For the second year in a row, IHN families have benefitted from participating in a financial workshop series.
Led by Gwendolyn Battle, a housing counselor at HOMECorp, the first two sessions discussed the budgeting process, part of which included probing the parents to identify their needs versus wants. Battle had them “do the math” on everyday items. “Take coffee, for instance. If you buy it from Dunkin Donuts every day for a year, it adds up to $700,” she told them. Bottled water, too. If you have to buy it, then at least get it by the case rather than by the bottle.
These practical tips prompt the families to stop and examine their purchasing habits to see where they can make changes. Such thinking extends into considering options about cell phone contracts, car payments, and insurance and can result in significant savings. That’s what led to one mom in last year’s program being able to slash almost $500 from her monthly bills so she could afford the rent on a new apartment.
Another challenge Battle offered was to start a savings plan. “The first week, save $1. The second week, save $2, and the third week, save $3. By the time you get to the 52nd week, you’ve saved $1,378 in one year.” From there, parents might graduate to opening a savings account.
The last week in the workshop series will focus on credit reports: what one is, why it’s important, how to check one’s credit report, and how to rebuild good credit. Battle also looks forward to leading a workshop for IHN children, noting that it’s never too early to learn how to save.
What is Gwendolyn Battle’s favorite aspect of the workshops? “Talking openly about ideas and dreams,” she said. “I tell them that each of them has a talent and encourage them to develop it. Who knows — it might be something they can use to start a business.”