Archive - February, 2007

The power of an invitation!

I was recently invited to guest-post on someone else's blog.

I must say that it was an honor to be trusted enough to post on the blog.

It made me stop and think about the power of an invitation.  Because someone invited me to guest-post on a blog, I was able to write a guest-post while that person was unable to post.

How does this relate to personal finances?  Simple – I want you to invite someone to learn how you are managing your money.  It is a teacher's greatest accomplishment when you see someone you have personally taught teaching others.  PAY IT FORWARD!  You have not been learning all of this information, all of these tools, and all of this practical advice to keep it to yourself!

Who should you be teaching?

  • Your children!!!
  • Your brothers and sisters!
  • Your grandchildren!
  • Your neighbors!
  • Your friends!

Any teacher will tell you that if you really want to learn a subject well, you should teach it!  You encounter questions that you have not thought about, situations that you have never considered, and you will broaden your understand of the subject.

Invite your friends over to dinner and say, "Hey, let me show you this really cool tool I have started using to manage my money."

Why not have them over on Saturday evening?

The POWER of an invitation.  You just might change a life! 

How to Spend the Tax Refund

It is Tax Refund season!

I know that every year, I am giving the government a tax-free loan, but I still receive a large tax refund every year.  I am not sure why I have not changed it to where I break even at the end of the year, but I think it might be related to the poorhouse days.

Anyway, many of the persons that I am counseling this time of year are receiving a large tax refund, and they are looking for advice on the best use of that money.  Most of the time, they are wanting to pay down debt with the entire refund.  My response might surprise you.

Joe Sangl's Guidelines – Spending Tax Refunds

  • Create a Mini-Budget.  You can download it HERE or click on "Tools" on the top of the page.  Spend ALL of the refund on paper FIRST before the money ever gets into your grubby little paws!  (Joe's grubby paws tend to spend all money that has not been budgeted – trust me on this!)
  • If you do not have at least $1,000 in an emergency buffer fund, you need to make this TOP PRIORITY.  AHEAD of paying down debt!!!  Why?  Because if the entire refund is spent to reduce debt, but there is NO emergency fund, it is VERY LIKELY that more debt will be incurred when life happens – the car breaks down, the refrigerator dies, the kids get sick, etc.
  • If you have at least $1,000 in an emergency fund, and you still have debt besides the house, pay down debt and fund KNOWN, UPCOMING expenses.  For example, the Sangl's use the tax refund to fund their summer vacations and some larger home improvement projects.  These are KNOWN, UPCOMING expenses that could have been Budget Busting expenses.

If you have retained nothing of what is written here today, PLEASE get this – I spent three straight years of tax refunds paying off credit cards ONLY to look up and see that I was back in debt up to my eyeballs again.  Spend your money on paper every single month, and you will not EVER regret it.

NewSpring Message

I had the opportunity to speak at NewSpring Church yesterday!

The streaming video is available HERE.

It was great to be able to share my story of finding out why I was placed on this Earth!

Another New Tool: The Mini-Budget

A Mini-Budget is used to spend irregular income such as tax refunds, bonuses, and inherited money.  It can also be used to budget for a home project, wedding, or other event.

Here is how it works – let's say you are going to be having a wedding.  Lord knows how much money we can spend on a wedding!  The average is OVER $20,000!  It strikes fear into every dad who has a daughter.  It strikes TERROR in every dad who has daughters!

Anyway, let's say the budget is $20,000.  SPEND THE MONEY ON PAPER FIRST!!!  You are MUCH MORE LIKELY to stay within the budget if you actually think through the expenses IN ADVANCE!

So you pull up the Mini-Budget form (link is later in post) and spend the money on paper FIRST.

Mini-Budget 

You can see that the $20,000 has been spent 100% on paper.  The chances are GREATLY INCREASED that this family will not overspend on this wedding (if you call $20,000 not overspending – ouch!).

See how it works?  GREAT!  What do you need to budget?

Get a copy of the MINI-BUDGET tool HERE.

Budget-busting expenses

Need help in overcoming budget-busting expenses?  You know the big ones – Christmas, the quarterly insurance premium, the annual property taxes, etc.

Here is a simple way to smooth out these large expenses.

