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Alan Prahl: All participants in financial makeover were winners

10:23 PM, May 3, 2013  |  Comments
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The fifth annual Money Smart Week Fox Cities Financial Makeover Challenge ended recently, and Scott and Rhonda Dohms from Appleton won the challenge. The Dohms received $3,500 for winning the Challenge. Each runner up family received $750.

Three families worked with financial counselors from Goodwill's FISC program. They set goals to increase savings, reduce debt, and reduce monthly expenses over the four-month period of the Challenge.

Kathy Horton, the Dohm's FISC counselor, taught them how to use the cash envelope system. Now before they make a purchase, they ask themselves, "Is this a want or a need?" "If it is a need, which envelope will we use?" If there isn't enough money in the envelope at that time, they ask themselves, "Do we need this right now or do we wait?"

Scott and Rhonda met with their children three to four times, explaining what they were doing and talking with them about the envelope system. They helped their three older children to create their own envelopes for their allowance.

The other families in the Challenge, Alisha and Brandon Resch and Ash-Leigh Kowalczyk, also made substantial progress. As an aggregate total, the three families paid down nearly $17,000 in debt and their total savings grew by nearly $19,000. That's a lot of hard work and results in only four months!

The Dohms offered this advice: "It is never too late to start saving, working on a budget, or getting your finances in order. Do not be afraid or shy about asking for help. Some of the information seems so simple that we should have thought of it ourselves, but to have someone to be accountable to and show us what needs to be done is excellent. The fact that many of the ideas are so simple makes getting financially organized that much easier. It is exciting to feel that you know what is going on with your finances and to feel more financially secure."

The Challenge was created to help families to improve their financial situation. People often wish they had more money in savings, less debt, or a better plan to manage their money. The Challenge organizers hope that other people will be inspired to make positive financial changes, just like these resourceful families that have learned life-changing behaviors they can use forever.

Sponsors of the Challenge include Capital Credit Union, Community First Credit Union, Fox Communities Credit Union, Lakeview Credit Union, Unison Credit Union, Thrivent Financial, the Appleton Area School District, Coalesce, Inc., Forward Financial, Digicorporation, Inc., the UW Extension Outagamie County, Appleton and Menasha Public Libraries, Fox Valley Technical College, the Women's Fund, J.J. Keller Foundation, U.S. Congressman Reid Ribble's Office and FISC. For a list of all of the Fox Cities Money Smart Week organizations or to view videos about the participants, visit www.fisc-cccs.org.

- Alan Prahl is with FISC (www.fisc-cccs.org) a nonprofit program of Goodwill North Central Wisconsin. He can be reached at aprahl@fisc-cccs.org.

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