Archive - October, 2007

Upside Down In A Car?

Almost every day, I have a financial counseling meeting with someone who has a car loan that has a balance that is much more than the car is worth.   They are "upside down".  They owe more than the car is able to be sold for.

During the counseling session, we develop a written spending plan (budget – start yours HERE) and calculate their Debt Freedom Date (calculate yours HERE).

Let's look at a sample of what I am talking about.  Here is a person's Debt Freedom Date calculation.

This person owes $19,000 on a car that is only worth $14,000.  They want out of debt!  They have had enough!  Thirty-six months – THREE YEARS – is NOT good enough!  They want to become debt-free now!!!

So how does one get rid of a car that they are upside down on?

There are many options.  Here are a few:

  1. Sell the car and use $5,000 of savings and use it to bridge the "gap" so the car's title is clear for the sale.  Use another $1,000 to purchase a "beater" vehicle that will get you from point A to point B.
  2. If you don't have $5,000 in savings to bridge the "gap", approach the current loan holder.  Tell them that you want to get out of debt and are going to sell the vehicle.  Obtain a secondary loan for $6,000 ($5,000 for the "gap" and $1,000 for a beater vehicle).
  3. If the current lender will not provide the "gap" funding, approach your local bank or credit union and obtain a signature loan for $6,000 to cover the $5,000 gap and purchase a $1,000 beater.

If you use $6,000 of savings to get rid of the car and buy a $1,000 beater, your Debt Freedom Date will now look like this!

By using $6,000 from savings, 16.7 months were ELIMINATED from the Debt Freedom Date!!!  This person will be DEBT FREE in less than 20 MONTHS!
If this person followed options 2 or 3, here is what their Debt Freedom Date will look like.
By obtaining a $6,000 loan and selling the car, this person ELIMINATED $13,000 worth of debt and will achieve Financial Freedom 11.4 months SOONER!!!!
Selling a car can many times be THE CATALYST to achieving Debt Freedom!
Are you going to get rid of your "upside-down" car?

I Met With Casey Graham Yesterday!

I had the privilege to hang out again with Casey Graham yesterday!

Casey Graham wears multiple hats at Mountain Lake Church pastored by Shaun Lovejoy in Cumming, Georgia.  Those hats include Guest Services and CFO, but he really has a heart for helping others with their personal finances!

In fact, he rivals me in his passion for helping people win with their money!

Our meeting started off so right when Casey called me and said, "Joe, I know that you don't have a Starbucks in Anderson so why don't I just meet you at the Starbucks right down the road from our church?"

So good!

From the first minute, we proceeded to rant and rave about helping others win with their personal finances!

Here are some ways that Casey challenged me:

  • Practicality.  He has been teaching a class at his church that is all about practicality.  He urges people to "Talk with your honey about money".  I love that!  I don't ever want to forget that all of the tools that I teach need to be PRACTICAL!
  • His passion for helping others.  There is NOTHING like being able to do exactly what God has called you to do.  I get to do that every single day!!!
  • Networking.  Casey has sought mentoring from great men who have huge talent and are willing to take time in their busy schedule to meet with Casey.  It makes me wonder if Dave Ramsey would be willing to meet with me quarterly!?!
  • Loyalty.  He loves Mountain Lake Church.  He loves Shaun Lovejoy.  He has been willing to do whatever it takes for the team to win.

Folks – I am here to tell you right now that God is using Casey and his skills to help people break free of the bondage of debt and win with money.  We met for 2 hours and 45 minutes, and it truly felt like 5 minutes!

I am PUMPED to know that Casey is part of the crusade to help others win with their finances!  If he keeps this up, he might achieve official Financial Hero status.

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Mr. Pursuit of Unrealistic Goals

Some people believe that I have too much energy and enthusiasm.  They believe that I am quixotic – so much so that a group of folks created a desk nameplate that says "Mr. Quixotic" and provided me a printed definition of the word "Caught up in the romance of noble deeds and the pursuit of unreachable goals; idealistic without regard to practicality".

I would agree that I am idealistic.  I do get caught up in helping others win with their money.  I do believe in people!

Here is the part of the definition that I take major exception with – the pursuit of unreachable goals

I am here to tell you that the God-given goals that I have are not unreachable!  I do believe that everyone who sets their focus on becoming debt-free CAN become debt-free!  I KNOW that those who set their attention to providing a more stable financial situation for their family WILL be able to do so!

