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Actual Minter #EmpowerMint Story: Yalonda

At Mint, we believe every step forward is worth celebrating. With a little empowerment Any day can be your big day. That's why we asked real mints like you to share your stories. From the challenges to the big wins, we are very impressed with your dedication and motivation to make your financial dreams come true.

One story caught our eye in particular about our Minter Yalonda. Read through and be inspired by their amazing and powerful # EmpowerMint story.

"I'll be 100% real with you. I've lived paycheck to paycheck for 95% of my adult life.

I would be paid on Friday and wouldn't have a red cent in my name on Monday. I literally lived on a prayer Monday through Thursday, stressed and scared that I wouldn't find a way to get through the week. There have been many times that my money ran out before my next payday so many times I would hit my bank account with overdraft fees and just dig deeper into the hole. I'd even "flown" a couple of checks just to put gas in my car so I could go to work until payday.

In case you've never heard of the term, writing a check essentially means writing a check to pay for something and praying every second of each day that it won't be cashed until you actually have the money in the bank have to cover him. Fortunately, I never had a check, only by the grace of God.

Often times when you're broke you have to be creative with your cash flow (or lack of it) to make ends meet, but all that creativity was dangerous and got me stuck on that paycheck to the paycheck carousel.

Once after work, I stopped at Sonic's for a cup of water before my three-hour night class. I just happened to be on the phone with my mom when I realized I didn't even have the $ 0.56 to pay for it. I'd searched every nook and cranny in that car, but I was empty-handed, ashamed, and incredibly embarrassed. She knew I was in trouble, but I never let her know how bad it got. I'll NEVER forget the pain in her voice when I told her I didn't have $ 0.56 for a cup of water.

Fifty. Six. Cent.

I had a steady job in the financial world of education, but after health care and taxes, I only brought home about $ 1,200 a month, and as a fairly young mom, the pressures and stress that this brought with it were insurmountable.

I can't tell you the number of times I promised God that if I did it all over I would bring it together. I must have prayed this prayer a thousand times. But if there's one thing I've learned in this life it's this: if you don't learn that the lesson is trying to teach you, the lesson will repeat until you do.

And that's exactly what it did.

The lesson looked a little different each time, but it was always the same.

Over the next few years, I graduated from BBA in accounting and found a job in my professional field that more than doubled my salary. But as my career expanded, my bags weren't.

Every time my income rose, so did my expenses. Right before I got the job, my mother passed away unexpectedly at the age of 49. She was living with me when she died. As soon as my lease expired, I moved into a new apartment to take on all shared expenses. In December of the same year I “rewarded” myself by financing a used Ram 1500 with a HEMI Midnight Express Edition. Delivered just before Christmas, red bow and all, the truck was absolutely stunning but the price was anything but. After taxes, title, license, and interest, I paid about $ 38,000 for this truck. I was only making about $ 45,000 a year, but somehow I convinced the bank and myself that I could afford the $ 535 monthly payment for the next six years. With more spending, I was back to where I had started – living from paycheck to paycheck and holding onto one prayer.

It was only when I was on the verge of homelessness (for the second time) that I finally learned the lesson that life had taught me all these years.

Nobody came to save me. Nobody. Not my friends, not my family, and certainly not the government.

If I wanted to save, I had to save myself.

And that's exactly what I did.

The first thing I did was create a budget that literally changed my life.

Since I was new to personal budgeting, I had no idea where to start. I tried making a spreadsheet to keep track of my income and expenses, but it soon got too cumbersome and I stopped using it. When I stopped using it all budgeting attempts went out the window and I found that I had overdrawn my bank account again. Although the first time I failed, I tried to use tables to create another budget, but that one also failed. I quickly realized that I needed something light and foolproof or I would be forever stuck in the paycheck to paycheck cycle.

Although I was used to failure, I was determined to get this budgeting thing under control, so I quickly searched for budgeting apps online and came across Mint.

It was a free app and I had failed alone several times so I felt like I wasn't losing anything. After adding my budgeted income, an estimate of my expenses, and connecting my bank account to the app, it became clear that income wasn't the problem, it was my spending habits. I was impressed with the amount of money I spent on fast food, "quick trips" to Walmart, and the less-casual work lunch.

I knew I had to take my money seriously if I was ever to get out of the trap I was caught in. So I buckled up. I initially focused on my needs and less on my desires, started cooking more, bringing my lunch to work and tracking every single issue in the Mint app. I also started using the word "no". I said "no" to myself several times when I didn't, but I also got into the habit of saying "no" to my friends, family and co-workers. Within a few months, I had finally saved my first $ 1,000.

That $ 1,000 was my salvation. I have never had savings in my life. I used to have a savings account, but every month, any money I sent would be returned instantly. For the first time in my life, I had a pillow that I could fall back on in an emergency. For the first time in my life, I was finally able to break free from living paychecks to paychecks. Simply put, a budget saved my life.

I will forever be grateful for what Mint taught me about budgeting, my finances, and about myself. Now I am teaching my family, friends, co-workers and even strangers on the internet about budgeting and how it can change their lives too. "

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