SERIES: Investing Fundamentals Part 1 – Diversify Yourself

Welcome to the latest series at – “Investing Fundamentals”  Investing is consistently rated by our audience as one of the most confusing topics they face. In this series, we are going to share some foundational principles that can really help you understand investing better!

One  Diversify Yourself

I’m sure you have heard someone say don’t put all your eggs in one basket. That directly relates to investing! A key step when investing is to diversify your investments. For example you should not put all the money you can into one company’s stock, instead spread your investment out. By spreading out your investment you greatly lower the risk of your investment.

You can research countless times where people have put a large portion of their money into one company only to have it fail, which means that they lost A LOT of money. Several people lost large sums of money when they only invested in Enron during the early 2000’s and then it went under. If these people would have diversified their investments they could have softened the blow.

An easy way for you to diversify your investments is to look into investing in mutual funds. A mutual fund allows you to purchase a portion of many stocks and bonds with the single share purchase so you are automatically diversified even though you have only bought 1 share! Also DON’T JUST THINK ABOUT STOCKS. Invest in a new business or a home that can be rented out. You don’t have to just think about the stock market when it comes to investments! You have a world of things to invest in! Real estate, land, new businesses, or even your own business.


  • Review your investment choices. Are they diverse?
  • Are you only investing in one type of company? If yes, take steps to address right away!
  • What other investments could you make outside of the stock market?


NOTE: This post contributed by IWBNIN intern – Craig Fatt

We’re Hiring!

I am so excited about what is happening through the I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. Team!  We have seen our dream literally become reality and EXPLODE (in a good way) before our very eyes!

With all of this growth, we need help.  I’m looking for 2 new team members who want to do life-changing and life-giving work, who live what we are teaching, and are passionate about helping others accomplish far more than they ever thought possible.

We are currently hiring the following part-time positions:

Systems and Curriculum Coordinator

  • Must be systems oriented
  • Must be highly organized and detail oriented
  • Thrives in rapidly changing environments
  • Loves serving customers
  • Has a working knowledge of MS Office, Social Media, and WordPress
  • Local to Anderson, SC

Download the full job description HERE.


  • Highly relational
  • Comfortable and effective in communicating on the phone and through email
  • Able to follow through on commitments
  • Detail oriented and results driven
  • Has knowledge of church administration
  • Local to Anderson, SC

Download the full job description HERE.

If you feel like either of these roles would be an incredible fit for you – here is what you can do to be considered:

  • Send your resume to:
  • Take the Synergist Styles Quiz HERE and send us your results
  • Include your twitter username
  • Give as many specific skill sets and abilities you possess that would allow you to excel in this role


It’s What You Do “In The Meantime”

When asked, most people will say it is their financial goal to “get out of debt” and “win with money.” However, many people remain stuck in a financial struggle for their entire lives.

Why do some prosper while others struggle? It is what they do in the meantime.

We are all affected to some degree with an “I want it now!” mentality, and in many cases, it is possible. We can decide to purchase a car, and it can be accomplished by the end of that very day. A new computer looks nice, and a simple swipe of a credit card will put it in our hands.

But getting out of debt and winning with money … That’s another issue altogether! These goals require time to accomplish. Time and “in the meantime” effort.

If you want to achieve debt freedom or become financially successful, here are some “in the meantime” actions to take:

  1. Obtain financial education  Through books, websites, blogs, conferences, classes, advisers, and other resources.
  2. Identify financial mentors  You need help from people who are several steps ahead of you on their financial journey.
  3. Avoid dumb financial mistakes  One or two weak moments “in the meantime” can derail all previous good financial decisions. Mentors help you avoid this!
  4. Establish a written financial plan (complete with goals)  Your written goals are much more likely to be achieved than those that are unwritten.
  5. Invest. Invest. Invest.  Compound interest substantially lightens the load! I like a well-diversified approach complete with stocks, bonds, mutual funds, ETFs, real estate, and small businesses.
  6. Build margin – money in the bank  There is nothing like money in the bank to make you become a financially confident individual and encourage you in your financial journey.

