About Michelle and Brad

Michelle & Brad’s goal at the start of Project Money was to turn their financial situation around, not only to reduce the stress and tension in their lives, but also to set a good example for their three young boys.  Together with their financial coach, Emily Merk, they did just that.  

Their first step was to refinance their mortgage, which saved a whopping $200 on their monthly payments.  They were then able to reallocate that money and apply it each month toward paying down credit card debt. Finally, Michelle & Brad worked with Emily to establish an overall budget workable for their family.  They say, “We no longer have anxiety when it comes to making typical, everyday purchases like groceries or household supplies.  And we haven’t had to use a credit card for eight months!”  

Their hard work paid off. Undeterred by a few setbacks including a broken garage door opener and a dead furnace, Michelle & Brad increased their savings by $4,123. They also set up specific savings accounts to help them save for specific goals, such as family fun, house renovations, etc., which they say they’re now able to do guilt- and worry-free.  Moreover, they have also reached their goal in setting a good example for their kids, as each have their own individual savings accounts that they have already been able to grow because of their newfound budgeting techniques.

“Team Samuel has learned so much throughout this entire competition. What used to be feelings of anxiousness, frustration and failure has now been replaced with confidence, contentment and a strong sense of accomplishment.”

Q&A with Michelle & Brad: 

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

1. Your budget is the foundation of your personal finances. 

2. Creating an emergency savings account is advantageous, not only for when you may need it, but it also offers you peace of mind. 

3. Having multiple savings accounts (with pre-determined amounts automatically deposited from every paycheck) for recurring bills and common expenses assures funds are always available.


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

Do something about it right now!  You have to stop ignoring your situation and putting it off as if one day it will fix itself.  It’s also very important to seek professional advice and start monitoring everything you spend in a month.  After that, compare your expenses with your income and set a realistic budget.


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

Creating, and sticking to, the budget was the biggest factor.  We also worked really hard at reducing, and at times, eliminating unnecessary monthly bills.


What was your “aha” moment? 

I think our “aha” moment occurred just after we completed one full month of expense tracking.  It was shockingly easy to see where we were spending the majority of our money.  We learned to transfer those expenses to less convenient, but also less expensive stores.


Where do you see yourself in five years? 

Since we’ll be debt-free by then (minus the mortgage), I see our family enjoying a sunny beach somewhere in the Caribbean.


Describe how you feel about money/your financial situation as a result of your Project Money journey.

A long-time favorite quote from Benjamin Franklin comes to mind:  “The U.S. Constitution doesn’t guarantee happiness, only the pursuit of it.  You have to catch it yourself.”  Thanks to Emily’s guidance and the hard work we’ve put in, we’ll get out of this hole ourselves and start enjoying life debt-free.  For us, the very definition of financial happiness is living debt-free.

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