Archive - May, 2008

So That’s Why …

I have a thirty-something year old house.  It has thirty-something year old house problems.  One of those problems is the fact that it still has its original HVAC units.

Now, the average American would go through life with $4.13 in the bank account and no margin for life to happen.  "Life Happens" events like the HVAC unit going out.  Luckily, Jenn and I stopped living with blinders on and have saved for such events.

So here is the story.

In February, I received a MONSTER electric bill.  My reaction was like, "OH MY GOODNESS!  I could color in a ton of squares on the Sangl Family Home Pay-Off Spectacular if I did not have this huge electric bill."  So I did what anyone would do, I lowered the temperature of the thermostat and said to myself that we would just be a little chilly.  Well, we FROZE for the month of March and received another MONSTER electric bill.

I said to myself, "This sucks.  I am FREEZING and paying a ton of money on this stupid electric bill."

Luckily in April it warmed up nicely here in SC, and I was able to turn off the HVAC units.  I have been able to leave them off until this week.  On Monday night, it was over eighty degrees in the house and humid.  So I cranked on the AC and went to sleep.  When I woke up in the morning, it was still smoking hot.

Uh oh.

I called my father-in-law who does HVAC for a living, but he lives far away.  He told me to do some stuff, but all of it would involve me electrocuting myself so I decided to call my local friendly repairman (who also happens to be in my home group).

A short survey of the situation revealed that the condenser fan was not spinning.  Thus the large electrical buzzing sound that has been coming out of the unit since FEBRUARY.  Did I mention that it was buzzing since FEBRUARY?  Oh, I guess that sound was important to note.

Turns out that I heated my house with the emergency strip heating for two straight months instead of the heat pump.  Turns out that consumes enormous amounts of electricity.  Turns out it consumed a lot of my budget for two months.

A few hundred dollars later, we are nice and cool again.  With thirty-something-year-old units.  It might help to know that I have money saved up to replace these units when they totally fail on me. 

Do you have margin in your life to absorb "Life Happens" events?

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You can read about how Jenn and I stopped being broke and won with our money in my new book, I Was Broke. Now I'm Not.  It is available via PAYPAL, AMAZON.COM, or BORDERS.COM.

PODCAST: I Was Broke. Now I’m Not.

I do not know if you have checked out the "I Was Broke. Now I'm Not." podcast recently, but perhaps you should.

Top Five Reasons to check out the podcast

  1. It averages seven minutes in length.  Never longer than ten minutes.
  2. I always answer a question asked by one of the JosephSangl.com readers.
  3. I always share a success story sent in by one of the JosephSangl.com readers.
  4. It is free.
  5. You might hear me yell, holler, and scream because I am so FIRED UP about what is happening through this crusade!

To subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, click HERE.  If you do not have iTunes, you can download a mp3 by clicking HERE.

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More Follow Up: How Do I Stop Being Impulsive?

My daughter has been really wanting a bunny rabbit.  Yes.  A real one.  For the past few weeks, it has been

"I'm saving for a bunny.  No, three bunnies.  Their names will be ……."

and

"I really want rabbits, Dad.  Real ones.  No, Dad, you can't feed them to the hawks!"

This has been going on for nearly three weeks.

Monday, on the way home from Indiana, Melea announces that she no longer wants rabbits.  She wants an iPod instead.

I am so glad we had TIME on our side.   It is amazing how TIME can really diminish the "I Want That!" moment into a "Nah. I Don't Want That!" moment.  Nice!

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You can read about how Jenn and I stopped being broke, and won with our money in my new book, I Was Broke. Now I'm Not.  It is available via PAYPAL, AMAZON.COM, or BORDERS.COM.

FOLLOW UP: How Do I Stop Being Impulsive?

There were some great responses to the "How Do I Stop Being Impulsive" post!

I really feel like it would be helpful to follow up on this because this is such a common part of all of our lives!  We are ALL impulsive.  It seems to be different things for each of us, but we all have a case of impulsiveness every now and then.

I wanted to share some of the feedback that was sent in via the comments or from the "E-mail Joe" link.

