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Air Conditioner

July 28th, 2008 at 11:54 am

I have written before about the fact that I have a thirty-year-old house that has thirty-year-old house problems. One of the problems is that the downstairs AC is the original AC for the house.

Problem 1 - January 2008
It was making a "banging" sound.

Diagnosis: Low on refrigerant - $75.

Problem 2 - May 2008
It was not cooling at all, and it was making a loud electrical "HUMMMMMMMM" sound.

Diagnosis: Condenser unit fan was not operating - $200+

Problem 3 - June 2008
It stopped cooling again. It was a day before vacation so I decided to have it looked at when I got back home two weeks later.

Diagnosis: Electrical wiring insulation had worn through and was shorting out the fan - $105

So we are back to enjoying the nice cool air conditioning in the dead-middle of a South Carolina summer.

I wonder when I will have to replace this unit? Part of me wants to bury my head in the sand and hope that it runs another thirty years. The realistic side of me says I should go ahead and start pricing out units. Initial looks have shown a cost of $5K - $7K. Just what I want to spend my money on an air conditioner.

Why do I bring all of this up? Because it is so important to look ahead when preparing a financial plan. Jenn and I could pretend that this issue does not exist and then have a financial "emergency" when this AC really does fail permanently. In the past (when we were always broke), we would ignore this issue and then be surprised when it failed. Now, we recognize it as a known, upcoming expense, and we plan for it.

I do hope that it lasts another thirty years, though.

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Received: Another Shipment Of Books

July 21st, 2008 at 10:11 am

Last month, I wrote that I ordered more copies of I Was Broke. Now I'm Not.

I have now received that order of books.

I have to say I was stunned. STUNNED.


Let me go back to January 2006

It had been about two years since Jenn and I had become debt-free, and it was becoming very clear that we needed to go teach this personal finance stuff full-time. I really felt compelled to write a book that shared our journey out of debt and into financial freedom.

That last line I just wrote is FUNNY. I mean laugh-out-loud HA-HA FUNNY. I had never written a book. How does one write a book? What about copyrighting? What about barcoding, LCCN, and all of that stuff? What about the editing? Not to mention the formatting, editing, and PUBLISHING! I was totally intimidated.

I remember that Jenn and I made the trip down to NewSpring to visit Perry, Ken, and friends for New Years weekend. Perry and Ken had starting doing this new thing called blogging. I quickly realized that this was a way for me to start getting my thoughts written down on paper. At that time, I did not care if anyone read this blog. It was simply a tool for me to get my thoughts down on paper to possibly use in a book some day.

Fast forward two years later to January 2008. I took a HUGE leap of faith and self-published the book - I Was Broke. Now I'm Not. Let me break down what "self-published book" means. It means that I paid cash to a book printer to print this book. In other words, a publisher did not lay out the cash for me. Jenn and I had to lay out the cash. Lots of it.

We took a chance. We took a step of faith.

Fast forward to today and why I am so STUNNED. This week I received the same amount of books that I ordered in January. When I stacked the new delivery of books next to the first shipment, it DWARFED the first set. Why? BECAUSE SO MANY PEOPLE HAVE BELIEVED IN THIS CRUSADE! I am blown away, humbled, and very honored that so many people have invested in this crusade by purchasing a book. I am blown away and humbled by the kind words that have been shared by people whose lives have been impacted by what they have learned and applied through the book.

For all who have invested in this crusade, thank you. I am overwhelmed that I get to do this stuff for a living.

4,000 Miles, Big Fish, and Mount Rushmore

July 8th, 2008 at 12:01 pm

Recently, my family loaded up the car and embarked on the longest vacation we have ever taken - for two weeks.

We journeyed through the following states: South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, and South Dakota.

The first key stop was a week at a fishing cabin in northern Minnesota. I won all of the big fish contests (pictures below to prove it).

Northern Pike

Walleye (my biggest walleye ever)


After the week in northern Minnesota, the family traveled to a couple of family reunions in Iowa and then we traveled over to the western edge of South Dakota with the ultimate goal of visiting the Badlands, Custer State Park, and Mount Rushmore. The vacation's top moment was the Independence Day Fireworks at Mount Rushmore. Everyone needs to experience them at least once.

What a great vacation! Lifetime memories were made. Lots of time was spent with family. We all got to rest.

