A Bunch of #Wins Martin Luther King Would Be Proud of ;)

Happy MLK Day!

Did you know he was also a personal finance proponent back in the day?

He once wanted to get what he and others called a “Freedom Budget” going that offered up a “practical, step-by-step plan for wiping out poverty in America during the next 10 years.”

Which of course we’re still a ways away from these days (hell – we can’t even keep our government open!!) but it’s a nice dream to shoot for nonetheless :)

A dream that’s a lot more within our control at the moment, however, is getting our OWN budgets and finances in check! And today I want to feature a handful of people doing exactly that, one small – yet encouraging – win at a time.

Here’s a bunch of notes I’ve been saving up to hopefully motivate you to keep fighting the good fight… I’d like to think good ol’ Martin Luther would be pretty proud of everyone ;)


The Declutterer


What a wild four months it’s been for me. Here’s a look at what I did in 2018:

  • Decluttered three houses (smallest one was 2br/1bath, largest one was 4br/2bath)
  • Sold off excess clutter that was still functional, and made enough to remodel a 4br and start on a second house (2br/2bath)
  • In addition to the remodel, I was able to pay down all of my parent’s debts they had (roughly $6,000 – I’m still crunching numbers)
  • Paid off my car note and credit card (~$3,000 – I know it doesn’t seem like a lot, but for this single mom it frees up about $1,000 monthly!)
  • Built a partial savings for me and my parents (separate accounts)

I also devised plans to pay all bills for a whole year with extra income, and I’m working to stay away from all plastics – debit and credit cards.

– Sierra


The Debt Slayer

J. Money —

I’m sure you get this kind of email frequently, but I thought I would share my story. I graduated law school in 2009 with over $110k in debt, and as of last week, all of my loans are paid off! I started reading your blog sometime in 2014, and started using your basic excel budget tool in November 2014, when my student loan debt was just over $81k.

I also started using a basic Debt Snowball Payment Schedule excel document. Using those two basic charts, month in, month out, I paid the remaining $81k of debt in just over 4 years… Without the push and those tools, I have no doubt I’d still be paying that debt for a long time to come.

On to the future! =)

– Laura


The 52 Challenger

Dear Dr. J. Money,

I am an avid reader of your blog, and I am currently in pharmacy school and drowning in student loan debt. After practicing what you have been preaching, I have been able to chip away $5,000 in student loans debt this year, and at the same time saving more.

My wife and I decided to start the 52 week saving chart you posted on your blog, and we are thrilled to have saved $1,300 since we started. We have also significantly built our emergency, car, HSA, ROTH, Baby (we don’t have a baby now, but we plan to), vacation, gym, insurance, thrifty, groceries, rent & utilities accounts, and at the same time paying back monthly students loans.

Thank you for your time, and all the hard work you put in your blog to make our financial lives better.



EDITOR’S NOTE: Here’s what that 52 Weeks Challenge Chart looks like :) You basically pick a square to save that week, and then cross it out once complete and pick another until you’ve crossed them all out. It’s the brain child of MediumSizedFamily.com, and you can learn more about it here: Use This Chart to Save $1,000 This Year

money saving chart


The Freedom Seeker

Hey J money!

I just had to share some exciting news with someone who shares my excitement for money/ freedom!

Earlier this month we sold our house, bought a newer smaller sized home, and became mortgage free at 26!! Although we are not completely debt free yet as we still have a $15,000 heloc remaining.

And that’s not all – in mid April I QUIT a low paying dead end job that I was miserable at! Since then I have been working on renovating my new house and working doing side hustles for people while I figure out what I truly enjoy.

(Although I must admit I am LOVING the whole lifestyle of working 3 days a week for other people and spending the other 4 either working around the house doing renovations, or doing fun things with my wife and baby.)

The freedom I have been experiencing over the last little bit has been amazing. It’s been a rough climb for many years, but I just feel on top of the world now with the huge progress from around $75,000 to $322,000 in net worth with the recent house sale.


– Max


The Happy Investor

In 2013, I was sick of debt. I was worth less than zero. I cut my spending and did all I could to crawl out. Once out in late 2013, I began saving and investing in dividend growth stocks. 5 years later, I made it to $385,000 with my house paid off and no debt at all.

I’m not living as frugally as before, but still squirrel away enough to see steady growth. This blog and the old Dividend Mantra changed my attitude about money.

– Happy Investor


The Empowered Mother

When I first started reading your blog I lived worse than paycheck to paycheck (or savings to savings really as I have not worked since Sept. 2012).

I used to spend about $800-$1,200 a month, and last month I spent $352.00, and only $653.00 before that – averaging about $500-$700 a month all year. All my savings and spavings have been because of your blogs and motivation. Thank you so much, because by next month I should have an extra $1,000 to put in a fund for my little baby boy due soon. He is going to learn about money as soon as he knows how to count to 5 :)

Money was never talked about much in my family, but I’m planning to have a savings, checking, fundraiser/donation and a piggy bank for church givings. My child will learn how to save 10 percent of their allowance to put in a piggy-bank to help people in need. They are going to know that money is important and that helping others with money or volunteering is a special gift.

