MT. HOREB (WKOW) -- The recession has a lot of us changing the way we handle our money.
It can be saving more, spending less, or paying off debt.
We check in with a couple of our project money teams; families hoping to change enough to win a $10,000 prize.
The Faber family of Mt. Horeb is like many American families right now; not in crisis, but certainly overwhelmed with their debt. It began ten years ago when they graduated from college owing tens of thousands in student loans. It got worse when they started using credit cards for everyday expenses.
"I have to pay the loans so I'll just put a couple of bucks worth of groceries on the credit card. Then that's okay, you start justifying it. Then anything can go on the credit card," said Kari Faber.
And before long, the Fabers had racked up around $30,000 in credit card debt. That problem and their desire to solve it make them a perfect fit for Project Money. Working with a financial expert from Summit Credit Union, the Fabers have aspirations beyond paying off their debt.
"I think our ultimate goal is to establish habits. Habits that we can live with. Habits that work for us instead of against us," said Darek Faber.
Habits like only using credit cards in an emergency and planning how they'll spend their money.
"I've never in my lifetime, we never in our married life, have ever had a budget," said Faber.
Neither has Anglinia Washington. Like the Fabers, this Project Money competitor also has thousands of dollars in student loan and credit card debt. Her's is the classic tale of the college undergrad who can't resist the free credit card offers.
"You sign up; you get the free sandwich, it's a free meal. you get the t-shirt, the frisbee, and I don't even play frisbee, " said Anglinia Washington.
One recent report showed 46% of Americans with credit cards carry over a monthly balance. That means they're paying interest, and perhaps penalty fees if they're late.
For Anglinia, getting her balances paid off as soon as possible is crucial. Because she's a state worker, she's facing 16 days without pay over the next two years.
"Currently I'm living paycheck to paycheck and I don't want to live that way because pretty soon my paycheck is going to decrease instead of increase, which is not such a great thing."
There are a total of four teams competing for that 10-thousand dollar prize in project money.