Color of Money: Testimonies of financial triumph
"I paid off my mortgage on July 3," one reader wrote. "THAT was Independence Day! Well, two weeks later, I received a check from the mortgage company, which was the balance of my escrow account. I wasn't expecting that at all, and while I wanted to splurge, I could [hear] Michelle/Big Mama/my recently deceased mother saying, 'save, save, save!' So, I treated myself to an inexpensive treat and deposited the rest of the money. I realized the money would almost cover my first year of property taxes!"
This testimony shows the power of delayed gratification: "My wife and I just made a large payment to finish off my student loans from grad school! We paid off over $100,000 in under five years! We're FINALLY planning a honeymoon -- we've been married almost four years, but just now able to find both the money and time to take the kind of trip we really wanted."
Here's another testimony on paying down debt: "Earlier this year, you advised me to take part of the money from an accident settlement and pay off my student loans. I paid off the last $12,500 of my student loans ($38,000 taken out originally). YES, it feels great to have that monkey off my back five years early."
Finally, I encourage people to create a "life happens" fund that is separate from their emergency fund. You tap the life-happens pot to fix your car or cover unexpected expenses, leaving your emergency fund intact for major setbacks such as a job loss.
"Until I started reading your columns/chats, I had not heard of a 'life happens' fund," a reader wrote. "I loved the idea and immediately started one."
Not soon after, life happened.
"I had a few larger unexpected expenses, and I was able to pay them off without getting anxious about seeing my emergency fund dip down. I also didn't feel the need to cancel/scale back my vacation or start only eating ramen noodles to replenish those accounts. Having this fund has helped me find balance in my spending/savings."
So what's your testimony of financial triumph? In times like these, I never tire of hearing about the good stuff.
Readers can write to Michelle Singletary c/o The Washington Post, 1301 K St., N.W., Washington, D.C. 20071. Her email address is email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter (@SingletaryM) or Facebook (www.facebook.com/MichelleSingletary). Comments and questions are welcome, but due to the volume of mail, personal responses may not be possible. Please also note comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer's name, unless a specific request to do otherwise is indicated.
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