Archive - December, 2007

2007 – Reflections On An Incredible Year

What a year 2007 was!  It was my first full year on this crusade to help people win with their money, and I still can't believe what I have seen.

Here are some facts:

All of that – IN JUST ONE YEAR!!!

I am so blessed and humbled to be a part of this great crusade.  I am overwhelmed by the blessings I have in my life.

Thanks be to God for making my life's work imminently clear!  I LOVE what I get to do!  I am truly living my dream!

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Save Money For Next Christmas – Part 4

In this series, we are learning how to ensure we pay cash for next Christmas!

Step 1   Determine how much money you want for Christmas next year

The goal in this step is to use the Mini-Budget Form (Excel) to determine the amount of money that you want for next year's Christmas.

Step 2   Save EVERY month for Christmas next year

By saving for Christmas every single month of the year, you can really lighten the financial burden that is regularly felt in November and December's budget!

Step 3   Make it AUTOMATIC!

By making your savings automatic, you help ensure that you stick to you savings plan!

Step 4   When Christmas shows up, pull your savings out in cash

You have done great!  You have planned your spending and actually saved up the money!  Now, it is Christmas time.  There is one more hurdle to jump – sticking to your spending plan!  I highly recommend that you use the cash envelope method.  Why?  Because when you spend cash, it is IMPOSSIBLE for you to spend more than you planned!  It is the ultimate accountability!  When you run out of cash, you are done!

I have found that when I spend cash, I am much more frugal and I usually end up getting a lot better deal than if I would have paid with a credit card.  Why?  I really can't explain it.  I think it has to do with the fact that I am less impulsive and that means I think longer before making the purchase.

Well, that is it!  That is how I have managed to pay cash for Christmas every single year starting in 2003.  Here's to you having an all-cash, debt-free Christmas next year!

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Save Money For Next Christmas – Part 3

In this series, we are learning how to ensure we pay cash for next Christmas!

Step 1   Determine how much money you want for Christmas next year

The goal in this step is to use the Mini-Budget Form (Excel) to determine the amount of money that you want for next year’s Christmas.

Step 2   Save EVERY month for Christmas next year

By saving for Christmas every single month of the year, you can really lighten the financial burden that is regularly felt in November and December’s budget!

Step 3   Make it AUTOMATIC!

Anyone who has ever participated in a Christmas Club savings account KNOWS how great it is to have the savings be AUTOMATIC!   When you make anything automatic, it helps you stick to it.  If you automatically go to gym every morning, you will stay in shape.  If you automatically read your newspaper every morning, you will stay informed.  If you automatically SAVE, you will pay cash for Christmas!

One reason I regularly promote Capital One 360 Savings Accounts is because of their great interest rates with no minimum balance.  Another reason is these accounts have a feature that allows you to AUTOMATICALLY draft your bank account at a set frequency.  You can set it to draft your account monthly, weekly, bi-weekly, semi-monthly, or any other frequency you choose.  You have determined the amount you need to save for next year’s Christmas.  Now why not set up a bank account to keep you on course?   If your bank pays competitive interest, you should contact them to have an automatic draft set up.

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Save Money For Next Christmas – Part 2

This is the latest series brought to you by!

The goal of THIS SERIES is to equip you to pay CASH for next Christmas!

Step 1   Determine how much money you want for Christmas next year

The goal in this step is to use the Mini-Budget Form (Excel) to determine the amount of money that you want for next year's Christmas.

Step 2   Save EVERY month for Christmas next year

You know the amount that you need for next Christmas!  Congratulations!  You have taken a HUGE first step toward being able to have a debt-free Christmas next year!  Now, you need to save that amount!  Jenn and I save 1/12th of our Christmas every single month.  If our Christmas savings needs to be $1,000, we would save $83.33 every single month.

By saving every month, we really reduce the impact that Christmas has on our November and December budgets.  In fact, it allows us to actually ENJOY spending money for Christmas because we are not worried about how we are going to pay off our credit cards!

Here is a chart to help you determine the amount to save each month. 



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Save Money For Next Christmas – Part 1

Welcome to the latest series brought to you by!

It is the day after Christmas, and you have just ran up a pile of debt on your credit cards again.  It was fun to give great gifts, but it was not fun putting the purchases on the credit card.

