Sessions offer lessons in thriftThe main outline of the new Catholic Community Services financial education program was plucked straight from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. But there was an “X” factor at Wednesday’s session that amped up the learning. The participants started swapping ideas and tips for saving or earning money. Suddenly, the blackboard filled up with possibilities.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
The main outline of the new Catholic Community Services financial education program was plucked straight from the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation. But there was an “X” factor at Wednesday’s session that amped up the learning. The participants started swapping ideas and tips for saving or earning money. Suddenly, the blackboard filled up with possibilities.
“I really enjoy learning about this in this group atmosphere because there was so much idea sharing going on and I learned a ton about local resources that I didn’t know we had here available to us,” said Allison Gerland, who works at the University of Wisconsin-Superior.
Food distribution sites like Ruby’s Pantry in Superior and Sharing Our Surplus in Poplar were mentioned. So was an online site that links Cub Foods coupons to recipes and Facebook pages for rummage sales or baby clothes.
One woman offered a number people can call to bag a free deer — hide, head and hooves included. Energy assistance, tax help and weatherization funding were pointed out too.
One of the two housing counselors leading the program, Sandy Carlson, talked about the importance of tracking daily spending to find out where all your money goes. For example, she used to stop by a local eatery for a double caramel latte on a regular basis. When she realized she was spending $45 a month on those drinks, she invested a one-time expense of $45 into her own cappuccino machine at home.
“Just being conscious of where you’re money’s going on a daily basis is so important,” Carlson said.
People offered up personal examples of how they saved with coupons or by making detailed shopping lists prior to going to the store. Some participants discussed pawn shops and selling gold rings. They talked about liquid assets, like unused clothes that could be sold on eBay, or capitalizing on the crafts you make.
One mother warned about the importance of saving up money to pay for all the expenses that crop up when your child is a senior in high school.
“Our greatest resource is each other,” Carlson said.
That’s what Gerland loved about the session. Some of the participants were hoping to find ways to tackle their student loans. Others wanted to clean up their credit, budget their money better, bounce back from bankruptcy or deal with housing issues.
“Even though we’re all in different situations we can still relate to each other and share those ideas and resources,” Gerland said.
That synergy is what Carlson was hoping to tap when she set up the classes. She also lofted the idea of connecting the course to other local resources. Master gardeners could teach about container gardening; a job service representative could give tips on how to spruce up a resume.
The group was asked to track their spending for two weeks and gather together for the second session, which will focus on methods to repair and rebuild credit history. A final session “Pay Yourself First” will provide information on building a financial future through a savings plan.
The free “Money Matters” course will be repeated for a new group of participants on Wednesday. Everyone is welcome and there is no cost to attend. Those interested can register by phone at 715-394-6617. Advance registration is encouraged but walk-ins are welcome.
Online “Money Smart” courses are also available at www.fdic.gov under the consumer protection tab, then the financial education and literacy heading.