Concluding the Money Makeover Series: Lessons Learned

The Money Makeover Series has come to an end – but in the lives of these four girls things are only just beginning! No philosophy or life plan can be completely remodeled in three months, but Kayla, Mimosa, Krystle, and Pamela are now on paths to brighter financial futures now that they’ve done a little bit of budgeting and a lot of soul searching. So what can we learn from their experiences?

Kayla: In Need of a Money Plan

Kayla could never shake the feeling of financial anxiety. Even after she traded in a fluctuating income as a freelance writer for a stable full-time position, she still dealt with anxiety over any unplanned purchase that came her way. She needed a plan to realize she was in control. So what was her greatest lesson after three months?

Money Is Mutual

Money is mutual: how you choose to handle your money directly results in how money makes you feel. If money intimidates you, you make decisions out of fear. If you put your money to work for you, you’ll feel empowered.

Once Kayla had a budget in place she realized that she was in control. Seeing things on paper and turning her focus to the future of her career changed everything. Now she’s in a position to not let life or money happen to her – but to take the reins and decide what path to choose.

Mimosa: Ready to Launch

Mimosa started out as a new grad that wanted it all – an apartment to call her own, to be student loan debt-free, and to plan for a future full of travel abroad. But she was also working full-time, working to obtain a masters degree at night (which she was paying out of pocket for), and living in a very expensive city which made the prospects of moving out a bit unrealistic for her budget.

That’s when Mimosa realized she had to set some priorities. So what lesson stuck with her?

Fail Fast – So You Can Move Forward Faster

In order to pay off her student loan debt fast Mimosa needed to cut one of her favorite hobbies cold turkey – shopping. And for a while she was doing great! But soon after an unexpected shopping day, Mimosa stopped tracking her budget altogether because she felt guilty about the spending spree.

Then I talked to Mimosa and reminded her that budgets should be an evolutionary process. It was time to evaluate the budget and re-do it to a standard she could live with. Not too restrictive but not too free.

Now Mimosa not only has a budget she can realistically follow, she took that newfound motivation into her career development as well and has now been appointed to the Young Leaders Council for the United Way in her hometown. That’s what I call a win/win!

Krystle: New to the Workforce

Krystle had just received her master’s degree and was looking for her first professional job when she and I began talking. In order to pay off debt and move out on her own, Krystle had to set a tight budget. Then life stepped in.

Krystle’s job fell through – which meant that we had to tighten up the budget even more – and now she’s evaluating what she wants for her career. While this could have made so many of us give up, Krystle found the bright side and quickly learned exactly what matters most to her in her career. Now she’s on the way to making it happen! So what did she learn through all of this?

The Importance of Balancing Determination and Patience

Krystle’s drive, resilience, and adaptability are a recipe for success. Throw in some major positive energy and enthusiasm for toppings and how could you go wrong? Well, Krystle found through this journey that her impatience to succeed can sometimes get in the way. That’s when she told me that she wants to learn to balance her determination with a healthy dose of patience.

Pamela: Future Financial Leader

When Pamela and I first talked she’d just started a new job, told me that she owned her own apartment, was regularly contributing to her retirement account, and had all of her bills accounted for. What else could she need? To get rid of consumer debt. Pamela also wanted to understand finance deeply enough to become a leader for women everywhere. So what lessons did she find the most important to pass on?

Learn to Give and Take

Pamela’s journey to eliminate consumer debt was intense. She wanted that debt gone – now! We talked about ways to lower the credit card interest rates, prioritize what credit card to pay off first, and earn more money so she could kick the payoff into turbo speed. And that she did! Pamela found a part-time job bartending at a bar down the block from her apartment.

Pamela didn’t stop there. She found ways to do the things she loved for free or cheap by finding a bar to sponsor her football team and working a few hours at her yoga studio for free classes and discounted merchandise. Through all the difficulty of extra work, Pamela’s eyes are on the prize while still having fun. And soon enough she won’t have to work extra anymore and will be consumer debt-free. That buys her time and money in the foreseeable future.

Moving Forward for all of Us

It’s been a blast getting to know these four strong, independent women for the past few months! All of our conversations blossomed out of just finance and into their careers and desires for the future. Because at the end of the day, finance isn’t just about money. Finance is about life. Our financial situations impact the decisions we make every day, which is why it’s so important to do whatever it takes to take control and make our money work for us.

So sit down and write down that spending plan. Evaluate your career and your personal life. Are you in the place you want to be? Are you close to it? Or do you feel that you need to create a whole new path? No matter what the answer may be, honestly ask yourself these questions. Then set your priorities and go. You will mess up sometimes. Your priorities may change. But if you stay accountable and stick to your goals, success is sure to be in your future.

Shannon Mcnay

Shannon McNay is the Community Outreach and Customer Support Manager at ReadyForZero, a website that helps people get out of debt faster on their own. Shannon loves to share her own experiences and tips she's learned along her own path to help people optimize their finances for a brighter future. You can follow Shannon on Twitter at @shannonmcnay.