Your Click Will Help Us Give Away 2,500 Books!

I’ve entered I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. into a contest being sponsored by TransAmerica. It is a contest where business owners share their “It’s Real Now” Moment – the defining moment where they realized their business had moved from dream to full reality.

The winner of the award will receive $4,500 to help build a better tomorrow. When I saw the details of the contest, I knew we had to enter it because we would use this prize money to help us buy and distribute 2,500 books for people who are struggling financially.

Here’s how you can help – VOTE for us on the TransAmerica Facebook Contest Page. Here’s the steps:

  1. Click THIS LINK or copy and paste this address: http://bit.ly/13nSCyu
  2. “LIKE” the TransAmerica page
  3. My video and story will appear along with a red “VOTE” button (see image below)
  4. CLICK the red “VOTE” button
  5. HUGE NEWS: You can VOTE once every 24 hours! PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE vote once a day between now and the end of the contest on Friday, June 7th!

NOTE: You will be offered the opportunity to share the fact that you voted with your friends list. It would be great if you did share it, but you could hit “cancel” on the following screen and it will record your vote without sharing it on your FB page.

Thank you for VOTING FOR US and for helping us give away 2,500 books!

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When Credit Scores Are Dumb

I recently went through a process that required my credit score to be checked. When I received it, I had to laugh out loud.

My credit score was extremely high, but there were reasons it wasn’t “perfect.” These reasons were listed on the document, and they furthered my belief that credit scores are a pretty dumb way to measure “financial healthiness.”

Here are some of the reasons my credit score wasn’t absolutely a perfect score:

  1. Lack of recent installment loans (I paid my house off in January!)
  2. Lack of long-term credit relationships(I paid off all my non-house debt in February 2004)
  3. Lack of credit accounts (Duh!)

Think about this for one minute. Most insurance companies establish premium rates based in large part on credit scores. Many employers check credit scores of potential employees.

Here’s what you must know: Your Credit Score would be more aptly named if it were called a “Debt Management Score.”

Your credit score has NOTHING to do with:

  1. The amount of money you have in a bank account
  2. The amount of money you have invested – for college, retirement, or dreams
  3. Other assets you own
  4. Your overall net worth

When people modify their behavior to keep paying debt payments “just to keep their credit scores high” – THAT is financially dumb behavior.

Your thoughts?

This One Trick Can Change Your Financial Status

Do you feel “stuck” financially? If so, this one trick can change your financial status.

Think in terms of NET WORTH instead of INCOME.

It can become easy to focus only on current circumstances. If asked, “How are you doing financially?” by a close friend or family member, an “income” thinker might respond with these type of answers:

  • Raises “I got a raise!” or “I haven’t gotten a raise in three years.”
  • Income “I’m making more money than I ever have.” or “I’m making half of what I used to make.”
  • Outgo  “Costs keep going up up up!” or “My kids are eating me out of house and home.”

BUT if you move to another level of financial awareness, your answers would be much more focused on building net worth instead of income. Responses of a “net worth” focused individual would be similar to:

  • Assets  “I purchased another rental home. It was cash flow positive from day one, will be paid off within five years, and will then provide free cash flow, after expenses, of around $600/month for the rest of my life.”
  • Liabilities  “I paid off my home mortgage. This has freed up substantial income I am going to use to purchase more assets.”

The INCOME approach can take a negative “victim” turn where financial challenges are the result of something or someone else. The NET WORTH approach allows you to take control of your financial future.

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Money Switching Pockets

In life, we all can get so busy that it becomes difficult to look beyond our daily activities. The demands of our schedule seem endless: work, children, hobbies, exercise, church, board meetings, and family make it feel virtually impossible to carve out time to think about the future.

But the past has proven one key fact to be true: The future is coming.

By making great financial decisions along the way, your financial future will be incredible.

One key financial principle we must always remember is what I call the “money switching pockets” investment.

Suppose a person purchases a house and does so by obtaining a $150,000 mortgage – 4% interest, 180 months (15 year), monthly payment of $1,109.53.

It can be easy to think, “I have a bill of $1,109.53 every month.” and just think that money has disappeared just like the power bill money. BUT it didn’t all leave you – some of it just switched pockets!