Whenever I provide financial counseling for someone (hundreds per year), my goal is to show them two things (1) There is a better way, and (2) exactly what that way is as it pertains to their situation.  Each person who has debt leaves with their own Debt Freedom Date calculated.  Each person who does not have a working monthly spending plan leaves with a plan that starts immediately and carries for at least the next month (start your own budget spending plan HERE).

What do I do when someone falls off of the wagon?  I mourn for them.  I am saddened by the fact that they won't achieve financial freedom.  BUT, when they are ready to try again, I have an excellent wagon stapler in the office and we will meet together to get them back on the wagon.

At the end of each day, I clearly know that I am doing exactly what I was put on earth to do!  I KNOW that lives were impacted for the better.  I KNOW that skills and tools were taught that will change lives!

So call me Mr. Quixotic if you wish.  I won't hear it, as I am out here in the arena, knee-deep in the messiness of life and finances, helping all that I can hear a message of hope and freedom.

I Lost The Halloween Pumpkin Carving Party

I lost the Halloween pumpkin carving party that we attended on Friday – but I'm not bitter.  I did not go into debt to purchase the pumpkins.

My goal was to carve a "$" sign into the pumpkin.  Things were going great, until I chopped out the bottom section that was supporting the top section.   The end result?  A mangled pumpkin.  So I turned it around and came up with this creative carving.

Yes – I carved it upside down.  It is about the most creative I can get – after all, I am a degreed engineer.  If it isn't straight lines and symmetrical, I'm way out of my comfort zone!

My daughter's pumpkin came out nice!  Here is her pumpkin – no knives allowed just yet!

And here is Jenn's!

 The next picture is the pumpkin that won the contest.

And for your viewing pleasure, here are the other entries.


The Crusade Went To …

Simpsonville, SC to teach the planning/budgeting portion of the Financial Learning Experience at Little Steps – an organization that provides support for teen parents.  Their goal is "to provide life skills and encouragement to help young parents become more self-sufficient, healthy, confident parents".

It was great to meet Little Steps' director, Mandy, the donations coordinator, Lindsey, and the many volunteers who make Little Steps successful!

It PUMPS me up to know that this organization exists to support young people going through some challenging times!

So, as part of Little Steps' effort to provide life skills, I was invited to teach about "how to plan your spending".  It went really well!

Here is what is so great about this crusade that I get to lead – LIFE CHANGE HAPPENS EVERY SINGLE TIME I TEACH THIS MATERIAL!  I KNOW that someone's world got rocked for the better and as a result, they will be equipped to win with money in a way they never thought possible!

Little Steps – Thanks for the opportunity to teach a portion of the Financial Learning Experience!

Little Steps is funded through the voluntary donations of community members.  If you are interested in supporting Little Steps, you can click here to learn how you can help!

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How do I budget? Part 05

In this series of posts, I am sharing the process that Jenn and I followed to develop a budget that actually worked!  We have developed a monthly spending plan (budget) every single month since that first one way back in July of 2003!

Here are the steps that have already been shared.

STEP ONE  Understand that budgeting is nothing more than "telling your money where to go"

Telling your money where to go is so much fun!  Especially when you tell it to take you on vacation or go golfing!

STEP TWO  Determine the income (take-home pay) you will receive during the NEXT month.

Planning ahead allows you to determine if there are any gaps.  By being ahead of the game, it provides you an opportunity to avoid "budget-busting" events.

STEP THREE  Enter all of your expenses for the NEXT month.

Tell your money where to go!


Whether you make $1,000 per month or $40,000 per month, it is limited.  If you spend more than you make, you will erode savings or turn to debt!

STEP FIVE  Follow the budget!

You have followed all of the steps.  You now have a spending plan for the next month.  It is time to live by it!  After all, it was YOU who told your money where to go!  Why wouldn't you follow YOUR plan?

As I have helped others develop their own spending plans, I have seen people completely break free of debt.  I have seen people pay off their mortgages!  I have seen marriages restored!  I have seen the hopeless become hopeful!

That is what your budget will allow you to do!  Develop a spending plan every single month BEFORE the month and the money arrives and then FOLLOW it!  You will never regret this decision. 

Maybe you have read this series in a guarded, protected way while wondering "I wonder if this will work for me?  I don't want to get my hopes up.  I've tried this before."  I say that YOU CAN DO THIS!!!  I believe in you!  Why?  BECAUSE I WAS THERE!!!  I had an average bank balance of $4.13 and the STRESS was awful!  The shame was real.  I did not know how to break free.

Planning my spending one month in advance was what broke Jenn and me free!  It will work for you too!

Why not pull up a free budgeting tool and get started winning with your money today?

