Updated: Wednesday, 13 May 2009, 11:33 PM EDT
Published : Wednesday, 13 May 2009, 5:16 PM EDT
INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) - Getting control of your family finances is the goal of the Money Watch 8 Challenge: 60 Days to Change. And for nearly nine weeks 24-Hour News 8 has followed three families struggling to do just that. This week, those families take the final step.
"Overall, we've come a long way," said Amy, a stay at home mom.
Amy and Brent are young parents with two children. Brent is the provider for the family.
Single mom Nadia said, "I'm getting there, I'm getting there. Everyday it's about self discipline."
"It's opened my eyes a whole lot," said Joe.
To almost empty nesters Joe and Merita, 60 days is about to end.
"Nothing we said is controversial. Nothing we said is speculative. It's just good old fashioned advice. You give this advice in the 1920's or 30's it would have stuck just the same," said Financial Expert Peter Dunn.
But will it stick? For our families, 60 days is just the first step on a lifetime of financial decisions.
Nadia said, "It's going to be harder now because I don't have you all or somebody following me to make sure I'm progressing."
In 60 days, Nadia has made substantial, clear cut gains. By eating fewer meals at restaurants and changing her cell phone and cable packages, she has saved herself at least $500 a month, $6,000 a year. She said she will continue to do the same as her plan for the future.
"In a year's time I should have enough money for my emergency fund. And that's to live off of for six months if something catastrophic were to happen," said Nadia.
"So we're trying a new thing, where we're gonna try to put some money into our savings once a week instead of the end of the month. We're going to try it weekly," said Amy.
For Amy and Brent, 60 days has pointed out potential problem spots and brought about important changes. Amy learned to shop for groceries more effectively, saving the family about $40 a week or $2,000 a year. They've increased Brent's life insurance to protect the family in case of a tragedy and have begun working on a will to insure their two sons are taken care of if something happens. But there's an intangible for the two of them that may be the most important lesson they will carry beyond the 60 days; communication.
"I think it definitely helped us to probably get on the right path. So I think ultimately it's going to be better for our relationship. It's going to be better for us financially," said Amy.
Brent said, "Well, any more involvement would have been 100% more than it was."
Dunn said that communication is an important part of the program.
"Sometimes the numbers don't matter at all. And if you can learn
that working together will achieve more financially that's good
enough. That's the one lesson you need to learn," said Dunn.
"It's opened my eyes a whole lot," said Merita.
Merita and Joe learned to cope with a significant cut in income because of Merita's layoff. They are working to combine insurance policies with one company to save money. They found a bad mark on Merita's credit report that she is now working to change. And they learned how to cut back spending that was already very lean.
"I spend the cash instead of using a debit card. So once the cash is gone, there's no more to be bought or things get put back because there's no more money to pay for it," said Merita.
Three families, working to get through tough financial times, have found that 60 days can last forever.
"Honestly, a lot of people don't know what to do. I mean it's not a matter of laziness or anything else, or motivation. They just literally don't know what's right," said Dunn.
All three families admit without the presence of Peter Dunn and the pressure of television cameras it will take extra discipline to keep moving forward. But all say they are committed to doing just that.
Next week, our 60 Days to Change families reflect back on the entire experience. And they meet each other for the very first time. What they have to say about the program and about each other next week.
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