trappings of “stuff-itis”, debt, and other financial problems that can weigh them down. Why? Because I have been there, done that, and gotten the T-shirt. I KNOW what it is like to live paycheck-to-paycheck. I KNOW what it is like to not be on the same page with my wife regarding our finances. I KNOW what it is like to have a passion and not be able to pursue it because of a pile of debt stood in my way.

I am able to do what I do today because Jenn and I started working together on our finances, we became debt-free except for our house in 14 months, and we put together a plan to be able to pursue a very specific call we have on our lives!

I am called to help people accomplish far more than they ever thought possible. This is particularly true in the area of finances.

Finances can become a huge barrier between people and their dreams. It can become so bad that it can actually cause people to stop dreaming. In fact, it actually does cause most people to stop dreaming.

Instead of dreaming about that lofty goal of starting a new business, the person gives up on that dream. Instead of dreaming about being a stay-at-home mother, the mother just resolves that it is just not meant to be. Instead of dreaming about giving a huge financial gift to a worthy cause that a couple is passionate about, they give in and say “We’ll never be able to do something like that.”

You see, I don’t believe that this is true! I have HOPE for you! I KNOW you can do this! I know that you can have enough! I know that you can have financial success!

Why? Because Jenn and I have been there!

Yesterday, I was able to live out another dream by speaking at NewSpring Church about Marriage and Money. You can listen to the message here.

I’m living out a dream here!

What’s your dream?

Good news gets around!

How fast news travels!   When a new baby is born, it seems like everyone knows within a few hours.   When someone gets engaged, everyone knows within a few hours.   When you get that new job, everyone knows within a few hours.   When your house sells, everyone knows within a few hours.

How does everyone know within a few hours?   It is because the one experiencing the good news cannot wait to share it with someone else!   They are so happy that they feel as if they will burst if they do not share it with someone else!   They are driven to share and moved to tell others.   The excitement simply cannot be denied!

I am writing this to tell you good news!   You do not have to remain financially broke!   You do not have to buy all of Christmas this year on a credit card!   You can have enough money!   You can be enabled to accomplish everything that God has called you to be – regardless of the income potential!

It is great news that I learned years ago, and I have applied it long enough to truly know what financial freedom is.   I have one debt at this point – my house.   In a few short years, I will have zero debt.   How?   Is it because I make a tremendous amount of money?   No!   It is because Jenn and I ceased to finance every purchase in our life with debt!   We pay cash for everything we buy.   Everything.

Camcorder?   Cash.   Lawnmower?   Cash.   Bed?   Cash.   Refrigerator?   Cash.   Car?   Cash.   Two major surgeries?   Cash. Really!   You can do this!

Good news travels fast!   I am here to tell you that this works for every person on this planet.   I will not stop talking about it!   I will not stop writing about it!   I will not stop speaking about it!   I will not be denied the right to tell of this good news!

It is so much like the salvation experience!   When Jesus Christ saved us, he paid our debts!   When you pay off your financial debts, you are “saved” from the stress, the money fights, the agony of not being able to provide for your family the way you want, and your marriage is blessed beyond measure.

Go tell this good news to somebody!

You can start saving today.

It may seem impossible to be able to save money for you.   All of your money comes in one day and leaves the next day with someone else’s name on it.   Yet, you know you need to save money.   The problem is figuring out how to do it!

Here are some practical ideas for you to try:

  • Pull out $25 every month and put it into a jar at home.   You will not miss the $25, and it will grow faster than you think.
  • Have $25 automatically drafted out of your account once every month.   Have it drafted to a bank account that  you do not have easy access to.   This increases the chance that you will keep it there.
  • Pull out $25 every month and give it to someone else that you trust  to keep it for you.   Give them permission to ask questions when you ask them for some of the money.
  • Use a $5 bill every time you visit a vending machine.   Keep the change and place it into a jar.   If you hit the vending machine twice a day, use a new $5 bill every time you visit.   I had a friend who did this and his jar of $1 coins set him far down the path to debt freedom!
  • Use a cash envelope system for your food, entertainment, and blow-it money.   Make it your goal to have at least $25 left at the end of the month.   Take that money to the bank (or the cookie jar).
  • Pack your lunch to work.   Very old school, but this method still works wonders!   I can eat my lunch for less than $1/day when I pack my lunch.   Use the difference between what you would have spent at restaurants and what you paid for your packed lunch to save in a cookie jar/bank.
  • Move to a National Forest and sleep in a tent for a year and hunt game and berries for your food.   This will significantly lower your housing and food costs.   OK OK OK, I was just checking to see if you were still reading.

