In the past few years, Josh and Lindsey of Dallas, TX have made great progress with their money. But they’d tell you the impact it’s had on their marriage is the biggest benefit.
When Josh was offered SmartDollar at work, he and his wife got busy changing how they handled their money. In just a few short months of following the program, they became loyal budgeters, saved up a starter emergency fund, and started attacking their student loans on the way to becoming debt-free.
“I think the growth we’ve seen in in our relationship is by far the most profound,” says Josh, an architectural project manager. “I think that’s the strongest thing, and what we count as the biggest blessing.”
But he’s quick to note that the financial turnaround he and his wife have enjoyed since starting new money habits is also pretty awesome.
“Just knowing that we’ll be retiring by the time we’re 55, and millionaires before then, is pretty exciting,” he says.
His wife, Lindsey—an HR manager—agrees.
“What surprised me the most about SmartDollar was the progress we made together,” she says. “How we were able to pick up momentum because we were working together and were on the same page as we were talking about it.”
That’s the power of unity, and it’s something emphasized throughout the SmartDollar program.
Just Married and $122,000 in Debt
Josh and Lindsey met in college and were married in 2011. They graduated two years later, but with a huge burden of student loans to pay back as they started their careers. By the time they encountered SmartDollar, they’d racked up nearly $122,000 in total debt!
“Most of that was in the form of student loans, which were about $75,000,” Josh says. “We also had $6,000 in credit cards and the rest in cars.”
Their situation was actually pretty typical for a young couple. On the one hand, they were newlyweds fresh out of college and ready to take on life together. But on the other, they were deeply in debt and had little understanding of how it was impacting their future.
Lindsey was managing the couple’s finances when they first got married.
“I just made sure that the bills were paid, and that there was enough money in the bank account just to make it to the next month.”
“Just as money came in, it went out,” Josh recalls of the early days of their marriage. “And before I realized it, we were spending as much as our rent in food every month!”
From Paycheck-to-Paycheck to the Baby Steps
Josh sensed they needed to make some changes, but he wasn’t sure where to begin. A conversation with his father led to the subject of how to build smarter money habits.
“My dad gave me some of the Ramsey curriculum to listen to on audiobook in my Corvette while I was bumbling along in Houston traffic,” Josh says. “It was just a lightning bolt for me. I didn’t know that I was doing stuff wrong.”
Josh was so impressed by what he was learning that he had a thought: What if he could share the same information and inspiration with his coworkers?
“As part of an initiative at work to get people progressing in professional development, our senior leadership asked everyone to do a five-year plan,” Josh says. “One of my suggestions was actually to bring Dave Ramsey to the company. And then two weeks later the HR department launched SmartDollar and I was like, ‘Okay they already beat me to it!’”
SmartDollar at Work
The SmartDollar lessons Josh encountered at work hit him harder than ever, and he knew it was time to put them into action at home.
“When he came home and said that everything I was doing was wrong, that was hard to hear,” Lindsey says. “But once we heard the program together and started going through the Baby Steps, that’s when I started to realize, ‘Okay, this makes sense.’”
Josh says the program’s emphasis on seeing and appreciating personality differences in marriage helped them a lot.
“That helped us communicate a lot better and say, ‘Oh yeah! Well you’re a free spirit and I’m a nerd.’ And that kind of helped us relate and understand a little bit more.”
A Flexible, Self-Paced Program
As an HR manager, Lindsey quickly recognized the power and value of SmartDollar as a workplace benefit.
“Being in human resources, I see a lot of different programs out there. I get demos all the time. What surprised me about SmartDollar was just how easy it was to navigate and to use.”
She found her free spirit drawn to SmartDollar’s flexibility of use and timing.
“The self-paced style was really, really helpful,” she says. “For people who have short attention spans, just being able to watch those clips and the shorter lessons was great.”
They also had the advantage of an EveryDollar budget that came included with Josh’s company benefit!
“Getting EveryDollar as part of the program was a huge blessing for us just because I’m a free spirit and he’s a nerd,” Lindsey says. “I really needed a program like EveryDollar to make it easy for me to budget because that’s not my strength.”
The impact SmartDollar had on her own marriage inspired Lindsey to make a decision for her own HR team at work.
“SmartDollar works. What it teaches is incredibly powerful,” she says. “That’s why I’m very excited to roll it out in my workplace very soon. I know from the conversations I’m having with people, they need help. They need help planning, figuring out what to do with their money and how to plan for retirement.”
A Dramatic Turnaround
Since finding SmartDollar and their exposure to all of the Dave Ramsey curriculum, Josh and Lindsey say everything’s changed for them. Josh summed it up well.
“Our marriage, our lives, and our money have changed dramatically. We paid off $122,000 in four years and four months.”
And he’s grateful he had the opportunity to make it happen through a workplace benefit.
“I’m so thankful to my company for giving me the context and the tools to be able to have money conversations with my coworkers. I think people have a hard time talking about money because it’s a very personal subject. For us to be able to get in a room and talk about money and then go back to our desk and talk about life that happens outside of work is great.”