 

In the example, you can see some certified, bona-fide budget-busting expenses.  Wouldn't you agree with me that a $450 or a $950 hit in a single month's budget would BLOW UP a budget?  ABSOLUTELY!  To eliminate this peak-and-valley, feast-and-famine style of living, take the time to list out all of your KNOWN, UPCOMING expenses and their associated annual cost.

In the example above, the annual budget-busting expenses total up to $4,400 per year.

Divide this number by 12 months, and you arrive at $367/month.  If you save $367 EVERY SINGLE MONTH, you WILL be able to absorb these budget-busting expenses without the huge headaches that you may currently be experiencing!

Don't believe me?  Ask anyone with a Christmas fund or a home mortgage escrow account!  These are really nothing more than budget-buster smoothing tools!  Why?  Because mortgage companies and businesses have realized that if the costs are not smoothed out and absorbed monthly, the chances are unlikely of you having enough cash on hand when the bill arrives otherwise. 

Who Joseph Sangl is learning from …

Dave Ramsey – 7 Baby Steps to Financial Peace – Never seen any better method! 

Robert Kiyosaki – Cash Flow Quadrant – ESIB – The letters are so cool!

John Eldredge – Wild At Heart – Psychological analysis of men

God – He is absolutely in control!

Perry Noble – My pastor is the greatest pastor in the world!

Mike Yoder – Acts 2:42 will never be read again without thinking of Mike

Paul Marshall – Hero of mine

David Chilton – Compound interest became my friend at age 12

David Jolley – Wow – Huge help in a crunch! 

Teach your children how to manage money!

It is amazing to me how much I have screwed up in the management of money!

Jenn and I lived for three years with a double income and no children and somehow managed to not only spend everything we made, but to also spend MORE than we made!

What an embarassing situation it was when Jenn and I stopped and looked at how we were managing money!  I mean, we had both made a ton of money as professionals straight out of college, and we had very little to show for it.  It was sad.  It was humiliating.  It was not fun.

When we turned 180 degrees and determined that we were going to manage our money God's and Grandma's way, we started winning financially!

One of the key reasons we changed our behavior was the fact that we had a daughter.  I did not want to have to explain to my daughter that we could never go on vacation because we had acquired a load of debt.  I did not want to be bound to a job "because it pays the bills".

As a result of our life-changing experience in the way we manage our money, we have had plenty of opportunities to teach our daughter how to manage her money.

Recently, I had the opportunity to interview my daughter as part of the Financial Freedom Class that I teach.  You can listen to the interview HERE.  The actual interview starts a couple of minutes into this segment.

If you can't tell, I am proud of what my daughter has learned!  I keep telling her that she has more in the bank than 70% of the American population (who are currently living paycheck-to-paycheck despite the fact that they have earned more than $500,000 in the last 10 years!!!!!!).

Your child can start learning about money TODAY – even if she is only four years old! 

Make money by fixing up a house & selling it

If you have been paying attention at all to the finance world, you know that it is important to have a diversified portfolio.

You do not want to have all of your eggs in one basket – such as having a majority of your money invested into a single stock.

Well, I believe that I have a well-diversified portfolio through a variety of mutual funds.  The issue is that all of these investments are impacted by global/world/regional events that may or may not have anything to do with the mutual funds I own.

This is why I own a house.  It is an investment that helps my financial portfolio become more diversified.

I have owned quite a few homes, but the home I now own is the first older home I have purchased.  This house was in some dire need of structural improvements AND decorative updates.

However, I bought this house at a discount because of all of the issues with it.  It was NOT move-in ready.

Here is a list of problems that it has/had:

  • Dog pee all over the carpets
  • Dog damage from climbing on window sills, digging up the yard
  • Rotten floor
  • Leaking roof – several spots
  • Sagging roof
  • Old appliances
  • Wood paneling with horrible wallpaper all over it
  • Leak damage on the walls/ceilings

Now, I am the son of a home builder.  I know a little bit about working on houses.  I will tell you that this is my first attempt at updating a house myself. As a result of this project, I have developed a short tip list for you should you consider doing this.