Thanks again for helping me become the best Mother I can be to set up my children for financial success.

– Anne

EDITOR’S NOTE: There’s an excellent book that I was given around philanthropy and finances before I even had my own kids, and they love it every time we now sit down to read it. In fact, last year I accidentally gave it away without checking with them first (didn’t realize they loved it *that* much!), and after they figured out what I had done, implored me to get them another copy ;) It’s called “Three Cups” by Tony Townsley and Mark St. Germain, and here’s a pic of what it looks like:

three cups finance book

(Links to Amazon page (affiliate link))


The Mortgage Killer

I paid a 30 year fixed mortgage in exactly 8 years. I basically kept throwing money at it until it was gone.

For a little extra push, I sold all the items around the house that I didn’t have a need for and those alone added up to $7,000 and I applied it right to the next payment which made a good difference.

– Sarah


The Brave One

“I recently moved in with my mother-in-law to pay off all our debt in one year, while teaching her about finances as well! It’s been a month and so far no regrets!”

– Carly


The Reflector

“I wanted to let you know that I have not missed a single month of doing our family’s net worth since reading your blog (this has been an absolutely transformative practice for us), and in that time it has since tripled.

I am also passing along some of your knowledge to my 11 year-old son (who has a Vanguard account with me) and he is now quite conversant in the 4% rule and is all about the “side hustle“. He is shoveling his allowance into his Vanguard account like there is no tomorrow! He has personally contributed almost three thousand, and I give him a 100% match for his long-term investments, so it is at about 6k now.

Can you imagine what a head start he will have if he keeps this up?

On another note, I worked with a guy who was 44 years old and in seemingly perfect health. One day recently he came to the office looking terrible. Everyone encouraged him to go to the doctor and he did. Less than a month later, he was dead. He had an aggressive form of cancer.

I know you can understand where I am going with this intellectually, but I think you are about 10 years younger than me. Ten years ago I would have had a very different reaction to this because I still felt somewhat invincible. Now, this incident has made me really and truly (and for the first time) value the time I have left.

– Mark


This stuff can be a slog at times, but as you can see it’s all possible!!

Keep on fighting the good fight and dreaming the good dream! :)

(And then promptly email me when you achieve it so I can shoot you internet love too!)


j. money signature

PS: If you’re curious to see what our new weekly newsletter looks like, the first one went out last Friday! –> No one gets to write your story but you.

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  1. Nita January 21, 2019 at 7:31 AM

    It’s encouraging indeed, the mortgage paid in a quarter of the time especially. I hope I will kill my own mortgage early as well. Planned 25 years, I hope to go no longer than 15.

    1. J. Money January 21, 2019 at 7:54 AM

      Excellent!! Make it happen!

  2. Joe January 21, 2019 at 8:31 AM

    Wow, you’re making a big difference in so many people’s lives. That must be very gratifying. It’s really true that everyone has to start somewhere. Just do your best and keep at it!

    1. J. Money January 21, 2019 at 8:45 AM

      Everyone with a blog is helping others in this world :)

  3. Chris January 21, 2019 at 9:10 AM

    Not to be picky, but your title says Martin Luther. I started reading your post thinking it would be about Martin Luther (Father of the Reformation), until I saw the word, “America”. :) By the way, I loved your Challenge Everything post in the past.

    1. J. Money January 21, 2019 at 10:10 AM

      D’oh – forgot there were other Martin Luther’s, haha… That’s what I get for abbreviating ;)

      Glad you liked the Challenge Everythings! Been a while since I’ve done them… maybe I need to do a round II?

  4. Tonya@Budgetandthebeach.com January 21, 2019 at 9:47 AM

    Wow that’s awesome!! Good for those people and it must feel so warm and fuzzy to get emails like that!

    1. J. Money January 21, 2019 at 10:12 AM

      It’s certainly better than the hate mail – which I also get a lot of ;)

  5. PFI January 21, 2019 at 11:44 AM

    So great to see the positive emails and impact.

    Also – thanks for mentioning the Freedom Budget. I somehow had missed that part of his work!

  6. Torrie @ To Love and To Learn January 22, 2019 at 1:09 PM

    Here’s another win to chalk up to your own board—you convinced me to start tracking my own net worth! I started back in August, and it has been completely life-changing. (In fact, I wrote a whole blog all about it, giving you all the inspirational credit, of course):


    Like I said in my post, I’ve always been pretty good with money, but actually tracking these numbers every month have made me think much more about the impact of all our daily financial choices a lot more. Now, rather than just considering if we have the money in our checking account to be able to “afford” something, I ask myself if I’d rather that money go towards our savings or investments instead…and as a result, our savings rate has definitely accelerated because of it!

    1. J. Money January 23, 2019 at 3:00 PM

      YES YES YES!!! It’s the daily thinking and habits that will form from this which completely changes things! I am so very excited for both you and your wallet! Way to take action and test it out! :)