Success Story: Digging Out and Getting Ahead

With the bad economic news seemingly never-ending, it’s easy to forget about the success stories – the people who manage to make this economy work for them, digging out of debt to become more financially empowered than ever before.

There’s plenty of Americans who have beat the odds in this economy, but perhaps none signify it better than Joe in Arizona.

Over the years, Joe and his wife had accumulated nearly $60,000 in debt. Finally, something snapped and they decided it was time to change the way they lived. All credit cards were thrown out. Spending was scaled back dramatically. Every time they want to buy something now, they put cash into an envelope until they save up enough to afford it. Drastic measures, sure – but a pure example of doing what it takes to take back control.

Joe calls it a “huge sense of accomplishment” that he and his family were able to change their lifestyles and get back in the black. But now, he wants to “take it to the next level” by saving for retirement.

As a real estate agent and construction worker, Joe has been on the frontlines of the collapsing housing market, and his paycheck has felt the pain. His salary, combined with his wife, is down to $65,000 from six figures. But that doesn’t mean a nest egg is out of reach.

The key for people in Joe’s position, Carmen says, is to max out tax-friendly IRAs to make their money grow. Since Joe is currently an independent contractor, he can also take advantage of a Simplified Employee Pension Plan, which is essentially a 401(k) for freelancers. Carmen noted that $5000 a year toward a Roth IRA and another $5000 toward the S.E.P. would give Joe and his family more than $1 million for retirement in 20 years.

After taking on his debt successfully, it’s not hard to imagine how Joe will take on retirement.