Archive - April, 2008

Summertime Savings & Pay-Off Spectaculars!

I am proud to introduce some summertime savings and pay-off spectaculars including my favorite: the Sun Tan Pay-Off Spectacular!

NOTE:  If you have financed your sun tan lotion, you might want to check out some of the free budget forms available HERE or by clicking "Tools" at the top right-hand corner of the page!

In addition to the fabulous Pay-Off Spectacular - Vacation, I have also added the following "Pay-Off" and "Savings" Spectaculars for summertime:

I also wanted to share a Pay-Off Spectacular that Brent and Kathryn put together!  They have put together the Pay Off Spectacular - Person to track their pay-off to an individual!  Way to go Brent and Kathryn!

Also a shout-out to Jeff and Michelle for PAYING OFF THEIR CAR and tracking their progress with a Pay Off Spectacular - Minivan!

I would love to see an "in action" picture of YOUR Pay-Off or Savings Spectacular!  Send it to josephsanglblog@yahoo.com.  Who knows?  You might be featured on this wildly popular blog!

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On The Road Again. The crusade is headed to …

Avalon Church in McDonough, Georgia!  McDonough is southeast of Atlanta, and I can't WAIT to carry the crusade to Avalon Church where the pastor is Ritchie Miller.

 

I will be speaking during the Sunday morning services (9:00AM; 10:15AM; 11:30AM) and then teaching the Financial Learning Experience at 2:00PM!  I would love to see you there!  You can register for the Financial Learning Experience by calling Avalon Church at 770-320-7008 or by showing up and registering in person!

I am FIRED UP!

Find out where the crusade is headed next HERE

Interested in having me teach at your church or organization?  I LOVE taking the crusade on the road!  Contact me HERE.

Lowe’s “10% Off” Coupon

If you are moving or have recently moved, you can get a "10% Off" coupon for a purchase up to $5,000!  There are a few limitations on what you can include in the purchase, but this coupon can really help!

Jenn and I used this coupon when we were in heavy "update the house" mode last year.

Get your Lowe's "10% Off" coupon HERE.

NOTE:  I figured that if Lowe's had a 10% Off deal, then Home Depot would too.  A very short search showed that YES, Home Depot also has a very similar deal.  One can get a "10% Off" coupon from Home Depot for a purchase up to $2,000 by registering at the Home Depot moving site.  Get your Home Depot "10% Off" coupon HERE.

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LAST CHANCE: “You Pick ‘Em” Mutual Fund Game

Last chance to place your entry to the "You Pick 'Em" Mutual Fund Game for May!

To enter for your chance to win a copy of I Was Broke. Now I'm Not., a Financial Freedom Experience T-Shirt, and a blog post recognizing the your superior investing skills, just click HERE and send in your entry via the comments section!

Submission deadline is April 30, 2008 at 11:59PM.  One submission per person, and it must be a mutual fund NOT an individual stock. I reserve the right to change all rules. :)

Let the games begin! 

529 Plan Series: Pennsylvania’s “PA 529 Investment Plan”

Today marks another installment in the "529 Plans" series at www.JoeSangl.com!

Today, I will review Pennsylvania's 529 plan – the PA "529 Investment Plan".

This 529 program is managed by Upromise Investments and the investments are managed by Vanguard [I have reviewed Vanguard HERE]. 

What I Like About The PA 529 Investment Plan

  • Investment Management By Vanguard.  I really like Vanguard's performance and low expense ratios.
  • Upromise Linked.  You can link your Upromise qualifying purchases to this 529 which can help boost your savings.
  • Tax Deduction For PA Taxpayers. From the PA 529 Investment Plan website: "For each beneficiary, PA residents may deduct up to $12,000 in contributions annually from their Pennsylvania state taxable income ($24,000 if married filing jointly, provided that each spouse has taxable income of $12,000)."  If you have two children and have established two separate 529 accounts, then you can take an even larger deduction!
  • Investment Options.  There are three age-based options and ten individual investment portfolio options available.  I like choices!

What I Would Like To See Improved

  • This is a general improvement that I would like to see with all 529 plans, not just the PA 529 Investment Plan.  I would like to see an option that allows one to withdraw money from the 529 plan penalty-free if one has paid for a child's college and there is no need for the college savings plan any longer.  Right now, there is a 10% federal penalty tax if one pulls the money out of any 529 plan for anything other than qualified educational expenses.  I would like to at least have the option to roll any extra money over to a Roth IRA – free of penalties.

Read reviews of other state 529 college savings plans HERE.

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Visited Liberty University yesterday!

