Tracy’s Story: Keep Going & Don’t Lose Focus

Meet Tracy, a temporary employment agency employee who lives with her husband and two boys in Katy, TX.

What do you do?

I’m currently working full-time in a temporary employment agency. I was laid off last year, and I had to really cut back on expenses. While I’m glad that I have a job right now, I’m looking for more permanent full-time work. This in-between time has been nice because I have a steady flow of money coming in at the same time I’m applying to more permanent jobs.

I’d like to return to working in the administrative offices for universities. Prior to getting laid off, I worked in data analysis. The job market is changing, so things may be a bit different now in the field that I’m looking into.

I’m trying to do something a little different while also supporting my family at the same time.

What did your upbringing teach you about money?

Well, it’s funny. I mostly stayed with my grandparents when I was growing up. We didn’t talk about money because we just didn’t have it. My grandfather worked in a manufacturing plant and my grandmother was a house nurse, meaning she took care of homebound people. I would only see her on the weekends, and during the week she was a live-in nurse in her patients’ homes.

We tried to save whatever money we had. We had a garden in our backyard, so we were self-sufficient and lived off the land. And we even had a little farm that included chickens, so we had eggs to both consume and share with our neighbors. Also, nothing went to waste on the farm. For example, we distributed most of the parts of the pig to our neighbors.

The local store wasn’t within walking distance. We would go maybe twice a month because everything else came from our vegetable garden and farm.

What was it like growing up with your grandparents?

My grandmother pushed my brother and me to get an education. Both my grandparents felt that school was our job and that we needed to educate ourselves in order to be self-sufficient. My grandma would work extra shifts to get what we needed for school. She inspired me to be a hard worker.

If I have to work a double shift to get what I need, I will. I had to learn about savings accounts, pensions, and retirement funds all on my own. I know that as of right now, I have 10 more years until I can access my pensions from previous jobs.

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

Don’t take things too personally. Everything we do with money is so emotional. When things look bleak, try to stay positive. I was unemployed for two and a half months, and my family had to survive off of one income. You have to find ways to be positive and cut corners.

Once the negativity starts setting in, you can lose focus. But you have to keep your focus. That’s what I try to do. I have a temporary job right now, but I had to go through four agencies to find something. When one thing doesn’t work, just keep trying and stay focused. Right now, I’m trying other means and mechanisms to find something more permanent.

I put things into high gear and rushed to get a new job. These unemployment agencies required at least 3 interviews a week, and I was getting about 10 a week. After 6 months, I updated my resume to get more interviews. The one good thing about doing so many is that I got used to answering weird questions.

What are your goals for your boys?

My oldest son is 27 and living on his own. I have my 15-year-old and 9-year-old sons at home. My 15-year old son is getting ready to go to college. I’m trying to help him get a music scholarship. We’re researching that right now to try to find something for him. A lot of universities are tuition free if you fall under a certain income bracket, which could really help us.

I also want to get a full-time, permanent position. When I find a job, I have to get a higher salary so my pension contribution stays high and I can receive higher monthly retirement benefits. My youngest will be in high school by the time, and I want to be financially stable by then. Right now it’s hard to save because we’re trying to cut where we can.

The most recent things to go were cable and satellite. We have services that are a lot cheaper than those two options.

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

I was so excited! It was 2 or 3am when I saw the news in an email. I thought it was a joke at first, but I really did win! It came right on time. It was very helpful.

I want to keep the winnings in my PayPal in case of emergencies. That’s what I use my PayPal for—emergencies.

Overall, my goal is to save $500. I’ve only been working at the temp agency for about a week or two, so hopefully I can pay off some bills. You know those Barnum’s Animal Crackers plastic containers with the lid? I’ve already saved two containers worth of extra bills and change.

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