Archive for April 2008

SAVE for the UNKNOWN emergency

There was a day that I was completely broke and had an average bank balance of $4.13.  It was awful living with no margin.  Anytime an issue cropped up, we had a problem AND a money problem.

One of the best things that Jenn and I did was save money into an emergency fund.  What can the money be spent on?  I am not sure …  I have NEVER spent the money!  Seriously, in over five years of having an emergency fund, we have never spent the money.

Did I have an emergency?  Well, others might have called them emergencies, but the Sangl household did not.  Let me list just a few of the events that have occurred.

  • Jenn had major surgery that blew up the $2,300 insurance deductible.
  • Ten months later, Jenn had to have the surgery AGAIN.  AND it was in another deductible year.
  • Power steering went out on the car.
  • Transmission went out on the truck.
  • The dryer died.
  • Huge leaky roof problem.
  • I had hernia surgery that blew up the $3,000 insurance deductible.

The Sangl household did not use the emergency fund for ANY of the above expenses.  Why?  Because they are not really emergencies!!!

Think about it this way.

  • Is it a surprise that humans get sick and need surgery?  NOPE.
  • Is it a surprise that cars break down?  NOPE.
  • Is it a surprise that an appliance breaks?  NOPE.
  • Is it a surprise that roofs will leak?  NOPE.

When I really think about it, I am not sure we will ever use the emergency fund but it is incredible knowing that it is there!

I wonder if HAVING an emergency fund in place scares off emergencies? 

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I Had A Blast In Suwanee, Georgia!

I had a BLAST carrying the crusade to Fusion Church (Pastor Tony McCollum) in Suwanee, Georgia!

In the morning service, I was able to share my story of walking out of financial mismanagement and into financial freedom.

Then, in the afternoon I was able to teach the Financial Learning Experience!  I LOVE teaching this class!  I get to teach THE TOOLS that Jenn and I used (and still use to this very day) to become financially free.  Every time that I teach these tools, I get all FIRED UP.  Why?  Because I know what it did for Jenn and me!!!

Thanks, Fusion Church, for allowing me the privilege to teach! 

Have YOU checked out the FREE tools?  Just click on "TOOLS" at the top right-hand corner of the page or click HERE!

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Save Money – Grow a Garden!

I love gardening.  I am a FREAK about gardening.  Seriously.

Every January, I start getting this glazed-over look in my eyes, and I have to really control the urge to pull out all of my seeds and start planting them.

Gardening can save you money on your grocery bill.  If you have no idea about gardening, then you want to keep it simple and small.  This will make it fun, educational, and keep things cheap.

If you are just starting out, I recommend the following plants for some sure-fire, tried and true producers.

  • Zucchini – You will feel like an expert gardener with this plant.  It will EXPLODE with fruit and you can't really mess this up.
  • Yellow Squash – Same as zucchini on ease of growing!
  • Tomato – Home-grown is WAY different than store-bought.
  • Bell Pepper – These plants love hot weather.
  • Cucumber – Great snacks and very easy to grow.
  • Green Beans – Yummy!
  • Snow Peas – These things are prolific producers and twenty vines will produce handfuls of peas every two days or so.  Great for stir-fry!
  • Sunflowers – Try the mammoth sunflowers that have flowers over 16" wide and stalks over eight feet tall.  The kids will have a blast watching these plants grow.
  • Radishes – From seed to harvest in about forty days.

I love my garden.  The great veggies PLUS the awesome flowers that are grown in it make it a very cheap hobby and a way to supplement the groceries budget in the summer.

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The Mutual Fund Series: Vanguard

Welcome to a new series at – The Mutual Fund Series.

During each part of this weekly series, I will be looking at a specific mutual fund company.

Today's company is The Vanguard Group.

Vanguard is one of the largest mutual fund companies in the world.  Based in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, they currently manage $1.3 TRILLION dollars for their clients and offer 150 domestic funds and additional funds in international markets.

What I Like About Vanguard

  • Target Retirement Funds.  Vanguard was one of the first companies to offer target retirement funds.  It is a fantastic idea to address the complete confusion that some people feel when making retirement mutual fund choices.  All one has to do is select their target retirement date and Vanguard will automatically shift the mutual fund to become less risky/volatile as one approaches retirement.  It really helps address the need to rebalance one's portfolio.
  • Very low annual expense ratios.  Vanguard is client-owned.  This means that the company is owned by those who invest with the company.  This results in Vanguard having the lowest management costs in the mutual fund industry.  The average expense ratio for their mutual funds is 0.20% (the industry averages around 1.50%).  This means that I get to keep more of the annual growth of my money.
  • Lots of mutual fund options.  With over 150 domestic funds and additional funds in the international markets, I have a lot of choice.  I like choices.
  • Full-service investment company.  Vanguard offers mutual funds, IRAs, Roth IRAs, 401(k) rollovers, 529s, ESAs, and brokerage services.

What I Would Like To See Improved At Vanguard

  • Lower "initial investment requirement".  Most of Vanguard's funds require an initial investment of at least $3,000.  This rules out a lot of beginning investors.  Of course, this is not a problem when someone is investing within the bounds of their company 401(k), 403(b), or other retirement plan where minimum investment requirements are usually removed.

Vanguard Mutual Funds I Own

  • I currently own one Vanguard mutual fund – Vanguard Institutional Index Fund [Ticker: VINIX].  I own this mutual fund as part of a 401(k).  You can see other mutual funds that I currently own by clicking HERE.
  • This mutual fund has a minimum investment requirement of $5,000,000.  The reason that I am able to own shares of this mutual fund is because it is offered as part of the company 401(k) plan.
  • It is a large-cap blend fund.

Vanguard Mutual Funds That I Am Considering Purchasing

  • Vanguard Target Retirement 2040 Fund [Ticker: VFORX]  This fund will automatically rebalance for me as I approach retirement.  I chose the 2040 fund because that is a target retirement year for me.  Vanguard has Target Retirement funds for every five year period from year 2005 to 2050.
  • Vanguard 500 Index Fund Investor Shares [Ticker: VFINX]  This fund tracks the performance of the S&P 500.  It has very low expense ratios.  It does need $3,000 to begin an individual investment.

What Vanguard funds do you own?  Do you have any Vanguard funds that you really like?  Dislike?

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Who I am learning about finances from right now

It is so important to continue learning about personal finances.  I thought I would share who I am learning about finances from right now. 

  • Clark Howard – his daily radio show
  • Dave Ramsey – his daily radio show (I've read all of his books)
  • CNN Money – I love the web site
  • Those I counsel – I learn so much from the people I meet with!
  • Mary Hunt – Her website (she has good books too!)
  • Those who write in questions/comments through the website – I love helping others work through their financial decisions!

That is how I am learning right now.

Who should I be adding to the list?

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