About Dan and Sheila
Despite working hard at good jobs, Dan and Sheila began their Project Money challenge feeling like they were treading water financially. And, like many couples, they had trouble communicating when it came to discussing money matters.
Eager to make some serious changes to their financial situation, Dan & Sheila worked with their coach, Jenna Gordon, to build a game plan that not only helped them get out of their rut but also start having fun again.
In addition to developing a budget, they got creative in other ways to help save on expenses throughout the seven-month contest. “We were really successful with bartering, swapping, making home-made items and finding people in our network of friends and family to work with.”
The result? In addition to reducing their debt by more than $6,000 and increasing their savings by $8,038, Dan and Sheila say that their stress levels have lowered substantially. “That is amazing and life changing. Our spending habits are different, and we really take the time to weigh the facts when making a purchasing decision. We are aware of the changes that need to be made in the future and have a plan for how to make those changes.”
Most importantly, they say, they are able to appreciate the things they have a lot more, which means more fun and happiness for them and their little boy, Max, for years to come.
Q&A with Dan & Sheila:
What are the key things you learned from your experience in Project Money?
We learned that we are a team. Working together, cooperating, being honest with ourselves and each other allows us to move ahead and see progress much faster than the way we were doing it before (which was the opposite of the above).
What’s the best advice you’d give to someone who’s in a similar financial situation to where you were seven months ago?
Apply to be part of Project Money—it’s a great opportunity. Just applying for the reality contest helped us get on the right track and start working together to reach our goals.
Get a financial coach. Having a professional coach allows you to move forward at warp speed. If you already struggle with money and finance—why not turn to someone who is good at it and passionate about helping others? Their knowledge is priceless, and once-a-month accountability is essential to make a change in spending habits and behaviors.
Get your paperwork in order (…do I hear a collective groan?!). Find it, look it up, track it down, re-set the password. If you haven’t checked the account in, say, four years, order it or do whatever you need to do to get it in front of you. Don’t give up. It’s hard, but you can do it. Then, face the facts. Sometimes it is not as bad as you thought. And you may find some money hidden that you didn’t know was there (it happened to us!). How can you make a game plan if you don’t know all the information?
Make a budget.
Be SHOCKED at how little money you can spend on dining out/beer/clothes/toys/etc.
Get creative with bringing in more income and spending less. Make it into a game or a challenge. When you focus on the ‘game’ of it—it can be kind of fun. It is also really satisfying finding a new way to look at things.
Adjust your budget, adapt and keep checking in with your coach.
Keep checking in and working as a team. Try to focus on the positive and don’t dwell on small setbacks.
What do you think were the key factors in your success?
Our key factors for success were our awesome coach, Jenna, our competitive nature and creativity, the support of our friends and family, and being able to lean on each other for support.
What was your “aha” moment?
At the end of the second month, we finished paying bills and we had a $500 surplus that we were able to put into savings. At that point, we realized that we were in the game.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
We see ourselves being debt free (other than mortgage). We see a yearly vacation. We envision that we will be able to more aggressively add to our retirement fund and preparing for the future.
What one word would you use to describe how you feel about money/your financial situation as a result of your Project Money journey?