Archive - November, 2007

Teaching at Wilmington, NC this weekend!

I can't wait to carry the crusade to Wilmington, NC this weekend!

I will be speaking during the Sunday morning services of Lifepoint ChurchPastor Jeff Kapusta

They are finishing a series called "ING – A Financial Series" and you can listen to the iTunes podcast by clicking HERE.

On Sunday afternoon, I will be conducting the Financial Learning Experience!  This is a two-hour, practical, HOW-TO, LIFE-CHANGING experience!  There is one thing I do know about this class – it is changing lives!!!  That FIRES ME UP!

The crusade is also coming to Peachtree Community ChurchPastor David Reid in Villa Rica, Georgia two weekends from now (December 9th)!  It is part of the "Money For Dummies" personal finance series!  I LOVE IT!

Interested in having Joe carry the crusade and the Financial Learning Experience to your church or business?  Contact Joe by clicking HERE!

Wants <==> Needs: Follow Up

My blog post about Wants <==> Needs a couple of weeks ago really generated quite a response, and it has been interesting to receive all of your feedback on the steps that Jenn and I are taking to eliminate our home mortgage.

If you recall, we are considering eliminating/reducing our spending on:

  • Cable TV
  • Spending Money
  • Babysitting Money
  • Internet
  • Entertainment Money
  • Gasoline Money
  • Christmas Money

Well, here is an update to our discussion.

  • Cable/Internet  I was spending $126/month on my stupid cable and internet bill.  That is ridiculous!!!  After forty minutes of phone conversation and talking to six representatives (yes I counted), I have been able to reduce to basic cable and basic internet for $34/month.  That is a savings of $92/month!  Annually, that is a savings of $1,104 and it will allow us to color in over 15 extra squares on the Sangl Family Home Pay-Off Spectacular PER YEAR!
  • Gasoline Money We are starting to take our lunch to the crusade instead of going home.  This allows us to save 12 miles of driving each day.  This will save us around $36/month!  Annually, that is a savings of $432 and it will allow us to color in nearly 6 extra squares on the Sangl Family Home Pay-Off Spectacular PER YEAR!
  • Babysitting, Entertainment, Spending, and Christmas Money are all on the docket for this month's spending discussion.  PRAY that this goes well!

As I have routinely said throughout my life – Thoughts and talk without action is mere babble!

We are taking ACTION to destroy this stupid mortgage!

I welcome any money saving tips you may have!

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Hidden Debt – Do You Have Any?

As I have helped people prepare hundreds of budgets, I realize that debt is sometimes hidden from people.

Let me give you an example.

One of the first things I ask when helping a person prepare a written budget is "How much is your take-home pay?

They tell me a number, and we start applying the famous equation:  INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO

Everything is proceeding smoothly until we get to the debt column.  The "revealing" of the hidden debt happens here.

The statement is made, "I have a 401(k) loan, but it is taken out of my paycheck.  Should we include it here?"

The 401(k) loan is taken from their paycheck before it ever gets to them.  Ever hear the saying, "Out of sight.  Out of mind."?

I usually adjust the "Take-Home Pay" by the loan payment amount and then include the payment in the debt column.

Here are some common "Hidden Debts" that I see:

  • 401(k) loans
  • Overdraft loans
  • Car payments
  • Company loans

These hidden loans are "Out of sight.  Out of mind."  Yet they are eroding one's ability to win financially.

Expose the debts to daylight and ATTACK them! 

Oh, by the way, you ought to list out all of your paycheck deductions and see how much you are paying annually for each one.  When you see how much you are paying in taxes, it will ensure that you vote every single time you have the opportunity!!!

You can start your written spending plan by using one of the FREE easy-to-use forms on the TOOLS page. 

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1,000 downloads of the Monthly Budgeting Form

About eight weeks ago and after nearly two years of blogging, I finally established the ability to track the number of downloads for individual forms.

Sometime this week, the Monthly Budget Form (Excel) will be downloaded for the 1,000th time during that eight week period!