Best of all - it was paid for in cash before we ever left. There is NOTHING like a vacation that does not have debt following it home. You can learn how to save for Known, Upcoming Expenses like vacation and Christmas HERE.

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Sangl Home Pay-Off Spectacular - July 2008

July 7th, 2008 at 04:20 pm

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: WAS 743 IS 748

Squares Remaining: WAS 1683 IS 1678

% of House Owned By The Sangl's: WAS 30.6% IS 30.8%

% of House Owned By Wells Fargo: WAS 69.4% IS 69.2%

Here is the updated "Sangl Home Pay-Off Spectacular" (Click on the picture to view the larger version)

You can read about how Jenn and I stopped being broke, and won with money in my book, I Was Broke. Now I'm Not.

Deadlines. Deadlines. Deadlines.

June 18th, 2008 at 06:12 am

Observed on a sign

"God please help me through this totally self-imposed deadline."

I have many times implemented a self-imposed deadline and allowed it to create stress in my life.

Deadlines are good. But when the deadline prevents me from ensuring that I do what is URGENT AND IMPORTANT first, then it is terrible.

Are you working on things that are URGENT AND IMPORTANT today or are you allowing all of the self-imposed deadlines to rule your schedule?

Perhaps the Time Budget - By the Half-Hour or Time Budget - By The Hour from the TOOLS page will help you take control of your schedule again!

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New Savings Spectacular! Emergency Funds

June 17th, 2008 at 07:17 pm

After numerous requests, there is now a Savings Spectacular for Emergency Funds!

If you are saving for a $1,000 Emergency Fund or a $2,500 Emergency Fund, we have the forms for you!

Savings Spectacular - Emergency Fund One Thousand Dollars

Savings Spectacular - Emergency Fund Two Thousand Five Hundr...

Color in the squares as you purchase financial freedom for your family!

If you have a request for a Savings or Debt Pay-Off Spectacular, share in the comments, and I will get one prepared for you.

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New Series Starting Tommorrow (and other news)

June 12th, 2008 at 06:31 am

A new series will be appearing tomorrow. It is called "YOU Answer The Question." It should be a blast, and I hope that you will participate!

Other news
* The comments for the Debt Freedom Marches this month were great! Thanks for being so supportive of these three couples who are sharing with the world their own successes and struggles as they march toward financial freedom.
* I ordered more copies of I Was Broke. Now I'm Not. last Thursday. I cannot believe what has happened with this book. To all who have purchased a copy, I am so grateful! It is my goal to have taught 100,000 people by October 2011. I count each copy sold as a person taught. It is my passion to help others accomplish far more than they ever thought possible with their personal finances. This book is just one avenue that allows me to do this!
* The I Was Broke. Now I'm Not. Home Group Study is progressing well! I am so PUMPED about this study because it allows folks to go through the book and APPLY this stuff with the people that they are doing life with. That is where real life change can happen! We are still on target for a release of this material by the end of July.
* This crusade to help others with their personal finances is jumping to an entirely new level. I am really looking forward to the next couple of months!

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Sangl Home Pay-Off Spectacular - June 2008

June 9th, 2008 at 06:47 am

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: WAS 739 IS 743
Squares Remaining: WAS 1687 IS 1683
% of House Owned By The Sangl's: WAS 30.5% IS 30.6%
% of House Owned By Wells Fargo: WAS 69.5% IS 69.4%

Here is the updated "Sangl Home Pay-Off Spectacular" (Click on the picture to view the larger version)

Jenn has retired to be a stay-at-home mom again. This will certainly impact the Sangl Home Pay-Off Spectacular, but it was important for the Sangl Family to make this decision. I am so proud of my bride for making the tough decision to be a stay-at-home mother again. It is hard to say goodbye to a great job and a great income, but this was the right decision for the Sangl Family right now.

We do know this: Because we have a written spending plan, we will not have to worry about incurring a pile of debt because of this decision. We will, in fact, be able to continue to attack the mortgage. All because we have a written plan that we follow! I LOVE THIS STUFF!

How are you doing on YOUR house payoff spectacular? Don't have one? Get yours here => Pay Off Spectacular - House.

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You can read about how Jenn and I stopped being broke, and won with our money in my new book, I Was Broke. Now I'm Not. It is available via PAYPAL, AMAZON.COM, or BORDERS.COM.

Lessons from the AC failure

June 5th, 2008 at 01:35 pm

With both cooling units failing in my house over the past week, I have learned a lot about heat pumps.