Many of you who read this blog know that one of my biggest dreams in life is to start a university.  Every time that I visit Liberty University, I see proof that this dream can become reality.  This university started with virtually nothing about thirty years ago and today has about 11,000 students on campus and another 25,000 distance learning students.

I have been to Liberty several times over the past few years and the growth being experienced there is amazing!  I have seen the addition of the ice rink, the law school, Thomas Road Baptist Church, and several new student facilities.  It has been awesome to watch!

Here are some reasons I believe that Liberty is really growing:

  • Visionary Leadership  Stuff like this does not happen without someone casting vision over and over and over and over.  Dr. Jerry Falwell cast HUGE vision.  His son is now doing the same.
  • Bought-In Alumni  Just like I rant and rave about how great Purdue University is, the folks who graduated from Liberty are the same way.  I have met Liberty graduates all over America, and they are spreading the word.
  • Financial Strength  Liberty University is DEBT FREE!  When Dr. Jerry Falwell died in 2007, his estate paid off the debt held by Liberty University!
  • Excellent Education  There are tons of different degree opportunities at Liberty.  Schools include Business, Communication, Religion, Engineering, Education, Art, Science, Government, Law, Aviation, Nursing, and many others.
  • Energy  When a university experiences this much growth and has thousands of energetic students, you can not help but feel the energy when you walk on campus.
  • Athletics  The school has been competitive in several sports – especially women's basketball.

It was fun visiting the Liberty campus again!

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Money Won’t Solve All Of Life’s Problems

Money is incredibly important.  It has the ability to impact many areas of my life.  Yet, I clearly understand that money will not solve all of life's problems.  Friends will still get sick.  Loved ones will still pass on.  Friendships can get complicated.  Misunderstandings will happen.

Sound money management will not solve all of life's problems, BUT it can really reduce them.

I have found that the lack of money has caused simple problems to become HUGE interruptions to my life.  When I was broke, a car repair had the ability to completely derail the family finances.  When I was mismanaging all of our money, a sickness would crush the family economy and introduce a pile of stress into my life.

On the other hand, I have found that having money has enabled me to help others in times of need.  I have found that having money has reduced a transmission failure into a mere nuisance.  I have found that it has removed a lot of fierce discussions between Jenn and me.  We now just fiercely debate really cool topics like house projects!

Sound money management has not solved all of my life's problems, but it has really made me aware of just how blessed I am!  I am NEVER going back to my old way of mismanaging money and running with an average bank balance of $4.13! 

NEVER.

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My book, I Was Broke. Now I'm Not, is available via AMAZON.COM, BORDERS.COM, and PAYPAL.  You can read the Introduction HERE.

529 Plan Series: South Carolina Future Scholar

Welcome to another series on JoeSangl.com – 529 Plans.

In this series, I will be reviewing 529 college saving plans offered by different states.

It might be helpful to first review what a 529 plan is.  A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged college savings plan that is named for the section of tax code that outlines how they may operate – Section 529.

Today's 529 Plan is South Carolina's plan – Future Scholar

 
The South Carolina Future Scholar 529 College Savings Plan is managed by Columbia Management (a division of Bank of America).

What I Like About The Future Scholar Plan

  • Columbia Management.  I like some of the funds that are offered by Columbia Management.
  • Tax Deduction.  Although there are some restrictions, most South Carolina residents can deduct their Future Scholar contributions from their SC state tax return!
  • Self-Directed Option.  Through the "Direct Program" SC residents can manage their own investments, and if one chooses to do so the "load" (sales charge) is $0!  If one chooses to invest in the Future Scholar plan with the help of an advisor, there will be a sales charge of around 5%.  The sales charge should not deter someone from investing for college however!  If you are really intimidated by investing and mutual funds, it would be worth the sales charge to ensure you are getting good advice!
  • Learning Center.  The Future Scholar plan offers a great site to help one understand and plan for education costs.  It is located HERE.
  • Investment Options.  The Future Scholar plan offers three investment options. 
  1. Automatic Allocation Choice – This option allows one to "set it and forget it" in regard to adjusting the portfolio.  It is really aggressive when the beneficiary is very young and moves steadily to become more stable as the child approaches college time.
  2. Asset Allocation Choice – This option allows one to make a more specific decision on how one's investments are allocated.  This requires a more hands-on approach if one wants to adjust the portfolio.
  3. Single Fund Portfolio – This option allows one to invest in specific mutual funds offered via Columbia Funds.

What I Would Like To See Improved

  • Expense Ratios.  I would love to see the expense ratio of the funds reduced.  The average expense ratio is around 1.40% to 1.50%.  This is an every year fee and erodes the growth of the investment.