If you are wanting to start an investment in a mutual fund, you can actually start it with $25!   You will have to set up an automatic monthly draft  into the mutual fund of at least $25/month as well.   How awesome is that?   You CAN start investing with as little as $25!

My Dad gave me a book when I was around 12 years old.   It was about the power of systematically saving money and compound interest.   The name of the book is The Wealthy Barber and it was written by David Chilton.   What an awesome lesson!   It was reaffirmed to me when I was around 19 years old and on a Thanksgiving trip to a house full  of rabid Georgia Bulldog fans.    A cousin told me that I needed to be saving now and should continue to do so every single month.

“Even if it is only $50/month,” he told me.   $50 a MONTH?   I was in college!   $50 was approximately $1,000,000 for me!   But I started saving and investing every single month.

I have never regretted it.   Neither will you.

Stuff-Itis Outbreak

A major stuff-itis outbreak has been detected in America.   Many individuals have been infected with this curable disease, but the source of the infection seems to vary.

It is possible that turkeys are the carrier of the disease, and it is passed on to those who consume turkey on Thanksgiving Day.   It seems that a massive outbreak of stuff-itis occurs on the Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving.

Stuff-itis outbreaks have also been previously associated with occurring just after a marital disagreement.

Stuff-itis is a serious disease that causes the infected person to:

  • spend more than they make
  • believe that “stuff” will make them happy
  • have a void created in their very soul, and
  • be robbed  of their long-term potential

Arguments, though they add energy to the process, have not been proven to help cure an individual infected with stuff-itis.

It is cured through the recognition that one has “enough”.   “Enough” food, clothing, shelter, and safety to make it through today.

Money is paper with ink printed on it.

Money is made from paper composed of 25% linen and 75% cotton.   Red and blue synthetic fibers of various lengths are distributed evenly throughout.   Look closely and you will see them!

It is printed in big sheets @ the Bureau of Printing and Engraving.

So here is my question:   Why do we allow this paper with ink printed on it to have so much power and control in our lives?

Did you get to eat today?   Do you have clothes to wear today?   Do you have health today?   Are you safe?   Do you have somewhere to live?

If you do, you are living the GOOD LIFE!   Don’t allow paper with ink printed on it with pictures of guys with bad hair to control you.   I do admit, however, that I think that Andrew Jackson’s hair on the new $20 bill is cool (but his left eyebrow is crazy!   Look at it!!!)

 $20 Bill - Jackson Close-Up

So, since money is just paper with ink printed on it, resolve today to get over its mystique and start making it behave.   Remember that you can spend each dollar once and when it is gone, it is gone.   Save for a rainy day.   Don’t do debt.   Give tons away.   Love life.

My Fear Of Debt

I admit it.   I am fearful of debt.

Why?   I have had loads of debt in the past, and it was not friendly to me!   It made all of my paycheck leave.   It made all of my tax refund leave.   It made my credit card balances increase.

I will say that debt allowed me to have exactly what I wanted when I wanted it.   When I wanted a new car, 105% financing later and a couple of days later, I had a new car.   When I wanted some new appliances, a credit card enabled me to get it.

This is why debt scares me so much!   Yes, I always was able to make my payments on time.   Yes, I was able to have the product sooner.   However, it came with a pile of debt attached to it!   It is a lot less fun to earn money and see it all leave one day later to pay for things that I have already purchased.   Many of them had already been consumed – vacations, dining out, sporting events, etc.

Yes, I have a fear of debt.   I am glad that I do, and  I plan on keeping this particular fear.

Should you withdraw money from your 401(k); 403(b); etc. before retirement?

Want the short answer?   NO!!!

Why?   Most of the contributions to an employee-sponsored retirement plan are done so on a pre-tax basis.   The contributions have never been taxed.