  • Let there be … TIME between the "I WANT THAT!" moment and the actual "Purchasing Decision" moment.  The more time between the two moments, the clearer the decision will be.
  • Let there be … ADVICE from someone you trust and wants to see you prosper.  If you are married, this is your spouse!
  • Let there be … A WRITTEN PLAN that spends all of your money on paper every month BEFORE the month and money arrive.  When you have personally helped prepare the spending of your money on paper, you are much more aware about whether or not you can afford the "I WANT THAT!" item.

Great conversation!  I wonder if any of you out there would share some "near misses" where you almost made a horrible, snap-judgment financial decision but you did not.  What helped you make the decision to back out?  How does it feel now as you look back on the situation?

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STANDINGS: Mutual Fund You Pick ‘Em Game [thru 5/23]

Here are the standings for the Mutual Fund "You Pick 'Em" Game with just one week remaining.

Michael M. has retained the lead, but took a hit over the past week and a couple of the competitors have closed the gap. 

Judy's mutual fund selection, China Bear 2X Fund, has demonstrated what investing in a true international growth fund is like.  In week one, it was #2 on the list.  In week two, it dropped all of the way to #20.  Now, it is back to #2!  This is why I define an investment as money that I will leave alone for at least five years!  I would have a heart attack if I was day-trading a fund like Judy's choice!

John X has closed the gap to hold #3 position after holding the #6 position the previous two weeks. 

It is going to be a lot of fun to watch the performance over this last week to see who wins!

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Clear Thoughts At 35,000 Feet

When I worked in Corporate America, I flew a lot.  A LOT.  My primary travel path was Chicago to San Diego and then across the border to Tijuana.  That plane ride was over four hours long.  You might not like that long of a flight, but I loved it.  I could get so much work done!

With most of what I do today, I travel via car.  However, I traveled via plane last weekend to teach the Financial Learning Experience at C3 Church in Orlando, Florida.  I had forgotten how awesome it is to be on a plane at 35,000 feet.

I had such clear thoughts!  I was working on yet another revision of the I Was Broke. Now I'm Not. home group study that will be released in late July.  The thoughts were so clear.  I was on my game!   I got so much done!

I wonder why flying allows me to think so much clearer?

I suspect it has something to do with the fact that nearly all of my normal distractions are removed (e-mail, friends, cell phone). 

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How Do I Stop Being Impulsive?

I was teaching the Financial Learning Experience here at NewSpring Church on Tuesday evening this week, and I had a gentleman raise his hand and ask this question.

"How Do I Stop Being Impulsive?" 

My answer?  I don't know to stop the impulsive nature, but I DO know how to control my impulse to spend recklessly.

I am a SPENDER.  I am the type of person who would go out and accidentally buy a truck.  I am a spender to my very core.  I like buying things.

Here are some steps I have taken that helped me reign in my impulsive spending nature, and it has allowed us to win financially!

  • Written Spending Plan  Putting together a written spending plan EVERY month before the month begins using the budget forms that are available on the TOOLS page.  Jenn and I do this EVERY month before the month begins.  Did you catch that?  EVERY month.  It reinforces the fact that we cannot flippantly spend our money and expect to succeed.
  • Cash Envelopes  I am an impulsive spender, but even I will not impulsively spend money on the electric bill.  I won't impulsively purchase gasoline.  I don't impulsively send extra money to the cable company.  There are some things that I am not going to impulsively spend money on.  However, there are some things that I am VERY impulsive about.  Items like groceries, dining out, clothes, spending money, and entertainment.  I can go through some money really fast with these items!  Since I KNOW that I am impulsive for these spending categories, I use cash envelopes.  At the start of the month we add up the amount we have put in the budget for these categories.  We then pull that amount out in CASH.  The rule is that we can not pull more money out from the bank AND we can not use the ATM or debit card.  I can not overspend cash.
  • Chopped Up Credit Cards  You may pay yours off every month, but the vast majority of Americans do not.  I was part of the vast majority, and I had to admit that I was a completely LOSER with credit cards.  I ran those stupid things up three different times.  STUPID with them.  They really catered to my impulsive nature.  So I did what had to be done and applied the scissor blades to them and shut the accounts down.

