About Larry and Juli
Larry and Juli’s goal at the start of Project Money was to not only make ends meet, but also gain a better understanding of their finances. Together with their financial coach, Mike Bunge, they did just that.
The family, which includes, Larry’s athletic 14-year-old twins, Larry Jr. and Lexie, approached their Project Money journey with a sports analogy. ”We decided right away that we were going to take seven months and just do it. If we could compete as a team and successfully make it through our seven-month ‘season,’ we could do it for a lifetime.”
In addition to developing a financial plan complete with manageable goals, they learned to ‘keep advancing the chains.’ “Mike taught us that ‘touchdowns’ are not required every month. That took a lot off our shoulders in the middle of the competition.”
Their perseverance paid off: In addition to reducing their debt by $10,010, they added $4,274 to their savings.
Moreover, Larry and Juli say they no longer worry about whether they are going to make it through to the end of the month, or how much they are going to have to borrow in order to pay the mortgage on time.
The outlook? “It’s looking better and better every day!”
Q&A with Larry & Juli:
What are the key things you learned from your experience in Project Money?
It’s best not to talk about money at the dinner table.
It’s a good idea to keep being a ‘giver,’ even when you are trying to save. Tithing and giving of your time doesn’t cost. It’s always returned— sometimes financially, and other times, it’s returned in much more important ways.
To keep playing the game, even if you feel like you are losing. You are still playing, and playing means you are learning.
What’s the best advice you’d give to someone who’s in a similar financial situation to where you were seven months ago?
Don’t be afraid to ‘live on less.’ It’s really not that hard, and probably 70% of people you know in Wisconsin do it everyday.
What do you think were the key factors in your success?
We decided right away that we were going to take seven months and just do it. Sports seasons typically last between four to eight months. Our Project Money ‘season’ was seven months long. If we could compete as a team and successfully make it through seven months, we could do it for a lifetime. So we went ahead and took on the challenge of one season.
Coach Mike, who was very casual and calm. He was an ‘in-the-middle-of- the-game’ coach. He didn’t just tell us to ‘go and do,’ he pulled out the numbers and said, “here’s another thing we can try, if this other thing doesn’t work.”
If you had to do it all over again, is there anything you would do differently/change?
We would have jumped in faster (got our paperwork organized better) and deeper (made bigger changes in debt pay-off).
How has this experience impacted you/your family?
It’s given two ‘40-somethings a good look at how their family can play on the same team and win the game. It’s also given two 14-year-old kids a look at what it’s going to take for things such as a college education, a car, or a nice computer. Things that some teenagers don’t really consider, such as:
You have to pay for nice things
Not everything is going to be given to you
What was your “aha” moment?
We had been watching our personal loan debt go down month-by-month because of our hard work with delivering the newspaper and making sure that specific pay got put toward that debt twice a month. The first month was encouraging. Month two was as well. By month five, it was really working! We realized that we are not going to have this debt very many more months!
How has taking control of your finances changed your life?
It feels ‘safe’ every month. We aren’t worried about if we are going to make it through to the end of the month or how much are we going to have to borrow in order to pay the mortgage on time.
Celebration first! No, we won’t go overboard, but we are going to reward ourselves for making such a grand and fruitful effort. We are pretty proud of ourselves! We are proud of the kids and how they really pitched in. (Nope, they didn’t always have fun, but they still helped the Team).
Where do you see yourself in five years?
With a house payment and helping a couple of great kids pay for a bit of college!
What one word would you use to describe how you feel about money/your financial situation as a result of your Project Money journey?