You see, some of that money did disappear – that was the interest portion of your investment, but the principal payment money switched pockets. It is still your money, it is just in a different pocket called “home equity.” When you sell the house, you will be able to transfer that money into another pocket (like your bank account)! In this example, in just the first month of the repayment period, $609.53 of the $1,109.53 payment just switched pockets! That means your effective monthly housing cost was $500!

Just by paying regular monthly payments for the first five years, you will increase your “switching pockets” money to $744.24 per month and reduce your monthly housing cost to $365.30!

This is why it is so important to own assets that increase in value. Not fully convinced yet about this “money switching pockets” principle? Consider a National Association of Realtors statistic that the average homeowner’s net worth is 41 times greater than a renter’s net worth!

Understanding this makes that monthly mortgage payment a lot more tolerable, doesn’t it?

PS: It gets even better when the house is paid off and you have no payment at all!

Have you checked out our FREE TOOLS lately? There are nearly 100 of them – and FREE!

1% Hugely Affects 99%

I’m a runner. I absolutely love it. If you follow me on Facebook or on Twitter, you’ve surely seen status updates related to the topic.

Over the past year or so, I’ve been using an app called RunKeeper. This App tracks each of my runs via GPS and records other cool information such as: average pace, pace per mile, total calories burned, total miles run, etc.

After a recent 4.00 mile run (in 31 minutes 32 seconds for an average pace of 7:53/mile and burning 505 calories – thanks RunKeeper!), I noticed that this app also tracks another great statistic: “Total Time Spent Exercising – This Month”

In April, it says that I spent 3 hrs 18 mins 59 secs exercising. To say it another way – of the 720 hours in April, I spent 0.461% of that time exercising.

Less than 1%.

And I am extremely fit as a result.

Here’s the lesson: What I do with 1% of my time GREATLY AFFECTS the other 99% of my time!

The same is true for your finances. If you spend less than 1% of your time each month preparing a budget and planning your giving, saving, investing, and insurance, it will GREATLY AFFECT how you will be able to live the other 99% of your life.

How about the following proposal for an approach at life?

  1. Spend 1% of your time exercising
  2. Spend 1% of your time planning your financial decisions
  3. Spend the rest of your time on awesome things like living a physically, relationally, spiritually, and financially healthy life!

Get fired up!

Joe

How Can I Help People Become Better Investors?

“How can I help people become better investors?”

That is the question I’ve been asking myself lately. As most of you know, it is my passion statement to help people accomplish far more than they ever thought possible with their personal finances. And “accomplishing far more than you ever thought possible” is IMPOSSIBLE without learning and using investment knowledge.

I want to make sure our team can serve you best so we have prepared a brief survey to learn a little more about this awesome group of people we call the “I Was Broke. Now I’m Not.” Tribe. By the way – we’re honored to have you as a part of it! Below is an 8 question survey. Would you help us out by taking 2 to 3 minutes to fill it out? Your feedback really matters, and I would be so grateful!


 

Free Personal Finance Tools

It is my passion to help people accomplish far more than they ever thought possible with their personal finances. One key way I am able to help fulfill this personal mission is to offer outstanding personal finance tools for FREE. If you haven’t checked them out in awhile, you really should! They are located HERE.

On the Tools page, you will find:

  • Budgeting Tools  Monthly, Bi-weekly, Bi-Monthly, Weekly, and Irregular income planning worksheets
  • Debt Tools  Debt Freedom Date calculators, Actual Cost of Debt calculators, and Early Pay-off calculators
  • Saving Tools  Known, Upcoming Non-monthly Expenses calculator, Savings account balance tracking tool, and investment calculators
  • Spectaculars  You just have to check them out – especially the Llama Pay-Off Spectacular

These are the very tools my bride and I used to win with our money – eliminating our non-house debt in 14 months and our house debt in less than 6 years!

There are nearly 100 tools – and all of them are FREE. Get yours NOW and take charge of your money!

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I Love My Budget

I love my budget.

There. I said it. If you are a spender like I am, you know that this statement is an amazing one.

You see, as a spender, I didn’t like the word “budget” because it cramped my style. It made me say the word “no” too often. For some reasons, the word “budget” made me think of being broke.

But I love my budget because NONE of those beliefs were true.

