Archive for May 2008

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!