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Kari and Darek's Journey

At the start of their Project Money journey, Kari & Darek were “lost” when it came to making a budget. So naturally, this was priority number one. 

Together with Coach Don, Kari & Darek developed a budget, or as Kari likes to call it, ”the spending plan,” customized especially for their lifestyle and personalities which involved using envelopes for each category that they filled with cash at the beginning of each month. Once the cash was gone, there was no more spending in that area.

“A budget in all its restrictive glory is amazingly freeing. Knowing every month where our money is going, how much we have and how much we are keeping through saving and investing, has allowed us to look forward to 2010 and start to save toward goals such as a roof project and family trip.”

Overall, Kari & Darek’s biggest accomplishment was changing their mindset from one of spending to saving. This revelation helped them accomplish financial milestones including ending any credit card usage, paying off their highest interest credit card and setting up an emergency savings account — all of which increased their credit scores.

“We have found new ways to live with what we have and save for what we want. Our children are learning valuable lessons and our family is having a blast through the process. We now realize that each day we eat homemade rice and keep the lights off, make coffee instead of buying that expensive latte and selling things we no longer use, is one day closer to reaching our dreams.”

Q&A with Kari & Darek:

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

At the suggestion of our coach we just read the book The Dream Manager by Matthew Kelly and in his book there is a character that says "Those who don't manage their money well are not better off than those who don't have money to manage." This summed up what we have learned from Project Money which is that the feeling that we had of being broke came from not telling our money what to do. We let our money tell us what we could and couldn't do. There isn't always as much money coming in as we would like but by committing to our budget and financial goals we are dreaming again.

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

The number one factor to our success was to have someone we were accountable to. Our coach held us accountable but also helped us stay realistic. When you are in the thick of it with children, jobs, house projects, debt, more debt and no savings like we were you need someone with a more objective eye to help you dig out of the hole and pull off your blinders.

How has this experience impacted you/your family?

It has gotten all of us including out children to realize the importance of financial education. Just like all those other things you need to spend time talking to kids about, money is just as important. Having a clear vision of your financial future creates a place inside you that makes you not impulse buy, a place of contentment with what you have. That is good for our pocket book and the environment.

What was your “aha” moment?

Kari was the one with the biggest “aha” moment. It was when she realized that every time she thought about money she was thinking about how to spend it or where it "needed" to be spent. One day with our coach talking about the savings accounts we have established a light bulb came on. Since Kari is a big believer in positive thinking…what if the words were changed to saving rather than spending. That was a great moment and has really influenced how things get purchased in our household now.

How has taking control of your finances changed your life?

In one word....FREEDOM! We are finally able to know where we stand financially and even though that isn't with as much money as we want right now, we know that we have the power to change that. Taking control, stepping up to the plate and taking responsibility for what we have and what we want is freedom from all the stuff that goes along with not knowing.

What’s next?

We keep dreaming! With the help of our coach and Summit Credit Union we will continue our climb to our goals. We will continue to meet with our coach and continue to build on the things we have started and re-evaluate as life brings us more challenges and prosperity.

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


What was the best advice your coach gave you?

We can't pick just one thing. Through the culmination of Don's wisdom he taught us to dream again. He helped us to see that infrequent expenses are NOT unexpected expenses. Taking the time to go over a years worth of expenses and plan for them and save for them. Also Don really helped us to understand that our budget isn't written in stone. With the marvel of modern day technology we don't have to carve out our budget in new stone to change it. We just open up our budget document and make the necessary adjustments. The perfectionist in both of us often got stuck in the all or nothing mentality. Don helped to keep us level headed and on target.

Read Kari and Darek's blog to learn about their progress


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Hi Kari and Darek,
I put my congratulation comments under your last Dec. blog 'the good, the bad and the budget...

Val Smith (Rachel Reinhart's mom)

Good job! Reading your story inspired me to get on track and I happily have one month under my belt now. I wish I had known a long time ago how good I would feel once I finally took control of our budget! The perfectionist in me always landed me with the all or nothing feeling as well...I've finally learned to get past that and have decided that an oops every now and then is better than every day!!

Congratulations Faber family! It looks like you made spectacular strides in 'melting your debt snowball!' Keep up the good work!


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