When Sheba and Karim applied for the Project Money challenge, they had two primary goals: purchase their first home and start a family. At the program's conclusion, they're well on their way to accomplishing both. As the two put it, "We knew that it would be a life-changing experience, but never to this extent. Through various goals, discussions, achievements and failures, our lives are changed."
Right from the start, Sheba and Karim were set on understanding where they were, where they want to go and how to set themselves on the path to Owning It! Ultimately, they did just that.
Their biggest accomplishment? Sheba and Karim will be the first to tell you that they have thoroughly enjoyed sharing the "wealth" of financial knowledge they've gained with friends and family. The two also credit much of their success to the emphasis they placed on financial education. After learning about different types of debt and consolidation, they consolidated two auto loans with their credit card debt in October. With that move they are on track to pay off the entire debt a full eight months before originally planned!
"One of our 'aha' moments was when we realized that we would be able to pay off the entire debt at a lower interest rate than we ever thought possible," they said. The pair worked closely with their coach Chris, who pointed them in the right direction of how to allocate certain funds and consolidate others. "We would have never come up with that scenario on our own - this specific experience speaks to how important it is to work with a financial advisor."
In summary, the two provide three key learnings from Project Money to share with people looking to get financially savvy:
- Never spend more money than you earn. It is important that your expenses do not exceed your income. We have learned to "live below our means but without needs," and to take equal pleasure in saving as we do in spending.
- Make your savings automatic. Using direct deposit makes savings a "no brainer." Each paycheck, we designate specific amounts to go straight into various savings accounts. That way we never see the money hit our spending bank account, and there is no temptation.
- Get to know your numbers. Open your credit card and bank statements if they come to you in the mail, know your current credit scores and have a budget. It is critical that you know your financial expenses, your debt and your priorities for spending.
"Most importantly, we have learned the importance of having a strategy for financial management," the two summarized. "Now that we have the tools to be able to challenge ourselves, we are planning to improve even more on our solid foundation." Incredible job, you two. Regardless of how the competition finishes, Sheba and Karim should be extremely proud of their accomplishments this year and have a bright future as they continue to Own It!
Total Savings Increase: $8,864; Total Debt Reduction: $4,833