Lucinda’s Story: Sweepstakes Savvy & Smart About Money

Meet Lucinda, a veteran restaurant server who lives with her husband in Tucson, Arizona.

What’s it like where you live?

It’s nice and sunny here in Tucson. I’ve been there all my life. It’s just got that good hometown feel. People are nice, friendly, and helpful.

What do you do?

I’m a restaurant server. I’ve been doing that 35 years, and I’ve run the gamut of the hospitality industry. Sometimes I’ll see celebrities come in, so that’s always kind of fun.

What did your upbringing teach you about finances?

I definitely learned how to save. I got a pretty generous allowance growing up. My mom trusted my older brother and me with a good amount of money to learn how to manage.

If I wanted shoes that cost more than $8 Keds, I had to save up my money to pay the difference. In that sense, I learned to choose my premium items wisely.

What’s the best piece of financial advice you’ve received?

Serving is seasonal in Arizona. You make a good six months of income, but the rest of the year you have to budget it out. Having a separate account is nice. I actually use my PayPal account for direct deposit to help me save during the off-season. It’s nice to have a separate account for savings for the rest of the year.

What do you do during the off-season?

One thing I do to offset it is national sweepstakes. It doesn’t pay the bills, but it’s something. All my kids have December birthdays, so that’s how I originally got into sweepstakes. I still have a running list of all the ones I’ve participated in, and I use it to keep track of my current ones as well. Movie tickets, drinks, and popcorn are common, easy wins. I also pick up gifts and gift cards here and there, which helps during the holiday season.

I’m a grandma, so I like to buy all the membership cards for things so I can take my grandkids out. I try to get all those entertainment purchases out of the way.

What kind of money lessons are you trying to instill in your grandkids?

We’ve actually been talking a lot about price comparison and learning the value of their money. They recently got Walmart gift cards from their great-grandmother for their birthdays, and they wanted to buy rollerblades.
Something interesting about Walmart is that stores may price their items differently. I usually check their app to see the price difference. This came in handy when we found rollerblades for $7 as opposed to $33 at the original store where we were going to buy them. Sure, it took 10 more minutes to drive to a further Walmart, but that was a valuable lesson for them for sure. It was worth the wait.

I also use Popcart, which is a browser extension. If you have an item you’re searching for, it’ll look across the web and compare prices for you. My grandkids are now using the app to reference the price of what they’re looking to buy.

It sounds like you love to spend time with your grandkids. How are your kids?

Well, my daughter wanted to be an EMT, which involved school and some 24-hour shifts. She eventually bought her first house. Both my husband and I are proud that she was about to set herself up to be a homeowner. Had we not stepped in to take care of her kids when she was in EMT school, I don’t think she would’ve been able to complete it. Plus, that meant more time with my grandkids!

What are your goals for the future?

I kind of want to retire at some point. I’m just getting ready to turn 53. I’m on what they call “short time,” where you have 10 years until you retire. The ‘08-’09 Recession took away the retirement and savings that my husband and I had built.

I went back to serving after 13 years as a General Manager, so that was a big income shift for me. While it took some time to adjust financially, I was grateful that I could now hang out with my kids. I want to keep spending time with them.

What does money mean to you in your life?

I’ve learned that it’s not the most important thing, but it means being able to pay the bills comfortably and on time. Sometimes it’s worth it to chase every dollar, but ultimately money comes and goes.

Right now, I’m trying to save. My kids are set up and the grandkids are in school, so it’s time for my husband and me to focus on saving these next ten years.

How did you feel about winning $50 from the SaverLife Tax Time Pledge?

I was so excited! I just clicked on it and I couldn’t believe it. The SaverLife site is also really helpful, especially all the info about social security and saving money in general. The information isn’t just for certain types of savers. It covers all aspects of your financial life. The content is very well laid out, and it isn’t overly long. I was really happy that a sweepstakes site brought me to SaverLife.

I’m going to keep the money I won in my PayPal for the off-season. That’s my backup plan. Come September or October, it’ll be handy to buy some food or to do something extra with the grandkids.

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