Meet the Smart Cookies

Last year, 24-year-old Katie Dunsworth decided it was time for her and her friends to stop spending, start saving and get richer. Katie saw Oprah's Debt Diet show and decided to take action. The show motivated Katie and four friends to start a money group and get smart about their spending, saving and investing.

They call themselves the Smart Cookies. As a team, the women set up weekly meetings, confess their debt, make a plan to "pay it down" and start investing. "Really the one thing that came across is we need to be held accountable," Katie says.

Each member originally had their own goals to achieve. Katie wanted to stop putting things on her credit card and save for her upcoming wedding. Robyn, a social worker, wanted a better paying job. Andrea wanted to relieve the stress her debt was causing. "I was the one in the most debt and it was something I was definitely ashamed of," Andrea says. "It was something I wanted to take charge of in my life."
The Smart Cookies have many money-saving strategies.

The Smart Cookies are successful savers because they rely on one another. "We talk to each other on our cell phones so if we're tempted to buy something we call each other up," Angela says.

In fact, the Smart Cookies don't even need to buy more clothes—they've decided to share! "We all had expensive taste and we knew we had the same taste, so we thought why not just share?" Andrea says. "It's easy. We live within blocks of each other."

They've also reevaluated many aspects of their lives to see where they can save money. Some of their strategies are small, like cutting cable and sharing magazines. Others are big. Katie, for instance, gave up her car. "I used to believe I couldn't live without a car," she says. "What I've realized is taking the bus isn't so bad and I'm saving on car insurance, gas and parking tickets—$700 a month."

Robyn, a social worker, decided to go back to school and earn her master's degree while consulting on the side. When she finishes school, she expects to earn around $82,000—more than double her original salary!

But even though they're living on a budget, these Smart Cookies still make time for fun. "We have something we call $6 girls' night, which is where we'll make pizza and bring wine and only spend $6 [each]," Katie says.
The Smart Cookies

In just one year, the Smart Cookies saved a total of $15,000, paid off $15,000 in debt and increased their incomes by a total of $45,000! Katie even paid for her $22,000 wedding in cash.

Jean says this group of women can inspire anyone to start a group and get comfortable talking about money, a topic she says people are often embarrassed to bring up. "When you have a group, you learn from each other. You share resources. You hold each other accountable," Jean says. "That's really important and you get richer together faster, not just richer in your bank account but richer in your soul, too, because you're learning so much more about how to take care of yourself."

Start your own money group or locate a group in your area!