I thought I would share a few things that I have been told. Feel free to correct me if I am wrong!

* Loud electrical buzzing sounds coming from the exterior unit are not normal and should be looked into right away.
* If you have to put both hands right against the vents to see if air is blowing out, and you still have to guess whether or not it is blowing out air - it's not!
* If you use your electronic thermostat to adjust the temperature more than two degrees, you will be activating the emergency heat strips in the wintertime. This is horribly inefficient and be prepared to fork out a ton of cash to cover that cost.
* Heat pumps work most efficiently when they are set at a temperature and left there.
* The cool air blowing out of the vents should be at least twenty degrees less than the outside air temperature.
* It is great to have friends and family who work on HVAC for a living!
* It is probably best to have a thirty-something year old HVAC unit inspected at least once each year.

Any other lessons I need to learn about the AC?

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So Thats Why

June 4th, 2008 at 07:33 am

I have a thirty-something year old house. It has thirty-something year old house problems. One of those problems is the fact that it still has its original HVAC units.

Now, the average American would go through life with $4.13 in the bank account and no margin for life to happen. "Life Happens" events like the HVAC unit going out. Luckily, Jenn and I stopped living with blinders on and have saved for such events.

So here is the story.

In February, I received a MONSTER electric bill. My reaction was like, "OH MY GOODNESS! I could color in a ton of squares on the Sangl Family Home Pay-Off Spectacular if I did not have this huge electric bill." So I did what anyone would do, I lowered the temperature of the thermostat and said to myself that we would just be a little chilly. Well, we FROZE for the month of March and received another MONSTER electric bill.

I said to myself, "This sucks. I am FREEZING and paying a ton of money on this stupid electric bill."

Luckily in April it warmed up nicely here in SC, and I was able to turn off the HVAC units. I have been able to leave them off until this week. On Monday night, it was over eighty degrees in the house and humid. So I cranked on the AC and went to sleep. When I woke up in the morning, it was still smoking hot.

Uh oh.

I called my father-in-law who does HVAC for a living, but he lives far away. He told me to do some stuff, but all of it would involve me electrocuting myself so I decided to call my local friendly repairman (who also happens to be in my home group).

A short survey of the situation revealed that the condenser fan was not spinning. Thus the large electrical buzzing sound that has been coming out of the unit since FEBRUARY. Did I mention that it was buzzing since FEBRUARY? Oh, I guess that sound was important to note.

Turns out that I heated my house with the emergency strip heating for two straight months instead of the heat pump. Turns out that consumes enormous amounts of electricity. Turns out it consumed a lot of my budget for two months.

A few hundred dollars later, we are nice and cool again. With thirty-something-year-old units. It might help to know that I have money saved up to replace these units when they totally fail on me.

Do you have margin in your life to absorb "Life Happens" events?

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You can read about how Jenn and I stopped being broke and won with our money in my new book, I Was Broke. Now I'm Not. It is available via PAYPAL, AMAZON.COM, or BORDERS.COM. You can read the Introduction HERE.

PODCAST: I Was Broke. Now Im Not.

June 3rd, 2008 at 05:44 am

I do not know if you have checked out the "I Was Broke. Now I'm Not." podcast recently, but perhaps you should.

Top Five Reasons to check out the podcast
1. It averages seven minutes in length. Never longer than ten minutes.
2. I always answer a question asked by one of the readers.
3. I always share a success story sent in by one of the readers.
4. It is free.
5. You might hear me yell, holler, and scream because I am so FIRED UP about what is happening through this crusade!

To subscribe to the podcast via iTunes, click HERE. If you do not have iTunes, you can download a mp3 by clicking HERE.

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FOLLOW UP: How Do I Stop Being Impulsive?

June 2nd, 2008 at 05:36 am

I really feel like it would be helpful to follow up on this because this is such a common part of all of our lives! We are ALL impulsive. It seems to be different things for each of us, but we all have a case of impulsiveness every now and then.

I wanted to share some of the feedback that was sent in via the comments or from the "E-mail Joe" link.

* Let there be TIME between the "I WANT THAT!" moment and the actual "Purchasing Decision" moment. The more time between the two moments, the clearer the decision will be.
* Let there be ADVICE from someone you trust and wants to see you prosper. If you are married, this is your spouse!
* Let there be A WRITTEN PLAN that spends all of your money on paper every month BEFORE the month and money arrive. When you have personally helped prepare the spending of your money on paper, you are much more aware about whether or not you can afford the "I WANT THAT!" item.

