It Takes Discipline: Ms. E's Success Story

October 20th, 2016

“So I've come from living paycheck-to-paycheck to now being able to save and live comfortably without worrying about, ‘When's my next paycheck coming? When am I going to receive this?’ I don't worry about that anymore. When you're able to manage your money, you're not sitting there waiting for a paycheck, or when your next funds are going to come in. You just continue budgeting your money, setting yourself toward that discipline.” – Ms. E, Britepaths Financial Mentoring Client
“Throughout this whole journey…there were some tough times. Over a year, through the divorce. She lost her job, it wasn't her fault, her car got totaled. Yet she always had an attitude of gratitude, a perspective. Even in the darkest days when you could say, ‘Why?’ And that always impressed me.” – Rick Leino, Ms. E’s volunteer Financial Mentor


View Extended Remarks

Update: On Nov. 2, Ms. E represented Britepaths at a hearing before the Fairfax County Consolidated Community Funding Advisory Committee (CCFAC) to talk about how her own personal motivation plus the services, supports and mentoring she received from nonprofits like ours have helped her and her family succeed. Britepaths is purd to be part of the network of nonprofits and County agencies working together to help more people in our community make it on their own and thrive.
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All of us at Britepaths are so proud of Ms. E, who is supporting her family on her own after working hard in our Financial Mentoring program!

Ms. E is a medical assistant with two little girls who lives in the Fairfax County area. When she came to Britepaths (formerly Our Daily Bread), she was working hard but having trouble paying all her bills. The dissolution of her marriage caused further financial stress.

Over the past two years, she has worked closely with her volunteer Financial Mentor Rick Leino, and pro bono attorney Colleen Sweeney, along with Britepaths' staff to understand her finances, set and stick to a budget and build her savings.

During that time, she finalized her divorce, lost her job and was able to lean on her savings and the supports she received from Britepaths while she looked for a new job. She quickly found work and started rebuilding her savings. She is now at a point where she truly feels like she can support herself and her daughters on her own. In addition to the extensive mentoring support she received from Rick and legal counsel from Colleen, she expressed her gratitude for receiving supplemental food support through Britepaths' Food Bridge program, and the opportunity to participate in the Matched Savings Program, which helped her have available funds for the deposit on her current home.

Her future plans include continuing her education, work toward building a career, and sharing the lessons she's learned about financial responsibility with her girls. Rick says she will be a great financial mentor to others in the future as well.

Ms. E and Rick told her story at a recent Britepaths Financial Mentor Roundtable meeting. This video is an excerpt of the conversation during that meeting.

The following is a more extensive excerpt of Ms. E’s and Rick’s remarks during the meeting:

Ms. E’s Remarks on Her Financial Mentoring Experience [Excerpt]

"I didn't know anything about saving. Living from paycheck to paycheck, trying to make ends meet, with two little girls. It had gotten difficult. I was matched with Rick, who has inspired me through my journey. He has taught me discipline and tough love. Rick and I met every two weeks. If we couldn't physically meet, we were always on the phone, discussing budgeting, finances, questions. He was always available for me...There was never a point in time when he wasn't there for me.

"He showed me tough love. But he never forced anything on me. It was my choice. If I wanted to follow a budget plan or if I just wanted to walk away. And at first, I was wishy-washy. We started off by jotting down everything I spent for two months. He put it all together and set out a budget for me, which, I was bringing in more money than I thought I was. Being a reckless spender, I thought, 'Wow, this is how much I'm bringing in? Why can't I keep up with my bills? This is just crazy.' He said it was all about discipline. After a while I realized that this is all about discipline and if this is what you want, you're going to have to set yourself to some boundaries. I was able to save and save and save....

“When I entered into Our Daily Bread, I was at the very bottom. I didn't know anything about money, budgeting, finances, and I always wanted my children to have better. I want to put them through college, teach them everything they know about savings because I don't want them to have to struggle at the age that I'm at now, trying to make ends meet, and just learning how to budget, manage money and save. So I've come from living paycheck-to-paycheck to now being able to save and live comfortably without worrying about, ‘When's my next paycheck coming? When am I going to receive this?’ I don't worry about that anymore. When you're able to manage your money, you're not sitting there waiting for a paycheck, or when your next funds are going to come in. You just continue budgeting your money, setting yourself toward that discipline.

“Another goal, which I'm going to achieve: At this current moment, I receive child and spousal support from my former husband. My goal is to make enough money in addition to what he's giving me, so that if he were to stop making payments, my children and I will still be okay. And that's one thing I realized. The less I'm dependent on that money, the better off I'll be as an individual and a mom.

“Our Daily Bread, as far as my mentor, Rick, Colleen, the Food Program, Matched Savings, it has done my family and I justice, and I'm thankful, with me going through my trials, as far as my divorce, losing my job, I'm thankful that I still have them to support me mentally and emotionally. Without them, I don't know where I'd be. I really don't. And now, you know, I'm able to pay full monthly rent. I don't need housing assistance. I don't need any type of government assistance. I can do it on my own, and that was a goal of mine. And also, when I met Rick, I told him I wanted a career, and not just a job. Right now I'm a medical assistant. I do want to go back to school. I don't know what I want to do, but I want to remain in the medical field. And I want to teach others the same way Rick has taught me. I want to teach my children the same way, and I want to teach people the value of a dollar. You never know. You can lose your job, anything can happen. But if you don't know the value of a dollar, then what would you really learn? You need money to survive. But you also have to have discipline.

“And I want to thank Our Daily Bread for supporting me. They have praised me on everything I've done...Rick praised me every time I made a wise decision. There was one time I wanted an extra pair of shoes. My budget was set for $80, but the shoes were $100. So I took $20 from my eating-out budget and put that in for the shoes. He really praised me on that, because I didn't have to go to him and ask him. I made a really wise decision....It’s not about your wants, but your needs. You want to live comfortably. You want to give your kids some savings. You want to have retirement. You want to enjoy life and not have to struggle. And that's another big thing for me. I don't like struggling. Coming from struggling, and then not struggling; there's a difference. Struggling is something I don't want to do again!

“When you have to think about your children in addition to yourself, it's very different. Your kids need this, your kids need that, and I don't want to struggle anymore. And so, being able to live both lives and know the difference. Struggling and living paycheck-to-paycheck is something I will not choose to do anymore. So remaining disciplined on my budget is something that's important to me. Especially if I want to put my kids through college. I want to teach them right. I want them to do better than me.”

Rick’s Remarks on Ms. E’s Success [Excerpt]

“Throughout this whole journey…there were some tough times. Over a year, through the divorce. She lost her job, it wasn't her fault, her car got totaled. Yet she always had an attitude of gratitude, a perspective. Even in the darkest days when you could say, ‘Why?’ And that always impressed me. And the thing that I like also, and she's eluded to this, there actually are two things. One is that she's going to be a great mentor someday when she decides she wants to do it. Because she talks the talk, but she's walked the walk. She's going to be a great mentor. And the other thing.... She's going to start leveraging some of these things she’s learned on her kids. Maybe at Christmas time. They'll get a budget, and accountability, that kind of stuff. They may not like it, but guess what? She's liking it. She's going to say, ‘Okay girls, you got this amount of money, you do what you want to do, and no more fussing with that.

“The inspirational story is also endorsed with what you folks are doing at Britepaths. It shows what this program can do for someone like her, and somebody else, too. I'm just impressed with her.”

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