CHICAGO (CBS) — We want to help you survive this economy. Meet the Wrights, a suburban couple with four children. They are ready to save some cash.
Every week, CBS 2 will have experts work with the Wrights on everything from tackling credit card debt to retirement savings to cutting everyday bills.
We’re talking about real tips and real savings – things you can do, too.
As CBS 2’s Dorothy Tucker reports, we don’t know exactly where this money saving journey will take us, but we do know where it needs to start.
This series is about taking one step at a time to help all of us improve our financial health. You won’t see any quick fixes.
The Wrights are a real family, with real struggles that get in the way of saving money.
Marcus Wright describes his family’s financial life as “chaotic.”
“The reason I would describe it as chaotic is because we’ve gotten away from having a structure on what we need to do daily, on what we need to do as far as saving, on what we need to do to put away a college fund,” he said. “I’d like control.”
His wife Sinora said she wishes for “peace of mind.”
“For me, it means not worrying about how we’re going to pay our bills,” Sinora said.
It’s a simple wish, but a difficult goal. The Wrights are upside down on their home – it’s worth less than the value of their mortgage. They have thousands of dollars of credit card debt and student loans. They’re helping two kids get through college and have two at home.
Sinora’s a stay-at-home mom and Marcus works as an IT consultant. He brings home $5,800 a month. About $5,200 covers the monthly bills. The $600 left over goes for food, transportation, everything else – including life’s little surprises.
“We had a dishwasher go out, we had a stove go out, we had a microwave issue, so it’s been rolling expenses,” Marcus said.
They’re a typical family, trying to survive a tough economy and they’re looking for help. Enter psychologist and life coach, Dr. Amy Johnson.
“You’ve committed to something,” Johnson told the Wrights.
While Johnson applauded their commitment, she said before any family tackles their budget, they must adjust their attitude.
“A good analogy is, you know, losing weight,” Johnson said. “If, ten years down the road, you know, I weigh 20 pounds less or if, ten years down the road, I have this much in my savings account … whatever your ultimate goal is to really feel that and to really feel how awesome that would feel.”
And just like a physical diet, it’s important to surround yourself with motivating reminders.
“If you have to keep your budget or your diet or whatever it is taped to the refrigerator and also, reminders on your phone,” Johnson said.
Asked what will be the biggest stumbling block for them, Sinora said, “sticking with it.”
“For me it needs to be done, so we just have to just do it,” Marcus said.
Dr. Johnson gave the Wrights an assignment this week. They have to spend a week tracking all the money they spend, so they get an idea of where they can trim their budget.
Already the wrights are already seeing results – a simple phone call saved them more than $100.
CBS 2 will have that story next week.