Meet Central Iowa Super Savers

Bad Luck Leads to New Attitude

Until last summer, Michael Lindman spent money freely. “I was a union truck driver for 35 years and had a good income,” says the 56-year-old Lindman. “I saved a little, but spent most of it on the house, nice cars, and other stuff. You always think there’s going to be that much coming in, but things can change in a split second.”

Savings disappear

The change for Michael began when his truck route to Ohio was eliminated and he was laid off. “Because I’d spent so much time on the road, I decided to take the summer to spend time with my wife and 11-year-old son,” he explains. “We had to cut back a little here and there, but I figured we could do that and I would find a job in the fall.”

In July, however, disaster struck. Michael was hospitalized for surgery, then complications required a second surgery. With his savings depleted, he couldn’t pay his medical expenses, mortgage, or other bills. In addition, he couldn’t work, because he was still recovering from surgery.

Back to school

Through Iowans for Social Economic Development (ISED), Michael got hooked up with food stamps and was able to decrease his mortgage payment. Most importantly, he took a financial education class—that helped him figure out other ways to cut down expenses—and a career readiness program that got him interested in school. With the help of student loans and grants, he then completed a one-semester building maintenance program at Des Moines Area Community College. He even made the Dean’s List.

“I learned a lot my first semester,” he says. “I didn’t like school as a kid, but age has given me a much different attitude. I have a lot of ideas for starting my own business, but I need to learn how to run a business first.” Toward that end, Michael is currently enrolled in DMACC’s three-semester entrepreneurial program. He will finish next December.

Keys to saving

In the past eight months, Michael has restructured his finances and focuses on saving for the future. “I have a whole different way of looking at things now,” he says. “We’re getting by on a minimal amount of money, but it seems like we have more now than we did when I was working full time.”

Michael offers these 5 keys for saving

1) Keep track of every penny you spend over a month; you’ll be surprised at where your money is going and where you can to cut back.
2) Assign a place for every dollar and only spend it there.
3) Before buying anything, decide if you really need the item or just want it.
4) Make lists to guard against impulsive buying.
5) Learn about things like insurance so you know exactly what you’re paying for.