Catching Up With Tara: SaverLife’s First-Ever Super Saver
In December 2020, Tara won $10,000 as SaverLife’s first-ever Super Saver. We recently caught up with her to learn how she’s been since her big win.
What have you been up to since winning the Super Saver prize?
New Jersey was one of the first and hardest places hit by the pandemic. I received the Super Saver prize in December 2020, so everything was kind of locked down, and everyone was struggling at that time. Thankfully, I was one of the lucky ones who kept my job; my boyfriend was not as lucky, he was furloughed until mid-2021. I have a long tenure at my company, I recently celebrated my 16 year anniversary with them.
Late last year my elderly dog, Mojo, had a tumble down the stairs and he got injured. So that became a long list of really sad and scary vet visits and really hard decisions regarding surgery. We went through with the big surgery earlier this year, and thankfully everything went well.
How have you been feeling financially lately?
I’m feeling pretty good. The market’s been struggling this year, so I’m trying hard not to pay attention to that too much. And then my dog kind of wiped out my emergency fund. But I know in the next couple months I’ll be able to start contributing to that again. I know I have the tools, the ability, and now the habit to save, so I just have to get back into it. I’m feeling optimistic.
Did the pandemic, or even the current costs of living, cause any challenges with your savings goals?
Yes. It’s inflation. With the pandemic—my boyfriend was furloughed and that was hard—but we got the stimulus checks and he was able to be on unemployment and we had money coming in. But now there’s not any extra money coming in, my grocery bill is double what it used to be, and that’s just so hard right now. I have to keep reminding myself, saving is difficult right now, but these problems are temporary.
I’ve always been a penny pincher. Recently, my boss was like, “Save money by switching to store brands.” But I’ve always bought the store brands, I always look for the cheapest option, I’ve always hunted the sales. The prices are all going up and there’s no way for me to go down. Groceries are tough.
What is the next step in your savings journey? What does that look like?
What I was hoping to use my prize money for originally was a new car fund because my car is about 15 years old and it’s on its last legs. But then it became the Mojo dog fund. So now I think my next goal is getting a new set of wheels that are a little bit safer and a little more updated.
Has saving changed the way you view your future? If so, what kind of goals are you working toward?
Saving has absolutely changed the way that I look at the future. I was hit with these massive vet bills, and a normal person wouldn’t have been able to put the money down and pay for this life-saving surgery for this dog. But saving for the future and having funds in place took the ‘money issue’ out of this very tough decision. It was still a very hard thing to decide, spending this large amount of money on an older animal, but knowing I had the savings in place helped make that decision a little bit easier.
Having that cushion, that safety net, that emergency fund helped. Because that’s what emergencies are: your unexpected bills that come out of nowhere. I’ve always tried to be a saver, but now the saver in me helped save a life.