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Piggy Bank Award: For making it work

Katie Swindler waited tables along with designing websites while her husband was unemployed.

Tess Vigeland: Our little blue plastic friend is heading to that toddlin' town Chicago! Where all those "extra layers" will come in handy this winter.

You may remember a couple of weeks ago I encouraged all of you to submit piggy nominations of others or yourselves! Katie Swindler did just that. So I called her up a couple of days ago.

Vigeland: Hi Katie, this is Tess.

Katie Swindler: Hi Tess, how's it going?

Vigeland: Very well, how are you doing?

Swindler: I'm doing excellent.

Vigeland: Well, you may know that part of the reason we're calling you is 'cause of a post you left on our Facebook page. And I wanted to let you know that you are a finalist for the Piggy Award. Your biggest competition this week is probably Barney Frank.

Katie and Tess laugh.

Swindler: He's hard to compete with.

Vigeland: Why don't you give us a little sense of the story you brought to us on our Facebook page?

Swindler: Well, gosh, it must be almost two years ago now. My husband was put on reduced hours at his work. You know, we've recently purchased our house and getting ready to start our family, and we just kinda used our emergency fund to fill-in the gaps. But he was laid off, and he's an architect. So, those jobs are few and far between and it took eight months to find a new job. And we really had to tighten the belt, but we made it work! And even though we went into it with about $3,000 of debt, we came out of it credit card debt free.

Vigeland: So give us a sense of how you went about doing that?

Swindler: I waited tables, in addition to doing my full-time day job, which is making websites. And he took on odd jobs here and there, you know, doing drawings for friends and families. We went item-by-item through all those monthly expenses. We cut cable out, cancelled every single monthly subscription. Sadly, even our NPR membership for a few months.

Vigeland: That's OK!

Swindler: Yeah, we just went through and made budgets.

Vigeland: So what lessons are you taking out of this, just in case this were ever -- worst-case scenario -- happen again?

Swindler: Savings, savings, savings. You know, I wish we had been more conservative about that. I also have come out of this with a sense of confidence in myself, because we both found a lot of odd jobs and ways to make extra money. And I know that if the worst were to happen again, I have a whole list of different ways that I could go out and find extra work. It's hard and you don't have much of a social life, but I know that we can do it and we can keep the house over our heads for pretty much as long as it takes.

Vigeland: Well, Katie Swindler, as far as I'm concerned, Barney Frank has nothing on you. So you're gettin' a piggy!

Swindler: Woo-hoo! Yay!

Vigeland: I'm glad that we can do this for you and you know, well done.

Swindler: Thank you. Thank you so much.

About the author

Tess Vigeland is the host of Marketplace Money, where she takes a deep dive into why we do what we do with our money.

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