By the way, “in the meantime” is measured by years and decades, not days or weeks.

Remaining Broke Is A Choice

NOTE FROM JOE: I believe EVERY person can accomplish far more than they ever thought possible with their personal finances. You CAN win with your money!

Remaining broke is a choice.

The more I teach personal finances, the more I am convinced that “remaining broke” is a choice.

It is true that we can’t change our upbringing or our family. We also can’t change where we start financially. However, ALL of us can affect our financial future.

Every. Single. One. Of. Us.

Now many people will tell you a very convincing story of why this is just not true for them. Their story will be so compelling you will almost believe it yourself.

Here are some common excuses I have heard:

  1. “I just can’t find a job.”  What they are really saying is, “I can’t find the job I really want.”
  2. “Life just keeps happening to me.”  What they are really saying is, “I have earned lots of money over my lifetime, but I chose not to save any of it so I could be prepared for financial emergencies.”
  3. “My spouse won’t participate in our family finances.”  This is certainly a dreadful scenario, but it can AB-SO-LUTE-LY be overcome. I would spend every dollar necessary for the coaching and counseling necessary to help resolve the issues behind this! A huge motivator is the fact that while marriage is grand, divorce is at least a hundred grand! If we’re willing to spend tons of money to split a marriage up, we ought to be willing to spend the same to save it!
  4. “I am intimidated when it comes to money.”  There is a lot of truth in this statement! Learning about investing, insurance, and focusing on becoming a better money manager is challenging. Remaining BROKE, however, is much more challenging, so make the choice to overcome the intimidation and learn little-by-little. Over time (shorter than you think), you will become a GREAT money manager!

I stopped being broke the day I decided to make a choice to win with money.

If you are broke, make the decision TODAY to stop being broke. If you are not broke, stop and celebrate for a moment, and then share this post on Facebook and Twitter with those in your life who are struggling with this!

Get fired up!

10 Lessons Joe Sangl Learned While Paying Off His House

A few months ago, I was able to pay off my house. It took us 71 months from the day we purchased this home to pay it off.

We learned a lot along the way – some of it quite surprising to us. Hopefully, the lessons we were taught will help you in your quest to eliminate your home mortgage!

  1. It required laser-like focus.  Paying off our home required immense diligence. We did not just stumble upon this.
  2. We put off fun purchases.  We could have used the additional principal payment money to purchase a 4-wheeler (I really want one!) or upgrade our kitchen (my wife would love this!). We chose not to do this.
  3. Vision helped keep us on track.  We used the “Early Pay-Off Calculator” to see how additional principal payment money would speed us toward elimination of the mortgage. This provided vision of what really could happen!
  4. A goal motivated us.  Way back in December 2002, my bride and I set a goal to be mortgage debt free by January 2014. We did not know how that would happen or if it could even be possible. It was!
  5. Home repairs will compete with your focus on mortgage elimination.  As we focused on killing the mortgage, things in our house wore out. The paint on the exterior wood siding faded while we focused on mortgage pay-off. The dishwasher bottom was torn off by our toddler, the stove started “dinging” at random times, and the hot water heater stopped heating. If we had not completely eliminated the mortgage, the extra principal money would have been forced to be used on necessary repairs.
  6. My bride and I had to be on the same page.  I cannot imagine attempting to eliminate debt without my bride being 100-percent on board with it. There were times when I wanted to stop, and she was there to encourage me. At other times, she would want to slow down or quit. I would help remind her “why” we were doing this. I’m grateful for a bride who is an active participant in financial decisions – especially the major ones!
  7. It’s hard to stay focused when your house is going down in value.  Like many people, our home experienced a decrease in value. It can be very frustrating and demoralizing. However, these emotions do nothing to eliminate the debt obligation. This is when “put your nose to the grindstone” took on an entirely new meaning for us.
  8. Making it “visual” helped make it more fun.  We created a “Sangl Home Pay-Off Spectacular” (see one HERE). This allowed us to give a dollar value to each little square of our house. As we paid off a square, we were able to color in the square. It really helped us “see” the fact that we were making progress in eliminating this very large debt.
  9. Paying off your house will not eliminate all housing costs.  You will still be responsible for taxes and insurance. Repairs will be needed as well. We’re preparing for this by saving for these expenses every single month.
  10. This process makes you a better money manager.  This extended period of financial focus increased my financial prowess in ways I never expected. It extended my vision from “one month at a time” to “years into the future.” This has truly positioned us for an incredible financial future.

