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Can you imagine having over $32,000 of debt looming over you in your seventies? For Marilyn and Dave, this was their reality heading into retirement. With credit card and government debts piling up, as well as an additional $30,000 still owed on their car, this Alberta couple knew they needed help if they wanted to retire.
“I was raised with the belief that if you didn’t have the money, you couldn’t spend it,” Marilyn reflected. “But Dave was a firm believer in the ‘spend now, pay next year’ mentality. And instead of passing my beliefs onto him when we got married, I fell into his spending ways.”
While many of their debts came from necessary financial responsibilities and needs, they admitted a large portion of their debts came from poor money habits. Being avid travellers, the couple would spend their money on whatever they wanted wherever they went, not stopping to consider the implications that spending would have later down the road.
Identifying the best way to get out of debt is not an easy task, but even more difficult when you are nearing retirement. Walking out of their first appointment with Stacey, their financial counsellor, Marilyn and Dave felt comfortable in their decision to pay off what they owed. After reviewing their financial history, list of debts and financial goals, it was clear that the Orderly Payment of Debts (OPD) program was the best solution to their financial situation. Stacey recommended implementing a cash-only budget for the couple moving forward, so they didn’t get further in debt by still using their credit cards while on the OPD program.
Part of becoming conscious of your spending is learning exactly where your money is going. Using the cash envelope system forces you to make choices and set boundaries with how you spend your money. Marilyn and Dave quickly learned how sticking to the budget and spending less would make a difference to their debt.
“Stacey made our cash spending budget in a way that didn’t make us feel deprived or smothered,” Marilyn said.
“That’s not to say it wasn’t hard,” Dave added. “But once we got into a routine of separating our cash into different envelopes to know exactly where our money was going…It was eye-opening. The further along we went, the more encouraged we felt.”
Marilyn and Dave appreciated the confidential and compassionate counselling they received from Stacey.
“She really went above and beyond what most counsellors would provide for support and she was always so excited at our triumphs,” they said. “It makes all the difference in the world knowing you have someone there rooting for you.”
Not only did Stacey challenge the way Marilyn and Dave managed their money, but she also challenged the way they viewed it—separately and as a team. Money often makes relationships trickier, especially when it’s not discussed. Stacey encouraged the couple to do regular financial check-ins with each other so they would always be on the same page.
Travelling in retirement, and on a budget, means shifting perspective. While they’re still avid travellers and wouldn’t trade those memories for anything, Marilyn and Dave are proud of the debt they paid off and the changes they’ve made during the OPD program. Previously, their 30th wedding anniversary would have meant a lavish trip across the world. Instead, the couple opted for a road trip along the Oregon coast, using nothing but cash to fund their trip.
As Dave heads towards retirement debt-free, he knows they’ll be able to do the things they love because of Money Mentors’ help.
“Money Mentors saved our lives, financially,” Dave said. “I only wish we had called them sooner.”
Money Mentors would like to thank Marilyn and Dave for sharing their story. Congratulations on becoming debt-free!
If you would like to share your story, please contact our Marketing Manager.