If this is you, welcome to normal America.  An America where we charge Christmas on credit cards, and attempt to use our tax refunds to help pay it back.

I remember when this was me.  Each Christmas from 1992 to 2002 was a financially stressful time!  I ran up a balance on the credit card and commit to use my tax refund to pay it back.  The commitment was not very strong, however, because I always ended up carrying large balances on my credit card and paying high interest.

Since Christmas 2003, Jenn and I have paid CASH for all of our Christmas presents.  Zero debt.  No credit cards.  No financial anxiety.

In this series, I will show you HOW we did it!

Step 1   Determine how much money you want for Christmas next year

Jenn and I always showed up a Christmas time without a plan.  As a result, we overspent.  Credit cards were always happy to catch our slack planning.

There is a great way to determine how much money you want for Christmas.  You can pull up a Mini-Budget Form (Excel) and list each person for whom you will purchase a present.

You might want to include line items like Christmas Cards, Postage, Christmas Tree, and "Unexpected Christmas Gift Needs".

The goal with this step is to obtain the amount you want for next Christmas.  Is it $200?  $500?  $1,500?  $5,000?

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Merry Christmas!!!

Time for turkey, duck, and ham.

I want to eat a yam.

Presents, Family, and Fun.

While celebrating the birth of the Son.

It can't get any better.

I will now stop writing this letter.

I have the potential to become a great poet.

To you and yours, Merry Christmas!

May your holiday be filled with joy!

As you are with your family and friends, why not tell them about the massive changes you have taken to improve your finances?  Pull up one of the free budget forms from the TOOLS page and help them get started on their own journey to financial freedom!  (Yes, I know this is a little nerdy, but hey – I'm not B-R-O-K-E anymore!)

Christmas Eve Reflections

I get to be an elf two more times today at NewSpring Church!

I really believe that I should do some financial counseling in my elf outfit.

Anyway, it is Christmas eve and here are some items I am reflecting on …

  • It was awesome to have another Christmas that we PAID CASH for!  You too can pay cash for Christmas 2008!  THIS POST shows you how!  I know that there are many more who will pay cash for Christmas next year!!!
  • I love hanging out with family.
  • I love Christmas food, but I have become picky.  I will not waste stomach space for mildly OK stuff.  There is way too much GREAT STUFF to waste my time with the OK stuff.
  • We have been remodeling our house since February.  It feels like we have been remodeling for our entire lives, BUT we are finally making substantial progress.  The rooms that we have completed are great!  THIS POST shares how I have saved a ton of money while updating our house.  I really like our room with the fireplace.  I really need to clean the chimney so I can get a great fire going!  Next room is our daughter's room.  After that …  either the kitchen or the master bathroom.
  • Purdue is playing Central Michigan in the Motor City Bowl in a couple of days.  I hear that they have sold at least one ticket.  Seriously, I love my Boilermakers, but is anyone even going to watch this on TV – let alone attend it?

Merry Christmas Eve!

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I’m An Elf This Christmas

I have never looked so HOT as when I put on yellow tights and became an elf this morning.

This is a picture of me sitting in my office where I normally conduct financial counseling appointments, write newspaper articles and  blog posts, and prepare for Financial Learning Experiences.

If I wore this outfit during a financial counseling appointment, do you think anyone would take me seriously?

Merry Christmas!

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Another Set Of Credit Cards Bite The Dust!

I provide one-on-one financial counseling to over 450 people per year.  This helps me accomplish my passion which is "to help others accomplish far more than they ever thought possible with their personal finances".

Anyway, I met with a couple for the first time 42 days ago – just six weeks ago.

I met with them again for a follow-up meeting and here are some of their accomplishments – IN JUST SIX WEEKS!

  • As you can see from the above picture, they have chopped up their credit cards!
  • THEY have not used credit for the last six weeks!
  • HE is taking his lunch to work every single day!
  • THEY shut off their cell phones!
  • THEY paid CASH for Christmas!!!
  • THEY have put money into their ING SAVINGS ACCOUNT!
  • THEY bought less!
  • THEY put their house up for sale to get rid of their huge monthly payment!
  • THEY have a written plan that is EZ to follow!
  • THEY are going to win big time!

In just SIX WEEKS, they were able to accomplish all of this!!!

I am FIRED UP!!!  That is what this whole crusade is about!  Freeing up people to be able to go do EXACTLY what they have been put on this earth to do.


