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    Spotlight: Stop, Slow, Go – The phases of financial freedom

    by Lisa Walters

    The COVID-19 pandemic is affecting every single one of us in some way.

    I wanted to share how the recently released color-coded phases, which state guidelines for “reopening,” have caused me to reflect on my own personal debt-free journey.

    I immediately began making connections of what life was like during our red phase to financial freedom.

    At the beginning of this phase, my husband and I were drowning in debt and sought guidance from professionals at the Credit Counseling Center. Our counselor gave us the most beneficial check of our financial journey… a reality check.

    We immediately stopped using credit cards, budgeted our income to live cash only, and prioritized building our savings accounts.

    Because of this, we said, “NO” to many things for a while. We were in complete shutdown mode and stopped doing many things from our previous way of living.

    Together, my husband and I were forced to adapt and develop new routines, in order to prepare for a financially healthier yellow phase.

    The yellow phase of financial freedom isn’t nearly as strict as the first phase, but you must still proceed with caution.

    In this phase, you’ve adapted smarter spending routines. Your debt is getting paid down at a nice steady pace and you have cash available for your basic needs.

    You do not have to say “No” to every little thing, but you have the skills to plan ahead.

    The green phase of financial freedom is where we should all want to be. Maybe you still have a mortgage payment to chip away at, but all those annoying high interest credit cards and car loans are a thing of the past. You have cleared the bulk of your debt and your savings account is strong.

    Strong enough to tackle 3-6 months of your basic expenses in the event of a job loss.

    Strong enough to not cringe when you have to purchase a new dishwasher because your current one decided today was the day to go wonky.

    I recommend everyone sit down and make a list of restrictions and goals for each phase.

    What debts do you need to pay off? What things will you cut out in each phase to become financially stronger? What are your hopes and dreams of things you want to be able to afford to do?

    It is never too late to take control.

    Get started by planning out your own three phases of guidelines to achieve personal financial success.

    PHOTO CAP: Paula Powers-Watts, Laurie Selitto, and Erica Librach, members of the counseling team.

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