Last August, baystateparent and The Budget Coach teamed up to award a baystateparent reader with three sessions with The Budget Coach
Merribeth Spicer of Uxbridge was that winner. Read on to hear about her family's financial situation and how she used budgeting counseling to help her.
Carrie Wattu and her family “Team Wattu” first went through a demanding workout with Budget Coach. The exercises were tough but the results were rewarding. They got a workout reviewing their finances, bill paying methods and daily spending habits. Team Wattu did some “serious drills” in analyzing their bills details, what they were paying for and determining their needs. They learned to separate “wants” from “needs”, set up a system for reviewing bills and payments, and making lists for groceries. Team Wattu emerged from the coach's training with a better understanding of their financial goals and with a solid plan for going forward. It was not the easiest trail to take, but it is now a clearly marked path for them.
Merribeth Spicer wrote in her entry letter that she too felt as though she needed direction to reach her financial goals. She noted the many books she read by many “financial gurus,” yet was unable to organize a budget and follow through. Her cry for help to The Budget Coach included losing track of her spending, as well as not knowing how to set up a true emergency fund. Merribeth suffered from an overwhelming array of financial tasks to conquer and was aware of her need to get help.
In winning the Budget Coach Giveaway, Merribeth met with the Coach for the first time in September. The Coach gave her a list of income and expenses that she would need to gather and bring to the first meeting.
In her own words: "I was fortunate enough to win three one-hour sessions with Budget Coach Mary Ellen. The state of my finance affairs was terrible. I didn’t consciously budget my money. I never tracked my finances. I wasn’t even sure when certain bills were due. I didn’t know how I allowed myself to get to that point since I am a working, educated mom. I knew I was in trouble when I realized that the last straw was that I didn’t balance my checkbook and I wasn’t sure how much money I had available for my son’s second birthday."
"Working with Mary Ellen was a pleasure. She immediately made me feel comfortable and validated. I never felt judged- just simply at ease in the comfort of her office. I felt that we did start off from ground zero since my finances were in extreme disarray. Yet her practical suggestions and humor provided me with encouragement and support."
"My first task was extremely daunting- gathering bills and estimating how much is spent and earned each week. Trying to negotiate and communicate with a partner is hard in the best circumstances but that interaction is compounded with the discussion of finances. Yet, I persevered and continued to collect the figures, asking my husband financial questions and trying to complete my budget homework.
The second meeting was filled with more hope. I saw on a spreadsheet exactly where my money goes! That was exciting! Mary Ellen and I discussed what options are available once I do have some extra money.:
"The third meeting was extremely beneficial. My husband and I met together with Mary Ellen! It was so great! I felt that we really on-board this financial roller-coaster together."
Final thoughts: "I am in the process of tracking all expenses each day with a pencil and paper, not just waiting until my bank statements are opened when I get around to it. I am really encouraged to track my expenses to be able to say, 'I can go out to eat tonight. I am under my dining out budget!' I am getting there since I now have in writing that yesterday I spent $2.36 on a toasted raisin bagel!"
Team Spicer is now on their way to the financial freedom they strived to achieve. It will be hard work, more meetings with the Coach but most of that will become good habits over time and they will be better for their efforts. They will have an emergency fund, retirement fund and plan for their son’s future needs and best of all… a balanced checkbook!
The Budget Coach
Mary Ellen Regele, Head Coach
78 Electric St. Worcester 01610
home 508-792-9087 cell 508-353-2952