Dreaming Big: How Real People Reached Their Ultimate Money Goals

Piggy bank placed up to its nose in a pile of dollars
By Marisa Torrieri

If you had a financial fairy godmother, what would you wish for? A new home? A robust retirement account? An emergency fund that could cover you no matter what?

Well, we don't have a magic wand, but we do have the next best thing: real-life cases of people who've achieved enormous financial goals.

Plus, we even got some insight from a LearnVest Planning Services certified financial planner.

Read on to hear from the people well on their way to achieving their ultimate financial goals -- as well as David Blaylock, CFP's take on the lessons you may be able to apply to your own situation.

Courtesy: freefrombroke.com
'How I Saved $30,000 for My Wife's Maternity Leave'
--Glen Craig, 41, Lynbrook, N.Y.

Where He Started: When Craig's wife was expecting their second child in 2007, she couldn't bear the thought of putting the baby in child care after the standard 12 weeks of maternity leave. Instead, they set a goal of saving enough for her to stay home for one full year: $30,000 in only seven months.

How He Saved: Since Craig, who was working in the advertising industry at the time, and his wife, who works in education, each earned about $55,000, they immediately started putting Craig's paycheck directly into a savings account and got used to living off his wife's alone.

While they had a comfortable emergency fund and continued contributing to their 401(k)s, they cut back on non-essentials like eating out, including lunches at work, premium cable, "and really any spending we didn't think was necessary," says Craig, who details his financial accomplishments on his blog Free From Broke. "We also made sure to be mindful of our spending. When we went to the store, we made sure to make a list of what we needed -- and stuck to it! Impulse shopping had to end."

The Hardest Part: "We were concerned with how well our savings would last, especially in the beginning," Craig recalls. "But it didn't take long to realize that the small sacrifices were making huge strides in our savings.

It didn't take long to realize that the small sacrifices were making huge strides in our savings.

We thought we'd burn through them, but once the baby was born, we discovered that the changes we made allowed us to live comfortably on one income and we didn't even need to use that money -- instead, it made a nice start to the down payment for the house we eventually bought for our family. Our son is almost 7 years old now, and we still think it was worth it for my wife to have that extra time at home with him."

Where He Is Today: "Since that leave in 2007, we've had two more children," says Craig, who is now a stay-at-home dad and blogger. "For my wife's last leave, we had to use a Cobra plan while she was out, since I'm now self-employed and couldn't put the family on my health insurance as I had during previous maternity leaves. We had the money in savings to cover it, but now we want to build that back up for the next challenge, as well as continue to contribute to long-term goals like retirement and college savings."

The CFP Says: "The main takeaway from the Craigs' story is the importance of planning ahead. He and his wife weren't thinking only about the cost of diapers, but also how they were going to cope with the expected loss of income during an extended leave. Not every dual-income family can transition to living off one salary, but everyone can anticipate the cost of a big life change and plan accordingly."

Want to read more success stories? Check out the three other big dreamers in this series at LearnVest.

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Proof that working leads to rewards and sitting at home watching TV waiting for a welfare check won't get you the things you want in life!

January 13 2014 at 9:33 AM Report abuse +1 rate up rate down Reply

I live in PA and a PPL customer but get my Electric from AMBIT ENERGY for FREE!!! Real easy I just referred 15 people and get their average off my bill. Very nice to have the generation and transmission paid with my referrals. This can happen in over 11 states with both natural gas and electric. www.jimcec.energy526.com (web site with a few short videos well worth a few minutes of your time)
This has saved me well over a thousand dollars on my electric last year!!!

January 12 2014 at 9:48 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

What kind of $30,000 a year job did his wife have that didn't offer paid maternity leave? If I had a job like that, I would seek out another job with better benefits.

January 12 2014 at 2:56 PM Report abuse -1 rate up rate down Reply

give it a rest

January 12 2014 at 1:12 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Gas started going up in 2005 at $2.30, 2006 $2.59, 2007 $2.80, 2008 $3.27, 2009 $2.35, so we can't blame everything on Obama, Bush really did do a lot of damage and Bush is the one that added 100's maybe 1000's of government job's that we didn't need, meaning spending more tax money on jobs he created for the goverment. I am not a fan of any government that tries to take over the people but I think Bush was one of the worst, he is why we are so broke today. Now don't be sending me any reply's complaining about what I said because this is my opinion and everyone has a right to their own opinion.

January 12 2014 at 11:17 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Slineb10p.....did you complain when Bush was in office????? Unemployment was on the rise since then........we had I believe 16 years of the Bushes!!!! the country was a mess, Obama inherited Bush mess, he has only been in office for 4 years, you expect him to fix it that quickly?????? Its going to take more than 4 years to fix the mess that The Bushes made, and I doubt he will be able to do it in another 4, it will take another 16 years to fix this mess, so wake up.
This country was built on a lie from the beginning, everyone that gets into office only think about themselves, for instance, why would you have someone serve in office until they die???? Those Supreme Court Judges making 160,000 a year for life......what the>>>>> whoever heard of that???? minimum wages 7.50, give me a break!!!!! They are trying to find the solutions, start in Washington!!!! cut the salaries of all the leaders and they will be able to find a solution for all the problems that we are facing in America

January 12 2014 at 10:30 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Obama cant do it alone!!!! Congress has to agree also, ever since he has been in office all he has gotten is opposition from Congress. Wake up America !!!! Stop blaming Obama, this country has been in the rut since the Regan regimen and the Bushes!!!!

January 12 2014 at 10:20 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

obama will find a way to stop this!

January 12 2014 at 9:56 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I know one way,,never get married..

January 12 2014 at 9:54 AM Report abuse +2 rate up rate down Reply

Quick math. 110k per year is 9k per month.... or 6.3k after taxes. too save 30k in 7 months means 4.3k per month savings. So this family lived on 2k per month (6.3k - 4.3k) with rent/ house, 2 cars (they both went to work) insurance, utilities, food, et al. when they were used to 6.5k with their lifestyle..... ummmmm.... noooooo. At least 1200 for rent.... 400 food... 900 insurance/utilities.

January 12 2014 at 9:08 AM Report abuse +4 rate up rate down Reply