Money Makeover Series: Wrapping Up Future Financial Leader

It’s time for another Money Makeover Series wrap up! Today we’re finding out how our Future Financial Leader fared for the past three months. True to her plan of becoming a financial leader, she’s got some great financial advice and lessons learned to share with all of you!

From the very beginning of my talks with Pamela, I was impressed with her fierce determination to kick consumer debt to the curb, so she could focus on her mortgage, student loans, and–of course–a vacation! Pamela earns a nice living and is working her tail off for it, but the pressures of debt have made it difficult for her to do more than pay her bills and retirement fund. Now that’s all changing.

Making the Hard Decisions

The first thing Pamela realized after we created her budget was that she was going to need to make more money if she wanted to make progress on paying off debt. Keep in mind that Pamela has a very demanding job that has her working upwards of 80 hours a week. Still, she isn’t letting that deter her from her goals. She found out a bar down the block from her apartment was hiring and was working there within days. Now she’s maintaining a steady weekly shift, and it’s making a huge difference in her debt payoff!

Never Veering off Course

In the past few months, Pamela faced some changes that could have tanked her budget. For one, her roommate moved out, effectively doubling her mortgage payment. While this was a planned event, it could still have had disastrous effects on her finances. But thanks to her extra income, Pamela is staying on track. Also, as with all budgets, there are setbacks. Pamela realized that she’d been eating out more than she should have due to her sudden increase in work hours. But where she overspent on food, she found other places in her budget to borrow from.

The most important way to stay on track is staying accountable to your budget. Pamela checked back on her spreadsheet frequently, and it not only reminded her of her priorities, but it also reminded her of smaller bills that she might otherwise have forgotten because they were being paid automatically. This is just more proof that a budget doesn’t have to feel like a restriction but instead a tool to keep you focused.

Finding Creative Ways to Achieve Desires

One of the most impressive results of Pamela’s makeover is the creativity she used that allowed her to stick to her budget while still getting what she wanted. Check it out:

1) Pamela loves sports and physical fitness and has a free gym membership that she uses during the harsh Chicago winters. But during the summer she prefers to work out outside. In order to stay on her football team–which cost $120 in fees–she made a few calls to local bars to see if they’d sponsor her team. After only ten minutes of phone calls, she got a yes. Now the whole team’s fees are paid for and they receive 20% off of food and drinks every time they go to that bar. That means she gets to play her sport and eat out for less!

2) Pamela recently tried out yoga at CorePower Yoga with free passes from a friend. When her passes ran out, she asked if there was a cheaper option than the $139 monthly fee. Well, not only did she find a way to attend class for cheaper, she found a way to attend for free! All she has to do is work for three hours every week cleaning off yoga mats and then she has unlimited access to classes and mat rentals. Plus, if she stays on for three consecutive months, she’ll get 20% off of their merchandise!

3) Between long work hours and her roommate leaving, Pamela’s apartment needed a deep clean, but she didn’t have the time to do it. Meanwhile, she’d already taken an item of her budget to apply more money to debt payoff. Then she realized she could use her first months’ savings to pay for a cleaning person one time and then go back to applying that money to debt. She saved both time and money by making this trade off.

What did Pamela learn after all of this? JUST ASK. If you want something, you never know if there’s a way to achieve it for less–or free. And if not, then find a way to borrow from your budget in other ways so you can still get what you want!

Lessons from a Future Financial Leader

From day one Pamela said she wanted to both improve her finances and be a leader for other women. Here are some words of wisdom she’s learned along the way:

1) It pays to be organized

Keeping track of your budget allows you to be aware and accountable. Not only that, but understanding where your money is going is the best way to decide how to scale back if need be.

2) It pays to to give and take

Just because your budget is written out, doesn’t mean it’s written in stone. Be willing to trade to achieve new desires.

3) Be mindful of your time

Time is money so you should be aware of how to value yours. Pamela started off bartending multiple times per week to really kick up her debt payoff, but once her work hours nearly doubled at her day job, she had no choice but to cut back on bartending to one night per week if she wanted to keep her sanity. Now she’s still getting the extra money she needs to stay on track and the rest she needs to keep going.

Now it’s your turn to give some of these principles a try on your own! And don’t forget to share your experiences in the comments below!


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.

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