Series: Top 5 Ways To Gain Financial Margin – 2

We are continuing in this series of “Top 5 Ways To Gain Financial Margin” and this next part takes a little while, but it is SO WORTH IT!

#2 – Eliminate Debt

Most people have no idea just how much of their monthly income goes to service debt.  They have the obvious debt payments for their car or furniture, but they also have loans that are automatically paid via on-line bill-pay services or through payroll automatic deduction.

Do YOU know how much of your money is being sent to a lender each month?  If you have debt, I recommend that you stop right now and add it up.  The car, credit cards, student loans, 401(k) loan, furniture debt, personal debt owed to another person, and the house.  Seriously, use this tool to add up how much you owe total and the amount of money you are paying to the lender each and every month.

NOW – consider what life would be like if you were debt free.  ALL of that money would now be available to you to pursue so many other things and dreams.  You could bless your family and so many others in need.  And … you could breathe more easily.

Even just paying off a couple of debts can create substantial financial margin and breathing room.

Read entire series (available after 11/13/2011)

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SERIES: Top 5 Ways To Gain Financial Margin – 1

Welcome to the latest series on the wildly popular – “Top 5 Ways To Gain Financial Margin”

Financial margin is something we all want and need in order to stay focused on the far more important things in our lives!

#1 – Reduce interest rates on existing debt

This escapes many people because the interest rate of debt is usually “out of sight – out of mind”, but it could very well be the greatest one step you could take to gain financial margin.

I highly recommend that you use our free tool – the “Actual Cost of Debt calculator” to determine just how much your debt is costing you – be sure to find out your actual interest rates so that the numbers will be accurate.

Here are two areas I where I see people save tons of money by reducing their interest rates.

  1. Mortgage Interest Rate  For every $10,000 finances, a 1% reduction in interest rate will save $100.  So if you have a $150,000 mortgage and could lower your interest rate by 1%, you will save $1,500 per year in interest – $125 per month!  I encourage you to use CNN’s Refinance calculator to see what refinance deals would work best for you.
  2. Credit Card Interest Rate  This is where I typically see ridiculous interest rate charges that are simply not necessary!  Consider $6,000 in credit card debt at 21.99%.  That will result in interest charges of nearly $1,300 a year.  This is why I am such a fan of 0% Balance Transfer Credit Card offers and maintain a list of offers on this website.  If that $6,000 of debt were moved to a 0% balance transfer credit card offer, that incredible amount of interest would actually be applied to debt reduction!

Here are other areas to look at – vehicle loans, medical debts, furniture loans, personal loans, payday loans, 401(k) loans, and any type of loan where interest is being charged.

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Top 5 Ways To Gain Financial Margin – Margin Defined

It is helpful to explain the word “Financial Margin” – as I speak of it anyway.

I define Financial Margin as:

  • Money that has been saved up and allows one to encounter financial obstacles or opportunities without derailing one’s entire finances and life.

I also define Financial Margin as:

  • Money that is intentionally set aside in each month’s budget to be placed into savings for emergencies, known upcoming non-monthly expenses, and to fund dreams.

Or more directly, Financial Margin can be defined as:

  • The ability to breathe and not panic when the car breaks down.

When you have SAVINGS set aside and are intentionally putting more to the side every month, it allows you live life on a mission without EVER being distracted by a negative financial event.

How would YOU define Financial Margin?

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Top 5 Ways To Gain Financial Margin

Lots of people are looking for financial margin these days.  They are SICK of living paycheck-to-paycheck.  They want to be able to have at least a little fun during the month.  There are expenses that have been put off way too long – things like home and car repairs.

I want to help you have that margin!  Life with margin allows you to live life on a mission.

Top 5 Ways To Gain Financial Margin

  1. Reduce interest rates on existing debt
  2. Eliminate debt
  3. Increase income – through pay increase, overtime, or 2nd job
  4. Sell possessions – especially those that have ongoing expenses
  5. Start a successful business

Over the next several blog posts, we will be discussing each of these items in more detail.

How much FINANCIAL MARGIN would you like to have 12 months from now?  Share it with us!

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Wants Vs. Needs – What We Can Learn From The Greece Debt Crisis

I was listening to the news broadcast coverage of the Greece debt situation recently, and here is how the information was being delivered in all of the coverage.

  1. Greece has a debt problem
  2. Because Greece is part of the “Euro Zone”, this means that the “Euro Zone” has a problem
  3. Because French and German banks are heavily vested in Greek banks and debt, they stand to lose the most if Greece defaults
  4. In order for the “Euro Zone” countries to “bail out” Greece, the government and citizens of Greece must accept restrictions and cuts – so-called “austerity measures”
  5. The Greek government and citizens don’t want these cuts and restrictions

My response (out loud many times) has been, “OF COURSE, you don’t want cuts and restrictions – NO ONE does!  BUT your economy is BROKE and everything has been financed and leveraged to oblivion – with OTHER PEOPLES MONEY!”  Based upon recent data I have seen, nearly 95-percent of Greek debt is owned by foreign entities.”

