Archive - 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! 

PA, WY, GA, SC – All on the calendar!

I am PUMPED to say that I will be speaking and teaching in Pennsylvania, Wyoming, Georgia, and South Carolina in the next few months.

My question is – Will I see YOU at one of these events? 

You can see the scheduled events HERE.

More events are being scheduled.  I love partnering with churches and businesses who want to help their people learn practical and immediately applicable ways that they can use win with their money!  

If you are interested in hosting a Financial Learning Experience or Financial Freedom Experience, contact me HERE.

FIRED UP! FLE Travels to Graystone Church This Weekend!

 

I am FIRED UP to be carrying the crusade to Graystone Church (Lead Pastor: Jonathan Howes) in Grayson, Georgia this weekend!

FIRED UP.

I will be speaking during the morning services at 9:30AM and 11:00AM.  Following the second service, I will be teaching the Financial Learning Experience from 12:30PM – 2:30PM.  To sign up for the FLE, click HERE.  Over 100 people have already signed up for the class, and it is not too late for you to attend.  To sign up for you (and for your family, friends, neighbors, and co-workers), click HERE.

I CAN'T WAIT!

It is MY PASSION to see people accomplish far more than they ever thought possible with their personal finances.  Why?  Because I believe that when people are financially free, they are much more likely to go do EXACTLY what they have been put on this earth to do – regardless of the income potential.

I know that lives will be changed this Sunday.

Joe travels throughout the nation passionately speaking and teaching others how to win with money.  If you are interested in having Joe carry the crusade to your church or organization, contact Joe HERE.

SERIES: Restructuring Debt – Part Six

Welcome to the latest series at JosephSangl.com – Restructuring Debt

I am excited to embark on this series of posts because interest paid toward debt is one of the largest obstacles to gaining traction for one's own Debt Freedom March.

Of course, one way to eliminate the interest is to sell some stuff and become debt-free.  But I recognize that for some people, they have debt that they are going to have to focus on and just pay it off.  If this describes you, then I trust that this series helps you gain speed in your Debt Freedom March! 

Part One – Know What You Are Paying

Part Two – Lower The Interest Rates!

Part Three – Lower The Interest Rates! – Continued

Part Four – Lower The Interest Rates! – Continued

Part Five – Lower The Interest Rates! – Continued 

There are many approaches one can take to lower their interest rates.  In Part Two, I covered the "negotiation" avenue.  In Part Three, we covered surfing the balances to zero-percent credit cards.  In Part Four, it was the debt consolidation option.  In Part Five, it was the credit score option.  In Part Six, I will be sharing my most favorite way to restructure debt.

Part Six – CRUSH IT, SMASH IT, HAMMER IT, DESTROY IT

I used to be broke.  I used to have $4.13 in my bank account after paying all of my bills, and I was pumped because it was a positive balance.  Yet, I was sending hundreds of dollars every single month to banks for debt.   I finally experienced my I Have Had Enough Moment (IHHE Moment) and attacked my debt.

I know that the interest is annoying.  I know that trying to get the lenders to lower their interest rates is frustrating and humiliating.  Besides that – much of that is out of our control.  But controlling how we spend our money from now on IS in our control.  Not signing up for more debt IS in our control.  Going to work for sixteen hours a day to eliminate our debt superfast IS in our control.  Selling our car, boat, truck, collectibles, and other niceties IS in our control.  No, it might not be fun, but paying hundreds and thousands of dollars a year in interest is MISERABLE and robs us of the ability to go do EXACTLY what we have been put on this earth to do!

So I end this series with two questions and their answers.

Q:  How much interest do you have to pay when you have zero debt?

A:  ZERO

Q:  How much interest is paid to you when you have money in the bank or invested?

A:  Anywhere from 3% to 12% or more!  Paid TO you!  I decided long ago to choose to have interest paid to me instead of paying it to someone else.

I trust that this series has helped you.  I love hearing the stories.  If you would be willing to share your story or would like to sign up for a free financial counseling session with one of our fifteen trained volunteer counselors, fill out the contact form HERE

SERIES: Restructuring Debt – Part Five

Welcome to the latest series at JosephSangl.com – Restructuring Debt

I am excited to embark on this series of posts because interest paid toward debt is one of the largest obstacles to gaining traction for one's own Debt Freedom March.

Of course, one way to eliminate the interest is to sell some stuff and become debt-free.  But I recognize that for some people, they have debt that they are going to have to focus on and just pay it off.  If this describes you, then I trust that this series helps you gain speed in your Debt Freedom March! 

Part One – Know What You Are Paying

Part Two – Lower The Interest Rates!

Part Three – Lower The Interest Rates! – Continued

Part Four – Lower The Interest Rates! – Continued 

There are many approaches one can take to lower their interest rates.  In Part Two, I covered the "negotiation" avenue.  In Part Three, we covered surfing the balances to zero-percent credit cards.  In Part Four, it was the debt consolidation option.  In Part Five, I will be covering the credit score option.

Credit Scores Matter!

I know.  I am brilliant.  But it matters so much when it comes to reducing the interest that lenders will charge on your existing debt (this is a no-new-debt zone!).  As your credit score improves, your credit card surfing and bill consolidation loan options will improve.