Great conversation! I wonder if any of you out there would share some "near misses" where you almost made a horrible, snap-judgment financial decision but you did not. What helped you make the decision to back out? How does it feel now as you look back on the situation?

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Clear Thoughts At 35,000 Feet

June 1st, 2008 at 04:52 pm

When I worked in Corporate America, I flew a lot. A LOT. My primary travel path was Chicago to San Diego and then across the border to Tijuana. That plane ride was over four hours long. You might not like that long of a flight, but I loved it. I could get so much work done!

With most of what I do today, I travel via car. However, I traveled via plane last weekend to teach the Financial Learning Experience at C3 Church in Orlando, Florida. I had forgotten how awesome it is to be on a plane at 35,000 feet.

I had such clear thoughts! I was working on yet another revision of the I Was Broke. Now I'm Not. home group study that will be released in late July. The thoughts were so clear. I was on my game! I got so much done!

I wonder why flying allows me to think so much clearer?

I suspect it has something to do with the fact that nearly all of my normal distractions are removed (e-mail, friends, cell phone).

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How Do I Stop Being Impulsive?

May 29th, 2008 at 05:50 am

I was teaching the Financial Learning Experience here at NewSpring Church on Tuesday evening this week, and I had a gentleman raise his hand and ask this question.

"How Do I Stop Being Impulsive?"

My answer? I don't know to stop the impulsive nature, but I DO know how to control my impulse to spend recklessly.

I am a SPENDER. I am the type of person who would go out and accidentally buy a truck. I am a spender to my very core. I like buying things.

Here are some steps I have taken that helped me reign in my impulsive spending nature, and it has allowed us to win financially!
* Written Spending Plan Putting together a written spending plan EVERY month before the month begins using the budget forms that are available on the TOOLS page. Jenn and I do this EVERY month before the month begins. Did you catch that? EVERY month. It reinforces the fact that we cannot flippantly spend our money and expect to succeed.
* Cash Envelopes I am an impulsive spender, but even I will not impulsively spend money on the electric bill. I won't impulsively purchase gasoline. I don't impulsively send extra money to the cable company. There are some things that I am not going to impulsively spend money on. However, there are some things that I am VERY impulsive about. Items like groceries, dining out, clothes, spending money, and entertainment. I can go through some money really fast with these items! Since I KNOW that I am impulsive for these spending categories, I use cash envelopes. At the start of the month we add up the amount we have put in the budget for these categories. We then pull that amount out in CASH. The rule is that we can not pull more money out from the bank AND we can not use the ATM or debit card. I can not overspend cash.
* Chopped Up Credit Cards You may pay yours off every month, but the vast majority of Americans do not. I was part of the vast majority, and I had to admit that I was a completely LOSER with credit cards. I ran those stupid things up three different times. STUPID with them. They really catered to my impulsive nature. So I did what had to be done and applied the scissor blades to them and shut the accounts down.

If you are a fellow spender, what have you done to control your impulsive spending habits?

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You can read about how Jenn and I stopped being broke, and won with our money in my new book, I Was Broke. Now I'm Not. It is available via PAYPAL, AMAZON.COM, or BORDERS.COM.

Wagon Bruises

May 28th, 2008 at 06:30 am

Have you ever started something new that you really wanted to stay committed to?

Diets, budgets, exercise, prayer, earlier bedtime, more time with spouse/children.

We start off so great. We can't be stopped. In the gym by 5AM. No chocolate for a month. Asleep at 10PM. Prayed every day for a week.

THEN life happens. Our favorite show is on with a one-hour special. The ice cream truck came by. The snooze button was found. We get busy, life happens, and we fall off of the wagon.

I regularly counsel folks who have fallen off of the wagon with their finances. They are so crestfallen. So sorrowful. So frustrated. Maybe even depressed.

"What should we do?" they ask.

Get back on the wagon!

Put together a new spending plan. Recalculate the debt freedom date. Figure out what caused you to fall off of the wagon in the first place and seek ways to prevent it from happening again.

I know that YOU CAN DO THIS! I was able to do it. You can too! Anyone who has read I Was Broke. Now I'm Not. knows that I include a line at the end of each chapter that says "I believe in you!" You CAN do this.

