Archive - February, 2010

SERIES: Fundamental Rules Of Money Management VI

In this series, I have been sharing some thoughts on some fundamental rules of money management that are time-tested and known to be true.   If applied, these rules can help you take your finances to the next level.

Rule #6 Your business idea has a much better chance of succeeding when there is a strategic plan and a financial plan.

As a financial counselor, I routinely meet with small business owners who started their own businesses.   Some of them have been wildly successful.   Others have not had the success that they had expected and desired.   There are always a few exceptions, but it has become very apparent to me that individuals who take the time and effort to prepare a strategic business plan AND a “Seed Fund” for their idea have a better chance at succeeding.

A strategic plan includes developing critical milestones that must be achieved and establishing detailed action steps necessary to achieve them.   It should also include financial targets that must be achieved for the business to be considered a successful effort.

Having some money available to start the business with is essential as well.   I have seen too many good business ideas fail before they could mature simply because the business was too highly leveraged with debt.

And of course, one should always remember Warren Buffets number one rule of money management – “Don’t lose money.”

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Thought Of The Day: Generosity

On Twitter yesterday, I saw the following tweet from “DebtFreeGuy”:

“Real generosity is doing something nice for someone who will never find out. “

Well said.   Well said!

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Speaking at 2010 Velocity Conference and Elevation Church

I am PUMPED to be speaking at two places this week:

Monday (2/22) Speaking at ChurchPlanters.com 2010 Velocity Conference pre-conference breakout session with Casey Graham!

Tuesady (2/23) and Wednesday (2/24) Teaching Financial Learning Experience at Elevation Church!   (Click HERE to register)

And then I have the great opportunity to be in Caro, MI at Colwood Church with Pastor Jonathan Herron next weekend!   Click HERE to register for that event!

I can’t believe I get to do this for a living!!!

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I Can’t Believe I’m Reading This

Ever read something and said, “I can’t believe what I am reading?”   Well that happened to me recently when I read THIS ARTICLE via FoxNews.

Here are some one-liners from this article:

  • The House of Representatives Thursday voted to raise the debt limit by $1.9 trillion. That vote raises the debt ceiling to $14.3 trillion, a new high for the amount of debt the U.S. has ever carried.
  • If Congress doesn’t hike the debt ceiling, the U.S. would be unable make good on Social Security and Medicare payments.
  • The debt ceiling increase is part of a broader bill that would impose so-called “PAYGO” rules on the House. In other words, the House would have to pay for all tax cuts or programs it creates so they are budget neutral.

Can you believe this is happening in America?   We are paying for outrageous and ridiculous spending as individuals and as a collective whole.   Let me put this into perspective …

  • Assuming there are 310 million Americans, this $14.3 trillion in debt is equal to $46,129 per man, woman, boy, and girl.
  • In the early-80s our national debt was not even $1 trillion
  • We are increasing our debt load while Americans are struggling the most – the burden to repay it will be borne by Americans – and the burden is becoming greater by the minute

I am not sure what I can do to address this mess, but I do know this fundamental fact:   INCOME – OUTGO must equal EXACTLY ZERO

Is that true for your household?   When my income decreases, it means that I must cut out expenses or I will go broke.   It is just that simple.

What on Earth is going on?!!!   As a collective nation, we are spending money like it is water.   It is time for us to “go green” and start conserving all of our dollars – government, businesses, non-profits, and indivudals – it ALL applies to us.

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Are you eligible for the Federal Housing First-Time Homebuyer Tax Credit?

Many 1st-time home buyers have benefited from receiving the Federal Housing Tax Credit.   If you are in the market for your first-time home purchase, you should definitely become informed because this credit can be a deciding factor in purchasing your first home!

To find out if you are eligible, you can visit the National Association of Home Builder’s website HERE.   The IRS also has more information about it HERE.

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How To Maximize Your Tax Refund

It was a couple of years ago that I wrote THIS SERIES about maximizing your tax refund.

I even agree with what I wrote two years ago.   It is a good sign when you still agree with your own self!

Here is the summary (and the entire series is HERE):

  1. Before You Spend It, Plan It
  2. Purchase Financial Freedom
  3. Fulfill Some Of Your Dreams!
  4. Should You Even Receive A Refund?

If you are receiving a tax refund, it is worth the 15 minutes to read this four part series!

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Impulsiveness = B.R.O.K.E.

Have you ever made a poor financial decision because you got caught up in the moment?   I have.   I once bought a car when I was caught up in the moment.   I paid full price (plus more).   I financed the car 105% – I even financed the sales tax!

That decision helped me write the “I Was Broke” part of my book I Was Broke. Now I’m Not.!

If you are just getting started on your Debt Freedom March, I want you to pay attention to another form of impulsiveness that can keep you broke – the impulsive desire to become debt-free.   Let me explain.

I see people who take our classes or participate in the I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. Group Study who catch a vision of what life would be like with a written life plan, a written spending plan, and free of debt.   They understand the freedom that this delivers, so they want it NOW!   It is so inspiring!   So exciting!   So motivating!   Yet, I have seen this impulsive desire to become debt-free become financially harmful.

How has it become harmful?   Here are some common ways I see people (who have great intentions) hurt themselves financially because they want to become debt-free NOW!

