Diary of an (Eventual) Budgeting Success Story: Part Four—Something CLICKED!

And we are back with new budgeter, Carrie Hart…

If you are new to the blog here is a quick recap to get you up to speed: Carrie Hart, a 44-year-old mother of two from Traverse City, Michigan, recently quit her job to pursue a life-long dream of doing overseas volunteer work.

After years of collecting debt, living beyond her means, and “avoiding anything related to actually learning how to manage money like a grown-up,” Carrie went searching for some help. She agreed to let us follow her for a year, her first year, of budgeting in real life. Here’s a little bit about her backstory and how she fared in those first few months. In October, she shared about how progress was slow, but she loved “knowing I’m in the driver’s seat.”

She was a little discouraged about her slow progress the last time we chatted, so we were cautiously optimistic as we caught up one last time in 2015:

YNAB: Carrie! How’s it going?

Carrie: You will not believe it! We paid off $1,000 in credit card debt in one month!

YNAB: That is awesome! Wow! What changed?

Carrie: Something freaking CLICKED! After watching the Whiteboard Wednesday about “moving the needle,” something just clicked. Jesse talking about going big, maybe even a little extreme, for a short period of time, to take a ton of ground. We are sort of “Go Big or Go Home!” people anyway, and it made sense. Short-term pain for long-term gain. It just created an undeniable momentum! We are entertaining the ludacrus!

YNAB: That is so great. And that line still cracks me up.

Carrie: Right? So keeping with that theme, we decided to see if we could go an entire month just eating from our pantry and freezer. No restaurants for a month. A MONTH. I freaked out at first. But it honestly wasn’t as bad as I thought, especially after seeing HOW MUCH MONEY we saved.

YNAB: Oh wow! Restaurants are my kryptonite—that’s hard to do. So, you cut way back on food, was that the biggest change?

Carrie: Oh no, there’s more!

YNAB: Do tell.

Carrie: I feel like me and my husband truly “joined forces” on the budget for the first time, maybe ever. We’ve established our roles.

YNAB: Oh, I love that. It can make a big difference.

Carrie: So much. I’m the one who “gives every dollar a job” when the money comes in. I love that part! I’m the “Budget Designer Girl.” And my husband is now the “Guardian of the Budget Guy.” He is more disciplined, and we go shopping together and stick to the plan (because he makes me). And through our bank, we have access to no cost, pre-paid VISA cards, which we use for our fun money. When it’s gone, it’s gone. (Mine is always gone first, but whatever.)

YNAB: Smart. So much of it is just finding what works for you.

Carrie: Yep. We also temporarily stopped contributing to my husband’s 401k. It frees up $600/month to put toward our debt. It’s for the short-term, a rather extreme measure in order to move the needle. But it feels good to be focused on killing our debt.

YNAB: Honestly, it sounds like you are in a whole different place than the last time we spoke.

Carrie: We are! Something has seriously shifted and I can’t tell you how great this feels!

YNAB: Excited for you guys! Have a great Christmas and we’ll check back again in the New Year!