BONUS: Anyone can do this!  Having completed this process, I am more convinced than ever that ANYONE can do this. Yes, it will require encouragement and equipping, but it is indeed possible. It makes me more fired up to pursue the vision of I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. which is to help people accomplish far more than they ever thought possible!

Have you attempted to eliminate your mortgage? Maybe you already have? Share your lessons with us in the comment section!

Save, Invest, or Pay Off Debt?

Suppose you happened upon a substantial amount of money all at one time. For discussion purposes, let’s say it was $10,000.

What would you do with this money? There are really five options available to you:

  1. Spend it
  2. Give it away
  3. Put it into savings
  4. Pay off debt
  5. Invest it

Most people will be faced with this type of situation at least once in their life. Here are some thoughts to consider with each option.

1. Spend it

This would certainly be a fun option! The money could be used to make much-needed home repairs, purchase a vehicle, or take a vacation.

2. Give it away

Being able to give $10,000 away is an incredible option! Consider the impact you could make on the world around you by giving money to support causes you really believe in.

3. Put it into savings

Financial margin provides something I call “financial confidence.” When I first achieved financial margin, it was as if scales literally fell from my eyes. I was able to “see” opportunities like never before.

4. Pay off debt

Debt increases a person’s operating costs and requires more income. If the debt is associated with a no-value or declining value item, it is literally the equivalent of “robbing yourself.”

5. Invest it

What if you could use the $10,000 to start a business that will produce $4,000 of income each year for the next 40 years? Consider the investments you might be able to make – it could literally change your life!

Your thoughts are appreciated. What would YOU do?

Saving For Known Upcoming Non-Monthly Expenses

Everyone must save for three things: (1) Emergencies, (2) Known Upcoming Non-Monthly Expenses, and (3) Dreams

Of these three, it seems like saving for #2 – Known Upcoming Non-Monthly Expenses is the most difficult and creates the most issues with budgeting.

Here’s why Known Upcoming Non-Monthly Expenses create severe budgeting difficulty:

  1. They are non-monthly  Because of this, we tend to forget about them until they show up
  2. They are usually larger expenses  Property taxes, insurance premiums, Christmas, vacation, car maintenance and repairs, and insurance deductibles usually have larger price tags than typical monthly expenses
  3. We don’t save for the expenses monthly  We wait until the bill arrives and then we are forced to scramble in an attempt to pay for it

This is why I call these type of expenses “Budget Crushing Expenses.” You can avoid this stress entirely by creating a Known Upcoming Expenses saving plan!

Here’s a step-by-step way for you to eliminate “Budget Crushing Expenses” from your life:

  1. Download our free “Known Upcoming Expenses Calculator” tool HERE.
  2. Enter all your “Known Upcoming Expenses” into the tool – include the annual expense of each line item.
  3. Enter your “# of Pay Periods Per Year” into the tool – enter “12” if paid monthly, “26” if paid every 2 weeks, “52” if paid weekly, and “24” if paid twice each month.
  4. You have now calculated the amount you need to save out of each paycheck to ensure all of your Known Upcoming Non-Monthly Expenses are covered.
  5. BONUS STEP: Set up an on-line savings account (I use Capital One 360 – formerly known as ING Direct) and make your savings automatic. In other words, you can set up automated transfers to your on-line savings account. This allows you to “set it and forget it” and KNOW you’re major known upcoming non-monthly expenses are covered!

AUTHOR’S NOTE: I am paid monthly. I have set up a monthly transfer to happen on the 6th day of the month from my regular bill-paying bank account to my Capital One 360 account. It may not be the most exciting thing in life, but it is INCREDIBLE to know I have eliminated “budget crushing expenses” from my life!