Tips

  • If you have no clue about updating houses – do NOT do it unless you have a pile of green portraits of Ben Franklin that you want to donate to others.
  • Have a contigency fund for the problems you will discover as you fix other known problems
  • Get help when you get in over your head
  • Don't move in to the house until you have fixed the structural issues.  It is so much easier to complete a major project when you are not living there!
  • Develop a budget for the projects and HOLD TO IT!  Be realistic on estimated costs!
  • Cry when you need to.  It lets some of the frustration and anger out.

In the end, you will have a nice house for a good price and have some good ole sweat equity built up!

Gain more $

On-Line Savings Accounts

On-line savings accounts are paying 4.50% or more on ordinary savings accounts!

Capital One – 5.00%

HSBC – 6.00% on new money until April 30th.  NOTE:  They only allow you to deposit $2,000,000.

ING Direct – 4.50%

 

Invest In Funds That Require Smaller Amounts to Open

American Funds – $250 to open; $25 automatic monthly deposits required (I love automatic!)

GE Funds – $500 to open; $100 automatic monthly deposits

Find more funds at Morningstar.com – Use their FUND SCREENER 

 

Purchase Property That Produces Income

Rental homes; Rental equipment; Commercial Building Capital Leases;

Anything that pays out cash as residual income is great.  Anything that increases in value over time is grand.  Anything that pays out cash PLUS increases in value over time is great AND grand! 

Great memories

I was listening to my I-POD today and an old song (one of 1,000s on it) popped up that I have not listened to in a long time.

In an instant, I was transported back to the alma-mater, Purdue University.  I was an incoming freshman, and I was being trained as a cafeteria worker in the tunnels of the residence hall.

What a great time it was!  I met people from around the world!  My roommate, Bob, was from Pittsburgh, PA.  He lived on a small street in town and imagine my surprise when 14 years later my twin brother moved into a house right down from Bob's parents!  I met Noah.  I met Chan Yop and You Hyun from South Korea.

I have GREAT memories from my four-year vacation from reality, I mean COLLEGE.

I remember that a $20 bill made me feel RICH!  I remember that pretty much everyone else was in the same boat as well.  We rambled from room to room in the residence halls.  One room would have the TV with surround sound set up, another would have the Playstation, another would have the musical instruments, another would have the couches and sitting areas.

It was great, and money was not necessary to have fun!

Money is still not necessary to have fun!  Consider these ideas for generating great memories with little or no money:

  • Camping trips to state parks
  • Canoe trips down a local river
  • Fishing trips to the local lake or river
  • Flag football game with the neighbors
  • Fly a $2 kite
  • Use some junk lumber to build a cat fort
  • Set up a treasure hunt with the neighbors or your family – making the map and hiding the treasures is a blast, but not near as fun as watching the kids work together to "discover" treasure
  • Camp out in the back yard
  • Have a backyard party – invite a bunch of people you hardly know

There are really a lot of great ways to have a blast without spending money.  As you can see, mine are slanted toward the great outdoors.  Time to go make some more memories!

Learning new things

I love to learn new things!  If I learn something new every single day, then my life is very good.

Here are some things I have learned that may help you out:

  • Insurance rates are much cheaper when bundled (auto & home; home & life; etc.) and for most people who have priced theirs out within the past couple of years, the savings could be $200 or more per year.
  • When you go to a dentist or doctor, you can negotiate the charges.  It is a service!!!  Many times, you can obtain a substantial discount on the amount you owe after insurance has paid its portion.  I have saved 10% twice and 6% once, each saving me $100s of dollars!
  • Use the cash envelope for spending categories that we tend to impulse on – groceries, dining out, clothing, spending money, entertainment.  We budget a set amount, pull it out in cash, and refuse to approach the bank again for the rest of the month.  When the money runs out, we're done for the month!  It ensures you will NEVER overspend your budget!
  • Buy off-brands at the grocery store.  We have saved over $200/month since going to a cash envelope for groceries and purchasing the off-brands.  Off-brand milk tastes just like name-brand milk.  Off-brand Cheerios taste just like Cheerios.  Off-brand Froot-Loops taste just like Froot Loops.  Off-brand fritos taste just like Fritos.  I'm sticking with my Heinz ketchup, however.
  • Wait overnight on any purchase greater than $200.  I have not regretted this at all.  I have waited overnight on every large purchase, and it has really cooled the jets on some deals I might have made in the past.  This is a great way to avoid buyer's remorse!  Wait.
  • Garage sales, yard sales, rummage sales, jockey lot sales, e-bay – are all great ways to find a great deal.
  • Fund some FUN with your tax refund.  I always make sure that we fund our summer vacation with our tax refund.  This ensures that I am going to follow the budget!  If my budget did not allow me to have fun, then it is quite likely that I would not be teaching this stuff!  I would certainly be less passionate about it.
  • Ask.  If you are going to spend a large sum of money on something, ask around for it first.  Somebody might have the very thing you are going to purchase and will sell it for pennies on the dollar or even give it to you!
  • Swap labor.  Help you friend or neighbor on their project and then have them help you out with yours.  No money.  Friendships are built.  Can you say WIN-WIN?

