Job: Activities supervisor at Kids & Co., a community education program of the Hopkins School District
Education: Bachelor's degree in elementary education from Northwestern College in Iowa
Income: $31,000 a year
Last major purchase: $165 for Green Bay Packers tickets [in December]. It's pretty major for me to spend more than $100 at one time.
Next major purchase: I'm hoping a digital camera, probably within the next few months. I'm hoping to save money for it.
Smart money: For me, the biggest thing is planning ahead and saving a little bit for my car insurance every six months. The first time that came around, it was, "Oh no, there's $400 or $500 right away." Once my mom gave me the idea to save a little from each paycheck, those big things don't hit me all at once. I save about $160 each paycheck for bigger purchases.
Stupid money: Oh, going out to eat or to movies. Probably going out to eat would be the bigger one. I should be buying groceries and eating at home.
What's a financial change you've made in the last five years? I think I'm beginning to be more cautious about how much I spend. With my credit cards, I got into the trap of, instead of paying them off every [month], I made a big purchase. It was like, "I'm in debt. Oh well, everybody's in debt." I don't use my credit cards anymore. I kind of went back to what I was told.
Long-term goals: I'd like to put away more for retirement and be more financially stable, not living paycheck-to-paycheck. I'd like eventually to own a house.
Thrifty tricks: I get to work out at [Hopkins'] Lindbergh Center for free instead of paying for a [health] club. I take advantage of what free things I can.
If you won the lottery, what would you do? I would pay off all my debt -- school loans, credit cards -- buy my mom's house for her, buy myself somewhere to live, donate a lot of it to my church, help my brother out. I'd still work, but I'd have a lot less stress if I didn't worry about money.
Advice: To not get credit cards, unless you're going to pay them off [laughs]. That would be my No. 1.