It’s been a while since we’ve checked in on Molly. There are some reasons for this, not bad reasons, just reasons. If you recall, Molly is trying to climb out of a challenging financial hole. She graduated college without student loans, but in the midst of a career change, she went to graduate school and accumulated significant student loan debt. In addition, Molly racked up some serious consumer debt. My job is simple: to help Molly get through these tough times, and get her saving money for the future. Remember, Molly is a thirty-something business professional who’s smart, funny, and fun to be around. She just got herself in financial trouble with some very ordinary financial choices. She’s not unlike many of us.
Molly has made some good progress over the last few months. She has paid off a total of three credit cards, she’s got $400 in her emergency fund, and she’s starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel. In addition, Molly has a $2,000 bonus coming her way at the end of August. That’s the good news.
The bad news? Well, it’s not exactly bad news. It’s life. Here’s some of the life that has happened over the last few months.
- Molly was forced to make an alternate housing decision. She explored ALL SORTS of options. This was a good exercise for her. She is wanting extreme results so she needed to look at some unusual ways to cut major expenses. Alas, none of those worked out. She did move into a new apartment with a roommate, and she’s paying about the same in rent as she paid earlier in the year.
- Molly had some unexpected medical expenses over the last few months. She’s fine, but the costs of care took away valuable debt-busting income, and she now has a new $500 medical debt.
- Although Molly had made some progress, she got really discouraged with what the medical bills did to her momentum.
As you can see, the “bad news” wasn’t all that bad. However, collectively these events were a major punch to the gut. It’s extremely easy to get knocked off course by the unexpected. If Molly had zero debt and a solid emergency fund, then these events would be completely insignificant. But based on her financial situation, small deals are made into big deals really quickly. This is one of the main reasons that debt and financial unpreparedness sucks. It’s like being allergic to bees. If you aren’t allergic to bees and you get stung, then it’s not really a big deal. It hurts, but you get over it. If you are allergic to bees, then every sting carries a potential death sentence. Being financially unprepared is like being allergic to bees.
Molly hit some bumps. It happens. Fortunately she won’t suffer the consequences of these events for too long. She gets her $2,000 bonus at the end of August, and she’ll use it to payoff her medical bill and raise her emergency fund balance up to $2,000. This additional buffer (her emergency fund) will help prevent bumps in the coming months. Molly is a real person. She isn’t some fabricated allegory that was created to prove my wacky points. She’s in a better place than before we started The Molly Project, and she will continue to get better. There will be more frequent updates on Molly’s progress, so stay tuned.
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.