Let’s explore this in terms that we can all understand better.  Suppose you let your neighbor borrow $10,000.  Then your neighbor spent all of the money with no real plan for repayment, and when you approached them for repayment, they said, “But if I pay you back all of the money I borrowed from you, I will have to reduce or cut out some of my lifestyle.  I’m not willing to do that.”

How would that work for you?

I have said it 10,000 times if I have said it once. The day I stopped whining and complaining and started taking the tough and difficult actions necessary to get my financial house in order is THE DAY that I started winning with money!

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Who Needs Rules?

I have a very energetic nephew who is exceptionally smart and very strong-willed.  He is known throughout our family for his energy, enthusiasm, and strong will.

He was recently playing a game and began gaining a significant advantage – by violating the rules of the game.  He was told, “That’s against the rules.”

His priceless response?  “I wasn’t playing by the rules.

This response reminds me of so many people who are completely broke.  They KNOW the rules, but they choose to ignore them.  Here are some fundamental money management rules that are regularly and routinely ignored.

  1. Spend less than you make
  2. Save money for a rainy day
  3. Give money away
  4. Plan your spending BEFORE you actually spend
  5. A budget will allow you to maximize your money
  6. Invest money every time you receive money
  7. Save for emergencies
  8. Save for known upcoming non-monthly expenses
  9. Save for dreams
  10. Always ask for a better deal
  11. Pay cash for items that drop in value
  12. Avoid debt that will strangle your plans, hopes, and dreams
  13. Maintain healthy financial margin

What rule do you wrestle with the most?  What rule(s) would you add?

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Sangl Home Pay-Off Spectacular – November 2011

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

Here’s this month’s update!

Total Squares:  2,426

Paid-For Squares:  1010  1030

Squares Remaining:  1416 1396

% of House Owned By The Sangl’s:  41.6% 42.5%

% of House Owned By Wells Fargo:  58.4% 57.5%

Here is the updated Sangl Home Pay-Off Spectacular (click to view large size)

We paid off nearly 1% of the house this month.  I never thought I would be so excited to accomplish 1% of anything!  My bride and I are so excited to have so much momentum, and we look forward with anticipation to each payment each month.  You can do this too!

How are you doing on YOUR house pay-off spectacular?

If you do not have one, you can get one here => Pay Off Spectacular – House.

Read previous Sangl Home Pay-Off Spectacular Updates

Stop Whining. Start Doing.

When things are going poorly with money, it is easy to fall into a cycle of “whining” instead of “doing.”

This means that they have substituted an “h” for one of the “n”s in “winning” – they move from “winNing” to “wHining.”

Have you ever noticed that whiners rarely win?  Think about it.  Name ONE whiner who is a consistent winner.

We all have times where we descend into “whining.”  That is when we have to make the CHOICE to STOP WHINING and START DOING.

Don’t know if this is helpful to anyone, but it was helpful to me!

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That Old Broke Feeling

A crazy thing usually happens when I ask people if they have ever been broke before – nearly ALL of them have been absolutely broke in the past.

They tell me about it, and they usually are smiling as they tell their story.  That is, unless they are still broke.  If they are still broke, there are no smiles – only tears, anger, humiliation, frustration, and agony.

It does not have to be that way.  That’s why I do what I do – helping people free up their finances and equipping them to fund their plans, hopes, and dreams.

Do you remember when you were broke?  Share your story with us in the comments!

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What’s Next After Debt Freedom

I meet a lot of people these days who are in the midst of their pursuit of Debt Freedom.  I call it a “Debt Freedom March.”

They have used a tool like our Debt Freedom Date Calculator to calculate their Debt Freedom Date, and they have realized just how much of their money is going to a bank or lender.  For the average family with non-house debt, somewhere between $500 and $1,250 per month is being paid in monthly payments.  If you include the house payment, that average amount is between $1,250 and $2,000 or more per month.

For those who remain focused and diligent, debt freedom is achieved, and it is incredible!

Then the inevitable question shows up – “What’s next?”

If you are one of those who is asking this question, here are a few things to consider using the newly-released money for:

  • Pursue a dream
  • Give more away to causes you really believe in
  • Build a larger emergency fund
  • Invest money into a dream
  • Invest money into someone else’s dream
  • Reward yourself with a purchase of something you’ve always wanted

What other things would you recommend using this money for?

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Teaching Young People About Money

I taught over 500 young people about money at West Ridge Church in Dallas, GA recently, and it was INCREDIBLE!  I was teaching from my book, What Everyone Should Know About Money Before They Enter The Real World.

