What do you do in a financial crisis? Rufina, Dee, Amy, and Ana Barrientos, four sisters in their 20s from Plainview, Texas, turned to one another when they had debt to demolish and future goals to reach.
The women planned a bold budgeting experiment to reset their financial circumstances. “Not only did we decide to live together, we helped each other pay our loans and debt, regardless of how much we came in with,” explains Rufina, the youngest of the four sisters. They were making $106,000 combined — Rufina as a clinical laboratory scientist, Ana as an implementation analyst for an insurance company, Dee at a pharmaceutical company, and Amy in an IT job — and had their sights set on a savings and debt reduction goal nearly twice that.
Step 1: Announce your intentions
The first budgeting step the Barrientos sisters took was to move in together into a $1,000-per-month condo, which saved them a combined $400 a month right away. “We threw a housewarming party (on a budget) to let our friends know we were going to pare down our spending,” says Rufina. “So no crazy nights out, no trips. Thankfully, most everyone was supportive and sensitive to our new lifestyle, but some of them thought it was crazy for sisters to share their money.”
Invitations from friends — think weddings, nights out on the town — can derail a budget, but the sisters vowed to, and managed to, stay committed to their budgets. “If you can’t afford them, it’s not in the cards for you at this time,” Rufina says. “There’s no shame about that. We’d rather be publicly honest than privately struggling.”