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How One Couple Got Themselves Out of Debt

It can sometimes seem like a long slog to reach your financial goals. We all need a little motivational help once in a while to reignite our passion for our goals. To that end, a research study by Professor Shirli Kopelman of Michigan Ross University, 2021, has shown that reading about other people’s exceptional success stories can help motivate us to both learn and achieve more. Consider Time’s online story (2021) about a Michigan couple, Andy and Nicole. Both husband and wife made a pretty good salary, and they thought they were doing well financially. Plans to begin having children soon caused them to calculate their net worth. Shockingly, the couple learned they had a negative net worth of a $50K!


Andy and Nicole discussed the situation and developed goals and a workable game plan. The idea was to first pay off the debt and then begin building wealth. They created a two-pronged attack to solve their negative net worth dilemma. They cut back their expenses so they could live on only one salary. Meanwhile, they worked to increase their income so they could pay down the bills faster.


After the plan was decided upon and initiated, their efforts did not stop there. They began having regular monthly meetings about their progress and continued strategizing new ways to reach their goals. In other words, they had shared goals, a shared motivation to achieve them, and made regular communication and coordination with each other a priority. Today, Andy and Nicole have two children a net worth of $1 million and growing.


Let’s looks at the case of D.C. resident, April Stewart (as reported by Black Enterprise online, 2021), who is a young professional making a good salary. April noticed, however, that she never seemed to have any actual money. To change this situation, April began tracking her spending and created a budget. She soon saw that she was spending every dime she made.


April spent time creating a budget, disciplined her spending, and then worked diligently at saving her income and learning to invest it. By age 30, April had amassed $1 million in wealth. April began a new career as a money coach and is doing quite well in her new business.


USA Today reported on Demi Skipper who, although not yet technically a millionaire, still has a very inspiring story. Demi Skipper was a young newlywed who was an architecture student at the University of Virginia before she began designing computer maps at Apple. Demi was always an entrepreneur and typically had several side gigs to make extra money. One day, Demi was inspired by the story she saw on YouTube about Kyle MacDonald (author of One Red Paperclip). He detailed his amazing journey of trading a paperclip for a house. Of course, it wasn’t a direct trade, McDonald kept upgrading his trades until he was able to trade more valuable goods for a home.


This inspired Skipper who wanted to do the same thing. She began with a bobby pin she had laying around at the house. She told everyone of her plan on her TikTok platform and clearly stated her goal. Her first trade was to a lady who had received nice earrings as a gift. The lady hated the earrings and was glad to pass them on to someone else who might use them. Skipper was off and running from that point forward. Along the way, she briefly traded for items such an electric skateboard, a new iPhone, a van, and a solar-powered food truck/trailer. On her journey, she also attracted 5.1 million TikTok followers who watched her quest to trade up to a home. Demi Skipper recently achieved success when she traded her food truck/trailer for a two-bedroom, two-bathroom house in Tennessee that is sitting on an acre of land.


What do all of these success stories have in common? Professor Matthews of Dominican University of CA, Department of Psychology, has a good idea why this group of high-achieving individuals succeeded in such spectacular ways. In a recent study, Professor Matthews learned that participants in the study who wrote down their goals and then provided someone else (like a friend or family member) a regular update on their progress achieved their goals at a 70% rate. Those people who did not provide regular updates only had a 35% success rate.


In the stories I shared above, we see that two out of three successful people provided regular updates. In the first story, Andy and Nicole gave each other updates during monthly meeting/strategy sessions. In the case of Demi Skipper, she provided ongoing updates to her 5.1 million TikTok viewers. Interestingly, a study published by Science Daily (October 2015) found that the more you monitor your progress toward your goals, the more you increase your chances of achieving them. You can then boost your chances of success if you report publicly about your goals on a regular basis.


Get inspired and go create your own amazing success story! My book, From Money Disaster to Prosperity, has additional stories about people who went from absolute financial disaster to wealth. Read more about how those individuals overcame their own personal demons and physical and external challenges to create unparalleled financial freedom and success.


~ Larry Faulkner



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