In the mood for a success story? Good. Me too!
About 6 months ago, Sir Phineas Hollingsworth and Dame Coco Hollingsworth entered my life. (If I’m going to change the names of the people, I might as well freakin’ change their names, right?) They were newlyweds desperately in need of direction. Like many people I encounter, they were highly intelligent, yet were paralyzed by financial fear. Their #1 goal upon entering my office: put themselves in a position to become homeowners. Let’s not gloss over this. Phineas and Coco knew that homeownership wasn’t a snap decision. It’s a process that requires planning and sacrifice. Phineas and Coco were ready to put it all on the line.
Phineas and Coco’s household income when we met was about $85,000. Coco was the breadwinner and Phineas was busting his a$$ working three part time jobs to bring in about $25,000. He was on the hunt for a job, but wanted to make sure that he was maximizing his “downtime,” as he described it, while he was hunting for a job. Phineas and Coco were renters, and they were only paying $632 for rent. Yes, you read that correctly, $632 for rent. They knew that they wanted to save for a home, so they decided it didn’t make sense to spend a ton on rent. They strategically viewed the last 12 months of their life as a means to the end.
My job is pretty simple, I combine technical know-how with motivation and deliver it to people in a systematic way. This generally equals great results. The most important ingredient in this formula is motivation. Phineas and Coco walked into my office filled with motivation. They simply wanted technical know-how. I put together a very simple, but hard plan that would put them in a position to become homeowners in just 10 months. They had wonderful credit, but they had no downpayment or emergency fund. They had plenty of income, but a high income alone isn’t justification enough for buying a home. If you can’t scrap together a down payment with that high income, then how in the world can you consider yourself financially secure? That’s right, you can’t.
The conversation went a bit like this:
P and C: We want to be in a position to buy a $200k home in about 10 months.
PTP: Then you need to pay off the $5k in credit card debt you have, and then save $20k for a downpayment on a home. That means, that you need to save over $2,500 per month. You need to live on a very strict food budget. You can’t go nutty on gifts. You need to consider every purchase against your desire to buy a home.
P and C: Cool, we’ll see you in 10 months.
Eight months later I received an email saying that Coco wanted to meet with me. We met. She said that Phineas had secured a different job about 6 months ago, and was now making $38,000 per year. This meant they were making about $900 (after taxes) more per month than they originally thought. This got them super motivated. They went nuts. In just six months they paid off their credit cards and saved $20k for a downpayment on their house.
The lesson: motivation plus technical know-how will equal success. Phineas and Coco succeeded because they set a very crystal clear goal, and then attacked. It was beautiful. I’d love to take credit, but I just provided them with some math. Motivation is the most overlooked piece to the financial success pie. Phineas and Coco will always succeed. They’ve got it. They’ve got the motivation to live the life of their dreams.
So, how did one couple saved $20k in just six months? They were motivated. They sacrificed other comforts to accomplish their goals. Are you willing to do this? If so, I’ve got the math.
Peter Dunn a.k.a. Pete the Planner® is an award-winning financial mind and a former comedian. He’s a USA TODAY columnist, author of ten books, and is the host of the popular radio show and podcast, The Pete the Planner Show. Pete is considered one of the foremost experts on financial wellness in the world, but he’s just as likely to talk your ear off about bass fishing.
5 thoughts on “How one couple saved $20k in just six months”
Gorgeous! I wonder what their next goal will be?
This is a great story, but there are a lot of things that weren’t explained. What about student loans? Did they eliminate going out to eat and spend more on groceries? How did they save the money? Also, I think it is easier to do this when you don’t have kids. I would love to put more money back, but half my paycheck goes to childcare and raising a kid. My kid is my investment at the moment.
So, give me another story. A story with a person who is raising a family and still trying to put enough back for the future… in my case… my kid to go to college.
Who knows… maybe I am that success story. lol.
Good stuff as always.
Inspiring story for young couples starting out. Especially from the perspective of a girl who grew up in NY and now lives in SoCal. Sometimes home ownership at a young age just seems impossible. But as the Sir and Dame have proved anything’s possible with some motivation and direction.
Love the names by the way!
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I love this story. My husband and I are in a similar position. We want to buy a house in November and pay $500 in rent. It would help to have more details in the story though. Did they stop eating out? Share a car?