Archive - August, 2009

Why I Do What I Do

A reader of shared her story with me recently.  It sums up why I do what I do.  With her permission, here is her story …

I was OVERWHELMED with JOY as I dropped my oldest child off for college last weekend! NOT because I was happy to have her leave the house…she has been such BLESSING and a BIG part of my life since I was 17 years old and learned I was pregnant… but because I have PRAYED, PLANNED & PREPARED for this day for YEARS.

I made a lot of COSTLY mistakes. I turned my back on God and did things my way! I maxed out my first credit card at 15 YEARS OLD! That was the beginning of several bad financial decisions since I didn't put any thoughtful planning into them! They were "this will due 'til the next bill arrives" solutions which is NO solution at all!

I hit rock bottom and was in BONDAGE financially, spiritually & emotionally by my early 20s. After a divorce, I was living in an apartment I couldn't afford and my car was being repossessed so I swallowed my pride, went to D.S.S. and applied for assistance. I was denied for everything. I was told that my full time job paying minimum wage put me over the limit for any assistance for myself and two children. I was devastated. I asked the lady how anyone would qualify if the standards were so low. She advised me to lose my job and showed me that if I would stay home with my children instead of working then I would actually make MORE money on welfare. I left and never went back. I got sick of hot dogs, grilled cheese and pb&j sandwiches but kept working.

I EVENTUALLY came to the conclusion that this wasn't the life that I wanted for myself or my children!! I was raised in a Christian household and accepted Christ at seven years old. I KNEW that how I was living was wrong. I wasn't going to church, tithing, or budgeting my money. I felt the conviction of the Holy Spirit when I made bad decisions whether they were moral or financial. God had more in store for me than I could ever imagine and I was cheating myself by cheating Him!

I began going to church, budgeting my money and planning for the future. I saved what I could… as often as I could. I got life insurance on myself and my children. I started a Future Scholar 529 College Savings plan (direct so I managed it myself and didn't pay anyone a fee) for both of my children. I started saving the minimum amount allowable. $50 per month. It was A LOT to me but I am so thankful that I did. I was able to raise the amount over the years and I am pleased to say that my daughter's first tuition payment was paid in full directly from that account!! AND she is driving a car that is completely paid for!! I think I was the happiest mom at the college last weekend. I literally found myself skipping with joy as I transported her belongings from the car to the dorm!!

If I could say anything to the moms & dads out there it would be this, "Don't let time get away from you! Start saving NOW!" Ideally, you should save $200 per month per child to plan for their college expenses but WHATEVER you save will help!! God has great things in store for you and your children!! I am still saving every month for college expenses because I know there are more tuition bills on the way.

My goal now is to help my daughter through college with NO student loan debt. I don't know what's in store for us over the next four years but I know that I will keep PRAYING, PLANNING and PREPARING every day!! 


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FOUR Financial Learning Experience FOUR CITIES FOUR DAYS!

I AM PUMPED!  Beginning this Sunday, I have the opportunity to teach the Financial Learning Experience FOUR TIMES in FOUR DAYS in FOUR CITIES.  This is my team's passion – equipping people to accomplish far more than they ever thought possible with their personal finances!

Choose one or choose to attend all four!

  • Sunday – August 30 – Clarksville, TN
  • Monday – August 31 – Greenville, SC
  • Tuesday – September 1 – Anderson, SC
  • Wednesday – September 2 – Florence, SC

So excited about partnering with Grace Community Church (Pastors Ron Edmondson and Chad Rowland) and NewSpring Church (Pastor Perry Noble) to provide PRACTICAL and RELEVANT teaching on personal finances.

I can't believe I get to do this!

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Financial Learning Experience – Clarksville, TN

I am EXCITED about the opportunity to teach the Financial Learning Experience at Grace Community Church in Clarksville, TN this weekend!

Here are the details:

  • FREE!
  • 2PM – 4PM
  • Childcare provided
  • Rossview High School
  • Leave equipped to take your finances to the next level!
  • More info HERE

My team will also be training financial counselors on Saturday and I will be speaking during the Sunday morning services.

I can't wait to see you there!

Interested in hosting the Financial Learning Experience at your church or business?  Click HERE to contact Joe and the I Was Broke. Now I'm Not. Team. Coupon Workshop Coming To Anderson SC

I am excited to announce that Jenny, the founder of, will be presenting her Extreme Couponing 101 workshop in Anderson, SC!

The event will take place at the Anderson County Library on September 16 and begins at 6:00PM.  Cost is $10 (materials fee).

This is a 2-hour long class teaching you to be a true couponer. 

It's not just about cutting and handing over coupons!  Learn how to use coupons to save hundreds of dollars a month on all of your grocery, household and personal care items.

Cover basic and advanced topics:
1.  Gathering and Organizing Coupons

2.  Using online resources to find your own deals
3.  Effectively Using Coupons – a lot more than just clipping and using a coupon!

4.  Detailed instructions for CVSing, and other Drugstores

Each participant will get a detailed guide book to keep.