Here are my reasons why you should not pull money out of your retirement plan early:

  • Lose the opportunity for your money to grow tax-deferred
  • Time-value of money is crushed when you pull out the money you have saved for retirement.   You will never get that time back!
  • If you pull money out of your retirement plan early, it will be subject to taxes PLUS a 10% penalty.
  • You will  have to recognize the withdrawal as income for that year which will usually bump you up a couple of tax brackets.
  • It is a VERY EXPENSIVE way to obtain money.   You will ultimately pay around 45% taxes on the money you withdraw!   If you pull out $50,000, you will actually bring home $27,500!   Taxes and penalties will cost you $22,500!   That is worse than a credit card!
  • I would ask the question, “Why do you need the money?”   There is some reason that is causing you to want to pull the money out.   In MOST cases that I see, the reason is that the person(s) are spending more than they make and are turning to debt to make up the difference.   They view this cash withdrawal as a way to avoid more debt.   I have seen too many cases where the money is withdrawn (very expensively), and they never change their spending behavior.   They then end up with  zero or very little in their 401(k) PLUS they still have a pile of debt that increases every month!
  • FINAL REASON:   It’s for RETIREMENT!!!   That is why it is called an employee-sponsored RETIREMENT plan!!!   Trust me.   You WILL be tired some day.   You WILL want to reTIRE someday.   If you take this money away, how will you be able to retire?

Vision

I have experienced the power of vision.

In 1999, Perry Noble had a vision for a church that would reach people differently.   This church was a God-breathed vision that made him lose sleep at nights and  talk endlessly about it.   It reached the point of action.   Something had to be done about this vision, this dream that he had been given.

We started out in late 1999 meeting in the front room of a farmhouse.   Less than 15 people were in attendance, yet Perry was talking about reaching thousands for Christ!   In ANDERSON, SC!!!   While the thought of reaching thousands  seemed to be a fairy tale, Perry KNEW it was a God-inspired vision.   So did the rest of us!

Vision.   The power of vision.   Today, just 7 years later, NewSpring Church is averaging over 7,500 every weekend.   Thousands are being reached.   Lives are being changed.   I never dreamed that I would ever see 214 people come to Christ in one place in one building at the same time!   I have now!   I never dreamed that I would see 413 people be baptized in one place in one building at the same time!   I have now!

Vision is inspiration.   It fills the sails with wind.   It fuels the fire.   It MAKES you do something – you cannot just sit there!

What is your vision for your finances?   What is your vision for your family?   What is your vision for your life?   NEVER be denied.   NEVER give up.   NEVER let up.   NEVER let go.

“Where there is no VISION, the people perish.”   Heard that before?   Yeah, it’s in the Bible – Proverbs 29:18

Financial Counseling – Messy!

I conduct financial counseling sessions regularly.   Many times, these meetings are the result of a major financial crisis!   Messy!

If you ever sit in a financial counseling session with me, you will be asked the question, “Sir, how do you feel about your current financial situation?” and “Ma’am, how do you feel about your current financial situation?”

I will require each one to answer on their own.   Why?   I need to know where each one is regarding the current situation.   It also forces them to hear their spouse express their feelings out loud to another person.   POWERFUL stuff!   It can also be MESSY!

Many times, spouses are not on the same page as it relates to their financial situation.   This can happen for a number of reasons, the most common one being a lack of working together and not communicating their real feelings.     MESSY!

As I sit with a couple in the middle of a major financial crisis, it is my desire to hear them recognize the items that got them into the mess in the first place.   NOTE: I am not too interested in hearing the blame-game here!   That will get us nowhere!

What really gets me, however, is the number of couples I sit down with that are in a HUGE financial crisis and refuse to change their behavior!   MESSY!

“We are upside-down $500 a month, but we have got to have cable TV!”

“We are upside-down $1,000 a month, but I have got to keep the car (and related car payment) that I paid 1 year’s salary for!

“We are two months behind on the car and one month behind on the house, but we really need to keep our horse in the stable that we pay $400 a month for.”

Statements are made like this and then they look expectantly at me like I am going to magically fix their problem!   NOT A CHANCE!   ALL I can do is teach someone HOW to manage their money well.   I can NOT make someone change.   In these cases, I look  at the person and think, “What a mess!   If they are not willing to change, how can I help them?”