There is a company that actually specializes in consolidating loans for people with excellent credit.  I was told about this company by a banker friend who has been extremely impressed with the way this company is doing business.  It is called FirstAgain.com.  It is actually stated on their web site that "Excellent and Substantial Credit Required".  No need to apply if you have trashed credit, but it looks like a good option for those who are looking restructure their debt and gain traction with their Debt Freedom March.

Of course, there are also companies that specialize in loans for people with horrible credit.  Payday loan joints, title loan sharks, pawn shops, and various other organizations provide loans that have HORRIFIC interest and should never be considered a viable option for someone who expects to gain traction on their Debt Freedom March.  I have yet to meet the first person who became debt free because of their rip-off payday loan.  I have met hundreds who have became completely hopeless because of their rip-off payday loan.

In the sixth and final installment of the Restructuring Debt series, I will be sharing my favorite way to restructure debt.

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Winner of “Wild Goose Chase”

Wow.  All I can say is, "Wow."  After reading all of the terrific comments, there was absolutely no way I could choose any single one of them.  So I ended up resorting to the old-fashioned "names in a hat" technique to choose the winner of Wild Goose Chase by Mark Batterson.

The winner is Casey Morgan who submitted the second comment on the review I wrote up about the book.

Congratulations to Casey, and for those who did not win the free copy, I highly recommend that you hop on over to Amazon.com and pick up a copy.  You could even bundle it with a copy of I Was Broke. Now I'm Not. and qualify for free shipping!

Congratulations again to Casey Morgan for winning the free book!

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SERIES: Restructuring Debt – Part Four

Welcome to the latest series at JosephSangl.com – Restructuring Debt

I am excited to embark on this series of posts because interest paid toward debt is one of the largest obstacles to gaining traction for one's own Debt Freedom March.

Of course, one way to eliminate the interest is to sell some stuff and become debt-free.  But I recognize that for some people, they have debt that they are going to have to focus on and just pay it off.  If this describes you, then I trust that this series helps you gain speed in your Debt Freedom March! 

Part One – Know What You Are Paying

Part Two – Lower The Interest Rates!

Part Three – Lower The Interest Rates! – Continued

Part Four – Lower The Interest Rates! – Continued 

There are many approaches one can take to lower their interest rates.  In Part Two, I covered the "negotiation" avenue.  In Part Three, we covered surfing the balances to zero-percent credit cards.  In Part Four, I will be covering the debt consolidation option.

Debt Consolidation/Home Equity Loan

Another option to consider is to visit your local bank or credit union with your current debts and interest rates and see what they can do to lower your interest rates.  Be careful with this, though.  Banks are very likely to try to get you to use your home equity to consolidate your higher interest debts.  If used properly, this can be a good thing because you are probably going to be able to deduct the home equity loan interest from your taxes. 

But one thing that I see way too often is the fact that folks will consolidate their debts using their home equity and then NOT change their financial behavior that led to the debt in the first place.  The results?  A mortgage, home equity loan, AND the high interest debts have showed back up.  My advice is to prove to yourself that you truly have changed your spending behavior for at least six months before using this option.

I speak from experience here.  Several years ago, I obtained a debt consolidation loan for several credit cards and some department store debt.  We paid $315.60 a month (I still remember the amount) for FOREVER.  Finally the day came when the last payment was made.  Guess what?  Our credit cards were loaded back up with an amount equal to what we had consolidated in the first place!  We had not changed our spending behavior, and it cost us.   If we had consolidated the debt AND stopped our financial misbehavior, it would have been a great decision.

I know that Couple #3's Debt Freedom March has been significantly improved by obtaining a 401(k) loan.  I am NOT a big fan of this type of debt consolidation, but they had explored the "negotiation" and "surfing" options thoroughly and had run out of other options.  As a result, they have decided to obtain a 401(k) loan.  Guess what?  It has lowered their interest SUBSTANTIALLY and if you check on their monthly progress (HERE), you will see that this move has given them the traction they so desperately needed.

In Part Five, I will be sharing a resource available on-line that can be a huge help to those with excellent credit who are looking to lower their interest rates. 

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SERIES: Restructuring Debt – Feedback

I am PUMPED to hear how people are applying the Total Interest Tool taught in Part One of the Restructuring Debt series.

I would love to see how you are using the tool to formulate your plan of attack for restructuring your debt and gaining traction for your Debt Freedom March!

For example, Kings Pray has blogged about how he used the Total Debt Interest tool.  You can read that post HERE.  Be sure to click on the link in the blog that actually shows the tool with his Total Debt Interest calculation.  I love transparency and people being real.

If you blog about it, please comment below and provide a link to your post.

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SERIES: Restructuring Debt – Part Three

Welcome to the latest series at JosephSangl.com – Restructuring Debt

I am excited to embark on this series of posts because interest paid toward debt is one of the largest obstacles to gaining traction for one’s own Debt Freedom March.

Of course, one way to eliminate the interest is to sell some stuff and become debt-free.  But I recognize that for some people, they have debt that they are going to have to focus on and just pay it off.  If this describes you, then I trust that this series helps you gain speed in your Debt Freedom March!