Here are some common reasons for wagon bruises (develop when one falls off of the wagon).
* No emergency fund. This is the number one cause of wagon bruises. If there is no protection from "life happens" events, one will be highly susceptible to wagon bruising.
* Not saving for KNOWN, upcoming expenses. We know that Christmas is coming. That property taxes will come due. We know that the car WILL break down and that the tires will need replaced. Whether one saves for these expenses or not, the KNOWN, upcoming expense will still occur.
* Spouses not on the same page. If both spouses are not on the same page financially, it can really lead to some severe wagon bruising.
* Bad case of "I-Want-This-Now-Itis". If one can not say "NO!" when tempted to blow the spending plan, it will cause a financial mess.
* Lack of accountability. This really affects single folks a lot. There is no one to say, "Maybe you should reconsider that decision." It is really easy to overspend when there is no accountability.

Have you ever fell off of the wagon? Share how bad the wagon bruises were and what you did to get back on the wagon.

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Things That Humble Me.

May 27th, 2008 at 07:01 am

Jenn and I were coming back from teaching the Financial Learning Experience recently, and I looked in the back seat and saw this.

Yes. That is my daughter reading a copy of my book. Very humbling.

Flash forward a few nights. I go upstairs and see my daughter lying in bed reading the book some more. Here is the conversation.

Me You reading the book again?

Her Yeah. I think it is so funny how you had so much debt and Mom did not.

Me You think that is funny?

Her Yes! You caused all of the debt problems.

Me Yes I did. But I stopped spending money, and we became debt-free.

Her Yeah, but you still caused all of the debt problems. That's funny!

It was so humbling, but I am so FIRED UP that I was able to say the "we became debt-free" part!

Yes, honey, Dad messed up with money, but I woke up one day, shouted "I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!", and we marched out of debt and into financial freedom.

Melea, that is why Dad is on a crusade. I am on a crusade to help as many people as I can get out of their financial mess and achieve financial freedom.

I Love It When People Are Real!

May 22nd, 2008 at 11:20 am

I know that many times, we feel like we need to wear the mask. The one that says everything is perfect, nothing ever goes wrong, and I have never struggled with anything.

It seems that when it comes to finances, most of us want to wear a mask. The mask that says "We are doing fine." One that says, "I am doing better than you are." Maybe one that says, "I have a lot of money. More than you. No, WAY more than you."

The mask that says, "I am doing well financially." even though one is financed up to their eyeballs.

Ultimately there is the truth. The truth is that over 70% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck. If they miss ONE paycheck, they will fall behind on one or more bills. The truth is that somewhere around 20% of Americans are not only living paycheck-to-paycheck, but they are already behind on one or more bills.

The truth trumps the mask every single time, and I love it when people get real.

When they say, "I HAVE HAD ENOUGH!", and embark on the quest to take control of their finances. When they realize that they CAN win with their money, and they seek knowledge on how to do so. I love it when they get so real that they invite their friends, family, co-workers, and neighbors over to the house for dinner and then show them how to put together a budget that works.

I LOVE IT when that happens!

There was a day that I felt like I needed to show everyone that I was doing really well financially, but the reality was that I had an average bank balance of $4.13. I dropped the pose (PRIDE), said "I STINK at this!", and I went and got help.

Dave Ramsey absolutely rocked my world with his 7 Baby Steps. You can click HERE to print your own copy!

Are you being real about your financial situation?

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:-Funny:-:Not Funny-:

May 21st, 2008 at 07:17 am

Funny, but not funny cartoon from CartoonStock.com - The TRUTH about pay raises at many corporations.

"That $20 paycheck deduction is for new benefits - like the $10 raise you just got."

ARGH. You can't put enough spin on that statement to make it look pretty!

Has anyone experienced a similar situation where you received a "raise" and then an increase in benefit costs that completely vaporized the raise and then some?

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I Had A Blast In Orlando!

May 20th, 2008 at 06:20 am

I had a blast teaching the Financial Learning Experience in Orlando, Florida at C3 Church! I was blown away by the hospitality shown to me by their pastor Byron Bledsoe and executive pastor Barry Leathers. Totally blown away.

They were completely prepared for the FLE, and the crowd showed up ready to learn. It was awesome!

C3 Church - you guys rocked! I can't wait to hear the stories of debt freedom and dreams that are achieved all because you guys put together a plan to accomplish EXACTLY what you have been put on this earth to do.

