How Are We Doing?
As you probably figured out from my "Until next time..." at the end of this week's blog post, I didn't realize it was already our last blog for Project Money. It seems like it went by so fast. Since we are wrapping things up, I'd like to answer a question we've been asked often over the past several months: How are we doing?
The answer depends on how you want to measure things. Are we debt free? No, we're not. But we're on our way. Even though we still haven't brought the debt balance down to zero and our savings balance as high as we'd like it to be eventually, we have had many great accomplishments over the past several months:
-- Owen wasn't even born yet when we applied to be part of Project Money. We had no idea how much things were going to cost when he arrived, and when we started to figure that out, we had no idea how we were going to pay for them. By taking a look at how we could reduce our monthly bills and cut spending, we were able to free up the $700 it costs each month to put Owen in daycare so both Willie and I can keep working. This was a big deal for us. Even though this means we're chipping away at our debt a little more slowly than others perhaps, we really did come up with a lot of money that we didn't have each month before.
-- When we started Project Money, I was contributing $0 each month to my 401K. Now, after a little prodding from our coach, Mike, I am contributing 5% of my income every month. I am truly excited about this because I realize how important it is to invest in myself and my future. I plan to increase my contributions to 6% monthly in the new year to take full advantage of the match from my employer.
-- We also realized where we were wasting money and have become more conscious of how we're spending. I comparison shop a lot more, clip coupons, and try to evaluate whether we really need something. Sure there have been some slip-ups when an impulse buy gets the best of us, but this change in thinking something we can carry with us through the rest of our lives, and hopefully teach Owen as he grows up and learns about being responsible with money.
-- Possibly the best thing about being in Project Money has been the conversations we've had with friends, family, and coworkers. A lot of them didn't know what Project Money was all about--they just asked why we were staring at them when they went to cash a check at the credit union or waving at them from a billboard on the beltline. After we got to explain why we were in those places and what Project Money was, we really had some good conversations about money. We realized that a lot of the other people in our lives were in similar situations and we told them what we had been learning and encouraged them to talk to a financial advisor. I don't think there's anyone out there who couldn't use some help or a fresh set of eyes when it comes to looking at their financial lives. I am glad we could help inspire people to take a step in that direction.
Of course we've had lots of smaller accomplishments as well. In the end, we are considering Project Money to be just the start of our journey to a future of financial happiness.
We'd like to thank our coach, Mike Bunge, and everyone else at Summit Credit Union for letting us be a part of this program and for giving us a chance to make the changes we needed to make to start turning things around for us. And thank you to everyone who's been reading our blogs and sharing your own great ideas. We have truly been inspired by you and the other Project Money families!