Archive for August 2008

Running A Marathon (Again)

I am not sure why I am doing this again, but I have signed up for another full marathon.  That is 26.2 miles of nonstop running.  That is 26.2 MILES.  That is a 10K race PLUS 20 more miles!

I decided to re-read THIS POST I wrote before I ran my first full marathon back in June 2006.  I found myself saying "Amen." and "Absolutely." as I read that post.  (Sidenote:  Is it OK to do that for stuff you have written yourself?)

On Sunday, January 18, 2009 @ 7:00AM, I will embark on another marathon with 18,000 runners in the Chevron Houston Marathon in Houston, TX.  The great thing is that I will have two brothers running with me (the other three are slackers).  If WHEN we all finish, we are going to Ruth's Chris Steakhouse for a fine celebration meal.

There are so many parallels between marathon training and personal finances.  Not the least of which is self-discipline.  Look for a ton of posts focused on my training and how I feel that it relates to personal finances over the next several months.

I have started training several months ago, but the formal training program begins September 15th.

I ran my last marathon in 4 hr 27 min 35 sec.  My goal this time?  4 hr 10 min 00 sec 

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Making The Budget WORK At Month’s End

Jenn and I budget every single month.  We spend all of the money we expect to receive in the upcoming month in the Monthly Budget Form (Excel) and AGREE on how that money will be spent.

THAT is the easy part.  The hard part is following the plan for the entire month – especially at the end of the month.

It is easy to follow the budget at the start of the month because I have spending money, we have grocery money, we have dining out money, and we have entertainment money.

But as we arrive at the end of the third week and the start of the fourth week, it is not so glorious of a picture.  You can bet that I have spent every dime of my spending money.  The dining out fund is at or near zero.  The grocery envelope is tapped out, and the entertainment envelope has kicked the bucket as well.

That is our story nearly every single month of the 62 consecutive months that we have planned our spending.  Yet we stick with the budget, and it is where I see a ton of people fall off of the wagon.

How do we ensure that we stick to our plan?  We hold each other accountable.  We KNOW that if we spend more than we planned on these fun categories, then that extra money will be taken from another fund like vacation, Christmas, car repairs, retirement savings, or college savings.  We simply refuse to mortgage our future just so we can have a little extra fun today.

That is HOW we stick to our plan and that is WHY we stick to our plan.

I would love to hear from others on HOW you ensure that you stick to your plan and WHY.  Start the conversation in the comments below!

Tough Decisions

Many of you know that I have a house cat named Kiki.  My daughter was given this nice kitty cat four years ago for Christmas, and it has been a great cat.

Until we moved back to South Carolina and bought an older home.  An older home that used to have other animals in it.  The smell of the other animals has ignited the stupid instinct to spray and mark its territory.

The cat has peed all over the tile floor of the laundry room.  It has peed all over a box of shipping envelopes for my book.  (Don't worry – I threw them away.)

It has pooped all over the new carpet.  And we decided that the cat was going to get ONE MORE CHANCE to stop being instinctive with its pooping and peeing.

Well, it seemed as if our cat was behaving and things have went OK for a couple of months.

Let me stop that story to introduce a new storyline.

A new kitten showed up on our back deck two weeks ago.  It was emaciated with its ribs sticking out and it had no tail.  Melea immediately fell in love with it and started nursing it back to health.  Me, being the sucker that I am, agreed that after a trip to the vet this new kitten could move in with us last Thursday.

Last Wednesday, the day before the kitten was going to move in, Jenn discovered that Kiki had been spraying FOR MONTHS in an undiscovered area.  The undiscovered area?  On our brand new carpet and TWO BOXES OF I Was Broke. Now I'm Not.!!!!!!  Now, I know some budget-haters would love to do what Kiki has done, but THAT WAS IT.

Kiki has been kicked outside.  The new kitten is not being allowed in the house.  I wanted to see if Kiki could fly through the floor at a very high rate of speed, but I kicked her out instead.

In spite of ALL of that, this was still a very hard decision.  You see, Kiki slept next to Melea every single night.  Snuggled right up next to her, purring so nicely.  Ever since Melea can remember, Kiki has been bounding around the house with her.  Now, Kiki sits outside in tropical storm Faye, meowing forlornly and totally confused as to why she can not come inside.

In spite of the fact that the stupid cat had ruined two boxes of books.  In spite of the fact that our new carpet smells like cat pee.  In spite of the fact that it had sprayed an entire box of shipping envelopes.  In spite of the tremendously annoying damage, it was still a very difficult decision.

It made me pause.  This situation helps me understand just a little bit more why some people can not bring themselves to make the decisions necessary for them to win with their money.  They KNOW that the car payments are peeing all over their ability to gain financial traction.  They KNOW that the credit cards need to be chopped up because they are stinking up their ability to win with money.  They KNOW that their finances are continually being trashed because they are unwilling to make a tough decision.

Folks – throwing out your eight year old daughter's cat is a difficult decision.  So is selling a car and taking a second job.  But I will tell you this – the relief I feel now that the decision has been made is AWESOME!

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Home Group Study Feedback

So I have this ability to track downloads of various tools on this wildly popular website, and I see that (as of this writing) the I Was Broke. Now I'm Not. Group Study Guide has been downloaded over 200 times!

So …  Who is using this for their home group/small group study?

A group in Rhode Island was among the first to complete the study.  In fact, they beta-tested it and helped me make some major improvements to the final product.

My goals when writing this study were for it to:

  • Be PRACTICAL
  • Be applied IMMEDIATELY and EASILY
  • Generate real and authentic conversation amongst home group members
  • Provide HOPE
  • Be low cost

If you are using this study right now, I would love to HEAR YOUR FEEDBACK.

Awesome Time At Graystone Church!

I had a BLAST at Graystone Church today!

Telling the story of how Jenn and I were able to stop being B-R-O-K-E never gets old.  I am so PUMPED UP about it, and I can't help but yell about it to anyone who will listen!

I was able to speak during the two morning services at 9:30AM and 11:00AM.  Immediately following the  second service, lunch was served and the Financial Learning Experience was set up.

The staff and volunteers did a fantastic job preparing for this event!  At 12:30PM sharp, the Financial Learning Experience started and so did the life change.

I KNOW that there were people who came to the FLE hopeLESS and left hopeFULL.

I KNOW that there were people who came in overwhelmed by their finances and left equipped to face their situation.

I KNOW that there were people who wondered whether they would learn something that could help them take their finances and left with several tools that will absolutely help them do just that!

I LOVE teaching the FLE because the tools that I teach are PRACTICAL and immediately applicable and are THE TOOLS that Jenn and I used to become debt-free and win with our money.  We STILL use these tools every single month, and we will use these tools until the day we die or until we learn of an even better way to manage our money.

Pastor Jonathan has posted some of his thoughts about the day HERE.

Graystone Church:  Thanks so much for your kindness!  My family is so thankful for the opportunity to share on this subject that we are so passionate about.  Thank you!