That is ABSOLUTELY AMAZING!!!  I put these tools on my web page for FREE because I wanted to help people start winning with money, and it is working!!!

How do I know that it is working?  Read some of the success stories HERE.

Are you one of the many who have started using the budget forms to put together a spending plan that works?  Share your success story HERE!

Maybe you have been on the fringe reading the writings of this lunatic named Joe Sangl.  Is today the day that you will put together a spending plan that works?  Click on TOOLS at the top of the page to start your journey to financial freedom!

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Prevent Overspending For Christmas!

I remember the days that I used credit cards to pay for Christmas.

There were two key reasons that I used these fabulous credit cards:

  1. I did not save money for Christmas during the year
  2. I overspent on Christmas presents

I solved #1 by creating a Christmas escrow account.

Let's say that I wanted to spend $1,000 for Christmas.  By saving $83.33 each month, I magically have $1,000 when Christmas arrives!   This takes away a lot of stress, and I highly recommend it!  You can read more about creating your own escrow account by clicking HERE.

I solved #2 by putting together a written plan for my Christmas shopping.  I pulled up a copy of the Mini-Budget Form (Excel) and entered the names of those I am shopping for this Christmas.

At the top of the form, I entered $1,000 for the "Cash Budgeted".

I then wrote in the amount of money that I plan to spend for each person on the list.

Applying my secret formula for financial success, INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO, I spend the $1,000 to EXACTLY ZERO.

By pulling out cash for the Christmas Shopping, I can ensure that I will not overspend!

I am FIRED UP by all of the success stories that readers are sharing via the "Success Stories" link!  Have you shared your successes – both large and small?  You can do so by clicking on SUCCESS STORIES on the sidebar or by clicking HERE!

Christmas Shopping

This morning I am going to go Christmas shopping.

I will join the masses of people who are engaging in one of America's great events – buying stuff.

I get to shop for Jenn (my wife) and that is it.  My bride woke up this morning at 4:45AM to go shopping, and she has the list for everyone else.  I am thankful that we save for Christmas every single month of the year as it really makes Christmas more fun when I am not worried about spending money that we don't have!

I was handed an updated "Wish List" from Jenn last night.  The items on it now exceed the budgeted amount by at least five times!  I really need help from The Saving Freak to show me a frugal way to increase the purchasing power of my Christmas shopping money!

I also get to take my daughter Christmas shopping with me.  She has a few people on her list, and I love watching her shop!

Perhaps while I am out and about I will pick up a Clay Aiken Christmas album for Perry this year!

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Saving Money?

“I saved $3,000 when I bought this new car!”

“I saved $250 when I bought this new TV!”

“I saved $200 when I bought this new computer!”

I am sure that you have heard people say this.  You have probably said this.  I know that I used to say this a lot!

The FACT is that – I have never seen anyone save money by spending money!

I have seen them spend less money, but I have never seen them save money.

People want to believe that they are getting a great deal, AND they know that they should be saving money.  Marketers are genius to use the phrase “Save money by buying today!”

I will probably use this phrase when my book is released.  I will say … “Save $3 by purchasing today!”  Smile

I guess there is one way to kill my statement.  That is to take the money that you did not spend and actually save it!!!  Like physically putting the money into a savings account where it can gain interest.  That would certainly put a hole in my rant!

I really like saving my emergency fund money in my ING Direct account and receiving 4.2% interest (it’s current interest rate)!

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Black Friday Preparations

It was only a matter of time before someone did it, but K-Mart decided to remain OPEN on Thanksgiving Day.  I don't know about you, but I enjoy hanging out with my family during the holidays.  I don't believe I will go over to K-Mart today.

Anyway, my family is among those who join with the crazies on the day following Christmas.

As I went through the ads in the paper, I see that JC Penney has coupon for $10 off any purchase of $50 or more and a coupon for $15 off any purchase of $75 or more.  You can click HERE to view/print the coupons (Click on "View Coupons").  They will also give you a WAKE-UP CALL to ensure you get up in time!  THAT is funny!

