Sometimes you are the biggest obstacle to financial wellness that you need to overcome.
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Saver Story: Surpassing Fear to Find
Financial Freedom

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 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.

A Quarter Saved is a Quarter Earned

No one knows better than Savers how to find the extra dollar here and quarter there that, over time, add up to substantial savings.

Here are a few of their favorite savings tips:
I save my spare change and, as a result, have extra money to buy special items for my family. I also have quarterly yard sales to increase my income. One time, I made over $500 selling things I no longer used. I turned my unused clutter into cash. I had extra money and an uncluttered home to smile upon.
- Chattanooga, TN
There is an old saving trick I learned back in the day — and is still true to this day: pay your self first. No matter what you make and no matter what other bills will need to be paid, decide to pay your self first. You decide whether it will be 10% of what you make in a month or 20%, but no matter what, stick to that every month.
- Silver Spring, MD
I have a little storage can in my office. My goal is to save all of my $5.00 bills. If I miss a few, I still throw in my loose change at least once a week. By the end of the year, I'll have somewhere between two and three hundred dollars saved up to use in January. I always seem to be very broke in January after Christmas for twelve grandchildren and their parents!
- Provo, UT
Becoming a saver is as easy as 1-2-3: Start by setting up an automatic transfer of $1 per month to your savings account. Increase your automatic transfer by $2 every 3 months until you reach your desired monthly savings goal. By starting with small amounts, you can gradually adjust your spending and savings, and be well on your way to your savings goal!
- Pflugerville, TX
Pull together all your bills, as well as your credit card statements a few times a year to review where your money goes. See if you can eliminate something, or save money by planning better. Pay bills on time (or a little early) to avoid late fees. Stock up on items you buy regularly when they are on sale. For example buy some 12- or 24-packs of pop at the grocery store, and grab one as you head out the door, rather than stopping to buy an individual serving at a convenience store.
- Rochester, MN

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