If you are a fellow spender, what have you done to control your impulsive spending habits?

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You can read about how Jenn and I stopped being broke, and won with our money in my new book, I Was Broke. Now I'm Not.  It is available via PAYPAL, AMAZON.COM, or BORDERS.COM.

Wagon Bruises

Have you ever started something new that you really wanted to stay committed to?

Diets, budgets, exercise, prayer, earlier bedtime, more time with spouse/children.

We start off so great.  We can't be stopped.  In the gym by 5AM.  No chocolate for a month.  Asleep at 10PM.  Prayed every day for a week.

THEN life happens.  Our favorite show is on with a one-hour special.  The ice cream truck came by.  The snooze button was found.  We get busy, life happens, and we fall off of the wagon. 

I regularly counsel folks who have fallen off of the wagon with their finances.  They are so crestfallen.  So sorrowful.  So frustrated.  Maybe even depressed.

"What should we do?" they ask.

Get back on the wagon!

Put together a new spending plan.  Recalculate the debt freedom date.  Figure out what caused you to fall off of the wagon in the first place and seek ways to prevent it from happening again.

I know that YOU CAN DO THIS!  I was able to do it.  You can too!  Anyone who has read I Was Broke. Now I'm Not. knows that I include a line at the end of each chapter that says "I believe in you!" You CAN do this.

Here are some common reasons for wagon bruises (develop when one falls off of the wagon).

  • No emergency fund. This is the number one cause of wagon bruises.  If there is no protection from "life happens" events, one will be highly susceptible to wagon bruising.
  • Not saving for KNOWN, upcoming expenses.  We know that Christmas is coming.  That property taxes will come due.  We know that the car WILL break down and that the tires will need replaced.  Whether one saves for these expenses or not, the KNOWN, upcoming expense will still occur.
  • Spouses not on the same page.  If both spouses are not on the same page financially, it can really lead to some severe wagon bruising.
  • Bad case of "I-Want-This-Now-Itis".  If one can not say "NO!" when tempted to blow the spending plan, it will cause a financial mess.
  • Lack of accountability.  This really affects single folks a lot.  There is no one to say, "Maybe you should reconsider that decision."  It is really easy to overspend when there is no accountability.

Have you ever fell off of the wagon?  Share how bad the wagon bruises were and what you did to get back on the wagon.

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Things That Humble Me.

Jenn and I were coming back from teaching the Financial Learning Experience recently, and I looked in the back seat and saw this. 

 

Yes.  That is my daughter reading a copy of my book.  Very humbling.

Flash forward a few nights.  I go upstairs and see my daughter lying in bed reading the book some more.  Here is the conversation.

Me  You reading the book again?

Her  Yeah.  I think it is so funny how you had so much debt and Mom did not.

Me  You think that is funny?

Her  Yes!  You caused all of the debt problems.

Me  Yes I did.  But I stopped spending money, and we became debt-free.

Her  Yeah, but you still caused all of the debt problems.  That's funny!

It was so humbling, but I am so FIRED UP that I was able to say the "we became debt-free" part!

Yes, honey, Dad messed up with money, but I woke up one day, shouted "I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!", and we marched out of debt and into financial freedom.

Melea, that is why Dad is on a crusade.  I am on a crusade to help as many people as I can get out of their financial mess and achieve financial freedom.

TONIGHT: Financial Learning Experience @ NewSpring Church!

I am FIRED UP about the Financial Learning Experience taking place tonight at NewSpring Church!

Here are some reasons YOU should come:

  • It is FREE!
  • It is just two hours
  • You will learn how to make your money behave
  • Your spouse will be happy
  • You will have FUN (I know that sounds odd for anything related to learning about money, but REALLY it will be FUN!)
  • The coffee will be fresh
  • ANYONE can come.  ANYONE.  Grab your neighbor, co-worker, spouse, children, parents, and enemies and bring them over!
  • It is FREE!

