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If The Mountain Was Smooth, You Couldn’t Climb It

“If the mountain was smooth, you couldn’t climb it.”

I heard this statement the other day, and it really connected with me. It apparently connected with a lot of others as well because it became one of my most “re-tweeted” and “fav’d” tweets ever.

Let me unpack this statement while looking at it through a financial lens.

Have you ever experienced a financial cliff – a monumental financial challenge that was seemingly insurmountable? It could be paying for college, putting braces on your children’s crooked teeth, or fixing/replacing a vehicle. It might be the major task of obtaining a better job or starting a business. The financial cliff certainly presents a challenge, but overcoming it provides you an incredible sense of achievement and provides confidence like few other financial events can.

Perhaps you’ve reached a point where there are plentiful footholds and handholds and maybe even a path or two allowing you to move up the mountain at a great pace. This is when you can see the debt on the credit cards melting away and the vehicle is paid off.

Hopefully you’ve experienced a time or two where you’ve reached the pinnacle. A moment where you’ve stood on top of your financial challenges, having overcome them all. That’s the entire reason I started I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. – to help people achieve far more than they ever thought possible with their personal finances.

Of course, a look around while on the mountain top will reveal many other peaks requiring difficult climbs, but past successes will provide the fuel to get back to the top of those too.

Where are you at on your climb up your current financial mountain?

One Change Can Be The Catalyst For Life Change

I believe most people are one or two major financial decisions away from completely changing the trajectory of their financial future.

  1. Increase investment by $200 per month. If a 25 year old were to change their monthly investment by $200, it would change their net worth by $2,352,955 by age 65. (12% growth for 40 years).
  2. Eliminate all non-house debt. This usually reduces a person’s cost of living by $500 to $1,250 per month. Suppose an individual were making $750/month in payments. $750/month would equal $9,000 per year! If this were invested and received 6% interest for 20 years, it would be worth $346,531.
  3. Keep the paid-for car for an extra four years.  Suppose the monthly car payment were $359.96 (like my first car payment). If the $359.96 were saved each of the next 48 months, it would be worth $19,475 (at 6% annual growth). No more car payments for the rest of your life!
  4. Eliminate cable TV.  At $75 per month, this can add up to quite an investment. Suppose this $75 were placed into an investment for 30 years at 12% annual growth. This would be worth $262,122.
  5. Prepare a budget. When my bride and I prepared a written budget for the first time in July 2003, we discovered more than $500 was disappearing every month for “miscellaneous cash withdrawal.” This money was utilized to intentionally eliminate debt. In 14 months, all of our debt (except the mortgage) was eliminated. In 10 years 1 month, our home was paid off. Preparing a written monthly budget every single month has been a huge part of our financial progress.

What is the one change you could make this week that could completely change the course of your financial future?

It takes tremendous courage to make a change. It will require sacrifice. It is WORTH IT.

Valentine’s Day – 5 Reasons I Love My Family

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I love my family. To celebrate Valentine’s Day, I thought I would share 5 reasons I love them so much.

5 Reasons I Love My Family

  1. They are beautiful. My daughters look like their mother. My son has tousled hair and has such a tender heart for others. All three children have dark blue eyes. There is absolutely nothing like the love shared within a family. Amazing.
  2. They are fired up. From early morning to late at night, our house is a rolling circus. My bride prayed for a calm child while each of our children were in the womb. We’re still waiting for the calm child to appear because these three are FIRED UP!!!
  3. They believe in me. A person can’t embark upon a journey to launch businesses and travel the corners of the earth without the support of their family.
  4. We embrace crazy. We have decided to embrace crazy. From track and cross country practice and meets to preschool meetings to newborn doctor visits, life is crazy. It won’t get calmer anytime soon, so we’ve chosen to embrace these moments and enjoy them.
  5. They are each unique and special. My bride is organized. My oldest daughter isn’t organized, but she is amazingly creative – having her drawing selected as the school mascot and another design chosen for a sculpture placed in the school’s front lawn. My son is hard-charging and driven to complete projects – even at four years old. My newest daughter is still figuring out how she is going to melt our wallets, but has mastered smiling – in the cutest ways!

What are 5 reasons you love YOUR family? I invite you to share them on our Facebook Page.

I Just Can’t Do This Anymore

I just can’t do this anymore.

This statement summarizes the feelings many people have about money.