Part One – Know What You Are Paying

Part Two – Lower The Interest Rates!

Part Three – Lower The Interest Rates! – Continued

There are many approaches one can take to lower their interest rates.  In Part Two, I covered the “negotiation” avenue.  Today, we will discuss moving the debt.

Surf The Debts To Lower Interest/Zero Interest Offers

If you live in America or any other heavily-leveraged society, then the chances are that you will receive numerous offers of debt every week.  Most of these offers have a “trickeration” ploy that generates consumer interest.  The trickeration is typically a “Zero-percent for some number of weeks/months/years” ploy.  The reason I call it a trickeration ploy is the fact that the majority of these debts are not paid off within the set timeframe and the interest rate is back-dated all the way to the date of purchase – usually at a very high rate.

But the zero-percent surfing game CAN work for you.  I have seen MANY people gain substantial traction with their Debt Freedom March through this technique alone.

Here is how the surfing game works.  You receive a “zero-percent for twelve months” credit card offer.  There is usually a $75 balance transfer fee, but there is no interest for the twelve month period.  One simply applies for the 0% card and transfers their high interest debt to the credit card.  When that introductory period is drawing to a close, surf the balance to another “zero-percent for twelve months” card.  Keep surfing the balance until the debt is paid off to $0.

If you successfully do this, you have actually tricked the trickeration ploy into working for you!

There are several 0% credit cards that you can apply for ON-LINE!  Click HERE to view the 0% credit cards available via the Next Steps division of I Was Broke. Now I’m Not.

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SERIES: Restructuring Debt – Part Two

Welcome to the latest series at JosephSangl.com – Restructuring Debt

I am excited to embark on this series of posts because interest paid toward debt is one of the largest obstacles to gaining traction for one's own Debt Freedom March.

Of course, one way to eliminate the interest is to sell some stuff and become debt-free.  But I recognize that for some people, they have debt that they are going to have to focus on and just pay it off.  If this describes you, then I trust that this series helps you gain speed in your Debt Freedom March! 

Part One – Know What You Are Paying

Part Two – Lower The Interest Rates!

There are several ways to lower the interest rate that you are paying on your debt.  Here are several ways that have been used very successfully.

Call The Debt Owner

This really catches some people off-guard.  For some reason, they believe that the interest rate is truly fixed on their debt.  Well, just as "fixed rates" on credit cards are not truly fixed and can be (will be) changed at any time, your "fixed rates" are negotiable.

Paying high interest on a debt?  Call the customer service line and try some of these lines out (only if they are true, of course!).

  • "I am really trying to eliminate my debt, but these high interest rates are really hurting my ability to do that.  Can you please lower the interest rate?"
  • "Can you please lower the interest rate on this loan?  I have been a very loyal customer, and I could really benefit from some help right now."
  • "What can you do to help me lower the interest rate on this loan?"

Things NOT to say …

  • "You stink.  Your company stinks.  You are lying, cheating, good-for-nothing scammers.  I wish a 1,000 SPAM e-mails per minute upon your life."
  • "You're ugly.  You're responsible for the recession.  I am going to talk about you on my Facebook page."

The first person you talk to will probably not have the authority to change the terms of your loan.  Be persistent and ask to speak to their manager.  I have had people tell me that it has taken several separate phone calls before they got their interest rates lowered.  Many times in spite of a great effort, folks have been unsuccessful and the interest rate was not lowered at all.  That brings us to another option. – Move The Debt – and this will be discussed in the next part of the Restructuring Debt Series.

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“Wild Goose Chase” by Mark Batterson

I read several blogs every single day.  They are on my every-single-day list because of various reasons, but one of the blogs is on there because it regularly stretches me with thought-provoking stuff.

The blog is called Evotional.com (subscribe HERE), and it is written by Mark Batterson.

Mark Batterson is the lead pastor of Washington, DC's National Community Church, widely recognized as one of America's most innovative churches.  NCC meets in movie theaters at metro stops throughout the city, as well as in a church-owned coffee house near Union Station.  More than seventy percent of NCC'ers are single twentysomethings who live or work on Capitol Hill.  Mark is the author of the best-selling In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day.

Well, I am honored to say that I was given a preview copy of Mark's latest book, Wild Goose Chase, which will be released on August 19.

I read it in its entirety in less than three hours, and I think every single person who has spent time wondering what they have been put on earth to do should read this book.

Mark writes, "Most of us have no idea where we're going most of the time.  Perfect."  So true.

As you read through this book, you will understand that the journey is way more important than knowing your future destination.  Mark writes about six cages that can leave you feeling disoriented, disillusioned, and frustrated with life.  He is spot on with his observations.

In his mission to provide next steps for folks, Mark and his team have created a web site called Chase The Goose.  I love it when ideas are moved into practical application.

You can pre-order your copy today at Amazon, and it will ship on August 19.

By the way, I was given one extra copy, and I will give it away FREE.  Who will receive it?  The person who provides the most compelling reason in the comments section of this post.  I will be the sole judge of the most compelling reason and will mail the book out on August 18th.

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