9 Ways To Save Money NOW

  1. Obtain new auto/homeowner's/renter's/motorcycle/boat/etc. insurance quotes from at least three companies – HERE is a great way to get those quotes.
  2. Use coupons when shopping for groceries and use them when the products are on sale (I really like – it is FREE!)
  3. Before purchasing anything on-line, ALWAYS go to to see if a discount code is available.
  4. Dump the home phone (or try out the magicJack – costs around $20/year)
  5. Dump the cable
  6. Before purchasing anything – use a price comparison website to see where you can purchase that item for the cheapest price (like FRUCALL)
  7. Rent movies from RedBox – they are only $1/day (but you can get FREE rentals if you visit – see #3)
  8. Be flexible and use or to negotiate travel costs.
  9. Drink water from the water fountain instead of from a plastic bottle that costs $1 or more.

What other saving ideas can you share with us?

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Weekend Line-Up

Here is the weekend line-up.  If you are in the area, I would love to see you at one of these events!

Thursday, August 20, 2009 – Charlotte, NC

  • Speaking at the Stewardship Challenge conference – Charlotte, NC edition with Rick Campbell, John Maxwell, and Steven Furtick
  • There is another Stewardship Challenge conference on the schedule – you should come – it is in Orlando, FL on October 15!

Saturday, August 22, 2009 – Phoenix, AZ

Sunday, August 23, 2009 – Phoenix, AZ

Coming up next week – Clarksville, TN and Anderson, SC – Four Financial Learning Experiences in four days.

Interested in booking Joe to teach for your church or business?  Contact him HERE – select "speaking request".

SERIES: Strategies For Saving Money

Part Three  Establish Accountability

Find someone who is (1) winning with money, (2) not trying to sell you something, and (3) are available to help you and ask them to hold you accountable to your saving goal.  I have seen some people go to the extreme length of actually giving the money to the other individual to hold for them because they cannot trust themselves to keep their own hands off of it.

Accountability can also be created by your written spending plan that you prepare every month before the month begins (you do prepare one, right?).  This plan helps cement your goals in your mind and helps you connect the fact that if you spend money on unplanned items, you will literally be robbing yourself of your savings goals.

I am married – this means I have built-in accountability.  Jenn is a huge saver.  She keeps me (the spender) in control. Establish accountability – it works!

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Learning From John Maxwell Brian Tome and Rick Campbell

Today, I had the unbelievable privilege to speak at the Stewardship Challenge hosted by Crossroads Church (Pastor Brian Tome).  I was the mule invited to the Kentucky Derby.  The line-up was:

  • Rick Campbell (Injoy Stewardship Solutions)
  • John Maxwell (EQUIP, Author, Leader's Leader, INJOY, 16,000,000 books sold (true statement))
  • Brian Tome (Pastor of Crossroads – unbelievable church, author, passionate leader, influencer)
  • Me.

So what did I do?  I took advantage of the opportunity to LEARN!  I LOVE LEARNING!  I scribbled notes so fast that the pen made a huge dent in the side of my finger (has that ever happened to you? – it is weird!).

Here are some outstanding nuggets I learned from John:

  • Am I willing to pay the price for my dream?
  • In the beginning, dreams are free.  That's why we love them so much!
  • The only way some people could get excited is if they could get away from themselves.
  • John confirmed his retirement plans: when he dies
  • When he stopped pursuing vision, the resources stopped.

Here are some outstanding nuggets I learned from Brian:

  • Vision is recession-proof!
  • Develop a culture.  Don't raise a budget.
  • Passionate about FREE.  Give away everything.  (Crossroads has their atrium open all day long with free wi-fi, fountain drinks, coffee, and other outstanding amenities)

Here are some oustanding nuggets I learned from Rick:

  • Be strong and courageous
  • Be strong and very courageous
  • I will share the rest in a later post – awesome devotional to start the day

A great day!

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SERIES: Stategies For Saving Money

Part Two  Create An Escrow Account For Known, Upcoming Expenses

For those unfamiliar with an escrow account, it is a savings account that is generally established by a mortgage company.  The mortage company totals the annual cost of property taxes and homeowner's insurance and divides it by the number of payments being made each year.  The mortgage company then pays for the taxes and insurance from this escrow (savings) account.  For example, if the property taxes are $1,200/year (sorry Chicago folks – this is how low they are in the South) and the insurance is $600, then the total amount needed each year is $1,800.  The mortgage company will collect $150 extra with each monthly payment to place into the escrow account.

An escrow account smooths out the cost over a year – instead of having to pay for it all in one month.  It tightens the monthly budget, but having a fully funded escrow account sure is AWESOME when vacation arrives and the money has already been saved to pay cash for it!  Those who have a mortgage with an escrow account will testify to the fact that they never worry about paying for the taxes and insurance – ask someone!

Take a moment to read THIS POST about how to calculate the amount you need to save each month for your known, upcoming expenses.

Take it from one who has lived it – if you do not plan for your known, upcoming expenses, your ability to save money will be tremendously hampered!

SERIES: Stategies For Saving Money

One of the largest issues I see during our one-on-one financial counseling meetings is the inability to save money. Saved money is essential to long-term sustainability.  Saved money relieves stress.  Saved money allows you to take a chance.  Saved money allows life to happen (job loss, disability, pay cut, injury, etc.).

