No More Living Paycheck to Paycheck

How often do you get the opportunity to read a personal financial success story from an Internal Auditor? Probably not too often. Auditors tend to be pretty tight-lipped about things, which is why I’m excited to share with you the story of a Senior Internal Auditor at First United Bank who has learned from personal experience how to stop living paycheck-to-paycheck, pay cash for college, and save money.

Jillian Duncan is a wife, mom, college student, full-time Internal Auditor, and a woman who knows the value of a hard-earned dollar, who has an inspiring financial plan to share about getting out of debt and paying cash for college.

In the past, Jillian worked two jobs. Not because she loved working two jobs, but when she and her spouse got married (13 years ago) they brought the dreaded “D” word into the marriage – DEBT! A new marriage combined with a car payment, a loan to purchase appliances, a truck payment, credit card debt, 4-wheeler payment, rent, plus everyday living expenses could equate to financial disaster, but not in this marriage. Jillian’s plan with her partner’s support allowed them to overcome the odds and dump their debt. 

What was different for this couple? Mostly the fact that they did not ignore the debt and pretend it would just go away on its own with time. Instead, Jillian got to work on creating an Excel spreadsheet where she listed all their income, debts, payments, and a goal for a debt-free date, along with lovely graphs/charts so she would have a nice visual for tracking. At the time, Jillian did not know she was using a debt-snowball method for paying off her debt, as she simply wanted to pay off debt quickly and keep using the money for paying off the next debt. Anytime Jillian and her spouse made extra money, she also applied it to paying off the debt.

Another thing Jillian did was build up a reserve in her checking account. Whenever she wrote checks or debit card payments in her check register, she would deduct even dollar amounts which slowly built up more money in her bank account than what she showed in her check register. This allowed a cushion for possible mathematical errors or any payments she might have not accounted for until payday and to avoid any insufficient fees.

Today, Jillian does not work two jobs. Instead, she is working one full-time job and attending college at Southeastern Oklahoma State University to obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting which she will earn in May 2020. Oh, and did I mention, she is paying cash for her school? How does she do it? Jillian’s parents supported her decision to continue her education and provided her with a small down payment to get started. Jillian gets some tuition reimbursement from First United Bank and has been disciplined to separate her regular checking account from her college checking account where she puts money away every pay period to fund her education. Jillian does not get any financial aid assistance and is not taking out any student loans (nor did she when she got her Associate’s Degree from Grayson College) as she is making her degree come to fruition through hard earned cash. Talk about working for and with a purpose! After she graduates, she hopes to become an Audit Manager and help others to spend life wisely. 

I asked Jillian what advice she would give to someone reading this article. Jillian stated, “When I first got married, we were living paycheck-to-paycheck. I vowed to never have credit card debt again. If a person cannot pay off their credit card balance in full each month, then work hard to pay it off and don’t use a credit card until you are disciplined enough to not over spend. Live within your means and work two jobs if needed to get out of debt. List your income and expenses and put your spending habits into perspective. We adjusted our lifestyle and made better decisions in order to save more money.” 

I couldn’t have said it any better myself, Jillian. According to Dave Ramsey, 78% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck so broke is the “norm.” I encourage you all to not settle for the “norm.” Instead, let’s all strive to create habits like Jillian and begin to live life within our means.

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