Wal-Mart has a great deal on a Garmin GPS unit for only $128.88 – I suspect these will leave VERY quickly.

Best Buy has a TomTom GPS unit for only $119.99 – These WILL leave very quickly.  The details say you must have a ticket.  To get a ticket, you have to stand in line.  Starting at 3:00AM, Best Buy employees will start handing out tickets.  I am NOT that crazy.

I think the bottom line for me is that I will be shopping on Friday, but I won't AWAKE by the time many of the so-called doorbusters are sold.  That's OK.  I WILL go shopping with a written spending plan.  I know I won't go over budget because I have the plan.  I used the Mini-Budget (you can get your copy HERE) to develop the plan.

Have a great Thanksgiving Day!

Post 500!

It is unbelievable to see that today is post number 500!!!

I thought I would celebrate it by sharing some love with my fellow personal finance bloggers!

My Sangl Family Home Pay-Off Spectacular was featured in numerous blogs over the past week – resulting in a tremendous amount of web traffic to!

Thanks for the links!

And to the readers of – THANK YOU!  I am FIRED UP just thinking about what this next year holds!

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NEW FEATURE: Success Stories!

Today, I proudly introduce a new feature of – Success Stories!

Beginning today, there will be a link on the sidebar that links to this post.  Why?  Because this is THE SPOT where you can tell the entire community about your financial successes – both great and small!

Did you save money on car insurance?  We want to hear about it!

Did you try out cash envelopes and save money at the grocery store?  We want to hear about it!

Did you put together your first-ever monthly budget and actually follow it?  We want to hear about it!

I want to hear your stories!  We all want to hear your stories!  Let's see if we can get 1,000 success stories by the end of the year!

I am going to list one of my recent success stories first!  Who's next?

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Wants vs Needs Backlash

It seems my post on eliminating expenses out of my life has generated some really strong feedback.

I have gotten comments on the blog, e-mails sent directly to me, and pretty strong feedback from individuals I see weekly.

I have gotten statements like …

  • Joe, you have to live a little!
  • Way to go!
  • Why are you doing this?
  • You should also considering cutting …
  • This seems extreme
  • You should invest all of this extra money instead of paying down the mortgage.
  • You're crazy!

Why is it that all of the people who are suggesting that I am a little off of my rocker for doing this all have house payments?

Folks, I am not doing this to be normal.  If I wanted to be normal, I would still have car payments, student loan payments, credit card payments, furniture payments, and dog payments.  That is what normal is in America – I've lived that way (except for the financed puppy), and TRUST ME I like the debt free life better!

I CHOOSE to NOT be normal!!!  As I like to say when teaching my class – you can call me crazy, weird, a nerd, or anything else – just don't call me broke anymore!

Who's with me?


Tomorrow morning, my first book is headed off to the printer.

I am FIRED up!!!

The title of the book?

"I Was Broke.  Now I'm Not!"

Author:  Joseph Sangl

How weird is that?

In just a few weeks, I will have realized one of my life dreams – "To author a book and sell at least one copy!"

Anyone want to buy at least one copy?  Your opportunity is coming up! 

Wants <==> Needs

Jenn are going through a season where we are SICK of paying mortgage payments.  We have been debt-free except for the house for nearly four years, but this stupid house mortgage makes us angry!

If we paid the regular monthly payment for a thirty year mortgage at a fixed rate of 6% interest, only 17% of the principal & interest payments made in the first year go to principal!  Where does the other 83% go?  To the mortgage lender!!!

No wonder people aren't winning financially!

So, Jenn and I are attacking the mortgage.  This translates to the fact that we are boosting income and cutting spending.

As part of the "cutting spending', Jenn and I are having to have the Wants vs. Needs discussion.

I have got to tell you, it is BRUTAL!