Here is what stood out to me:

  • They were very energetic – but also paid attention very well
  • The compound interest example captured ALL of their attention – even the 6th and 7th graders!
  • Young people dream more than adults
  • Their dreams are much less impacted by the potential financial cost
  • They are just more passionate about life – period!
  • Most of them are more aware of money and money issues than the young people I was teaching five years ago.  I think the global recession has caused this generation to truly pay attention to money.
  • They clearly know that it is EZ™ to win with money!


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Financial Basic Training

I distinctly remember attending my brother’s graduation from basic training in the Army.  After a long car ride, we finally pulled up at the wonderful Army establishment known as Fort Leonard Wood.  My father got out of the car and went to find out information about where and how we were to meet up with our brother.  After quite a while, my father walked out with a mean looking man dressed up in Army fatigues.  This man looked like he could personally kill a tiger and an elephant at the same time with his bare hands.  He was squared away, and built like a brick house.  Muscles rippled on his arms, he had huge shoulders, and his uniform was immaculate.

Then he spoke to me.  It was my brother!  I had absolutely no idea that it was him.  You see, my brother was always chubby.  He left for basic training with some flab and really long curly blonde hair.  Just a couple of months later, here he was – a fine-tuned, fit, and ripped member of the US Army.  The change was so dramatic that I literally did not recognize my own brother!

If you feel like your financial situation is out of shape, maybe it is time to send your money to basic training!  My brother told me that the first thing that happened was that they took all of his possessions and handed him the clothes and equipment he would need.  It was very basic.  The nice things like his cassette player (they were awesome in the 80’s) and candy were taken away.  Applying this to your finances, this means it might make sense to look at everything you have and consider what is really necessary.  It is incredibly freeing for many people to sell unused and unwanted items and “de-clutter” their lives.  This allows you to focus on what is most important.

As soon as my brother arrived at basic training, he was being instructed in a new way of thinking.  Everything was focused on training him and his fellow troops to be the absolute best soldiers they could possibly be.  This required a lot of training.  This training required intense focus and expert teachers.   When was the last time you took a class or read a book on the subject of personal finances?  Seek out financial experts.  Buy their books.  Attend their training.  Listen to their radio shows.  Read their blogs.  Find financial mentors in your life that can help you learn how to become incredibly personal financially fit!  Becoming great at money management won’t usually “just happen” – it requires attention.

Eight weeks of intense training converted my slob brother into a disciplined, fit, and forever changed leader.  If you choose to put your finances through basic training with the same intensity, eight weeks could forever change your financial future.

Free Credit Report

In this day and age of identity theft, it is vitally important you monitor your credit report.

You can get a copy of your credit report FREE (not a misleading statement like so many of those TV commercials you see that say “offer implies enrollment in a fee-based credit monitoring service).  The for-real-free credit report is available at:

According to their website … is a centralized service for consumers to request free annual credit reports. It was created by the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. provides consumers with the secure means to request and obtain a free credit report once every 12 months from each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies in accordance with the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act (FACT Act).

Be sure to download your credit report from each of the big three credit reporting companies – Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.  A lot of the information will be repetitive, but it is important to check out all three.

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Margin Survey Results – Personal Feedback – Part 2

The margin survey response was incredible, and the most compelling part for me was the personal responses that so many of you shared in the “Share your thoughts on what you can do to add more margin to your life” section.

Over the next couple of days, I wanted to share some of the feedback.  Would love to hear YOUR thoughts on these comments!

  1. “Time is always precious and hard to manage. It’s easier to manage money. For relationships, I think you have to ask the significant other, rather than yourself.”
  2. “I could delegate tasks to others; however, that is difficult when you’re a bit of a control freak!”
  3. “Work on becoming debt free. I have so much debt if not for my relationship with Christ I would run and declare bankrupt. It is so sad that I have ignored the wisdom God has tried to send and now I see and it is so overwhelming.”
  4. “Let God direct my schedule and priorities as opposed to assuming I know what they are”
  5. Say NO!!!
  6. “I honestly have no clue how to stop all the mistakes we are making. It is so painful and it just keeps happening…”
  7. “Add more hours to the day.  Plan my day better.”
  8. “Think about what’s important to me and “rank” everything.  Then allocate my time / finances accordingly.”

It has really been quite overwhelming to me to read all of these responses.  It has affirmed why I do what I do.

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Santa Read “Funded And Free”

While I was at Catalyst Conference in Atlanta, GA this past week, I got to meet Santa.  He asked me what I wanted for Christmas, and I said, “All I want for Christmas is for Santa to read Funded And Free.”

Santa made my wish come true.

I’m ready for Christmas!

Your church leadership team can be greatly blessed by Funded And Free.  If 5 or more copies are ordered HERE, the price is automatically discounted by 50%!  Upon successfully placing an order, a free copy of the “Funded And Free NEXT STEPS Guide” will be included at no charge!

74 days until Christmas …

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