  • Cash in the 401(k) I have seen countless examples where people cash in the 401(k) to pay off credit cards or other debts.   There are two problems with this.   (1) They ROB themselves of their retirement savings! and (2) There is a tremendous cost – taxes PLUS a 10% federal tax penalty if the person withdraws it before turning 59-1/2 years old.   It usually means that 40% or more of the 401(k) ends up leaving to the government!
  • Cash in the whole life insurance policy I have seen people cash in a whole life insurance policy and NOT have other life insurance in place (I own 30-year level term life insurance).   There are two problems with this.   (1) Without another life insurance policy in place, there is a gap in coverage.   Gaps are terrible.   (2) The immediate debt problem is addressed, but if the individual does not address the behavior that led to the debt in the first place, they will usually end up right back in debt.   Only now they will not have the cash value built up to bail them out.
  • Apply all of the tax refund to debt pay-off The first step toward financial health is to have at least $1,000 in an emergency fund ($2,500 if you have kids or a house).   Too many times I see individuals become consumed with becoming debt-free and they fail to save money.   As a result, they might pay off more debt at the beginning, but something will happen like a car breakdown or appliance failure.   Without any savings, the individual will have to turn to debt again.   Make sure that you save money FIRST.

Financial impulsiveness rarely works out favorably.

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I Want To Know How Much It Costs!

As I sat in the hospital the other day, I was again reminded of how frustrating it can be to deal with financial matters relating to health care.

“How much does that procedure cost?”

Have you ever asked that question at a doctor’s or hospital office?

I have rarely received a straight answer.   In fact, most times the individual responds with a shocked look and then responds with an answer like, “I don’t know” or “I have no idea”.   Even worse, I get this response: “It all depends.”   To which I respond, “Just tell me an average amount I should plan for.”   I then receive the worst response ever, “It all depends on your insurance and care provided.”

I just want to know how much it costs!

Believe it or not, my doctor actually had a set number for cash-paying customers.   He even gave a discount for pre-payment of the fee!

Can you imagine going into Wal-Mart, picking up a gallon of   milk without seeing or being able to obtain a price?   Then at the checkout, it would be a magic formula of one part random fees, one part insurance company garbled language and rates, and another part how nice you spoke to the person?

Tell me about your experiences with hospitals and doctors and their clarity of fees.   Am I the only one?

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Keaton Joseph Sangl has arrived!

I am PUMPED to announce that Keaton Joseph Sangl has arrived!   Here are the stats:

  • February 6, 2010
  • 9:00PM
  • 7 lb 15 oz
  • 20 inches
  • Very little hair (what he has is reddish-blonde and slightly curly)
  • Mom is doing great
  • Big sister Melea is FIRED UP!

We are so GRATEFUL TO GOD for giving us this precious gift of a son a whole 10 years after big sister Melea was born!

There are a lot more pictures available on my Facebook page.   I am listed in Facebook under “Joseph Sangl”.

JoeKeaton

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Experts

I am sitting in the hospital patiently (or not so patiently) awaiting the arrival of our miracle baby (read that story HERE), and I am amazed at the capability of the professionals here.   There is NOTHING like seeing an EXPERT at work doing something that they love to do!   They are passionate about continuous learning (great leaders know that they don’t know everything and are thirsty for more knowledge).   They do what they love (they refuse to settle for a J.O.B.).     It shows in their work.

If you are looking to take your finances to the next level, let me ask you a question.

When was the last time you sought out an EXPERT who is great at what you want to be great at?

If it is budgeting, seek an expert on budgeting (and use the FREE TOOLS on this website!).   If it is investing, find an investment professional.   If you want to learn how to save money on groceries, find an expert who can teach you how (like Clark Howard or The Saving Freak).

Where ever you want to go next, find someone who is already there – and ask them to help you!   Most of them will be PUMPED to teach you!

By the way, the news about our new baby should appear here SOON – PRAY!

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Saving Freak Workshop – Hickory, NC

The Saving Freak will be leading the Saving Freak/Grocery Freak Workshop in Hickory next Tuesday (2/9) from 6:30PM – 8:30PM.

This workshop is focused on helping people free up money in their budget RIGHT NOW so that they can gain margin.   Learn how to use coupons at the grocery store, how to cut travel costs by 50% or more, and how to obtain razors for free, and how to make that razor last more than 10 months :).

I personally have benefited from savings of over $1,500/year because of the tools/tips that he teaches – especially the tips on grocery shopping (couponing) and travel.

The cost is $10 for those who register in advance (HERE) or $15 at the door.

Since this IS a Saving Freak workshop, you should not be surprised that there is a coupon for those who register in advance.   There is a spot on the REGISTRATION PAGE that says “Enter Discount Code”.   Use the coupon code “HALFOFF” to cut the advance ticket fee by 50%!

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Sangl Home Pay-Off Spectacular – February 2010

Every month there will be an update of Joe & Jenn’s Home Pay-Off Spectacular!

Here’s this month’s update!

Total Squares:   2,426

Paid-For Squares:   826 831

Squares Remaining:   1600 1595

% of House Owned By The Sangl’s:   34.0% 34.3%

% of House Owned By Wells Fargo:   66.0% 65.7%

Here is the updated Sangl Home Pay-Off Spectacular

Home Pay-Off Spectacular

Home Pay-Off Spectacular

Baby Sangl is going to arrive in the next few days so that means we should be able to officially pay the hospital and stop saving for his medical bills.   We will be replenishing the various savings funds and then attacking the mortgage again.

How are you doing on YOUR house payoff spectacular?   If you do not have one, you can get one here => Pay Off Spectacular – House.

Read previous Sangl Home Pay-Off Spectacular Updates