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Budget = School Lunch Canned Peas?

May 19th, 2008 at 12:13 pm

I went to my daughter's school to eat lunch with her on Wednesday. I was hoping for pizza, but instead it was chicken strips. I thought the chicken strips were good - especially when coated with honey mustard sauce. I was VERY disappointed when I saw that the side item was canned peas. Most people had received lima beans (which I am able to stomach - a little), but the kitchen ran out of lima beans. They ended up serving the rest of us the canned peas.

Of the twenty or so kids at my daughter's cafeteria table, only one ate their peas. I managed to eat one bite. It was AWFUL!

Many people believe that preparing a budget and living by it is the equivalent of eating canned peas. They might even try it a little bit, but they will hold their nose while doing so.

Budgeting does not have to be that way. It is nothing more than telling your money what to do BEFORE the money ever shows up! When you have a written plan for your money, it has a much better chance of going exactly where you wanted it to go.

Think of it this way. Would you hold a birthday party for your child without ensuring there was enough cake for each of their friends? No way! Would you invite guests over for dinner and wait until they were there to think about what you should prepare for them? Never!

So why would one wait until all of the bills show up before even thinking about how the money should be spent?

You can get started with your own budget TODAY by visiting the TOOLS page. They are FREE! You can prepare a weekly/bi-weekly/bi-monthly budget with the Weekly Budget Form (Excel). If you have enough saved up in the bank to pay all of your bills once a month or you are paid once each month, you can use the Monthly Budget Form (Excel) budget.

Have a blast as you make your money behave! Take it from a huge reformed spendaholic, a budget is THE WAY that Jenn and I won with our money. It is not the equivalent of canned peas.

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I Was Broke. Now Im Not. 1,000 Books Sold!

May 18th, 2008 at 01:38 pm

I am BLOWN AWAY at the fact that as of May 4, 2008, I Was Broke. Now I'm Not. cleared 1,000 books sold.

I am stunned, humbled, and honored. One of my life goals was to write a book and sell at least one copy. I thought that maybe I could talk my mom into buying a copy if that was what it took to sell one. Moms always want to see their kid's achieve their dreams.

But for some reason people have bought the book.

Here are some of the reviews written by some different folks who bought the book:

* Kem Meyer wrote a review HERE.
* Rob Singleton gave a copy away HERE to the person who shared the funniest/dumbest financial decision they ever made. Be sure to read all of the comments below that post. It was incredible!
* Lori Capace shared her thoughts HERE.
* Paul Neel wrote a post HERE.

To everyone who has purchased a book - THANK YOU! Thank you for investing in this crusade to see people accomplish far more than they ever thought possible with their personal finances.

Why am I so passionate about this? Because when people are financially free, they are much more likely to do EXACTLY what they have been put on this earth to do - regardless of the income potential!

I am honored, and I am more FIRED UP than I have ever been!

Thank you.

A Frugal Weekend: Tent Camping

May 14th, 2008 at 08:10 am

Well, this weekend the family ventured out into the wild world of tent camping at a state park in the foothills of the mountains.

It was a very cheap weekend, AND we had a blast!

Cost Breakdown
* Camp Site (2 nights): $45.10
* Food (no extra cost - we brought our regular groceries): $0.00
* Stupid Tax (left our pan at home): $14.95

Total Cost: $60.05

We had an AWESOME time. Here are the highlights.

* We put up the tent. Our tent attracts rain. It POURED both nights. BUT both days were nice and sunny.
* We saw a copperhead snake up close. That always makes me feel comfortable.
* I ate three smores in one sitting and then proceeded to cook another dozen marshmallows. INCREDIBLE!
* We saw a pileated woodpecker up close. Beautiful.
* I got to spend time with my wife and daughter without the computer, internet access, or my cell phone.
* We all got our first sunburns of the season.
* There is nothing like breakfast cooked over a campfire. Bacon sizzling. Eggs frying. 100% purple grape juice. Yum.
* Melea started the fire herself with matches. I taught her how to responsibly use matches. I hope she remembers all of the rules.
* I had to make an emergency run to a Dollar General store for a frying pan, clothesline, and clothes pins. I need to go to Dollar General more often! They really have good prices, and the store was really neat, organized nicely, and clean.
* I caught ZERO fish. First time I have been skunked all year. I don't like that.

I need to put camping on the calendar more often!

