Kaitlyn's Journey

Follow along to see her progress.

Kaitlyn’s life gained a whole new meaning in November of 2018 when she met Kameron. Kameron is her three-year-old son who inspires her every single day. Like most mothers, giving her child the best that life has to offer is the reason behind her “why”. Kaitlyn lives in Eight Mile, just outside of Mobile, Alabama, and her ultimate goal is to buy a home and save for Cam’s future. Through her own experiences, she knows the importance of leading by example and if you were to ask her, she would say the gift of family is one of life’s greatest blessings. Kaitlyn is eager to take control of her finances to create a better future and begin instilling important financial values into Cam that he will carry with him throughout his life.  

Month 1 | April 2022 

Focus: Budgeting, Settings Goals & All In Financial Tools

Credit is not a bad word, and little expenses add up. Month one of the All In 2 Finances Challenge has taught me many things. I am more aware of the positive and negative ways that credit cards can impact my score and financial picture. While I know that it is important to maintain a healthy credit card balance, I also know that different credit cards offer unique perks, such as rewards and rate differences. My coaches have helped me realize how little expenses, such as subscriptions, can add up over time. What was even more surprising was realizing all of the little things I was paying for each month and how little I was utilizing them. Just by stepping back and evaluating this alone, I was able to save over $50.00 a month, which equals to a total savings of almost $700.00 a year! I not only have a new budget to help guide my expenses and how I can save throughout the months ahead, but I also am more aware than ever of where exactly my money is going. I have learned about the many tools the Credit Union offers to help me track every dollar, and I’m already seeing the benefits of being more intentional with spending and saving.

Month 2 | May 2022

Focus: Saving for Children/College

The second month of All In 2 Finances taught me the importance of monitoring where my money is going and allocating the money I am not spending toward bills or savings. This small lesson has paid dividends and is something I definitely will continue. Cooking more meals from home is a habit I am attempting to start. Even though I enjoy cooking, I must admit that grabbing a bite to eat after work in the drive-thru is appealing and convenient. With something as simple as researching crock pot recipes, I discovered just how much I can save compared to eating out. The recipes I have selected are not only cheaper than eating out but also healthy, so this new habit has led to both better financial and physical health. The extra bonus is that my son also enjoys this newfound change because he likes vegetables! Who would have thought?! All the knowledge my coaches have shared with me this past month has improved my ability to have a better stronghold on my finances, knowing where my money is being spent and taking accountability when I see areas where I could improve. I have expanded my contributions to savings which means I now have more money to put toward my monthly bill payments. It’s a great feeling to increase these payments for more than the minimum amount and to see how much more quickly I am able to reduce my debt at a faster rate than ever before. These lessons are just another steppingstone toward my goal of being financially free!

Month 3 | June 2022

Focus: Retirement Planning & Insurance

Before this competition, I knew the importance of saving and the benefits it could reap, but I did not know how vital it was to begin saving for retirement, even at an early age. Luckily for me, this was perfect timing since I just became eligible to start contributing towards my 401K plan at work. With the assistance of my Everfi modules, I now have a better understanding of how much to contribute and how to determine the impact it will have long-term on my future retirement goals. Along with the key tips I have learned, I have had the opportunity to instill more new habits, such as focusing on where my money is going when I get paid every other week. I have also attempted to be more cautious when I swipe my card and where I put in my card information for automatic payments. As a result, I can keep better track of my finances and reduce the chances of my account information getting into the wrong hands. With the things I have learned this month and the habits I have changed, I feel my overall health has improved as a result of this financial competition. I know you’re thinking, “What? How?” but let me explain. Not having to worry where my money is going has helped to ease my stress and anxiety. This has allowed me to feel much healthier in my mindset knowing my hard-earned dollars are going to good use and are accounted for. I am halfway through the All In 2 Finances Challenge and can already notice the lifestyle change I have incurred will be one that is lasting!

Month 4 | July 2022

Focus: Using Credit Wisely & Platinum Rewards Cards

While building my credit over this program and, specifically, this month, I learned that your payment history calculates 38% of your score, and the length of your credit history calculates 18%. Those two categories alone make up more than half of my score, so my main takeaway was that it is necessary to purchase things on credit. I have to make sure I am making my payments on time and letting that account age for a more beneficial impact. Learning other ways to build credit has been essential, but I also made a significant habit change that will pay dividends for my future. I have a CD loan with All In, officially paying off, hitting the 12-month mark in July. Before talking to my financial coaches back in April, I was determined to pay this loan off ASAP, but my coaches explained how letting it reach its full term could benefit me. I decided to let the loan go out to term with no missed payments, which showed me how patience is indeed a virtue! I am excited to see the improvements I can make with my CD loan paid off and what it does for my credit score. It has already boosted my score by 20 points while paying it off. I love the benefits of the CD loan as it offers no money down, a 12-month-term, reasonable payment amount, and I receive a $1,000 payout at the end. Seeing the tangible improvements of paying off my CD has provided me with more motivation to finish this program strong!

Month 5 | August 2022

Focus: Auto and Home Buying Education

I cannot believe I completed Month 5 of the competition and how fast time has flown by! I learned valuable information about mortgages. After speaking with Erica in the Mortgage department, I have learned what to watch for when it comes to qualifications for buying a home. Lenders look at items such as employment history, income debt to income ratio, savings and credit score, and knowing this will be helpful when I approach the time to purchase a house. All of this newfound knowledge has made me more aware that forming good financial habits is key to buying a home, and I look forward to continuing to work toward that goal. A few of the patterns I have changed this month is cutting down on "optional" debts I have. These debts are not necessities and can be cut from my budget, which has allowed me to know how much extra I have per month I can designate toward paying down debt sooner. I now have a checklist of debts I can eliminate from smallest balances to largest, and I am determined to cut my debts to a minimum. These habit changes have led to significant progress being made toward reducing debt during the duration of this competition. Not only have I reduced the interest on my high-interest personal loan by switching to a personal loan with a lower interest rate, but I have also made it possible to PAY OFF that loan way before its term! Coming into this competition, I owed $3,200 on a five-year term loan with a 31% interest rate, and with All In's help, I was able to switch my loan to a loan option with a 3.4% interest rate. The savings from interest made it possible to be free from this debt in half the time, and this has ultimately saved me tons! While ending this competition is bittersweet, with the help of All In Credit Union, I am equipped with financial knowledge, principles and tips that will allow me to live a life of financial freedom.

Month 6 | September 2022

Focus: Giving Back to the Community

This has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. While this may be my final journal update, my financial journey has just begun. The final month of this competition was focused on giving, and it reemphasized how vital giving is and how it’s one of life’s ultimate gifts. By taking control of my finances, I have attained the ability to share my knowledge with others. I have also learned the biggest reason I want to be financially secure: to be able to give to others. Along with finding my purpose for being financially secure, learning to be more aware of my spending habits has been a major change. By sitting down each month and calculating the money I’ve spent, I have changed my finances for the better. Another improvement from this final month was to begin printing my statements and asking myself “What was that for?”. Having a firmer grip on my finances has enabled me to pay off debts, save money and invest in what matters. With the support and guidance of my coaches, I am leaving this program with renewed confidence and purpose not only to continue to improve my financial situation but inspire others to do the same.

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