The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines success as “the accomplishment of the aim or purpose.” At Powercat Financial Counseling, our counselors’ number one concern is to help our clients achieve financial success. There is no easy button or simple recipe for reaching financial success. However, included in this article are simple financial steps that can help anyone get started in the right direction to becoming their own financial success story. Also, included in this article are client success stories, as related by Powercat Financials peer counselors. Please note that the client’s names have been changed in this article to protect their privacy. To begin, you will read about Shelly and the path she took to becoming financially successful.
Shelly struggled with finances early on in college and had to work 20 plus hours a week to make ends meet. She had gotten in over her head in credit card debt and was feeling a lot of financial stress about her situation. She was active on campus and a leader in student organizations. She aspired to help her family be financially successful and wanted to set a better example for her siblings. We worked with Shelly on her budget and reviewed a plan to pay down her credit card debt. Her dedication to improving her situation was apparent; she just needed help getting started on the right path. She stopped using her credit cards and stuck with the plan we developed no matter how challenging it seemed. She came back to us near the end of her college career with a totally different perspective. She’d secured a great career opportunity and no longer had credit card debt to pull her down financially. She was so relieved and felt more secure with her situation. She even talked about starting to save and put money aside for her siblings. With our help, she realized the financial success she’d dreamed of.
With every success story there is a lesson to be learned. In Shelly’s case, the lesson is the importance of establishing and following a budget. This is the first step to becoming financially successful. Budgeting is particularly important in college when majority of students funds are limited. Using a budget is a way for students to stay on top of their finances. In order to start a budget the first step is to estimate your expected expenses for one month. Next, closely track what you actually spend over a month’s time. Finally, revise spending habits in order to stay within the budget. You can read additional information about creating a budget along with access to our budget form click on the following link. http://www.k-state.edu/pfc/budgeting/
The next client success story involves a young lady named Katherine. Katherine sought out our services after breaking her leg. She did not have any health insurance and was unable to receive financial support from her parents. When she first met with us she was overwhelmed with the idea of paying off her medical expenses. The billing departments had been contacting her and the financial stress she was feeling was widely apparent. The first thing we helped Katherine with was to help her organize the bills and establish a plan for paying them off. We helped her establish a budget, in which we included the medical payments. After working through a budget and offering her additional advice about student health insurance options Katherine was able to breathe easier.
As before, there is another lesson to be learned from Katherine. In this type of situation, the importance of having a budget does come back into play. However, this client was an excellent example as to why individuals should have an emergency fund established. It may seem like a daunting task, but even just saving $20-50 dollars every month could help make those unexpected situation less stressful. An easy way to do this is to “pay yourself first.” If you have direct deposit at your job, set up your pay check so part of it goes into a savings account.
Success is measured differently for everyone. For Shelly, it was becoming debt free and for Katherine it was paying off her medical bills. So help yourself become a financial success by tackling one financial goal this month. If you don’t have a budget, start working on one. Or perhaps you want to start saving for your emergency fund; start by setting up a savings account this month.
Anna Govert Peer Counselor I Powercat Financial Counseling www.k-state.edu/pfc