I just turned 50 and I was feeling depressed. My biggest stressor was money. We were living paycheck to paycheck. My husband does auto upholstery, but the work isn’t continuous, so there is only one steady income. We’d spend money on cigarettes, sodas, and sweets.

In April last year, my team lead, Jason, inspired me to start the Thrive Challenge. We began by making a budget. I write a shopping list and stick to it. We’re buying store brand food instead of name brands, and we stopped spending money on candies and sodas, so that brings down the total at the register. Food prepping is another money-saver. I’ll take boiled eggs and veggies to work so I don’t need to buy my lunch. For dinner I’ll cook chicken and veggies in the crock pot, which will last for days. I’m feeling better I’ve lost weight.

There are so many great ideas on the Thrive app. I unplug electronics when we’re not using them, and I installed a water filter so I’m not buying bottled water anymore. Instead of buying new clothes, I shop at thrift stores. I’m also donating things I don’t need to local charities, and giving back feels good.

At the same time as saving money, I’ve been taking Thrive Microsteps when I’m stressed. I look at pictures of my daughter or think about peaceful places in nature I love. I’ve also found that journaling really helps; I write down things that made me smile during the day, like my wonderful customers. I pray and read devotional scriptures, and I focus on gratitude. I’m grateful that I’m safe and have people who love and care about me.

One thing I’m so proud of is that, a few months ago, Bill and I quit smoking, which is something we’ve wanted to do for a long time. It was hard, but giving up together was great for support. We feel healthier and it’s a huge financial win; we’re saving $500 a month. Bill and I have found our quality of life is better. We’re less stressed, more relaxed, and we’re happier.

— Stacey Brooks, Walmart Supercenter #2175; Branson West, MO; $5K Winner