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My 16th Wedding Anniversary

Today, my bride and I are celebrating our 16th wedding anniversary! These 16 incredible years have helped me come to one conclusion:

Marriage is incredible.

I cannot imagine doing life without Jenn Sangl. Since this is a website about personal and small business finances, I decided to prepare a list of the top 10 financial things I’ve learned about marriage.

Top 10 Financial Lessons I’ve Learned About Marriage

  1. One person is usually a saver and the other a spender. I’m the spender. My bride is the saver.
  2. Monthly budgeting improves marriage communication like few things can. Since everything in life either directly or indirectly involves money, the monthly budget meeting ensures we talk about it. I call this a monthly “trip” moment that ensures we have great conversation!
  3. My spouse is way smarter than me. She can cut through the details and put her finger on the root of an issue. I refuse to make any major financial decision without her complete buy-in. To do otherwise would be foolhardy – don’t ask me how I know this!
  4. Marriage is grand. Divorce is at least a hundred grand (dollars!).  I’ve seen marriages collapse and have seen the enormous costs the couple pays (both financially and otherwise). This is what makes us prioritize spending money on our marriage. We take vacations together. We visit with a “marriage and life coach” on a regular basis. We invest money in what is important to us!
  5. It is a federal law that my bride gets the better vehicle.  When we were launching I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. as a full-time business, I drove everywhere. It was a common joke within our team when I was booked to speak in California (we live in South Carolina) whether or not I was driving. The issue: I would take the good car and leave my bride with a “get-fired-up” 1997 GMC 1500. That ended quickly and abruptly.
  6. Children are a blessing AND they cost tons of money.  And there is nothing we would rather spend our money on!
  7. The difficult financial situations are the ones that have grew our marriage the most.  When I embarked into ministry from a corporate job – along with a 50-percent pay cut – my bride was with me “heart and soul.” The same was true when we embarked on launching I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. and we made so little money that we qualified for low income benefits (didn’t have to use them because we had SAVED and PREPARED for it, however). We have learned it is true – whether we have little or much, true joy comes from “contentment.”
  8. My bride provides trustworthy business counsel. Where else can you bear your heart and soul without fear of reprisal or backlash?
  9. Change is always occurring.  I managed the bill paying responsibilities for several years and then Jenn took over. A couple of years later with a middle schooler, a toddler, and a baby on the way, I took over bill paying again. This is what makes marriage work well – serving each other!
  10. Setting financial goals TOGETHER is way better than operating alone.  Way back in 2002, we established a goal to pay our house off by January 2014. We beat our goal by a year because we both OWNED the goal.

Those are some key financial lessons I’ve learned over my 16 years of being “Jenn Sangl’s husband.” Any financial lessons you’ve learned from your marriage you would add to the list?


Seven days ago, I entered I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. into a Facebook contest hosted by Transamerica, a major financial institution. The winner will receive the incredible cash prize of $4,500. As I promised in the video, our team would use this money to help us purchase and GIVE AWAY 2,500 copies of I Was Broke. Now I’m Not. to individuals who are struggling to make financial ends meet.

TODAY is the final day of voting. A common voting expression is “every vote counts.” It is true. We have many worthy competitors for this award with whom we have traded places on a near daily basis.

We really do need your help to ensure we have the absolute best chance to WIN.

If you have a Facebook account, here are the details about this contest and the quick steps you can take to vote for us:

  • WHAT: Transamerica Small Business Award (This is a banking, investing, insurance powerhouse)

HOW to vote:

  • 1. Click THIS LINK or copy & paste this link:
  • 2. If you have not voted before, you will need to “like” Transamerica’s page
  • 3. Click the red “VOTE” page next to the video I submitted (see image below):

Thank you for VOTING FOR US and for helping position IWBNIN to give away 2,500 books!

I’ll provide an update sometime tomorrow once all of the voting is over. THANK YOU!

Time To Vote Again – Contest To Give Away 2,500 Books!

