Couple to use winnings to eliminate debt

Nancy Nelson and Suli Muqit always planned to get out of debt and to start saving, but it just never happened – until now. The winners of our Debt Slimdown Challenge, the York couple plans to use their $500 winnings to start an emergency fund and begin a savings plan.

“We’re finally doing what we said we would do for so long,” said Nancy, 48, adding they want to get out of debt, save for retirement and look into buying a house. “This was the impetus we needed.”

More than 200 people entered the Debt Slimdown Challenge, which ended March 18. Participants had to explain their financial goal for the year and how they planned to get there.

Nancy and Suli said they made a date with each other to discuss their income and expenses and map out a budget. They also plan to review a CD each week from a financial course they attended several years ago. The discussion is a long-time coming, she said, noting in her entry “we’ve been quietly avoiding it for most of our 17 years of marriage.”

The couple had earlier attended Financial Peace, a 13-week course on managing money created by Dave Ramsey. Both work – she’s a fraud specialist in Charlotte and he works at Wal-Mart – and while they shared some household expenses, they kept most other bills separate.

They have student loans, and Suli, 62, has some medical bills. In addition, they have eight adult children, 15 grandchildren and support her parents, who live with them.

Student loans, medical bills and credit card debt were common problems among contest entries. Many folks already are eating out less and thinking about wants versus needs. Several had taken steps to consolidate debt in order to pay it off faster, and others had refinanced vehicles and homes.

And, like Suli and Nancy, they‘re tackling the problem as a family.

They’ll listen to their Dave Ramsey CDs together, and recently went to breakfast to further develop their plan for paying off debt.

“We’re grateful for the contest,” Nancy said. “This is the fire we needed to get us moving.”