About Emily & Justin

Emily & Justin

Meet Emily & Justin, the grand-prize winners of the 2012 Summit Credit Union Project Money competition!

After welcoming their second daughter into their hearts and home last year, Emily & Justin quickly realized they needed to change how they managed their finances in order to account for added expenses like diapers and daycare.

Under the guidance of their financial coach, Deanna Popke, Emily & Justin learned the value of goal setting.  “Before Project Money, we didn’t dare to dream because with two young kids, we honestly thought that nothing exciting could happen because of our daycare bills.  Deanna had us visualize what we would do if money was not a problem.  This helped open the door for us to start working toward our five-year plan again.”  

In addition to paying down their debt by $12,277 and boosting their savings by nearly $18,000, Emily & Justin learned how to communicate with each other about budgeting and money.  “Before Project Money, budgeting and finances were not on the top of the list of talks we liked to have because we’d have the same conversation over and over again and get nowhere.  Now, we have meaningful discussions about our financial well-being on a regular basis.”

Summing up their Project Money experience and how it’s changed their lives, Emily & Justin say, “It’s given us the ability to dream again.  This experience has changed our financial future forever.” 


Q&A with Emily & Justin:

What are the key things you learned from your experience in Project Money?

We learned that it takes work; you need to continue to revisit the topic to ensure that you’re moving in the same direction.  The conversation doesn’t stop once you develop a budget; it’s an open-ended dialogue.  

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

  1. Take a step back, and open your mind to new thoughts and suggestions. 
  2. Shop around to ensure you’re paying the right amount for your monthly expenses such as cell phone and insurance.  Overturn every stone to see if you can get a better rate on any of your bills.  

We asked for help, and seven months later, we are in a very different situation than we were a year ago.  If we hadn’t opened our mind to Deanna’s plan to streamline our debt, we could potentially be paying thousands of dollars or more in interest than we are with the plan we’ve developed over the last seven months. 

If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently/change?

We entered this challenge with the mindset that we would have no regrets, and as we were reflecting on the experience, we can honestly say we wouldn’t change a thing.  We gave it everything we could, and have very positive results to show for it.  

How has this experience impacted you/your family?

One of our major goals we hoped to accomplish through Project Money was to figure out a way to teach our girls about money.  We feel that we are off to a good start.  Our daughter, Ellie, is always referencing the budget, and we are able to talk to her about setting goals, and simple saving strategies. 

What was your “aha” moment?

The meeting when Deanna outlined for us how we could streamline our debt so that we could have both cars and our credit card paid off years before we had originally anticipated.  

What’s next?  

We are planning to continue to work with Deanna on a regular basis to ensure that we stay on track and accomplish our goals. And we’re going to Disney in March.  We haven’t had a vacation in five years, and we finally are able to go and pay cash. 

Where do you see yourself in five years?

Ideally, we’ll be debt-free besides our mortgage.  We will also start realizing some of our more long-term goals such as potentially owning a camper or boat.  Perhaps we’ll be getting ready for our third vacation in five years.  

Using one word, describe how you feel about money/your financial situation as a result of your Project Money journey.


Follow Their Journeys...