Saver Story: Surpassing Fear to Find
This savings story was shared courtesy of Cindy Alexander, a Virginia Saver.
Before starting with Bank On Virginia Beach and making a pledge to save with America Saves, I would describe myself as AFRAID. Afraid I would not be able to retire. Afraid my car would break down and I wouldn’t be able to afford to have it fixed. Afraid I would get sick...you get the picture. In fact, I was so afraid, that I even feared spending what little money I had on fun things just in case something unexpected occurred. Life was not the best.
I was recently divorced, going from a combined six-figure income to working for the City. Don’t get me wrong, I love my job, but let’s face it, public service does not pay nearly as well as the private sector.
While America Saves got me to write down a savings goal, Bank On helped me get organized for success by providing classes, coaching and homework. I was building a written plan to help me be more financially secure. The classes got me started with information and ideas, but it was my coach who helped me pull it all together. He was my accountability factor. I had to do my homework because my coach was going to ask questions.
Before, I just wandered through life, hoping that my paycheck would cover all my bills. My coach and instructors helped me formulate a working budget, figure out how to pay off my debt, and increase my savings. It was a lot of work, and at times, stressful, but very worth it. It took me almost two months to finally get a budget in place. My coach kept encouraging me and telling me that I didn’t have the full “financial picture” when I would want to leave small things off the budget. And without that picture, I could not make informed decisions.
I was just looking to get my money straightened out, but now I realized that EVERY decision I make all comes back to my budget. Do I really want that $3.00 milkshake, or is my monthly dining out budget already used up? Can I add a visit to my daughter and still take the vacation that I had already planned? Or will I have to choose? With my budget as a guiding force, I actually know the answers to my questions.
In 10 months, I have increased my credit score by 13 points, reduced my debt by $2,700.00 and increased my savings by $1,000.00. I completed the Mayor’s Challenge for improving my financial fitness and really am enjoying the security of having taken these positive actions for my financial future.
Unexpected expenses no longer put me in panic mode, although, like everyone else, I dislike them. I am now saving for my next car, even though the purchase might be several years away. I found out that I will be able to retire. With my budget and written savings goals I can live now and still prepare for the future. And, most importantly, I am no longer afraid.