Growing up, Audrey of Brooklyn Park, Minnesota watched her parents go through bankruptcy, almost lose their house, and cash out their 401Ks. “Seeing them go through all of that, I couldn’t do it to myself,” she said.  From an early age and to this day, her parents’ financial decisions have influenced how Audrey saves and spends her money.

Audrey’s commitment to building a financially stable future for herself began while she was in high school. She worked part-time at the Brookdale Mall and also took college classes at North Hennepin Technical College during her senior year.  Knowing that college would be expensive, she found a job working full-time first.  After earning enough money to go back to school, Audrey graduated with her associate’s degree. However, she didn’t stop working while she was in college.  During her final semester, she balanced a full-time job, another part-time job, and an internship.

Audrey eventually saved enough money to buy a house and continued to work hard so she could get ahead but her life changed in 2012 when her son, Mason, was born.  Audrey said that reality hit because she was no longer providing for just herself.  She would have to alter her budget to begin paying for daycare costs, doctor visits, and diapers.

“I want my son to grow up and be anything he wants to be so I can’t let finances hold him back from achieving his dream,” Audrey said.

To give Mason the best life possible, Audrey began to learn more about her savings and 401K. She got serious about saving especially around tax time because she could save a big chunk of her tax refund.  Realizing if she wanted to get a larger refund, she would have to stop paying $300 each year to file her taxes. That’s when she found Prepare + Prosper.

“I was a little nervous the first time I let a volunteer prepare my taxes but I felt confident when I found out that one volunteer prepares my return and the other reviews it to make sure there aren’t any mistakes.” Audrey said. “It’s totally worth it.”

Without spending hundreds of dollars to file her taxes, Audrey has been able to save more of her refund. “I always get two savings bonds for Mason and one for my emergency fund,” she said.  This year, Audrey will have an extra $100 because she is a SaveYourRefund Contest winner.

Audrey is hopeful that she will continue learning about her finances because she knows first-hand how difficult it is to learn about money alone.  That’s why Audrey is participating in Money Mentors, Prepare + Prosper’s financial coaching program.  She wants to teach her son when he is old enough how to manage his money, even if it’s just his allowance.

Story written by Taylor Putz of Prepare + Prosper in St. Paul, MN