My daughter's college savings is in the SC 529 Future Scholar plan.  The tax benefit was the final straw for me to move the investment from another state's plan to the SC plan.

Are you saving for your child's college education?
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The Mutual Fund Series: American Funds

The is the latest installment in the weekly series featured at JoeSangl.com – The Mutual Fund Series.

During each part of this weekly series, I will be looking at a specific mutual fund company.

Today's company is American Funds.

 

American Funds has been around since 1931 and is one of the largest mutual fund companies in the world with over $900 Billion in investments and over 40,000,000 shareholder accounts.  American Funds is owned by a larger company – The Capital Group Companies.

What I Like About American Funds

  • Great performance long-term.  The track record of American Funds has been terrific!
  • Long-Term Approach.  They use a team-approach to manage their mutual funds.  They manage money extremely well in down markets.  They have absorbed hits like the 1987 crash and the bear market of the early 70s and have performed well.
  • Experience.  Their advisors have an average of 22 years of experience with American Funds.  That is unheard of in today's world!
  • Low Initial Investment Requirement.  Most American Fund mutual fund investments can be started with just $250 and a commitment to invest at least $25/month.  That is great!  It allows anyone to start investing!
  • Low Expense Ratios.  They have low expense ratios when compared to most mutual funds.  They are higher than Vanguard, but are about half of comparable mutual funds.
  • Tools.  They have a nice retirement planning website HERE.  I really like their "quick analysis" retirement planning calculator HERE.  It told me good news – that they believe I can retire someday!  What does it tell you?  You can also check out my "retirement nest-egg required" calculator (located on the "TOOLS" page or click HERE).

What I Would Like To See Improved At American Funds

  • Sales Charges.  To purchase American Funds directly, one has to be savvy with on-line trading websites or else one will have to work through an advisor.  This means that there will be a "load" when one purchases American Fund mutual funds through a broker.  If one is just starting out, it could mean that one will have to pay up to 5.75% for all new money invested.  This load drops as more money is held in one's account, but the lower charges start after one achieves six figures in their account.

American Fund Mutual Funds I Own

I currently own six American Fund mutual funds.

  • AMCAP Fund A [Ticker: AMCPX]
  • Capital World Growth and Income Fund [Ticker: CWGIX]
  • Fundamental Investors A [Ticker: ANCFX]
  • New World Fund [Ticker: NEWFX]
  • The Growth Fund of America [Ticker: AGTHX]
  • The Investment Company of America [Ticker: AIVSX]

American Fund Mutual Funds That I Am Considering Purchasing

  • The New Economy Fund [Ticker: ANEFX]  I like the growth potential of the markets this fund will be investing in.
  • EuroPacific Growth Fund [Ticker: AEPGX]  Same as The New Economy Fund – I really like the potential of the markets this fund will be investing in.

What American Fund mutual funds do you own?  Do you have any American Fund mutual funds that you really like?  Any you really dislike?

Love learning about mutual funds?  Love a little competition?  Maybe the "You Pick 'Em Mutual Fund Game" is for you!  Contestants have until the end of April to enter their mutual fund selection.

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This Is About Right!

Someone sent this picture to me, and I thought it was very appropriate! 

I am ready for gas prices to go DOWN for once!

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My book, I Was Broke. Now I'm Not, is available via AMAZON.COM, BORDERS.COM, and PAYPAL.  You can read the Introduction HERE.

Life Happens: The Transmission Edition

You may have caught in yesterday's post that I absorbed a major expense like the transmission going on my GMC truck.  Well, that happened this month.

So here is the story.

I bought this truck from my brother nearly seven years ago.  He had purchased it new.  Early on, I noticed that the automatic transmission would shift hard whenever I drove the truck over long distances.  Once it had cooled, it would go back to shiftly nice and smooth.

So way back in 2002, I took it in to my trusted car repair guy, and he said that I should just drive it until it broke.

So I did.  It took nearly seven years for it to fail.  I won that gamble!

I took it in to my new trusted car repair guy, and he diagnosed it as "Dead On Arrival".  Upon opening the transmission, he could not believe that I was able to even put the car in reverse.

The cost?  $1,953.35.  That included replacing a broken door handle, an oil change, and some other small stuff.

Man, am I glad I have a savings account for just this sort of stuff!  In the old days, I would have been pulling out the credit card.

Maybe I should ask you the question.  Do you have money saved up for a car repair?

I am not a prophet, but I can guarantee you that your car WILL break down.  It may be today.  It may be ten years from now.  But something is going to break.  When it does, will it crush your finances or will it just be an annoyance that you have saved for? 