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Home Pay-Off Spectacular: A Cool Twist

May 13th, 2008 at 11:13 am

I love seeing how others are using the Pay-Off and Savings Spectaculars to track their own financial progress!

Derek has a cool twist on how he is using his Home Pay-Off Spectacular.

He has some savings that he is willing to commit toward the mortgage balance (PINK). When the amount owed on the house equals that savings amount, he is going to send the savings to the mortgage to kill it off.

Way to go, Derek! Click HERE to read about Derek's Home Pay-Off Spectacular.

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I Interrupt Normal Broadcasting

May 12th, 2008 at 05:36 am

to announce that the Sangl Family "Economic Stimulus Payment" from the IRS has arrived in our bank account. I am thrilled, excited, and, yes, PUMPED to see it show up the bank. You see, I just could not wait to receive this money! I needed this money. I was desperate for this money. I needed it to do my part to stimulate the economy.


Because Jenn and I save for (1) emergency expenses, (2) KNOWN, upcoming expenses, and (3) our dreams, when we receive "found money" like this it is truly a blessing - not just meeting some immediate, pressing need. What are we going to do with our ESP? We are putting it into savings to fund a dream.

Boring I know.

But perhaps I should tell you how things like this used to go down. We would know that we were going to get a tax refund, so we would buy things and say, "We will pay for it with our tax refund." By the time the tax refund showed up, we had already spent it seven times over. This left us frustrated, angry, and with a pile of debt. Just writing about it makes me mad all over again. I used to be such a horrible manager of my money.

Never again.

If you are wondering what to do with your ESP, check out the "Best Utilize Your Tax Refund" series.

Marching To Debt Freedom - Couple #3 - Month 05

May 8th, 2008 at 07:57 am

This couple has been married for many years and have one child. They have HAD IT with their debt and have been marching toward debt freedom since November 2007. They are THROUGH with credit cards.

What went well this month
We changed car and homeowner's insurance companies saving us $672 a year! UNBELIEVABLE!

What were the challenges/struggles this month
Well, we are so frustrated! We have called our credit card companies, and they are still not wanting to reduce interest rates. We have applied for transfers and can't get them right now b/c our balances are too high. So we are really focusing on paying these off even faster so we can tell these crooks to TAKE A HIKE! We are still calling and harassing them trying to get reduced rates - 1% here and there but it is lower than the previous month.

Updated Debt Freedom Date

Our car balance is higher than it has been because we have the actual balance now and not a guess. Also, the Citi card stayed the same as it was a balance transfer and the Discover went up a little for the balance transfer fee.

Month By Month Progress

Sangl Says
When you have a pile of debt, it can take a little time to get the Debt Freedom March fully on track with a full head of steam! This is exactly what Couple #3 is experiencing. They are getting their debt balances organized and working hard to improve the interest rates on the debt. In just a couple of months, all of the restructuring will be complete, and I can not WAIT to see what happens to this debt then!

As we all know, this is tough stuff! It is even harder when you put all of your financial information out there for the world to see. Will you encourage Couple #3 by leaving them a note in the "comments" section?

My book, I Was Broke. Now I'm Not, is available via AMAZON.COM, BORDERS.COM, and PAYPAL. You can read the Introduction HERE.

Marching To Debt Freedom - Couple #2 - Month 08

May 7th, 2008 at 08:05 am

This couple is THROUGH with debt! It has now been eight months since they announced that they were breaking up with debt. They have agreed to share their Debt Freedom March with everyone in the hopes to inspire others to do the same!

Here is this month's update.

What went well this month
The whole process went well. We were able to pay more toward Vehicle 1, which is going to help us pay it off faster. We hope to keep doubling our payments, and pay it off eight months early. We kept to the cash envelopes and did not accumulate any new debt. Overall, it was a terrific month!!

Challenges and struggles this month
We are doing so well now and we really don't face any challenges any more. We know what we need to do and we just stick with the plan.

Here is their updated Debt Freedom Date calculation

Month By Month Progress

Sangl Says
Couple #2 has been after their debt for just eight months, but look at how much they have gained! They have cut their "Months Until Debt Freedom" by nearly fourteen months! They have paid off $18,000 in debt! They could have used that money to go on some serious vacations, buy a new vehicle, or other fun item, but they have chosen to live this way for just a little while so that they can break the cycle of debt.

