Wealth Watchers International logo Wealth Watchers: A Simple Program to Help you Spend Less and Save More

In The News

Local woman writes about key to budgeting

By Kim Mikus | Daily Herald Columnist

Published: 4/8/2010

Alice Wood, a lifelong Naperville resident, wrote a book on personal finances.

A brain injury drove an estate-planning attorney from Naperville to create a simple budgeting system.

Alice Wood wrote a book about her budget saving process that McDonald’s, Visa and area schools have embraced.

The book, “Wealth Watchers: A Simple Program to Help You Spend Less and Save More,” is similar to the popular Weight Watcher’s program. Instead of tracking calories, participants journal their spending.

By tracking spending, Wood says it’s easy to calculate the program’s key number – how much you can spend per day without getting into financial trouble.

A concept behind Wood’s book is, “you can’t spend more money than you make,” an idea she believes more people of all ages should learn.

The program is implemented in Naperville School District 203. Later this month as part of Money Smart Week, Visa USA is sponsoring the program to teach students in Chicago Public Schools how to keep a wealth journal.

“We’re hoping the program will help raise a generation of people who don’t make the same mistakes we did,” Wood said.

She believes there has been a gap in teaching people about finances and spending. “We spend more money than we have, because we can,” she said.

Wood grew up with a strong knowledge of how to save money, a skill she learned from her father, the president of a community bank.

Raising three children, with her husband, Dan, Wood was in charge of her family’s finances that took a negative turn after an injury 10 years ago. Wood suffered a brain injury during a commercial flight. The plane lost cabin pressure and Wood’s oxygen mask didn’t work. She first noticed a problem when she arrived home, kissed her husband and noticed the area around her mouth was numb.

The next year was filled with fatigue, memory loss, depression, compounding bills, debt and weight gain.

Wood, 50, was treated for a hypoxic brain injury.

She attended Weight Watchers meetings to lose the weight, a move that eventually led to her budgeting system.

She started using the simple journaling method with her husband. They spent $12,000 less than they had the year before.

They made simple changes including not paying to have pizza delivered, making frozen pizza every other Friday and cutting back on daily ice tea purchases made at a local restaurant. “I found the same brand of tea online and now I brew the tea at home,” Wood said. “We used to eat out too much. Now I cook more.

“Reckless spending is something everyone should be aware of,” she said.

Wood’s program involves one simple calculation: your Daily Disposable Income, the money you can spend each day without going into debt. The second half of the book is dedicated to financial journaling.

“You have to think before you spend,” she added.