When someone says something like this,

They are NOT saying …

  • I’m unwilling to put in the effort necessary to win with money
  • I give up
  • I’m not responsible for for my financial situation

They are really …

  • Crying out for help
  • Frustrated or downright depressed about their current financial situation
  • Overwhelmed
  • Losing hope that it will ever get better
  • Begging for teaching and help that actually makes sense to them

This is why the I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. organization has always focused on providing PRACTICAL and RELEVANT financial teaching and resources. Here are just some of the resources you can take advantage of right now:

  1. Attend one of our live teaching events (see schedule HERE)
  2. Use one or more of our nearly 100 free financial tools (HERE like budgets, financial calculators, etc)
  3. Register for our FREE exclusive on-line teaching event coming on Sunday, August 25th – the “I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. LADDER” 9 Rungs to a Fully Funded Life event (REGISTRATION LINK)

Fired up to serve you!

Joe

Do You Manage Finances Like A Ceiling Fan?

I was putting my son to bed recently and turned on the ceiling fan in his room and observed something interesting. When I turned on the electrical switch, the fan went from a stop to a rapid spin. However, when I turned the electrical switch to the “off” position, the fan continued spinning for awhile. At first, it didn’t even appear to have been shut off, but then it began to slow down. Within a minute or two, it had stopped completely.

A tremendous financial lesson can be learned from this.

I see a lot of people who:

  1. Get FIRED UP about winning with their money (the switch is turned on)
  2. Make great decisions (like preparing a monthly budget, focus on building a savings account, begin investing, and start killing debt) that help them build financial margin and eliminate debt (the fan begins spinning)

But then they …

  1. Get over the initial emotional high (the switch is turned off)
  2. Stop doing the very things that began helping them – they stop preparing a budget every single month and let crazy expenses begin to creep back into their lives

But they don’t recognize that the switch is OFF because they are still seeing some debt being eliminated and savings are continuing to go up a little because of their previous good decision-making!

Before they know it the fan stops spinning, and they find themselves in the exact same situation they began with.

The reason my bride and I have won with our money over the long term is because we have focused on ensuring that the switch to financial freedom stays ON. Here are a few key things we do ALL THE TIME to keep the fan spinning:

  1. We prepare a monthly budget (use my free budget tools or App to do the same)
  2. We talk to each other about our finances each month – it is a great conversation!
  3. We make sure we save money every month – for emergencies, known upcoming non-monthly expenses, and our dreams
  4. We invest money every month – for college, future dreams, and retirement
  5. We give money away every month – it keeps us focused on the needs of others!
  6. We track net worth every month – it allows us to understand the bigger picture of what is going on in our finances

You CAN do this!

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An Open Letter to Business Leaders and Pastors

Dear Business Leader/Pastor,

As a leader, you encounter people who are in financial trouble. Statistics show that over 70% of Americans live paycheck-to-paycheck. OVER SEVENTY PERCENT!

What does this mean for you, and why should this matter?

For business leaders, it has been shown that people who are struggling financially have lower productivity, are prone to attendance issues, and are unsatisfied with their pay – believing their pay is the reason for their financial hardship.

For pastors, people who struggle financially also struggle spiritually. People are unable to give as they would like because of their financial situation.

I have a question for you:  What are you doing to financially equip your people?

Business Leaders: Do you just push their issues under the carpet and chuckle about the “OT” hogs? Perhaps you abdicate responsibility by saying, “We are a business, not an educational institution.” or “We can’t tell our people what to do with their money.”

Pastors: Do you teach about giving the full tithe, pushing non-givers into complete shame and guilt, without offering a way to make it happen? Do you share that “God says to ‘test me in this’”? or “Just give and God will make up the difference?”

WE MUST EQUIP PEOPLE! If we do not, who will? Marketers and salespersons providing a commercial to “buy our stuff and you will be happy” every six minutes!

I am on a CRUSADE to help people with their finances! I cannot simply stand by and watch others struggle with their finances the way I did! I cannot simply stand by and see others struggle KNOWING there is A BETTER WAY! I travel the planet to proclaim this, and I want to help you! Here are ways our team can help you:

Financial Learning Experience A 2 hour event, designed to fit your staff, congregation, and employee needs. It is a practical experience focused on the “how-to” of money management. It has been our honor to teach this to nearly 250,000 people over the past five years! Click HERE to start the conversation about a partnership.

Group Studies: I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. (for adults) and What Everyone Should Know About Money Before They Enter The Real World. (for high school/college students thru 20-somethings) Equip people to win with their money – regardless of their age! You can view the first video lesson and study questions for FREE by clicking HERE.

FREE TOOLS:  We have nearly 100 free tools via “Free Tools” and also offer a free App for Apple and Android products!

Keynote Speaking: It is quite an honor to be able to speak over 120 times per year! Click HERE to fill out a speaking request for your special event.

Contact us!

Are You Holding On To Financial Destruction?