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Setting 2008 Financial Goals – Part 4

Welcome to the latest series – Setting 2008 Financial Goals!

I love goal planning.  Why?  It helps me ensure that my life is not wasted in the pursuit of the boring and mundane.

Here are the steps already shared.


Ink and lead last WAY LONGER than your memory will! 


If it weren't for deadlines and last minutes, half of the world's work would never get done! 


There is nothing like having someone ask, "How are you doing on your goals?" to motivate one to achieve their goals! 

Step 4:  TAKE ACTION!!!

I have a quote that I say regularly.  It came to me after having been caught in one too many horrible, pointless, useless meetings!

"Thoughts and talk without action are mere babble!"

Enough of the planning.  Enough of the talking.  It is time to make it happen!  Nothing moves until it is shoved.  Attack the goal.

It is TIME!  What can you do right now to achieve one of the goals?  Perhaps you can start off 2008 by having one (or more) of your goals completed BEFORE 2008 even starts!

Call and set up the appointment with an investment broker.  Go ahead and get the new insurance quotes.  Chop up the credit cards.  Close the credit card accounts.  Sell the truck.  Go to the TOOLS page and put together your first-ever INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO budget!

I will close the series with a great quote from Will Rogers …

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there."

– Will Rogers

Read the "Setting 2008 Financial Goals" series in its entirety

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Financial Times Article – Is this the same world I live in?

I receive the Financial Times daily in my mailbox.  It was received as part of cashing in all of my airline miles for 32 magazine and newspaper subscriptions a year ago to avoid losing my miles.

In Monday's paper, I read THIS ARTICLE about Bentley's automobile sales.

This line caught my eye …

… Mr. Paefgen said Bentley was a small producer of emissions.  "First of all, it is only 10,000 cars (per year) but also most of our customers have three, four, or five cars so they don't drive their Bentley so much," he said.  "A lot of our cars might even be zero-emission cars because they are standing in a garage all year."

An average Bentley starts out at over $200,000.  And "a lot … of the cars are standing in a garage all year"

Is this the same world I live in?

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Setting 2008 Financial Goals – Part 3

Welcome to the latest series – Setting 2008 Financial Goals!

Setting goals is a HUGE part of achieving your lifelong hopes and dreams.

Here are the steps shared previously.


It is SO EASY to get caught up in the mumbo-jumbo everyday stuff and relax on achieving goals.  By writing down your goals, it will help ensure that you do not forget what is most important to you! 


There is nothing like setting a deadline to help motivate you to complete each goal! 


You are doing great!  You have written down your goals and established a target completion date for each one.  Now comes the really hard part … accomplishing the goals!

I have found that there is nothing so effective as personal accountability to ensure that a goal is accomplished.  Who is in your life that you really trust and wants to see you achieve your goals?  If you are married, your spouse should certainly hold you accountable!  If you are not married, who could you ask to hold you accountable?  Married or not, it is very effective to ask those you love and trust the most to hold you accountable.

I have a friend, Mike, who holds me accountable to a financial goal.  About once a quarter, he contacts me to see how I am progressing toward the goal.  I would hate it if he called and I have made no progress!  It helps me stay focused!

You may have different people hold you accountable for different goals.  I have a person who holds me accountable for my stock investment goals.  I have another person who holds me accountable for my real estate goals.  Yet another holds me accountable for the Sangl Family Home Pay-Off Spectacular!

Why don't you take some time right now to determine WHO will hold you accountable for each of your written goals?

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Spending Out Of Control

I just read THIS ARTICLE on  This is EXACTLY why I am on this crusade to help people win with their money.

Read the article, and try not to get too frustrated.