Here are the top reasons I love my monthly budget:

  1. My marriage.  It ensures I meet with my bride every single month to talk about life and how our money needs to be managed to support it
  2. Debt eliminated.  Using the budget, we eliminated all of our non-house debt in 14 months and our house debt in 10 years and 1 month (so we can live without payments)
  3. Savings! Our budget allowed us to clearly understand what would be necessary to build savings
  4. Giving! We get to decide where we will give money each month (it’s our favorite part of budgeting)
  5. It provides control. In a world where everything seems to spiral toward chaos, it is awesome to know exactly what is going on with our finances

Why do YOU love YOUR budget?

Don’t have one? Just click HERE to access our free budget tools.

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On-Line Banks – Why I Use Them For My Savings Accounts

If you have ever heard me speak or teach about saving money, then you have undoubtedly been introduced to on-line banks. I’m not talking about banks that have websites but about banks that have little to zero physical “bricks & mortar” locations.

I’m talking about banks like Capital One 360 (formerly ING Direct) and Ally Bank (built on the base of GMAC).

Here’s why I use on-line banks (over a local bank) for my savings accounts:

  1. Better interest rate On-line banks pay interest that is generally 5 to 8 times more than a local bank savings account (somewhere near that of a 2 to 3 year CD) – but it doesn’t affect the liquidity of my money
  2. Sub-Accounts If you have a regular savings account, all you can see is a total amount of the money the account currently contains. With on-line banks, you can create something called “buckets” or “sub-accounts” to give every dollar a designated name! This means you can create sub-accounts like “Christmas”, “Emergency Savings”, “Vacation”, “Life Insurance”, etc. See the example screen shot below from my Capital One 360 account. You can click the image to see a larger version. This makes it so much better!
  3. Automatic Savings You can establish automatic transfers from another existing bank account. In the example I show below, I have set up automatic transfers for my emergency fund, YMCA annual membership, House taxes and insurance, Christmas, and life insurance premiums. It is a “set it and forget it” approach to savings that is awesome!
  4. Customer Service  Because these banks only have an on-line presence, they have to be INCREDIBLE at customer service, or people would not even know about them. Every interaction I have had with my on-line banks has been an incredibly positive experience.
  5. FDIC-insured  These banks are insured by the FDIC – just like any other bank. That means your deposits are protected. I like that!
  6. No fees  There are no fees unless you exceed the monthly allowable transactions (or something extraordinary like that)
  7. No MINIMUM balance  This makes it perfect for any and every saver.

I encourage you to check them out: Capital One 360  and Ally Bank.

Set a savings goal. Then establish an automatic savings plan to help you accomplish it!

Do you use any of these banks? What do you like about them most?

Disclosure

And Baby Sangl #3 is a …

GIRL!

Over the past several weeks, lots of people shared their “vote” on what they thought our new addition was going to be.

The results of the vote were:

  • 59% said GIRL
  • 41% said BOY

2 to 1 said “GIRL,” and you were right!

Ribbons and curls. My Little Pony. Bows. Little sundresses.

A baby sister for her big sister.

My heart is full.

And my bank account is trembling.

Can’t wait to meet this beautiful blessing!

How 0% Balance Transfer Credit Card Offers Work – And Save THOUSANDS of Dollars!

NOTE: I wrote this post to help people who are paying high interest on their credit cards. I maintain a running list of 0% Balance Transfer Credit Card offers HERE.

Here’s a fact: Many people possess credit card debt they are unable to pay off each and every month.

They want to pay it off each month, but they are unable to. As a result, they feel stuck. The interest rate being applied to their credit card balance is one of the primary reasons they feel that way.

0% balance transfer credit card offers provide a way to eliminate a credit card debt very quickly and can provide HUGE savings over keeping a balance on a high interest card.

Here’s an example:

  • Credit Card Balance: $16,000
  • Interest Rate: 21.99%
  • Minimum Payment: 1% of balance plus interest charges (or $10 – whichever is greater)

If this person were to keep the balance on this card, they would pay $44,895.36 and take 36 years 4 months to eliminate!

By transferring the balance to a 0% transfer offer and making the same payment, they would pay $17,039.51 TOTAL (only $1,039.51 in interest and fees) – and they would be free of credit card debt in 49 months!

Rolling a high interest credit card balance to a 0% balance transfer credit card offer SAVED $27,855.86 and become debt free 387 months (32 years and 3 months) sooner!