As I was driving along a road one day, I saw a squirrel standing in the center of the road. He seemed to notice my oncoming vehicle, but was weighed down by a walnutt he was carrying.

As my truck bore down on him, he seemed to be working with all of his might to get off of the road to safety, but the nut was seriously slowing him down. In spite of the danger, he kept his firm grip on the nut.

I applied my brakes and had to swerve to avoid him. I’m happy to report that the squirrel got off of the road safely – with his nut.

I see people like this all of the time. They are holding on to something that is slowing them way down financially, but they just won’t let go of it. Unfortunately, many creditors and financiers do not swerve or apply their brakes to protect them.

The end result? They lose their financial freedom trying to hold on to the very thing weighing them down. Some common items that weigh people down are:

  • A car with a huge car payment
  • A huge house with a monster monthly payment
  • A boat payment for a boat that is used five times a year
  • A massive motorcycle payment

None of these are wrong. However, if it is weighing you down and putting you in danger of huge financial harm, it is time to let it go! Sell it, and liberate yourself.

Are you holding on to something that is weighing you down? Maybe it’s time to let it go – the truck is barreling down the road toward you!

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You CAN Do This!

Anybody who has ever participated in a Financial Learning Experience has heard me say, “You CAN do this!”

These words are throughout my books as well.

There is a reason for this – it’s because I truly believe it!

  • I know you have an excuse, but you CAN do this!
  • I know you have a reason, but you CAN do this!
  • I know you have endured struggles, but you CAN do this!
  • I know you have encountered unfair situations, but you CAN do this!
  • I know you may be old, but you CAN do this!
  • I know you may be young, but you CAN do this!

One of my brothers recently graduated college … he’s turning 50 this year.  It’s never too late to fulfill a dream.

Another brother went through significant challenges and military tours … he’s now a doctor.

I have a friend who was $85K in non-house debt and had received foreclosure papers on his house … he’s now debt-free.

I know a young lady who makes less than $1,500 a month, and will completely own her first house by the age of 25.

I KNOW that you may have a good reason/excuse for why you have yet to achieve a dream, but it does not negate the fact that you CAN still accomplish it.

QUESTION: What is the dream you need begin believing in again?

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Words That Describe Financial Freedom

I was thinking of words that describe true financial freedom.  Here is the list I came up with.

  • Margin
  • Opportunities
  • Hope
  • Responsibility
  • Blessed
  • Giving
  • Fun
  • Determination
  • Focus
  • Effort
  • Possible
  • Fired Up!

What words would you add?

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A Millionaire Response

Recently, I wrote a post that asked the question “What  would you if you had a million dollars?

A reader who identified herself as “KC” wrote an incredible response that I am sharing today (with her permission, of course).

… I will start out with our story. 10 years ago my husband and I were DEEP in debt. It took some very hard years and tough decisions (ie: no car in a northern city where it can snow any month of the year) and giving up some things that we thought were very important to us but… we are now out of debt and even better, we have that elusive 1 million dollars in assets and cash that you speak of.

What’s different? Nothing really.
Only a few lessons that I’ve learned:

If you didn’t tithe before, it’s unlikely that you will now. If you didn’t help your friends, it’s unlikely that you will now. If you don’t already save your money, it’s unlikely that you will now…

Basically I’m saying that unless you start to cultivate these things now, having a millions dollars isn’t going to change that. Your ‘mindset’ needs the change – and the money won’t change that.

I know some people who have nowhere near the million dollars that you speak of, and yet, they do all of these things and more.

With all due respect, you CAN take only $10 and gift it anonymously to someone who needs it more than you (and there is always someone in that position), you can tithe 10% of your income now, you can put money away for your child’s education now – even if it’s only $5, you CAN do all of these things.

Joe, I can understand the motivation behind your question, however I fear that it makes us forget what is truly possible right in front of us and in the situation that we are in right now.

When we were still climbing out of the deep pit of debt, some friends of ours found themselves in an even deeper pit. We helped them a little, anonymously, out of the little bit of money that we’d managed to stash away (leaving it almost at nil). But when I think back over the years, I recall that one over all of the other times that we have helped someone, that time felt as though we really made a difference to them and it made a difference to us.

Additionally, after achieving this momental moment, I’ve also learned something that I didn’t expect. When you ‘over-assist’ someone and they don’t have the joy of succeeding themselves, they don’t have the same joy in your gift. It feels like handcuffs to them. It creates an indebtedness that doesn’t belong in close relationships.

So… I guess that I am saying that a million dollars is not the be-all and end-all, it is simply one step on the many paths of being human.

- KC

All I could say when reading KC’s response was AB-SO-LUTE-LY and Amen sister!

What do you think?