If you have enough money in the bank to pay all of your bills at the start of the month, use the Monthly Budget Form (Excel)

If you are living paycheck-to-paycheck, use the Weekly Budget Form (Excel)

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How do I budget? Part 04

In this series of posts, I am sharing the process that Jenn and I followed to develop a budget that actually worked!

Here are the steps that have already been shared.

STEP ONE  Understand that budgeting is nothing more than "telling your money where to go"

It is so important to tell your money where to go – instead of wondering where it went! 

STEP TWO  Determine the income (take-home pay) you will receive during the NEXT month.

This income is what you will be spending on paper BEFORE the month, the money, and the bills ever arrive! 

STEP THREE  Enter all of your expenses for the NEXT month.

Enter ALL of the real actual expenses that will need to be paid NEXT month into your budget form.


Your income is limited.  If you bring home $3,000 during the next month and spend $3,208, your spending plan will not work!  Where will the $208 come from?  It will have to come from savings OR from debt – usually in the form of a credit card.

YOUR INCOME IS LIMITED!  Let me take it one step further.  Let's say you are really blessed and bring home $70,000 during the next month (don't laugh – many people do!).  If you spend $71,320, your spending plan will not work!  The $1,320 will have to come from somewhere – and many times it is made up with debt.

In STEPS TWO and THREE, we entered all of the income and expenses into the budget and, no surprise, the OUTGO exceeded the INCOME.  You can see the entire budget HERE.

There are two options when the OUTGO exceeds INCOME:

  1. Increase the INCOME – 2nd job, Overtime, side job
  2. Decrease the OUTGO – Decrease the expenses

In this budget, let's say that this family receives salary.  They cannot quickly increase their income, so they are going to focus on reducing their outgo!   They need to eliminate $320 of spending.

NOTE:  This is not a "perhaps, perhaps, perhaps" type budget!  This is how the family will ACTUALLY spend their money next month!  Remember – if your budget is not 100% relevant to you and your family THIS MONTH, you will ignore the budget and use it to start a fire in your fireplace!

What expense can they eliminate?  Again, you can pull up a copy of the budget HERE.

After working together on their budget, the family decides on the following changes.


If you want to see the entire EXACTLY ZERO budget, you can view it by clicking HERE!

You might be saying, "These people are CRAZY!  They cut out 1/2 of their dining out, entertainment, blow money, and all of their babysitting money!  They are crazy!"

I would say – "NOPE, they have had enough.  They are so sick of living paycheck-to-paycheck that they are willing to live differently and change their lives forever!  All because of a little sacrifice now!"

Jenn and I prepare a written spending plan every single month before the month begins and before any of the money gets to us.  This is THE REASON we have won with money.

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How do I budget? Part 03

In this series of posts, I am sharing the process that Jenn and I followed to develop a budget that actually worked!

Let's review the steps already shared.

STEP ONE  Understand that budgeting is nothing more than "telling your money where to go"

It is so important to tell your money where to go – instead of wondering where it went! 

STEP TWO  Determine the income (take-home pay) you will receive during the NEXT month.

This income is what you will be spending on paper BEFORE the month, the money, and the bills ever arrive! 

STEP THREE  Enter all of your expenses for the NEXT month.

This is where you spend your money on paper!  In Step Two, you determined your total income for next month, and it is now time to spend it on paper BEFORE the month arrives!

These expenses are the real, actual expenses that will happen.  I have seen many people include average expenses for the year.  Averages don't work!!!  Enter the real expense because this budget needs to be highly relevant to the next month!

If the expenses are not relevant to the next month, it is highly possible that you will consider the budget irrelevant for the next month!!!  Smile

If you don't know the ACTUAL cost (utilities, gasoline, etc.), enter an educated guess based on recent spending.

Enter all of the expenses into your budget.  You can obtain your FREE COPY of budgets by clicking TOOLS at the top right-hand corner of the page.

The budget form has some excellent features built into it.

  • If OUTGO exceeds INCOME, the TOTAL will turn RED and tell you how much you have overspent!
  • If INCOME exceeds OUTGO, the TOTAL will turn YELLOW and tell you how much more money needs named!
  • When INCOME = OUTGO, the TOTAL will turn GREEN …  This is the ultimate goal!

Even if the budget TOTAL turns RED, keep typing in the expenses that you know are going to happen in the upcoming month.  The goal is to get all of the known expenses for the next month on paper.

YES, you will later have to remove some expenses or boost your income to get to GREEN, but the goal right now is to get all of the expenses into the budget form!  By having all of the expenses in the budget, you can make a much more informed choice on what will be removed from the budget.