Think about what life will be looking like for Couple #2 in just a short time when they achieve debt freedom! They will free up $1,775 in monthly payments. That is TAKE-HOME pay! How much money does one have to earn to take home $1,775? About $2,500! So, Couple #2 is going to be able to give themselves the equivalent of a $30,000/year raise. WOW!

If you dumped all of your debt (and its associated debt payments), how much of a raise could you give yourself?

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Marching To Debt Freedom - Couple #1 - Month 08

May 6th, 2008 at 11:56 am

Couple #1 is THROUGH with debt! They have been married for many years and have two children. They are now EIGHT months into their march. How time flies!

What went well this month
We are on plan!

What were the challenges/struggles this month
I had to pay a large bill, but no sweat I had my emergency fund.

Updated Debt Freedom Date

Month By Month Progress

Sangl Says
Couple #1 has paid off nearly $15,000 in debt in the past eight months. That is nearly $2,000 PER MONTH! Unbelievable. In eight months, their Debt Freedom Date has dropped by TWELVE months. AWESOME!

It is amazing to see what happens when a written plan is put together AND followed. You CAN do this too! Visit the free TOOLS page by clicking "TOOLS" , and get started on your own Debt Freedom March!

You can read about my own Debt Freedom March and learn exactly how I did it in my recently released book, I Was Broke. Now I'm Not.. It is available via PayPal, Amazon.com, or Borders.com. You can read the Introduction HERE.

Sangl Home Pay-Off Spectacular - May 2008

May 5th, 2008 at 05:32 am

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: WAS: 735 IS: 739

Squares Remaining: WAS: 1691 IS: 1687

% of House Owned By The Sangl's: WAS: 30.3% IS: 30.5%

% of House Owned By Wells Fargo: WAS: 69.7% IS: 69.5%

Here is the updated "Sangl Home Pay-Off Spectacular" (Click on the picture to view the larger version)

We now own the entire south wall! For one more month, we remained on a slower path of paying off the mortgage as we prepare for known, upcoming expenses.

Frankly, it just plain stinks to slow down for a few months on this thing, but in just a little while we will be back attacking this mortgage in a way we never have before! Even though it is not fun to slow down on the mortgage payoff, it would be WAY WORSE to be slaughtering the mortgage and have a future expense derail our efforts! So Jenn and I have slowed down just for a few months to position ourselves in a way that will enable us to CRUSH this mortgage in a HUGE way.

How are you doing on YOUR house payoff spectacular? Don't have one? Get yours here => Pay Off Spectacular - House.

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Lowes 10% Off Coupon

May 1st, 2008 at 09:04 am

If you are moving or have recently moved, you can get a "10% Off" coupon for a purchase up to $5,000! There are a few limitations on what you can include in the purchase, but this coupon can really help!

Jenn and I used this coupon when we were in heavy "update the house" mode last year.

Get your Lowe's "10% Off" coupon HERE.

NOTE: I figured that if Lowe's had a 10% Off deal, then Home Depot would too. A very short search showed that YES, Home Depot also has a very similar deal. One can get a "10% Off" coupon from Home Depot for a purchase up to $2,000 by registering at the Home Depot moving site. Get your Home Depot "10% Off" coupon HERE.

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Money Wont Solve All Of Lifes Problems

April 29th, 2008 at 11:14 am

Money is incredibly important. It has the ability to impact many areas of my life. Yet, I clearly understand that money will not solve all of life's problems. Friends will still get sick. Loved ones will still pass on. Friendships can get complicated. Misunderstandings will happen.

Sound money management will not solve all of life's problems, BUT it can really reduce them.

I have found that the lack of money has caused simple problems to become HUGE interruptions to my life. When I was broke, a car repair had the ability to completely derail the family finances. When I was mismanaging all of our money, a sickness would crush the family economy and introduce a pile of stress into my life.

On the other hand, I have found that having money has enabled me to help others in times of need. I have found that having money has reduced a transmission failure into a mere nuisance. I have found that it has removed a lot of fierce discussions between Jenn and me. We now just fiercely debate really cool topics like house projects!

Sound money management has not solved all of my life's problems, but it has really made me aware of just how blessed I am! I am NEVER going back to my old way of mismanaging money and running with an average bank balance of $4.13!


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My book, I Was Broke. Now I'm Not, which tells my story and teaches the tools I used to win financially was released in January. It is available via AMAZON.COM, BORDERS.COM, and PAYPAL. You can read the Introduction HERE.

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