But you already knew that part.  Yet, even though we KNOW how important it is to save money, most people fail to do so.  This series will focus on PROVEN techniques that have allowed many people to save money.

If you have negative savings (no money plus overdrafted accounts and debt), the goal is to bring you to zero.  If you are at zero, the goal is to get to at least $2,500.  If you have been able to save a substantial amount of money, it is my hope that you will participate in the discussion and share your own tips that have worked well for you!

Part One  Automatic Draft From Paycheck

Establish a savings account and have the money drafted from every single paycheck.  Whether it is $25 or $250 per pay period – just SAVE!  You KNOW that the car is going to break down.  You KNOW that the school is going to send home a surprise expense.

By establishing this draft, it allows the money to be "out-of-sight."  When money is out-of-sight, it can be out-of-mind.  This allows the account to grow without being robbed.

Now, I personally had a problem with this when I did not have a monthly budget.  I would ROB my own savings account about 2.1 microseconds after I was paid.  Only after I had a plan developed that Jenn and I agreed to did my savings account begin growing in a healthy manner.

How about you?  Do you have an automatic draft for your savings account set up from your pay check?

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Cincinnati Memphis Charlotte Phoenix

I am FIRED UP about the next week of the crusade!  I have been able to take the last several weeks to rest and write the personal finance book for young people.  Now it is time to hit the road again and share on this topic that I am so passionate about!

If you have the chance to attend one of these events, be sure to introduce yourself.  I love to meet the readers of the blog!  Here is the schedule.

Your prayers are appreciated for my team and this crusade!  We are MORE FIRED UP than ever about fulfulling our mission of teaching 100,000 by October 2011.

It is all about helping people accomplish far more than they ever thought possible with their personal finances.

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Check Out The FREE Tools

How long has it been since you checked out the FREE (HERE) financial tools available via the I Was Broke. Now I'm Not. website?  Chances are pretty good that there are several tools that can really help you take your finances to the next level – and they are FREE!

It is our passion to help others accomplish far more than they ever thought possible with their personal finances.

This passion is the reason we offer the free tools.  It is the reason I write a blog post about personal finances every day.  It is the reason that I write a weekly newspaper column.  It is the reason I travel the nation speaking and teaching.  It is the reason that I wrote I Was Broke. Now I'm Not. and its related Group Study.  It is the reason that I am writing a book directed toward those young people who are about to embark on their big adventure into the real world.  It is the reason that we offer free financial counseling through over twenty churches (and increasing!).  It is the reason that I have been training team members at every single live event.

I'm FIRED UP and sold out to this God-given call on my life.

However we can serve you, it is our honor.

How To Save Money On Groceries

I am a huge fan of learning from others and that is why I am sharing the following links today.  I want you to take the five minutes to learn from these individuals on how they are saving a TON of money on groceries using coupons.  I personally have been using the same methods and regularly save between 35% and 60% on my grocery bill – on stuff that I was going to buy anyway!  It takes thirty minutes or so to prepare a list, but it is worth it to save $30 – $50 on my grocery bill.  That is a great hourly wage!

  • The Saving Freak shares a recent success story HERE.  Read some of his strategies HERE and HERE.
  • Jenny at Southern Savers writes about it every single day.  She has swiftly become a must-use resource before visiting the grocery store – especially if you are in the South.  A great place to start is reading the FREE guides she has written HERE.

If you are paying retail price at the grocery store, you are wasting hard-earned money.

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Cash For Clunkers Program

The Cash For Clunkers program has been a huge hit with dealers and has caused a lot of nervous consumers across the line and decide to spend some money.  I know several people who have personally participated in the deal, and I believe that it has truly stimulated the economy.

But I am not sure that it is a great deal for the consumer.

The situation creates high demand at the dealership.  This can lead to a dealer who is unwilling to negotiate since the consumer is already receiving a rebate.  The program has no defined end date (instead the program's web site currently states November 1st or a vague "when the money runs out" deadline that is not measurable by the consumer).  This creates an "I have to buy it right now or else I will miss out on a great deal" mentality.

If the vehicle is financed, this "deal" still has the potential to wreak havoc on a person's financial future!

I have seen several deals and NONE of them have "Wowed" me.  What about you?

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Personal Discipline

Personal discipline.  Do you have it?  Or do you lack it?

Signs of personal discipline in personal financial management:

  • Waiting at least overnight before making a large purchase decision
  • Balanced checkbook
  • Monthly spending plan
  • Saving every paycheck
  • Giving every paycheck
  • Organized financial documents – including insurance EOBs
  • Credit cards paid off in full every month
  • Regularly obtain credit report to ensure it is accurate
  • Married couples – both know where the money goes and how much they have saved
  • Singles – established accountability

Signs of poor personal discipline:

  • Overdrafts
  • Disorganized records
  • Late payments
  • Credit cards balances not paid off every month
  • Spouses not working together
  • Impulsive spending decisions
  • Little or no saved money
  • No giving

What would you add to either list?

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