Here are some items that stand out to me (and of course, solutions to them) 

  1. "I look at how much money we spend and I think, 'Where is it going?'" says Kerri … It is really simple to answer that question!  All you have to do is recognize that INCOME – OUTGO = EXACTLY ZERO.  By visiting the TOOLS page, you can put together a written spending plan that ensures that you do not overspend.
  2. The HELOC (Home Equity Line of Credit) … now often serves as a safety net when they come up short at the end of the month.  The balance is almost $50,000.  Borrowing to make up the gaps month-after-month is a clear indication of a lack of planning.  I wonder when they will have their IHHE Moment?
  3. The couple has almost no savings.  And that means no emergency fund and not a dime set aside for the children's college.  This couple has THREE children ages 4, 9, and 12.  It should not be a surprise when the 12 year old goes to college in SIX years!  This fact also reveals why the HELOC keeps going up – there is no buffer of cash to protect this family when life happens.  I would recommend that they set up a beginner emergency fund of at least $2,500 and start saving for KNOWN, UPCOMING EXPENSES that are crushing their monthly spending right now and causing them to run to debt.
  4. "One day, I hope Mike will do his Quicken work and say, 'Oh my God, we didn't go over this month,'" says Kerri.  "When that happens, he'll be doing backflips."  This confirms the lack of a plan. Guess what?  Without a plan, this couple will NEVER spend less than they make!  It is time to make a change!!!  It is also sounds like Mike & Kerri are not working together as a couple to manage their money.  There is a good chance that this couple will not be on the same financial page, and that makes it very difficult to win with money.  I recommend that they sit down TOGETHER and put together a spending plan BEFORE the month begins!

I would love to help Mike & Kerri put together a plan that works!  Mike & Kerri, contact me and I will gladly set up a financial counseling appointment that helps you guys WIN BIG TIME with your money!

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Setting 2008 Financial Goals – Part 2

Welcome to the latest series – Setting 2008 Financial Goals!

Yesterday, I shared step one.


Written plans allow you to FOCUS on your goals.  Did you take the time yesterday to draft your 2008 Financial Goals?  I know I did!  Next year is going to be quite a year for me!  My book, "I Was Broke.  Now I'm Not!", will be released in late January.  I can't wait!

After you have written down your goals, it is time for step two.


"Fail to plan.  Plan to fail."  A plan is not complete without assigning a completion date next to it.  This date will help hold you accountable to yourself!

Here are some questions to ask yourself as you look over the goals you have written down and assign expected completion dates.

  • If you are married, are you and your spouse on the same page with these financial goals?  If you are not on the same page, this will be VERY difficult!
  • Do any goals rely on another to be completed first?  (For example, if you are paying off two credit cards – does one need to be paid off before the other?)
  • Are the goals mildly realistic?  Ridiculous goals tend to de-motivate and demoralize.  Make sure the goal has a good fighting chance of being accomplished!  On the other end of the scale, don't be too easy.  Be sure to stretch yourself some!
  • Are any goals higher in priority than others?  If so, be sure that they are identified as such!

There have been times that I have placed my goals in a drawer.  This is NOT good!  Here are some tips for ensuring your goals are kept in front of you through the year.

  • Place a "Task" in your e-mail task list or Blackberry that will give you an alarm on the date that the goal is expected to be completed.
  • Place another "Task" in your automated list that will ask the question – "Review your 2008 Financial Goals"  This is REALLY EFFECTIVE if you actually include your 2008 Financial Goals in the "Task".  That way, the excuse of "I don't have my goal list with me" is totally removed!
  • Place the goal list in front of you at work or on the refrigerator.  Place it somewhere that is very visual and will be seen often!
  • Tell others about your goals!  That is great accountability!
  • Start a blog and share your goals with the world!  People like Jonathan at My Money Blog and the lazy man at Lazy Man and Money are sharing their personal financial picture with the world!  It makes me wildly uncomfortable to see their net worth, but I can't stop reading their blog!

Time for me to go assign dates to my 2008 Financial Goals!

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Setting 2008 Financial Goals – Part 1

Welcome to the latest series – Setting 2008 Financial Goals!


I once read this Chinese Proverb – "The faintest ink is sharper and longer lasting that the brightest mind."  That is so true!  When I write down something, I am much more likely to recall it!

Here are some items/questions that can help stimulate your goal writing.

  • Dave Ramsey's 7 Baby Steps: His step-by-step method for winning with money was how I personally became debt-free.
  • If you use Microsoft Money or Quicken, print out an Income & Spending Report for the past year.  What needs changed?  What should be continued?  What should be done even more?
  • Is there something in your finances that is REALLY bothering you?  Many people have one thing that really bothers them.  What is necessary to make it stop bothering you?

Write down your financial goals for 2008.  Why not do it right now?  In ten minutes or less, you can have your goals written down on paper!

Time for me to stop writing – I'm going to write down my 2008 financial goals! 

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