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About Kari Wells


My Story by Kari Wells

What is the five-year plan?

Kari says:

“It’s like unraveling a tapestry: you look at the issues that you need to overcome and you just pull one small string at a time until you have unwrapped the whole thing.  You can’t get overwhelmed with the enormity of the task. You start with the easiest, smallest task first—the little string—and the rest of the tapestry will follow. For us at first it was about addressing the huge debt. But by using this approach of initial baby steps, we overcame $1 million-plus in debt. There were huge sacrifices initially: we only had one phone line; we downgraded our cell phone plans; we lived completely within our means. Basically, we took a hard look at everything we were spending. We gave up the things we did not need and downsized.”

The Five Year PlanThanks to that discipline, the Wells family reached their financial goals in three years—instead of the five they thought it would take.

“Another way of looking at it is,” Kari says, “Say you’re in a sinking ship: you need to plug up all the holes, but you can stop the sinking by plugging a lot of the small holes first, and then, once stabilized, plug the larger ones. On the other hand, if the ship is sinking fast, you have to bite the bullet and plug the largest holes. Personally, I have always addressed the largest financial burdens first and then gradually addressed the smaller ones.  Her advice in business is to work on the accounts that are most costly and worked your way down. I did all the re-negotiating with the vendors and suppliers. I put in central purchasing system in the business so all purchases had to be pre-approved.

“I looked at what was  costing the practice the most,” she continues, “and  re-negotiated those accounts. I then worked my way down the totem pole, all the way down to stationery. I renegotiated salaries and overtime. I interviewed staff to see if someone they could go part-time. I put in a time clock with a fingerprint system to make sure people were at work when they said they were.”

“I got everybody on board,” Kari says. “We had a bonuses for cost-saving ideas. I put people on commission based on the well-being of the practice so they could earn a percentage of the profit; senior employees had a vested interest.”

Working OutOn a personal level Kari says: “I believe in paying off car loans, consolidating debt with a lowering interest rates, even downsizing  your home, if need be. My husband had a huge home when we met, so we sold it and we moved into a much smaller, but elegant, town house.”

Eventually, when the money was coming in and there was no more debt, Kari and Dr. Wells decided to build their dream house. They found a beautiful piece of land in a tree-filled neighborhood in the heart of Buckhead.

“It was a beautiful lot in a forest.  I sold my home in Aspen at the peak of the market to help pay for it.”

“Sure,” Kari says. “Turning your life around financially is a huge challenge, but owning your cars and homes and not being a slave to money is priceless. Remember to begin by putting one foot after another. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at where you’ll end up.”

March 23, 2013

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