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Cassie and Willie's Journey

When Cassie & Willie began their Project Money journey, baby Owen was just two months old. As working parents, their first financial priority was to figure out how to pay for the new — and lofty — expense of daycare.

They did it. Here’s how.

Coach Mike had Cassie & Willie track their spending and they discovered a big spending leak: eating out. With determination, they reduced their original monthly dining expense of $350 down to $50 - $75. This, along with reducing their monthly bills by consolidating three credit cards and a personal loan, enabled them to free up a whopping $550 each month. 

In addition to daycare, Cassie & Willie have used this new-found money each month to steadily chip away at their debt and even plan for the future — Cassie has begun contributing 6% of her income every month to her 401k at work.

“We realize that tackling this challenge is much like weight loss. It doesn’t happen overnight. We’ll really have to work hard to get where we want to be. After all, it took years to put on all those ‘pounds’ and it will likewise take some time to work them off. We look forward to being ‘slim and strong’ financially down the road and thanks to Project Money, we now have the tools to truly enjoy a future of financial fitness and happiness.”

Q&A with Cassie & Willie:

What’s the best advice you’d give to someone who’s in a similar financial situation to where you were seven months ago?

We would tell them to budget everything. Even the small stuff like household items you wouldn’t always buy on a regular basis. Things can add up very quickly and it’s easier to stay out of trouble if you have them in your monthly spending plan.

What do you think were the key factors in your success?

We were able to manage our money well enough to not have to use our credit card and add up any more debt. Having someone to be accountable to also helped, even if we didn’t always meet our monthly goals.

How has this experience impacted you/your family?

We are more aware of our finances and how much we are spending. We’ve managed to free up enough money to pay for Owen and the cost that comes with him, such as his daycare expenses.

What was your “aha” moment?

Realizing how much we spent on eating out every month. Also, after we shifted things around within our budget so that we could afford the approximately $800 Owen costs every month, realizing that we could have been paying that much extra towards our debt all along.

Where do you see yourself in five years?

We plan to be “bad debt-free,” left with nothing but mortgage and student loan payments. Going along with this, hopefully we’ll have more money free to do the things we want, like fixing up our house or taking family vacations.

What one word would you use to describe how you feel about your financial situation as a result of your Project Money journey?

Hopeful

What was the best advice your coach gave you?

He said it’s up to us to realize our financial goals. You can only do so much by consolidating loans and lowering interest rates. The real way to be financially free is through discipline, although that’s one of the hardest parts of it all.

How did your coach help you stay on track?

He wasn’t afraid to point out when we could have done better. He was always looking for creative ways to help us free up more money and pointing out where we could cut our expenses.

Any final thoughts?


We know our results aren’t going to truly reflect what we were able to accomplish and we want people to know what we did. Even though we didn’t have an increase in savings because of the money we had to take out in the beginning, we were able to add a lot to our 401k plans through monthly contributions. When Project Money started, I (Cassie) contributed 0% of my income each month. Now I am contributing 6% of my monthly income and taking full advantage of the match from my employer.

What we really accomplished is not measured in decrease in debt or increase in savings, but rather that we can pay for all of Owen’s expenses and still pay the rest of our bills. We had no idea how we were going to afford all of this before we started Project Money. And just imagine how much we could have paid off if we didn’t have the expense of a new baby.

Read Cassie and Willie's blog to follow their journey

Comments

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Hi Amy-
Yes, bowling can be a big expense. When we're planning out our month, I treat bowling as a bill that has to be paid so that it's accounted for and we make sure to trim expenses elsewhere (like eating out) to pay for it. We could use the money for other things, for sure, but letting my husband bowl is one of the compromises we made when doing our budget, since it is so important to him.

Was wondering, I know your husband bowls, and that is a big expesnse correct? My husband does the same thing, and it is really hard to budget that in, and when we don't have the money it is hard for him I guess to say something to the "guys" so say hey I can't bowl right now, we are low on funds.

Hi Cassie and Willie,
I put my congratulations note on your last Dec. entry 'how are we doing'...

Val Smith (Rachel Reinhart's mom)

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