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My book, I Was Broke. Now I'm Not, is available via AMAZON.COM, BORDERS.COM, and PAYPAL.  You can read the Introduction HERE.

SAVE for the UNKNOWN emergency

There was a day that I was completely broke and had an average bank balance of $4.13.  It was awful living with no margin.  Anytime an issue cropped up, we had a problem AND a money problem.

One of the best things that Jenn and I did was save money into an emergency fund.  What can the money be spent on?  I am not sure …  I have NEVER spent the money!  Seriously, in over five years of having an emergency fund, we have never spent the money.

Did I have an emergency?  Well, others might have called them emergencies, but the Sangl household did not.  Let me list just a few of the events that have occurred.

  • Jenn had major surgery that blew up the $2,300 insurance deductible.
  • Ten months later, Jenn had to have the surgery AGAIN.  AND it was in another deductible year.
  • Power steering went out on the car.
  • Transmission went out on the truck.
  • The dryer died.
  • Huge leaky roof problem.
  • I had hernia surgery that blew up the $3,000 insurance deductible.

The Sangl household did not use the emergency fund for ANY of the above expenses.  Why?  Because they are not really emergencies!!!

Think about it this way.

  • Is it a surprise that humans get sick and need surgery?  NOPE.
  • Is it a surprise that cars break down?  NOPE.
  • Is it a surprise that an appliance breaks?  NOPE.
  • Is it a surprise that roofs will leak?  NOPE.

When I really think about it, I am not sure we will ever use the emergency fund but it is incredible knowing that it is there!

I wonder if HAVING an emergency fund in place scares off emergencies? 

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I Had A Blast In Suwanee, Georgia!

I had a BLAST carrying the crusade to Fusion Church (Pastor Tony McCollum) in Suwanee, Georgia!

In the morning service, I was able to share my story of walking out of financial mismanagement and into financial freedom.

Then, in the afternoon I was able to teach the Financial Learning Experience!  I LOVE teaching this class!  I get to teach THE TOOLS that Jenn and I used (and still use to this very day) to become financially free.  Every time that I teach these tools, I get all FIRED UP.  Why?  Because I know what it did for Jenn and me!!!

Thanks, Fusion Church, for allowing me the privilege to teach! 

Have YOU checked out the FREE tools?  Just click on "TOOLS" at the top right-hand corner of the page or click HERE!

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FLE to Suwanee, GA!

This morning, the crusade is rolling over to Fusion Church in Suwanee, Georgia!

I am FIRED UP to be able to share my story of walking out of a financial mismanagement and into financial freedom at their 10:30AM service.

At 3:00PM, I will be teaching the Financial Learning Experience.

 

The FLE is an experience where I teach the tools that Jenn and I used to achieve financial freedom and enabled us to fire ourselves from Corporate America and go do EXACTLY what we have been put on this earth to do.

It is my goal for everyone to be able to do EXACTLY what they have been put on this earth to do.  To be able to do the very things that awakes a passion and fire like no other.  THAT is what I love seeing happen.  When people have a good financial plan, it is so much more likely that they will take the leap to pursue their passions – regardless of the income potential.

Interested in having me carry the FLE to your organization?  Contact Joe HERE

Have you read my Sunday newspaper column lately?  You can read it HERE.

Save Money – Grow a Garden!

I love gardening.  I am a FREAK about gardening.  Seriously.

Every January, I start getting this glazed-over look in my eyes, and I have to really control the urge to pull out all of my seeds and start planting them.

Gardening can save you money on your grocery bill.  If you have no idea about gardening, then you want to keep it simple and small.  This will make it fun, educational, and keep things cheap.

If you are just starting out, I recommend the following plants for some sure-fire, tried and true producers.

  • Zucchini – You will feel like an expert gardener with this plant.  It will EXPLODE with fruit and you can't really mess this up.
  • Yellow Squash – Same as zucchini on ease of growing!
  • Tomato – Home-grown is WAY different than store-bought.
  • Bell Pepper – These plants love hot weather.
  • Cucumber – Great snacks and very easy to grow.
  • Green Beans – Yummy!
  • Snow Peas – These things are prolific producers and twenty vines will produce handfuls of peas every two days or so.  Great for stir-fry!
  • Sunflowers – Try the mammoth sunflowers that have flowers over 16" wide and stalks over eight feet tall.  The kids will have a blast watching these plants grow.
  • Radishes – From seed to harvest in about forty days.

I love my garden.  The great veggies PLUS the awesome flowers that are grown in it make it a very cheap hobby and a way to supplement the groceries budget in the summer.

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