You can register HERE.  If you can't figure out the on-line registration thing, come on over anyway!

The FUN starts at 6:30PM!

I Love It When People Are Real!

I know that many times, we feel like we need to wear the mask.  The one that says everything is perfect, nothing ever goes wrong, and I have never struggled with anything.

It seems that when it comes to finances, most of us want to wear a mask.  The mask that says "We are doing fine."  One that says, "I am doing better than you are."  Maybe one that says, "I have a lot of money.  More than you.  No, WAY more than you."

The mask that says, "I am doing well financially." even though one is financed up to their eyeballs. 

Ultimately there is the truth.  The truth is that over 70% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck.  If they miss ONE paycheck, they will fall behind on one or more bills.  The truth is that somewhere around 20% of Americans are not only living paycheck-to-paycheck, but they are already behind on one or more bills.

The truth trumps the mask every single time, and I love it when people get real.

When they say, "I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!", and embark on the quest to take control of their finances.  When they realize that they CAN win with their money, and they seek knowledge on how to do so.  I love it when they get so real that they invite their friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors over to the house for dinner and then show them how to put together a budget that works.

I LOVE IT when that happens!

There was a day that I felt like I needed to show everyone that I was doing really well financially, but the reality was that I had an average bank balance of $4.13.  I dropped the pose (PRIDE), said "I STINK at this!", and I went and got help.

Dave Ramsey absolutely rocked my world with his 7 Baby Steps.  You can click HERE to print your own copy!

Are you being real about your financial situation? 

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:-Funny:-:Not Funny-:

Funny, but not funny cartoon from CartoonStock.com – The TRUTH about pay raises at many corporations.

"That $20 paycheck deduction is for new benefits – like the $10 raise you just got."

ARGH.  You can't put enough spin on that statement to make it look pretty!

Has anyone experienced a similar situation where you received a "raise" and then an increase in benefit costs that completely vaporized the raise and then some? 

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STANDINGS: Mutual Fund You Pick ‘Em Game [thru 5/16]

Here are the standings at the midway point of the exciting Mutual Fund "You Pick 'Em" Game.

Michael M. is absolutely CRUSHING the competition with the Direxion Latin America Bull 2X Inv. with a whopping 18.0% return IN JUST 16 DAYS.  This is exactly why I say that investing is for the long term.  Once can not really pinpoint when an investment is going to make huge gains, but the money needs to be there when it happens.

The biggest loss of the week is Judy who dropped all the way from #2 to dead last with the China Bear 2X Fund.  The most improved is Unnamed #1 who ventured from dead last to vault seven other competitors.

Overall, the returns indicate an overall market that is growing nicely.  I must say that it has been much more pleasing to view the Sangl Family mutual fund account balances in recent weeks!

I really believe that it is important for folks to have exposure to the wide variety of mutual funds that are available.  I hope that this contest is helping you learn more about the mutual fund markets and investing in general.

Has there been a particular mutual fund or funds that has caught your attention?

So, there are NINE more trading days.  Will Michael M. hold his lead or will Andy C. erase the lead and win the huge Mutual Fund "You Pick 'Em" Game Prize? 

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I Had A Blast In Orlando!

I had a blast teaching the Financial Learning Experience in Orlando, Florida at C3 Church!  I was blown away by the hospitality shown to me by their pastor Byron Bledsoe and executive pastor Barry Leathers.  Totally blown away.

They were completely prepared for the FLE, and the crowd showed up ready to learn.  It was awesome!

C3 Church – you guys rocked!   I can't wait to hear the stories of debt freedom and dreams that are achieved all because you guys put together a plan to accomplish EXACTLY what you have been put on this earth to do.

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FLE at C3 Church – Orlando, Florida!

I am FIRED UP to be traveling to C3 Church in Orlando (Byron Bledsoe is the pastor) today to teach the FLE tomorrow morning at 10:00AM!

You can register HERE.  As I said before, this is the FLE's first stop in Florida, and I can't wait!

Anyone from blogosphere going to be there?

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