Lee & Ann: Hopeless to Hopeful
I can’t wait to share this financial success story. Perhaps you can relate to Lee & Ann’s story. Have you ever found yourself losing sight of hope?
In what feels like way too deep and just not quite sure what to do next?
Stressed out on the daily, to the point that it becomes a new normal?
My clients, Lee and Ann were feeling that way. Let me tell you a little more about this client financial success story; that they have given me permission to share with you…as long as it will be helpful to someone else out there. I assured them that it would.
These two newlyweds…we can still say newlyweds if you’ve been married a couple of years, right? I say yes. Anyway, these two newlyweds walked down the aisle as bride and groom having already been there and done that in the past. This time, both with children of their own – they entered into marriage with the intention of blending their families, but not necessarily…their finances.
More than just his and hers sinks, they had his and hers finances.
- His debt.
- Her debt.
- His paychecks.
- Her paychecks.
- His expenses.
- Her expenses.
Going at life together, yet separate is a tough road.
Going at life together on the same road can be rough too, don’t get me wrong – but I believe that the bond formed when you’re all roped together like contestants in a three legged race is key in helping us win the many races in life along the way.
I’m an advocate of joint checking accounts, and I’m well aware that getting your hubby on board with tackling money goals is not unique. In a blog post earlier this month I shared my plan for Dream Dates and my own financial success story of blending finances with my husband. If you want to dive deeper you can download my free video with all of the juicy details to follow it up.
When I received Ann’s reply to one of my weekly emails saying, “Alright Sarah. Can we set something up to see if this would work for me?” I could feel the big sigh that had taken place on the other side of the screen.
After our consultation call Ann shared that she and Lee were working separately on their finances, and they had a lot of work to do – but she didn’t think that he’d make the jump over to the joint method…but she still wanted to pursue a plan of getting out of debt; either together or separately.
Starting the Journey Together
I encouraged her to invite Lee to our first coaching session; and guess who showed up? Lee! Now, I’m not going to paint the picture of pure bliss on this gent’s face – he was there as a gift to his beautiful wife.
As we were getting behind the scenes of what the couple’s goals were, their money habits, their background and history of how money was demonstrated for them growing up, in previous relationships, etc. I began to better understand how best to help this couple moving forward.
Side Note: Don’t ever let anyone tell you how to fix your future, without better understanding your past. Temporary fixes are made with future forecasting only. Permanent fixes lie in the land of reviewing our past, in order to prepare best for the future.
We built a healthy budget for these two. It had all of the staples and favorites, built in date nights and gymnastic classes for the youngest. We listed each and every debt from smallest to largest for both of them, together. And we made a plan to tackle baby steps one and two in the short term.
First up, an emergency fund with baby step one. Past behavior had them reaching for their wallet and pulling out a card for an emergency big or small – but not anymore. That emergency fund was established in the first 6 weeks of working together….and those credit cards – locked away in the freezer. In fact, they sent me this image of their cards unsheathed from their wallets and headed for the Ziplock within 24 hours of our first coaching session.
Next up, baby step two; debt payoff. The Mr. and Mrs. had been making minimum payments on their debts at that point with the occasional extra payment – and my projection had their final debt payments being paid in 19.5 years with that method. Yes, you read that right – 19.5 years, or 233 months….and that was considering no further debt was accumulated.
During one of our mid-month checks in’s I asked the couple if they could see their goals in the future. Lee gave me a far off look into the distance, eyes squinted, hand above brows look – maybe they were out there he said…
I ran the projection on their new plan; the plan that had them taking any and all leftover money in their budget each month and throwing it at their smallest balance debt, over and over and over again. This method has their debt payoff projected at 18 months. Mmhmm….18 years ahead of the prior plan. That is not a typo. 18 months, instead of 18 years.
How to become a financial success story?!
- Working together, works. Dreaming about a plan or a goal – together is powerful. These two want to buy a home together, and catch up on some retirement to enjoy those golden years. But first up, they’re putting in some hard work to get out of debt.
- They admitted that they needed a little help. There is no shame in that game friends. What would they have gained by being stubborn and determined to DIY? Having an outside perspective, a coach to support and guide – can make a big difference in keeping you accountable and on track!
- These two are following a plan! They’re tackling the baby steps one at a time, and using the debt snowball method to get them there. These simple steps work friends; it doesn’t have to be complicated.
Has it been easy for them? No. Do they still give each other some side glances about Ann’s spending from time to time? Yep. That’s totally normal.
Are they still figuring out if drive thru coffee or a quick stop at the mini mart for beer comes from the food budget or his/hers pocket cash? They sure are.
Ann is the self dubbed budget tracker. That has been a new task that felt..well, tasky. And one she didn’t necessarily want to do on her own. We chatted about this at the tail end of one of our sessions. My suggestion? Don’t make it a big deal or something you have to do daily as you spend – calendar it. Put it on your calendar weekly, grab a glass of wine, turn on your favorite show and sit down together with your receipts to do it. This little bit of advice gives her permission to still do the work, but on different terms.
You guys. They’re normal! Just like you and your hubby. Just like me and mine.
They aren’t cured of the everyday challenges that marriage brings just because they worked with a financial coach on a plan for their money.
In our most recent coaching call they shared a curve ball of an expense that has them traveling out of state with airline tickets to boot for an important family function. Old habits = credit card. New habits = making a plan to divide the cost of the trip by the number of months until they travel – and put that amount away monthly to cash flow the expense instead, while still tackling their debt. #winning
When I sent them my 90 day client survey their growth and results were clear.
Money stress went from 100 to 30; a 70% improvement, and their budgeting skills went from 15 to 85, another 70% improvement, with a 5 star value rating.
They have changed their direction, and I just know that they’re going to make it! If you can’t see me beaming like the proud coach I am through this screen, picture it now.
As I shared at the top of this post, the couple wasn’t sure if they had that much “success” to share. Afterall, they were on the beginning of their debt reduction journey – not the end. They had bumps and hurdles to overcome through that initial budgeting process.
But, that’s what makes this a beautiful financial success story – it’s a picture of real life.
It’s not picture perfect; it’s perfectly real.
The next few years digging out of decades of debt is going to be a chore, don’t get me wrong – but they now have the tools to do it, together.
During our initial intake session they told me that they hadn’t really done much dreaming because it seemed that the road out of debt payoff was SO far away, but not anymore. They have a plan that is in reach – the ability to begin dreaming of what their future will look like.
Be sure to drop an encouraging line to Ann and Lee on their journey by commenting below. I KNEW their financial success story would be an inspiration to you too.
Thank you for joining me on my my journey to influence.
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