At the end of the day, the formula still holds true:

INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO

If OUTGO is greater than INCOME, then you must either increase INCOME or decrease OUTGO or do both!   It is that simple!

I have HOPE that people can improve their financial situation, but if they are not willing to modify or eliminate the behavior that got them there in the first place,  our meeting will not accomplish much!   I would much rather dive into the messy details with a couple who wants to win financially and is willing to modify the behavior that got them there!   It is messy, but the results of (1) restoring hope where there was no hope, (2) improving marriages, and (3) improving their finances is SO worth it!

Successes!

Last Friday night, I had three different individuals come up to me and tell me how they have had their lives changed financially!   They told me about how much it had changed their marriages, their lives, and the level of HOPE that they now have.

Stories like that are what make me tick!   They are what gets me up out of bed every single day!   It is what fills me with passion every day!

People are being helped.   They are not being given a fish so that they can eat for a day.   They are being taught HOW to fish so they can eat forever.   We are not handing out a bunch of money, paying off people’s bills, and saying “Hope you do well now!”   Why?   Because without a behavior change, people will go right back to the way they were managing their money and get right back into a mess!

I know!   I paid off my credit cards three different times!   The first two times, I never changed my behavior.   As a result, I kept going right back into piles of debt!   When I changed my behavior and starting working together with Jenn, that is when we started having real financial success!

I love hearing about successes!
Are you building your success story?

Have you taught your children about compound interest?

Pardon me while I rant about this topic again!

I met with another person today who did not know about compound interest!

When I am able to show a person the POWER of compound interest and how it can help them (investing) or hurt them (paying interest on debt), I get pumped up! This is LIFE-CHANGING information!

I cannot believe that schools in America are not required to teach this to every single student! Math teachers should be required to teach it every single day! I mean, I have learned about derivatives and integrals and kernels and that knowledge does not help me every day, but compound interest DOES help me every single day!

I know that my investments are relatively small today, but, oh baby, when I see where they will be in 10 years, 20 years, and 40 years from now. WOW!!!!

$100/month at 12% return for 40 years is $48,000 invested but is worth $1,176,477!

Are you investing YET? RUN to the nearest investment office!

Have you taught your children about this? Do not depend on the school to do it! You need to teach them and model this for them. Kids get this stuff!

Humility

Ever done something embarrassing? Something that made your face flush? Something that makes your “flight” defense mechanism kick in?

Sorry to bring up old memories, but I just had this happen last evening.

In delivering a welcome at my church, I managed to completely forget the end of the welcome and (in keeping with my high enthusiasm) proceeded to enter complete discombobulation time. It was redonkeykongulous!

I am OK with everything I said, and I am confident that it came from the right fuel. However, it was not what was planned.

A new level of humility has been achieved in the life of Joseph Sangl!

Ever had anything happen humiliating with your finances?

Bankruptcy? Collections calls? Bounced checks?

You can recover! It will refine you.

BUT IT WILL NOT DEFINE WHO YOU WILL BECOME if you resolve to make it better!

I resolve to make the next welcome better!

Facts that will change your life

$100/Month
If you invest $100/month for 40 years and receive a 12% return for those 40 years, you will have invested $48,000 but it will be worth $1,176,477!

Time Matters
If you are 25 years old, you have forty years to invest. If you do not start investing until you are 45 years old, you may have only twenty years to invest. To reach the same $1,176,477 in twenty years, you will need to invest $1,189.26/month!

15 Years
If you finance a home with a fixed rate $100,000 mortgage for 15 years instead of 30 years, you will pay $63,944 less in interest and own your home 15 years earlier!!!

Working Together
If you refuse to work with your spouse on financial decisions, you will miss out on one of the greatest way to unify and divorce-proof your marriage! Money fights are the number one cause of marital strife. By working together, you will have unity on this subject instead of conflict!

Negotiate Everything that costs over $300
Prices are negotiable. If you save 10% on every purchase over $300, you will be able to save a substantial amount of money every single year. Negotiate purchases on vehicles, insurance, appliances, houses, video cameras, computers, hotel rooms, vacations, … The list goes on. You do not have to be confrontational. Just ask, “Is that the best you can do?”

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