Families scrimp and save to attain financial security

By Tyrone Beason

The Seattle Times (MCT)

Published: Sunday, June 3 2012 6:00 p.m. MDT

She has managed to make a soft landing after her personal financial crisis, and in this economy, that's no small achievement.

"I told my mom that this is the first place I've been truly happy," Kinney says of the place she rents.

"The 'dream' changes," she says. "My dream right now is a job I love, good health and my home."

On the other side of fear is hope. On the other side of failure is redemption. And on the other side of the recession are examples like Tonya Walters of Tacoma, Wash., a 23-year-old who had been saving up to buy her own home since she was a teen.

She was so enterprising as a child that her family nicknamed her "Tonya Warbucks," and her odd early financial discipline has reaped dividends.

While most of her peers were switching college majors and fretting about the future, she was looking at real-estate options, with enough money already saved for a down payment. She moved into her $149,000 town house, on a cul-de-sac near Tacoma Mall, in May.

In September she married her fiance, Tylor Walters, a 20-year-old Army infantryman stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, and is in the process of adopting his son, Tylor II, who's 2.

Both husband and wife are meticulous about money. Tylor says he doesn't use credit cards and opens his wallet to prove it. "I'm old-fashioned that way," he jokes.

The whole idea of buying things on credit when you can save and buy them in cash bothers him.

"We have friends who are maxed out on credit cards," Tylor says. "It's not that they don't have money; it's that they don't know how to spend it."

They're a perfect couple in that way: "I didn't have to teach him how to save money and spend money, and he didn't have to worry about me going out and racking up lots of debt," says Tonya, who's building an Internet services company and an interior-design business from home while pregnant.

When the couple goes out on a date, it might be something as cheap as a $5 buy-in at a bingo game at the Muckleshoot Casino.

For his part, Tylor says all he's wanted in life is "a nice house, a car and a balanced family — one boy, one girl."

He's about to get his third wish. Tonya was expected to deliver a girl in late February. And like the planners they are, they named her Tessa Marie Lillianna Walters months ago.

There's a handwritten sign with a phone number to call on the road leading to their neighborhood that captures the times: "Facing foreclosure? Upside down on mortgage?" it asks.

The Walterses can drive by that sign and know they're not among those struggling in such circumstances. But it's not because they are immune to economic forces or smarter than everybody else.

It's because they've chosen to live within their means, saving the gambling for date-night bingo.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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