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?

LAST CHANCE TO VOTE and Help IWBNIN Win A Major Award

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: http://bit.ly/13nSCyu
  • 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: http://bit.ly/13nSCyu
  • 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: http://bit.ly/13nSCyu
  • 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: 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 SavingsYou 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?

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