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North Bay savers share lessons in money management

  • Dawid Jaworski, right, lets Miko, 16 months, taste some of the pasta he is making as his wife Priscilla Jaworski holds their son in their new home in west Santa Rosa. The Jaworskis won the $10,000 grand prize in Redwood Credit Union's Amazing Saver contest. (CRISTA JEREMIASON/Press Democrat)

A year ago, Dawid and Priscilla Jaworski arrived in Sonoma County with ambitious goals: to obtain full-time work, buy their own home and build up the means to one day send their infant son to college.

This month, the University of Southern California grads moved into a house they recently purchased in northwest Santa Rosa. They both found full-time jobs, and they've started a college savings account for their son, Miko, now 16 months.

Dawid, 33, an All-American high jumper for the Trojans, and Priscilla, 30, a Maria Carrillo High grad, say they have transformed their lives in just 12 months by learning how to take control of their finances.

They paid off a car loan months ahead of schedule, improved their credit score and now better plan their expenditures.

“It's really put us on the right track for our future,” said Priscilla Jaworski.

The Santa Rosa couple beat out four other North Bay families this month for the $10,000 prize in Redwood Credit Union's Amazing Savers contest.

The contestants and their coaches suggested that the ideas that worked for them can benefit others, too.

“It's not only helped us, but it's also helped my family and friends and coworkers,” said Cecilia Flores, a contestant from Santa Rosa.

Flores, a nurse's aide, acknowledged that before the contest, her family's finances created a lot of stress for her.

“We have good-paying jobs, both my husband and I do, but we have nothing to show for it,” she said.

Through the program, Flores and her husband Antonio, a truck driver, saved money by refinancing their car loan from 7.5 percent to 4.74 percent. They set up 401(k) retirement accounts through their employers and they began a savings plan for them and their son, Samuel, who is almost 5.

All five teams went through a similar process, receiving individual coaching from Redwood employees. They tracked their progress, including keeping receipts for all their expenditures.

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