From Overwhelmed to In Control

In 2017 Debi felt overwhelmed. Her credit cards were maxed, and she wasn't exactly sure how to handle it. When asked how her credit issues started, her answer sounded like many Savers that we've spoken to: making too many impulse purchases. “I was driven by feelings like ‘That sounds good,’ or ‘I am too tired to cook.’” Then she attended a university extension program that introduced her to America Saves. That’s where she heard the tip that set her on her savings journey - stop accumulating debt.

Debi's Saver Story
Debi signing the paperwork for her first house!

That may sound simple, but it was the boost Debi needed to steel herself against impulsive spending. Using the information she learned through the extension program, Debi made a plan: chip away at the debt, starting with the credit cards with the highest interest. Then move on to the next card and then the next. While paying off her credit cards, she worked diligently not to incur any additional debt. “I wrestled against the impulse to spend money on going out to eat and buying little things as fiercely as I had wrestled against the urge to smoke years ago,” Debi told us. She took the America Saves pledge. With her renewed commitment to her financial health, Debi changed her spending habits, and she started to pay down her debt.

Debi’s #1 Savings Tip: Impulse purchases are emotional decisions. To combat impulse buying take a lap around the store. Spend 30 minutes or more to think about your purchase. This will help you make a thoughtful decision and not an emotional one.

Seeing her debt go down was the snowball that started an avalanche of saving. Debi took pride and joy in her improved financial health. She recalled, “I found satisfaction in not giving in to impulses, but making wise choices, thinking through my options. I still went out to eat, but not 20 times a month, and I found it more enjoyable.” It took quite some time, but Debi eventually paid off all her credit cards. With her debt gone, Debi’s credit score rose dramatically, and eventually she saved enough to purchase her first home.

Debi didn’t stop there. She set new financial and savings goals. She maintained her hard-won healthy spending habits. We asked Debi how her savings habit has affected her life: “Not only has eliminating credit card debt relieved stress, working on my savings goal has empowered me to realize I have more control over decisions. There is a humble pride in being responsible and focused. It’s actually FUN!”

Debi recently took the America Saves pledge again. She is building an emergency fund and is only a few hundred dollars away from her goal!

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Tip of the Day

  • Are you looking for an effective way to establish a budget? Beginning on the first day of a new month, get a receipt for everything you purchase. Stack and review receipts at the end of the month, and you will clearly be able to see where your money is going.

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Saver Tips and Stories View all »

Saving With My Boys

When Kelly was a kid, she loved the picture book A Chair for My Mother by Vera B. Williams. In the story, a little girl lives in an apartment with her mother and grandmother. The little girl’s mother is a waitress and sole provider for their family. Together the family saves money by putting their change in a giant jar every day. They are saving for a big cushy chair for the little girl’s hard-working mother. Together with patience and diligence, they buy the mother a very comfy chair.


Story of an Urban Professional

Elaine was inspired to create a new savings goal and plan with the America Saves Pledge after reading the “The Color of Money” column in The Washington Post by Michelle Singletary.


Another Dream Realized

Mary Brown was already a disciplined individual when she came to Wisconsin Saves coordinator Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corporation (WWBIC) in last summer. She had successfully completed her bachelor’s degree with the assistance of her husband and son, and was now ready to tackle her next big dream – homeownership.


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