Ready To Go The Distance

B.E. catches up with a few of our 2006 financial fitness contest winners to see if theyre close to the finish line

in the Detroit housing market, the Quinzys count Chrysler’s purchase of their home as a blessing.

For now, the parents of two young boys—Dante, 6, and Donovan, 2—are renting a house. The pricey Orlando market is coming off its boom and the Quinzys will wait until early next year to see if prices decline further. They will eye foreclosures too.

    When the Quinzys won the contest, their struggle was separating their wants from their needs when it comes to spending. At the time, Shante said, “We wasted thousands of dollars on stuff we can’t even name. … It was nothing for us to spend an $8,000 tax refund on big-ticket items instead of saving.” But there’s excellent news: The couple says they have stuck to their budget, and Danny estimates they’ve slashed 50% of unnecessary spending.

    “Moving feels like a fresh start. It’s made a difference,” he adds.

    New Year’s Resolution: “Continue to pay down debt; stick to buying a house we can truly afford; and save, save, save.”

    MONEY MANAGEMENT
    THE ADVICE

    • Stop giving Uncle Sam a free ride by overwithholding.
    • Make debt reduction a priority.
    • Find ways to increase cash flow.

    THE ACTION

    • They made adjustments so that each claims one withholding exemption. It’s too soon to see any results yet.
    • They cut their credit card debt from $20,000 to $15,000 and now purchase very little on credit. They’ve also managed to shave $2,000 off their student loan debt, which now stands at $58,000.
    • The couple got new car leases that cost them $400 less each month.

    INVESTMENT STRATEGIES
    THE ADVICE

    • Reduce the percentage of c
      ompany stock in their retirement accounts to 15%. Shante had all of her money in her company’s stock, and Danny had 30% in company stock.
    • THE ACTION
    • Danny held on to the company’s stock, given the sell-off at Chrysler. “The stock jumped quite a bit. That’s how I made money,” says Danny whose 401(k) climbed to $55,000. He increased his percentage of bonds to about 10% of holdings. Shante rolled over her former 401(k) into an IRA and now has about $4,000.

    PREPARE FOR THE FUTURE
    THE ADVICE

    • Deposit $2,000 contest winnings into an emergency fund.
    • Establish will and trust, other estate planning documents.
    • Save more for the children’s college educations.

    THE ACTION

    • They put the $2,000 in an emergency fund and now have $10,000 in savings, double what they had.
    • “With the move we haven’t done anything yet,” says Danny. “It’s our next thing to do.”
    • This is also on the to-do list. They have continued to save, however, and have about $3,000 toward the boys’ education costs.

    FACING HURDLES; Chris Butler : JUNE
    The good news for Chris Butler is that he recently was promoted to the position of Web developer for Ohio State University and will now bring home $70,000 a year, a 13% raise of almost $10,000.

    But the bad news is that he’s not likely to benefit much from the extra bucks because his money is still evaporating. “I still eat out a lot,” says Butler, 28. “I like my toys, like my big flat-screen television. I try to at least buy on sale.” Butler says that, at least

    Pages: 1 2 3 4
    ACROSS THE WEB