Marnie helps grow the family's income

When the Widlund family first started the Debt Diet, their bills were overdue and their spending was out of control. Now, in Step 6 of the program, Mark and Marnie Widlund have decided to take on extra work in order to grow their income and get out of debt. Marnie is cutting hair to bring in $100 a month. She's also putting her real estate license to good use, hoping to make $8,000 in the next year selling houses. By picking up extra shifts as well as installing satellite systems on the side, Mark will earn an extra $100 a month.

Marnie and Mark's more controlled spending combined with their increased income is putting a big dent in their $81,000 debt. Now most of their bills are paid off or current!
Gracie and Victoria handle their own finances

Marnie and Mark's teenage daughters are also learning better money management. Gracie and Victoria, who used to rely on mom and dad for a steady supply of spending money, no longer manipulate their parents for items they can buy themselves. Marnie says her girls have "basically quit" asking her for cash and now handle their own finances.

Victoria, who works part-time as a sales associate, has started asking for more shifts—bringing home an extra $100 a month. Gracie earns money by babysitting—$80–100 a month!
Marnie and Mark Widlund

Marnie and Mark are happy to report that the Debt Diet has helped heal their relationship! "[We] used to fight about money constantly and we don't anymore," Marnie says. "Our marriage is new—it's wonderful! We're kind of back in love again!"

Mark says sticking to the Debt Diet has actually set him free to do the things he enjoys. "Everything we do now is all planned out and I feel like we have a plan for everything," says Mark. "If I need to go skiing or go fishing or have fun or do stuff that I want, I save my money to go do it!"
Marnie and Mark Widlund

Money coach Glinda Bridgforth says Marnie and Mark will be well on their way to becoming millionaires if they pay themselves first and invest half of their additional income each year. After taxes, that comes down to about $4,000 they can invest at an annual interest rate of 8 percent. In 30 years, they will have saved half a million dollars!

Extra income = $12,000
Extra income after taxes = $8,000
Invest 1/2 annually = $4,000
30 years at 8% = $500,000

With their daughters taking on more financial responsibility and their relationship back on track, the Widlunds say being on the Debt Diet has changed their dynamic. "Absolutely," says Marnie. "The marriage is a team."

More from Oprah's Debt Diet 
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