When Mercedes Montgomery, 31, of Portland, OR, found out she was pregnant in 2011, it was emotional. It went something like shock and celebration, quickly followed by, “How the heck will we feed a child?”
“At the time, my husband and I were so broke that we had to borrow money from my parents every month to pay the rent and bills.”
The Future Was… Depressing
She knew something had to change and started using a spreadsheet to “budget” and track her money, but she never stuck to it. And when her marriage ended in late 2012, things were only getting worse.
Despite working two jobs (office coordinator by day and home care worker by night), “I kept failing, living off of the overages of my school loans, and leaning on my mother for help.”
As a result, the future, well, what future? Mercedes felt like there wasn’t much hope for any kind of future for her or her baby. She had just accepted that she would always be broke, always carry debt, and never own a home.
“I felt shame, that I had nothing to call my own except my debt. And I felt afraid, because I didn’t want to pass down my bad habits to my child—but I didn’t know another way.”
But Then She Found YNAB
“YNAB is different because of the free support and education that is offered. The podcasts and blog posts and tutorials make all the difference. They have helped me address the emotional aspects of money and budgeting, and challenged my mindsets. For the first time ever, I read success stories, and I think, ‘I can have that, too.’”
After reading, watching, and listening to everything YNAB she could get her hands on, Mercedes started to see a way out.
The Way She Thought About Money Changed
None of her circumstances had changed, but her mindset had: “Knowing the plan takes the fear away. By taking away the fear, you remove the limits on what you can accomplish. I was able to shift from fear to setting goals pretty quickly.”
Today, Mercedes trusts herself and she knows she is in total control of her money.
“Before I never even really saw money. It was always spent before I earned it. I was perpetually catching up—late fees, overdraft fees, interest. When I did have a few dollars left over, I would overspend because I “deserved” it. After doing my taxes, I doubted myself again. I had a big return coming and I was dreading it—scared to mess it up—and there I was right back in the middle of anxiety and fear. But I focused on the Four Rules and why they work and I’m proud to say I stuck to the plan.”
As for her future, it is shining bright. Mercedes is working toward being debt-free, saving for a down payment, her daughter’s college, and retirement.
If Mercedes Can Do It, So Can You
I asked Mercedes what she would say to someone currently stressed about money or scared to live on a budget, and she said, “There is a way out and it’s not as hard as it might seem. All it takes is aligning your financial choices with your authentic goals. You will never regret getting your life in order. Because as order enters your life, the stress and anxiety are forced out.”
Said like a true YNABer, who listened to all our podcasts and read all our blogs. We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.