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Shannon Sharpe Quotes That ROCKED Me

Recently, I was reading THIS BLOG POST written by Brian Dodd and was floored by two statements made by Shannon Sharpe as he was inducted into the NFL Football Hall of Fame.

Statement #1

“My grandmother never told me as I was getting to leave for Savannah State, ‘Shannon, don’t do drugs.  Shannon, don’t drink.  Shannon, go to class.  Shannon, do your homework.  Shannon, be respectful.  Shannon, iron your clothes.’  She laid that foundation for 18 years.  A 10-minute speech wasn’t going to work now.”

How this statement affected me:  This statement challenges me again to be the best father possible to my children.  My role is to teach, educate, and provide opportunities for my children to grow.  It encourages me to know that the hard-fought battles that every parent faces in raising their children WILL pay off in the future.  This also applies to many people with their finances. Ten minutes of good financial behavior won’t make up for 18 years of poor financial decisions.  It might be a good start, but it certainly can’t erase the results of years of financial mismanagement.

Statement #2

“I want a decent house…  I want to go bed one night, and I want God to let it rain as hard as He possibly can.  And I want Him to let it rain all night long.  I want to wake up and not be wet.” – Quote from Sharpe’s grandmother

How this statement affected me:  My life is so good.  I’ve never had to sleep in a house where I was concerned about the rain getting to me.  I HAVE slept in a tent one night during pouring rain and woke up in two inches of water – and it was MISERABLE.  I can’t imagine it being a fact of life.  Shannon honored his grandmother with this statement by recognizing the sacrifice she made so that he could be positioned to prosper.

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14th Wedding Anniversary!

Today is my 14th wedding anniversary!

14thJenn

We celebrated it early by taking a 7-day Southern Caribbean cruise with stops in St. Thomas, Tortola, Antigua, Barbados, and St. Lucia on the Caribbean Princess with Princess Cruise Lines – and the entire trip was INCREDIBLE!

On this very special day, I want to list the:

Top 10 Things I Love About Jenn Sangl

  1. Smart (dominated classes at Purdue University)
  2. Beautiful (gorgeous!)
  3. Puts up with me (a major chore)
  4. An incredible mother (to 2 beautiful children)
  5. Focus (anyone who knows Jenn understands what I mean when I say, “She’s in the zone.”
  6. Attention to details (I’m not so good at these)
  7. Adaptability (We’ve moved 5 times in 14 years – we’re done with that!)
  8. She’s the reason we’ve won with money (The budget was her idea!)
  9. Pursuit of God (anchored in the Word)
  10. Her laugh (hilarious when she has one of her “spells”)

Marriage is incredible!

Mark And Shawna’s Story

Many of you know that Mark Asbell is a huge part of this crusade to help others accomplish far more than they ever thought possible with their personal finances. He has been a tremendous help in growing this crusade at NewSpring Church and taking this message to the nation.

What you may not know is Mark and Shawna’s financial story.   If you want to GET FIRED UP and BE ENCOURAGED – take 3 minutes to watch their story:

If you can’t view the video, click HERE.

If your financial story were put into a 3-minute video, what would you say?

“And there will be a party.”   I’m going to that party!!!!

By the way, Mark writes a blog about money and relationships.   You can read that HERE.

GET FIRED UP!!!

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Ideal vs Real

I was speaking with Pastor Eddie Foster (Family Life Assembly of God – Katy, TX) recently, and he said something that was INCREDIBLE!

He said, “We need to understand the difference between what is IDEAL and what is REAL.”

This is an absolute truth for so many people when it comes to their finances.   Let’s explore this for a moment.

  • IDEAL You want to save $500/month
  • REAL You want to save $100/month
  • IDEAL Your spouse would love the budgeting process (and the math) as much as you
  • REAL Your spouse believes Satan L. Lucifer himself invented math
  • IDEAL You want to go to a 7-day Caribbean cruise that costs $4,000
  • REAL You have $1,000
  • IDEAL You make $100,000 per year
  • REAL You make $40,000 per year

I have seen many people become paralyzed because they do not have the “ideal” situation – so instead of doing what the CAN DO, they choose to do NOTHING.

Are you focusing too much on the “IDEAL” and allowing it to distract you from acknowledging what is “REAL”?

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Just Make It This Week

Many people who have been living paycheck-to-paycheck are overwhelmed by the situation.   They may not have the financial knowledge to get out of the horrible financial spiral OR even if they do have the knowledge, they are intimidated as to where to even get started.

Just make it this week.

Every journey begins with a first step.   Maybe what you need is to set a goal of making it ONE WEEK.

Just ONE WEEK of …

You CAN do this.   And it starts with making it just this week.

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