Here’s the process of how this type of offer works:

  1. THE OFFER  An offer and application for a zero percent balance transfer credit card is completed ON-LINE or through a mail-in offer.  During the application process, the applicant is asked if they wish to transfer a balance.When this option is selected, the application process includes the opportunity to provide information regarding existing loan balances that they wish to be transferred.  This requested information is detailed including – current provider, account numbers, and loan balance.It is important to understand that the application process requires the applicant to provide their social security number and that a credit check will be performed.Once the application is submitted, a decision is typically rendered within a time range of a few minutes to a few days.
  2. THE EVALUATION  Once the application has been submitted, the credit card provider evaluates the information provided to determine credit-worthiness.  This evaluation is completed based upon several factors that vary between lenders.  It always involves a check of one’s credit score and the loan amount requested.This evaluation also ensures that the person listed on the application is really the person requesting credit.  This is an extremely important step to prevent identity theft and fraud and should make the applicant feel much more comfortable with this process.
  3. THE DECISION  Once this evaluation is complete, a decision is rendered.  The lender’s decision will be one of three alternatives:
    1. ACCEPTED:  ALL of the balances to be transferred to zero percent
    2. ACCEPTED:  SOME of the balances to be transferred to zero percent
    3. DENIED:  NONE of the balances will be transferred

    If ALL of the balance transfer requests are accepted, the new credit card provider will send money directly to each of the lenders.  Within a few short days, the balances due each previous lender will be lowered by the requested amount and that new balance will transfer to the new card provider.

    If SOME of the balance transfer requests are accepted, the new credit card provider will send money directly to some of the lenders.  IT SHOULD BE NOTED that it varies between lenders on which balances will be accepted.  On one of Discover’s applications, it stated the following in their terms and conditions:

    “We process multiple balance transfers in the order they are requested on the application. Your credit line may be less than the amount of balance transfers you request. In addition, balance transfers may be limited to a portion of your credit line. If a balance transfer will exceed the credit available for a balance transfer, you authorize us to process any balance transfer for less than the amount requested, up to the amount of your credit available for balance transfers.” – SOURCE: Discover’s website

    If NONE of the balance transfer requests are accepted, then it means that requested balance transfers will not occur and the current lenders will remain the owners of each debt.

That’s how this type of offer works – hopefully it can help you save tons of money!

Disclosure

SERIES: How To Win With Money – Part 9

Welcome to another series here on the wildly popular I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. website. We’re passionate about helping YOU win with your money. In this series, we are going to be talking about a practical, step-by-step plan that you can use to take your finances to the stratosphere!

How To Win With Money

9.  Live a great life!

When you have accomplished Levels 1 through 8, you have positioned yourself to fund all of the amazing dreams and plans you have for your life. It allows you to be generous, provide in an amazing way for your family, and fund dreams you hardly dared to give breath.

Utilize your wealth to bless the poor and serve the less fortunate. Recognize that life is fleeting and that a life lived serving others and in the service of others is amazing. Ensure that you teach your children to apply the levels so that an inheritance will bless them instead of ruin them. Take no pride in your financial status as it will only amplify who you are anyway.

Have a blast with life! Life is amazing. And awesome. And wonderful. It is worth being FIRED UP over! And it is way too short to live it financially broken.

Read the entire series (available after 4/20/2013)

SERIES: How To Win With Money – Part 8

Welcome to another series here on the wildly popular I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. website. We’re passionate about helping YOU win with your money. In this series, we are going to be talking about a practical, step-by-step plan that you can use to take your finances to the stratosphere!

How To Win With Money

8.  Place at least 30% of your gross income into tax-advantaged investments.

Now that you’ve eliminated all of your debt – including your house and business debt, you have nearly reached the top of the ladder of winning with your money. At this level, you are now positioning yourself to prosper like few others choose to do. You have become an elite manager of money. Everyone can do this, but not too many are willing to make the few (but tough) decisions necessary to do so! In general, it takes between seven and ten years to move from Level 1 to Level 8.

Invest money into tax-advantaged holdings. It is important to pursue diversification to protect the investments to protect against a massive loss. Many people have achieved Level 8, but became so enamored with a particular investment (such as Enron) that they disregarded the importance of diversification and fell from Level 8 back to Level 1! After all, this is not about greed and hoarding. It is all about funding goals – your plans, hopes, and dreams.