Here is what is up for cutting or eliminating in our budget:

  • Cable TV
  • Spending Money
  • Babysitting Money
  • Internet
  • Entertainment Money
  • Gasoline Money
  • Christmas Money

Here is NOT what is up for cutting or eliminating in our budget:

  • Vacation Money (we save for it monthly)
  • Retirement Savings
  • College Savings

I need some great ideas for saving a boatload of cash.  Anyone have any great ideas?

Another edition of the Weekly "I Was Broke.  Now, I'm Not!" Podcast was released yesterday!  To subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, click HERE.  If you do not have iTunes, you can download an mp3 by clicking HERE.

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The Wagon Staplers

As a teacher, counselor, and speaker, I am able to teach personal finances to thousands of people each year.

One of the hardest things for me to see is those "who fall off the wagon."

These are the people who get PUMPED UP to start winning with their money.  They put together a written spending plan, calculate their Debt Freedom Date, and tell everyone they know that they are getting out of debt.

Flash forward three months.  The written spending plan has been trashed and is not updated.  The Debt Freedom Date has been stored away.  They hang their heads saying, "I guess we won't be able to win with money."

That hurts my heart!  It makes me want to cry!  Why?  Because I KNOW that the tools I teach WORK!  I am living proof!  I was able to break free of debt.  You can do it too!

I don't know all of the reasons that cause a person to fall off of the wagon, but I am here to tell you that YOU CAN WIN WITH YOUR MONEY!!!  You CAN do this!

Pull out the WAGON STAPLERS – your monthly spending plan and debt freedom date calculation!

Go to the FREE TOOLS page and put together a spending plan for the rest of this month.  Update that Debt Freedom Date Calculation!  Print it out and put it on the refrigerator!

You CAN do this!

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Putting the CUSS in Customer Service – A Rant By Joseph Sangl

Ever had an experience with customer service that really puts the CUSS in Customer Service?

I have had some seriously frustrating experiences with my cable over the past year.

I will list some of them.

  • Cable goes out during nearly every rain storm
  • When cable goes out, my INTERNET goes out (it’s amazing how tied to the internet I have become!)
  • My cable has went out for periods ranging from 1 hour to 17 days
  • I can shake a wire outside and the cable service MIGHT come back on, but the company can’t figure out why
  • I have had no less than four different issues/outages.
  • Cable went out during a Purdue Boilermaker football game.  That is bad news for the cable company.

When I talk to Cusstomer Service, they have yet to say, “I am so sorry for your problems.  You are a very important customer to us, and we are committed to fixing this right away to your complete satisfaction.”

In fact, when I do call Cusstomer Disservice they attempt to sell me something!  Every. Single. Time.  “Sir, would you like to try out our VOIP phone service?”  “Sir, would you like to upgrade your entertainment package?”  NO!  I just want my stinking cable and internet back!!!

So recently I read my friend’s blog post about blazing fast internet service without having to have a home phone AND he saved a ton of money.  You can bet that I have contacted him to figure out how I can do the same deal.

I KNOW that companies have issues.  ALL companies have issues from time to time.  That is when Customer Service is most important!

So cable company, the next time I call with an issue I want to provide you with a written checklist for your customer service agents to follow.

  • “I am so sorry that you are having issues today.  We strive for excellence, and we are sorry you are having this issue.”
  • “You are a very important customer to us, and we will not be happy until we have restored your service to its full capability.”
  • Upon verification of the issue, call and tell me, “I am placing a credit for one month’s service on your account.  We are so sorry for the inconvenience.”
  • If you really want to knock it out of the park, you can send me a written repair statement telling me exactly what the problem was, how it was repaired, and what has been changed to prevent this problem from occurring again in the future.

Perhaps you could really go out on a limb and benchmark some companies that are highly regarded for their great customer service.  A company that comes to my mind is Capital One 360 Bank.  They have GREAT customer service AND they have a GREAT product in their on-line savings accounts!

But it may be too little too late for the Sangl family.  Four strikes add up to an out with a mulligan.

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