Click on the picture to the right to see an example budget with all of the expenses loaded.

How do I budget? Part 02

In Part 1 of this series, I wrote about the negative feelings that some people have when they hear the word "Budget".

In reality, a budget is nothing more than telling your money where to go.  I have heard Dave Ramsey take the definition a humorous step further – a budget is nothing more than telling your money where to go instead of wondering where it went!


So our first step in budgeting is:

STEP ONE  Understand that budgeting is nothing more than "telling your money where to go"

Step One is the largest hurdle of any part of budgeting.  The rest of budgeting is a breeze once you understand what a true budget is.   Once you have internalized Step One, it is time for Step Two.

STEP TWO  Determine the income (take-home pay) you will receive during the NEXT month.

There is a very key word in Step Two – the word "NEXT".  I have learned that preparing a budget for money that has already been spent is not very fruitful.  It is like being a Monday-morning quarterback for your finances.  You want to get that money back.  You wish you could have that money back.  But it is GONE!

The budget must be completed BEFORE the month begins and BEFORE the money ever arrives.  You are developing a spending plan for your money BEFORE you ever get it.  The only way I have found to stop saying "I can't believe I spent my money that way" and "I wish I could have that money back" is to develop a spending plan BEFORE the money was paid to me for the month.

So think about it.  What income will you receive during the next month?

Here are some common ways that people receive money during the month.

  • Paycheck
  • Bonus
  • Side Job Income
  • Child Support
  • Alimony

Whatever your source of income is, write it down.  In fact, write it down and put the dates that you will be paid this money during the next month.  If your income is unpredictable, write down the amount of money that you can count on.

If you have at least one month's worth of expenses in the bank, download the Monthly Budget Form (Excel).

Because you have at least one month's worth of expenses in the bank, you can sum up your total income and enter the total income in the Income section at the top of the budget form. 

If you are living paycheck-to-paycheck, download the Weekly Budget Form (Excel)

Because you cannot pay all of your bills at the start of the month, you will need to develop a budget for each individual paycheck.  Make the dates at the top of the budget form match up to your income dates and enter the income in the Income section at the top of the budget form.

The series continues … tomorrow.

How do I budget? Part 01

Budget.  The word alone sends chills to many people.  Here are some things that people equate with budgets.

Budget = Restricting

Budget = I Am Broke

Budget = Controlling

Budget = No Fun

Budget = Constricting

Budget = Not going to do it! 

Most people have tried budgets … and failed!  It was a bad experience, and many will say that they aren't EVER going to budget again.

I want to make a deal with you.  How about reading this series of posts for the next week?  How about trying for just one month this method that I will teach you?  How about giving one shot?  Just one.  My hope is that you will try a budget for the month of November,

In this series of posts, I am going to share with you the exact process that Jenn and I took to prepare a budget that works.  Guess what?  THE VERY DAY that we started budgeting was THE VERY DAY that we started WINNING WITH MONEY!

Some might say "I hate budgets" and "I don't need no stinkin' budget", but I would ask them the following questions:

  • How are you paying for Christmas this year?  I am paying cash.
  • How much is your car payment?  I paid cash for my car.
  • How much did you invest this month?  I have invested for retirement for over 130 months in a row and my daughter's college for over 60 months in a row.
  • How much money do you owe to your credit cards right now?  I owe $0.
  • When is the last time you had a great discussion on finances with your spouse?  Not a fight.  A great discussion.  Jenn and I develop a spending plan TOGETHER every single month.
  • If your car broke down tomorrow, do you have money in the bank to pay for it?  Car repairs are not financial emergencies.  I am not surprised when my car breaks down.  Why?  There is a car repair joint on every corner of every street of every town and city in the country!  It is normal for cars to break down!

At the end of this series, some might call me crazy.  Some might call me insane.  Some might call me a wacko.  I would say to them – call me whatever you want, just don't call me broke anymore!

You see …  I Was Broke …  Now, I'm Not!

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A Sangl Weekend

Jenn and I have Friday and Saturday off (our crusade week is Sunday through Thursday).

We have had this schedule for over a year, and it is still very odd to have Friday off!