 Can someone teach me something new today?  Add a comment below!

Reason I do what I do …

My life's passion statement is "To help others accomplish far more than they ever thought possible."

If I can teach someone a tool or skill set that will help them better accomplish their task, I just get pumped up!!!

Example

Yesterday, my friend Jared was automating a few necessary, but nuisance parts of an Excel spreadsheet.  He was stuck for a few moments on this one part, so he asked if I knew of a way to do it.  Approximately 3 minutes later, the spreadsheet had the new feature and eliminated some annoying clicks and typing that used to be done everytime this spreadsheet was used.  I LOVE THAT!!!  I love being able to share something that helps others!

Another Example

I was working on this blog and preparing to teach my financial class.  I wanted to be able to provide a copy of the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to everyone who attended.  My approach to solving this was to burn a copy of the software on around 200 CDs and hand them out.  Jared (same person from previous example) came up with a BRILLIANT! solution!  He showed me how I could link it in the "Tools" section so that it would be available to anyone who visited this site.  WOW!  What a better solution!  My friend, Ken, showed me how to upgrade the overall site.  Jared's friend, Dan, ran the Excel spreadsheet through a converter that allows anyone who cannot use Excel files to be able to use the web-based version.

Yet Another Example

I was working with a friend at work.  After listening to me ramble endlessly about finances (poor Ben!), he got the fever.  WOW!  He became debt-free so fast that it was crazy!  Phenomenal stuff!

I KNOW that you have something you know how to do that would help others accomplish more.  What is it?  What are you doing to actively help others?

If you are depressed, I would ask you to share your skills and know-how with someone who could benefit from it!  It will help lift you out of that pit!!!

Why do you do what you do? 

 

ANNOUNCEMENT: Next Financial Freedom Class begins February 26, 2007

WHERE:  NewSpring Church – Anderson, SC

WHEN:  Five consecutive Monday evenings beginning February 26th and ending March 26th

TIME:  6:30PM – 8:30PM

COST:  $20 per family unit

SIGN UP/PAY at the Merchandise Area on Sundays!

CLASS COVERS: Budgeting/Savings/Debt Reduction/Investing/Insurance 

Success!

A direct cut from an e-mail sent to me …

"Hey Joe, in your finance ministry, have you ever heard of God turning water into
Tide, milk, or gas?  I've read the story of Jesus turning water into wine at the
wedding… but never have I heard water into grocery items!  Let me explain:  we
went to a cash only system in our home the week of your Monday night class at NS
in December.  Since then there are a couple of items that seem to be multiplying
in their container!  Not only has our grocery bill been cut in half, but the
purchases see to last MUCH longer!"

I LOVE what I do, and I LOVE hearing success stories!  If you have a success story, send it to me HERE.

You have 15 minutes left …

15 minutes left to live.

After all of the living that has been, you have 15 minutes to live.

How will you spend these 15 minutes?

With Family & Friends.  That is what I would choose.

Has your financial situation messed up your personal relationships with friends and family?  Has it messed up these relationships to the point that you could not spend the final 15 minutes of your life with them?

Why would anyone ALLOW money to control their personal relationships?   I refuse to allow portraits of presidents and important figures of American history to control my personal relationships.  I value my personal relationships too much.

If someone has stuck you with the bill, forgive them.

If someone owes you money and refuses to pay, consider it a gift.

If you were ripped off, let it go.

The day will come when you have 15 minutes left.  Who will you spend it with?   Just let it go.

 

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