I’m thrilled to say we have moved all the way from dead last in Facebook voting to first place! HOWEVER, we have strong competition from other worthy participants. We really do need your help to ensure we have the absolute best chance to WIN.

If you have a Facebook account, here are the details about this contest and the quick steps you can take to vote for us:

  • WHAT: Transamerica Small Business Award (This is a banking, investing, insurance powerhouse)

HOW to vote:

  • 1. Click THIS LINK or copy & paste this link:
  • 2. If you have not voted before, you will need to “like” Transamerica’s page
  • 3. Click the red “VOTE” page next to the video I submitted:

Thank you for VOTING FOR US and for helping position IWBNIN to give away 2,500 books!

10 Summer Fun Ideas That Won’t Break The Bank

Summer is an incredible time to gear down, rest, and renew relationships.

It is also a time that could break the bank if one is not very careful. To help you have an incredible summer without destroying the budget, we put together a list of fun ideas for you:

10 Summer Fun Ideas That Won’t Break The Bank

  1. Go camping in a tent  Or as one of my friends calls it: “Pretend to be homeless” :) I love tent camping!
  2. Take a vacation with family or friends and SHARE the cabin/house/condo/etc.  My bride and I have done this many times. It cuts lodging costs by half (or more) and allows us to hang out with our friends/family even more!
  3. Take up a hobby that doesn’t cost a lot. My friends play basketball once a week. I run with my daughter. Tennis costs next to nothing. Corn hole. Put on an art contest and invite your children and their friends to participate. Hike trails at a state park. Go swimming at a local park.
  4. Start a small business with your children. Ask them for their ideas. Choose one while teaching them the concept of value (what customers are willing to pay money for) and marketing/sales (no one will buy if they don’t know it exists). Sell the product/service on-line using a basic website (can set up through a basic free blogging service) and PayPal.
  5. Attend a play at a local community theater. If you volunteer to serve at several of their events, you can probably attend a show for FREE!
  6. Volunteer at a local food pantry or homeless shelter. This really costs nothing, and it allows you to serve those who are struggling!
  7. Go to yard sales, buy cool stuff, and sell on-line.  My children love discovering “treasures” on Fridays and Saturdays.
  8. Go fishing at a local pond or lake.  When I see my little son experience the thrill of catching a fish, touching it, and then tossing it back in the water – it is AWESOME! My daughter loves fishing too. And my bride catches some sun.
  9. Produce a home movie using a script written by your children. iPhones have HD video capability. Many iPads and nearly every MAC has iMovie which allows you to edit and produce the show. This really fosters creativity!
  10. Launch five helium balloons with your name and address and a note.  Ask the discoverer of the grounded balloon to write you back and tell you about where and how they found the balloon! You never know when you will hear back and from how far!

Any ideas you would add to the list?

UPDATE on “Giving Away 2,500 Books”

I’m thrilled to say we have moved all the way from dead last in Facebook voting to first place! HOWEVER, we have strong competition from other worthy participants. We really do need your help to ensure we have the absolute best chance to WIN.

If you have a Facebook account, here are the details about this contest and the quick steps you can take to vote for us:

  • WHAT: Transamerica Small Business Award (This is a banking, investing, insurance powerhouse)

HOW to vote:

  • 1. Click THIS LINK or copy & paste this link:
  • 2. If you have not voted before, you will need to “like” Transamerica’s page
  • 3. Click the red “VOTE” page next to the video I submitted:

Thank you for VOTING FOR US and for helping position IWBNIN to give away 2,500 books!

TV Fast – No Netflix – No Directv

This summer, my bride and I have decided to be crazy and shut off our TV.

Beginning Saturday, we paused Directv for two straight months. Beginning today, Netflix will be paused for two straight months.

While this will certainly help out the budget, we made this decision because of a much more important commodity: “time”

More specifically: “focused, uninterrupted, and undistracted time with the family”

I’ll spend my 15 minutes every day to check my 78 web sites using the Internet, of course.

Besides, baseball is boring and always equals a nap.

Have you ever done something like this? How did it go?

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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:
  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?