Cassandra's Journey

Follow along to see her progress.

If you ask Cassandra what her biggest motivator in life is, she will tell you she has two, and they both call her mom. While her sons Brayden and Bryce are at school, Cassandra is serving on the front lines to provide care for our community as an RN. When the Enterprise resident is not cheering her sons on at baseball, basketball or football games after school, she is pursuing her bachelor’s degree to ensure they have the means to do what they love.  As the granddaughter of a Veteran who instilled the value of hard work, perseverance and independence, Cassandra is excited to take on this challenge with her family. They have their sights on saving for their futures, building or buying a home and setting aside enough funds to take their first vacation together as a family of three.

Month 1 | April 2022 

Focus: Budgeting, Settings Goals & All In Financial Tools

Changing spending habits is not always easy. The All In 2 Finances Challenge has helped me step back and take a look at how spending, even when it comes to simple expenses such as eating out, can affect my overall financial picture. Stepping back and assessing where I could reduce expenses and begin saving money forced me to evaluate what I need versus what I want. It has also taught me the value of comparing prices when I shop and the importance of setting a budget and sticking to it. My coaches reviewed helpful saving methods with me, and I have learned tips on how to ensure I am getting the best rates available to me when I need to secure financing. I understand more than ever how important it is to hold myself accountable for every penny I spend, to create a realistic budget that allows my family to save and spend responsibly, and how I can continue to increase my credit score over time. My coaches also ensured I know of the many tools the Credit Union offers to assist their members with money management, credit score management and saving for the future. I look forward to applying what I have learned this month to achieve my long-term financial goals.

Month 2 | May 2022

Focus: Saving for Children/College

A new month of the All In 2 Finances Challenge brought additional opportunities to learn and increase the number of resources in my financial tool kit. During this month’s session, my coaches emphasized the importance of setting aside money for my sons’ college educations even though they are still young. Previously, I assumed that my sons could work toward receiving scholarships to fund their education. Now that I’m more aware of all the necessary expenses, I know that setting aside funds for tuition, food, gas, insurance and other commodities is essential. Another important change I made was opening savings accounts for my sons, so they can be better prepared for the future. Being able to pass down the knowledge I am learning to my children and instilling these financial principles in them is one of the most gratifying accomplishments of this challenge so far. One habit I changed was to give up frequent visits to the nail salon. This one change allowed me to reduce my monthly expenses and the money I would normally spend on that service to my savings. With everything I have learned in the program and this one personal change to my spending habits, I am seeing a difference. When I combine these changes with eating out less, spending less on entertainment and no tuition this month, I am pleased to see an increase to my monthly surplus. Little victories like this reinforce why I am competing in this challenge and only serve as more motivation to keep pressing forward. I am embracing this new lifestyle and am looking forward to hearing about different ways to plan for retirement in Month Three!

Month 3 | June 2022

Focus: Retirement Planning & Insurance

Month 3 taught me how to properly prepare for retirement through traditional retirement plans and non-retirement plans. It was enlightening to see the importance of having an attainable, numeric goal and learning the best places to invest my money to yield the best results. These principles were fresh and new to me, and I know I will reap the benefits of these investments in the future. While I have been implementing new habits each month, I have also carried over a few I established in Months 1 and 2 including the want vs need method. It has worked well for me, so I continue to use it daily, as I can see the impact it has had on my day-to-day life. Another thing I realized is that situations that result in lasting memories with your children sometimes justifies an expense as a need. You cannot place a price on quality time with your family. The improvements I have noticed over the past month is that even if I go over budget in one area, there are other avenues to pursue that can help you stay on track with finances. I incurred a couple unexpected expenses, but I was able to sell a few things to offset the “loss”. Even though I spent more than I budgeted in some areas, I’m still on track because of extra efforts I made. This showed me that your financial dreams are worth fighting for and that with commitment and determination, your goals can be accomplished. I am halfway through this competition and have already seen the dramatic impact this challenge has had on me and my family!

Month 4 | July 2022

Focus: Using Credit Wisely & Platinum Rewards Cards

Using credit wisely is the primary lesson I learned this past month, and it has radically altered my credit view. I was always anti-credit card use because I’ve seen the results of using credit cards irresponsibly. Now, I see that there are benefits to using credit cards, but you must be selective and strategic when utilizing them. With this newfound knowledge, I have implemented a new habit and have begun putting more into my savings account. In the past, I had a bad habit of “hoarding” money in the wrong places. Now, I see I need to have my money in certain areas to earn more. I can never make my money work for me if I keep it in a drawer or in a checking account where it can’t earn interest. Without this program, I would have lacked knowledge about advancing and increasing my financial portfolio. I continue to see the benefits of budgeting each month and how saving money and budgeting is becoming effortless.

I look forward to budgeting now when, before, I would typically not enjoy it. I now see each month as a fun competition as I try to outdo what I have done the month prior. As I head towards Month 5 and the latter parts of this program, I am more determined than ever to keep reaching heights I never thought possible!

Month 5 | August 2022

Focus: Auto and Home Buying Education

Month 5 has taught me about the many loan options available for home-buying. With this being a primary goal of mine, I have also learned and experienced the importance of an emergency/savings fund, as I've had some unexpected financial changes this month. While trying to establish this type of fund, I have also started thinking more long-term about my finances. I've also started considering several options to increase financial wealth, such as investments and retirement preparation. Looking into these options has led to improvements in the way I think. Before this program, I would typically settle far less, but with recent setbacks this month, I've started to see the value in my skills, ability and contributions. Implementing all I have learned in the past five months has dramatically enhanced my finances, and I look forward to seeing the positive impact it will have on my long-term well-being.

Month 6 | September 2022

Focus: Giving Back to the Community

This month I’ve witnessed an immense level of satisfaction from providing services to those in need. No matter what obstacles you may be facing in life, assisting others in need brings instant happiness and gratification. The community project has reminded me of how blessed I am. I’ve learned that the most important things in life are often the things we take for granted each day. Throughout this program and especially this month, I’ve found new ways to save money in areas that can easily be overlooked. For example, I take my children’s sports pictures instead of paying too much for someone else to do it. This has sparked a new interest in finding other ways to save money in miscellaneous areas instead of giving other people money for things I can do myself for free. With guidance from my coaches, I’ve noticed a significant improvement in the amount of money spent on gas and food. I’ve limited long-distance driving to my children’s game, and I’ve made adjustments to dinner options on late game nights to avoid spending more on eating out. While I will miss meeting with my coaches monthly and being a part of this program, All In 2 Finances has provided me with knowledge, skills and principles that will guide me throughout the rest of my life and for that, I am forever grateful.

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