Here are some thoughts and events that took place this weekend:

  • Purdue University beat Iowa in football to become bowl eligible for the 10th time in 11 years.  Previous to Joe Tiller's arrival, Purdue had been to a whopping 5 bowl games in the previous 105 years!  Thank you Joe Tiller!!!
  • I went grocery shopping with my daughter, Melea.  Of course, I brought the cash envelope with me.
  • Melea brought her cash envelope as well – to purchase a cactus!  She ended up buying two since the helpful Wal-Mart staff directed us to a full selection that was half of the price of those next to the check out station.  The 1/2-price area was outside and chilly.  Makes me wonder how many times I have bought something for twice the price simply because I did not stop to look around.
  • I wonder when my deer will be processed so I can have deer burgers?
  • I dug up the frost-sensitive bulbs from my flower beds so that I would not lose the $100 or more worth of flowers that I planted last spring.  I had Melea help me.  We found a really nice LIVE specimen of black widow spider guarding her egg sac.
  • I really enjoy balancing the checkbook and savings accounts.  Please don't tell Jenn, but I actually stall around while doing so to make the process last longer.  "Joe, are you ready to mow the lawn?"  "NOPE!  I am still balancing the check book."
  • My ten year old truck blew its manifold gasket.  I could care less what the problem is.  I just want to know "When can I get my truck back?"  It is AWESOME to have an emergency fund!  I talked about the emergency fund in the "Pay Off Debt" series.  You can read the specific article on my emergency fund HERE and the entire series HERE.
  • My house is 30 years old.  It has 30 year old house problems.  I don't like 30 year old house problems.  Then I thought, I am 33 years old.  I have 33 year old problems.  I don't like 33 year old problems.  Sounds like I have a good pity party in store for me!

Hope you had a fantastic weekend!

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Great Personal Finance Tool – Paycheck Calculator

Ever thought about changing the number of deductions from your paycheck and had the question "I wonder what this will do to my take-home pay?"

Well, THIS TOOL, from will calculate your exact pay based upon the number of exemptions you enter.

If you are considering increasing your contribution to your 401(k), you can plug in different contribution levels and see exactly what it will do to your net take-home pay!  That pumps me up!

Way to go!

Give the tool a try by clicking HERE.


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Great Blogs I’m Reading

I love to learn, and I really love to learn from people I can relate to.

These blogs are ones that I read every single day.  The reason I read them?  I LEARN from them!

  • The Saving Freak – I am not sure "Saving Freak" does this blogger full justice, but this guy can absolutely get you some free stuff and save you some money!
  • Lazy Man And Money – This guy is working to build his alternative income streams, and it is just interesting to check in on him everyday and see some of his ideas put into action!
  • MyMoneyBlog – Jonathan does some incredibly insightful research into his topics.  And, oh yeah, he publishes his net worth.  Like ALL of it!  It makes me highly uncomfortable to view his personal financial condition, but I can't stop checking in!  It also reminds regularly how important is that I remember how sensitive an individuals personal financial situation is to them!

Any other blogs I should be checking in on?

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Another story of life-change was released on the podcast today!  Have you listened to the Podcast from Joe?  To subscribe to the podcast using iTunes, click HERE.  If you do not have iTunes, you can download an mp3 by clicking HERE.

Where in the USA is Joseph Sangl?

The crusade for financial freedom is taking to the road several times over the next two months.

I am PUMPED about the opportunity to teach this life-changing information to hundreds more over the next few weeks!

Here is the current schedule for the Financial Learning Experience:

There is also a rumor that I will be reappearing on the NewSpring Church stage sometime soon …

You can see my previous messages at NewSpring Church HERE (Lessons From A Real Life) and HERE (What On Earth Are You Here For?).

Interested in having me speak at your church or organization?  E-mail me HERE.  I am on a crusade to take this message to the nation!  Anyone in San Diego, Seattle, Portland, Minneapolis, Indianapolis, New York, or Dallas interested?

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10 Ways You Know You Are Winning With Money

  1. You look forward to budgeting for next month because it is so FUN!
  2. Your broke friends and family are making fun of you.
  3. You go to the mall and buy nothing – even though you had money in your cash envelopes.
  4. You take a vacation and there are no bills following you home because you paid cash for the entire trip!
  5. The tax refund check was not spent seven different times before you actually received it.
  6. Your friends purchase a brand new car and you tell them, "I'm so sorry!" because you know they financed it.
  7. You politely tell the cashier "NO!!!!!" when they ask if this will be on your credit card.  You less politely tell the same cashier "Absolutely NOT!" when they ask if you would like to sign up for a store credit card.
  8. You look at the bank account and realize that $10,000 has become your new ZERO balance.  If it drops below $10,000 you start freaking out and say things like "We are really getting low on funds!"
  9. You calculate how much money you need for retirement and say "I can actually achieve that if I stop contributing to my retirement account now!"
  10. When people ask how much you have saved up, you can confidently tell them "Enough".

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