Archive for 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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