Consider a 40 year old couple earning a combined income of $50,000 per year who has arrived at Level 8. They are now able to invest at least $15,000 per year. Suppose they already had $60,000 saved up because of their efforts in Levels 3 and 6. If they invest $15,000 per year from age 40 to age 66 and gain 12% annual growth, they will have $4,000,156 at retirement. That is with zero pay raises for 26 straight years.

Level 8 positions you for the final level on the “How To Win With Money” Ladder. It’s the best one of all.

Read the entire series (available after 4/20/2013)

SERIES: How To Win With Money – Part 7

Welcome to another series here on the wildly popular I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. website. We’re passionate about helping YOU win with your money. In this series, we are going to be talking about a practical, step-by-step plan that you can use to take your finances to the stratosphere!

How To Win With Money

7.  Pay off house (and business debt)

This is a level that marks a “major milestone” for most people. It is the goal of most people to retire with zero debt including their home. It provides a sense of security and accomplishment like little else will.

Utilize extra income and “found money” to eliminate the mortgage. There are several simple steps you can employ that can have a major impact on the velocity of your pay-off.

  1. Make a half-payment every two weeks Because there are 52 weeks in a year, this will result in 13 full payments each year. This can eliminate around 5 to 7 years on the average mortgage.
  2. Each year, use tax refund to make one extra payment toward principal This will accomplish very close to the same as option #1
  3. Pay extra money toward principal each month  Use our early pay-off calculator to help you figure out how many months you can shave off your mortgage!

When you eliminate your final debts, your monthly cost of living has usually been reduced by 50% or more. This accomplishes two things:

  1. It provides more financial security
  2. It makes your investments last twice as long because you now require only half of your previous need.

By the way, I paid off my house by age 38, and I promise you this is an incredible feeling.

You can do this!

Read the entire series (available after 4/20/2013)

SERIES: How To Win With Money – Part 6

Welcome to another series here on the wildly popular I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. website. We’re passionate about helping YOU win with your money. In this series, we are going to be talking about a practical, step-by-step plan that you can use to take your finances to the stratosphere!

How To Win With Money

6.  Place at least 15% of your gross income into tax-advantaged investments.

At this level, you truly begin to change your entire financial future. You have built savings, initiated investing, and eliminated all non-house, non-business debt. It is time to build wealth in a big-time way. You might call this “the dream funding” level.

Consider your annual gross income that you expect to receive this year. Multiple that salary by 0.15 to calculate your Level 6 investing goal. Suppose your gross income is going to be $40,000 this year. This means that your goal is to move at least $6,000 into tax-advantaged investments. Imagine how much this could grow to be after doing this year after year!

This money will be used to fund your big-time dreams and goals that you established way back at Level 1! This includes funding college for your child(ren), retirement, blessing others financially, dream vacations, and other items that are very important to you.

It is important to note that this 15% investment of gross income does not include any match you may receive from your employer. Whatever they may contribute is above and beyond the 15% goal.

Consider the following example:

  • 28 year old parents earning a combined income of $50,000 commit to follow this process
  • They achieve Level 1 (set goals) and Level 2 (save $2,500) in three months by using their tax refund
  • They achieve Level 3 (invest enough to capture company match in retirement account) one month later by contributing $100 per month and their employer matches with another $100.
  • They achieve Level 4 (become debt free except house) over the next 3 years
  • They achieve Level 5 (save 3 months of expenses) in another 8 months
  • They are now 32 years old and have arrived at this level – Level 6 – and begin to invest $7,500 (15% of gross income) into tax-advantaged accounts.
  • They receive another $3,000 in matching contributions from their employer making their total annual investments equal $10,500 per year (or $875/month)
  • They invest this amount every year until they are 66 (for a total of 34 years)
  • Because they started investing in Level 3, they have been investing $200 a month for 32 months. This investment is already worth $7,499 at age 32!
  • Using this $7,499 and assuming an annual growth rate of 12% with monthly contributions of $875/month, their investments will be worth $5,418,542 at age 66.

Get. Fired. Up!!!! By the way, this assumes that this couple never received a pay raise for 38 straight years.

Any doubt that this process will help you win with your money?

Read the entire series (available after 4/20/2013)

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