Spokane Valley resident Kumiko Love can pinpoint the exact moment she decided to change her financial habits.
After Love’s son, James, asked for a $1.09 ice cream cone at a McDonald’s drive-thru, she reached for her credit card because she didn’t have enough money in her checking account.
That’s when Love, also known as “The Budget Mom,” decided to embark on a journey to become debt-free.
“It was at that time in my life I realized the life and future that I wanted with my son was not that, and I knew there had to be change,” she said at her first local speaking event last week at CenterPlace Regional Event Center. “I knew I wanted to seize opportunities and have memories with my son without relying on debt. At that moment, I realized I did not have that, and it changed me.”
The sold-out event, “An Evening with The Budget Mom,” sponsored by Canopy Credit Union, drew hundreds of attendees with some traveling from as far away as Texas, Tennessee and Massachusetts.
“This event was a great opportunity for the Spokane community to learn how to take control of their financial lives,” said Charlotte Nemec, CEO of Canopy Credit Union.
Love, an accredited financial counselor, founded the Budget Mom personal finance blog in 2016 to share budgeting advice with others, which has attracted millions of visitors. She created a YouTube channel earlier this year to share budgeting techniques in a step-by-step process that has garnered more than 76,000 subscribers.
Love has also been featured in several national news segments on CNBC, “Inside Edition” and “Good Morning America.”
Love struggled with credit card bills and student loan payments after graduating from Eastern Washington University, and that was another reason she decided to control spending and eliminate debt.
After trying various budgeting methods with minimal success, Love created the budget-by-paycheck technique, which combined the calendar, envelope and paycheck methods to eliminate more than $77,000 in debt in eight months.
The budget by paycheck technique includes identifying expenses and listing them along with due dates and paydays on a calendar, categorizing spending based on each paycheck and dividing a set amount of cash among several envelopes labeled for groceries, gas, entertainment and other expenses.
Love prompted event attendees to discover their “why” – a person or thing in their life that they can’t live without – to motivate them to become debt-free.
“My son did that for me,” she said.
Love said awareness is the first step to financial freedom, and that can be achieved through tracking expenses.
It also helps to set realistic budgeting goals by incrementally decreasing expenses every month and remaining motivated by creating a cash envelope for crafts, hobbies or pizza nights, she added.
“These things don’t cost a lot, but I am telling you right now they will save your mindset,” she said.
Asked how she paid off $77,000 in debt over eight months, Love said she increased personal income through turning photography into a moneymaking venture while working two full-time jobs and consistently sticking to her budget.
“I want you to know that there’s more to this life right now than making minimum debt payments, getting by and paying the bills,” she said. “If I can show that to you by sharing my story, I will continue to do it every single day for the rest of my life. I want people to find what I have found – peace of mind, confidence in my abilities, a life without struggle and a better life with my son.”
Local journalism is essential.
Give directly to The Spokesman-Review's Northwest Passages community forums series -- which helps to offset the costs of several reporter and editor positions at the newspaper -- by using the easy options below. Gifts processed in this system are not tax deductible, but are predominately used to help meet the local financial requirements needed to receive national matching-grant funds.
Subscribe to the Coronavirus newsletter
Get the day’s latest Coronavirus news delivered to your inbox by subscribing to our newsletter.