This has been a hard year for families looking to save money. Thanks to inflation, the dollar no longer goes as far as it used to. Interest rates have skyrocketed compared to last year, and home prices are still at record highs.
This is causing financial strain for individuals and families across the country. Community Action Services and Food Bank is helping individuals and families that are experiencing financial hardship or want to become more self-reliant.
Community Action Services and Food Bank is a nonprofit organization in Provo that provides a two-step process to solving poverty: first, to provide the resources to help stabilize the person’s crisis, and then to help them rebuild their life. The organization has been lending a helping hand in Utah County since 1967.
CASFB offers free classes
CASFB provides emergency help and food to those who need it, but it also provides free classes on topics ranging from financial literacy to how to purchase or qualify for a home. These classes are available to anyone in the community who wants to become more financially literate and improve their financial situation. Everyone is welcome, regardless of income, to take the classes for free. The classes are taught in both Spanish and English by native speakers.
The classes are broken down into four one-hour-long sessions that cover budgeting, credit, debt and savings. Attendees will learn how to create a budget and live within their means, how credit works, how to use credit cards to improve credit, how to eliminate debt and how to save for the future.
Courses like these are especially helpful for community members originally from different countries. Not all countries’ credit scores work the same, and some countries may not use credit scores at all. Even community members from the United States often lack financial literacy, which could cost them thousands of dollars. In an effort to spare them any additional financial strain, CASFB aims to help provide as much education on finances as possible.
“Many members of our community have never received any kind of financial education,” said Catherine Goold, HUD Housing and Financial Learning Center manager. “It’s difficult to be financially stable without knowing how to budget, build credit and eliminate debt. We hope that by providing financial education, participants will become more financially secure and self-reliant. It’s amazing how empowering this information can be.”
The powerful impact of financial literacy
One of the powerful outcomes of the CASFB mission is the full-circle connection between those who receive assistance and return and help provide assistance. It’s incredible evidence of the power to change. For example, Karla Eagle, who first participated as a student of the financial literacy classes, now provides a free cooking demo every other week on-site, helping community members learn to cook with the food they receive from the CASFB food pantry. She also assists in the free classes by supporting new students in filling out paperwork.
Greater financial literacy isn’t the only reward for taking these classes. After a guest attends all four of the classes, they are eligible to participate in the SaveUp program, which incentivizes building savings. This program will provide participants with a check for up to $250 if they can save at least 25 dollars per month for six consecutive months and file the previous year’s income taxes.
The financial literacy courses are designed to be flexible: They are offered Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Some night courses may also be available. CASFB encourages participants to come, sit down and learn with someone face-to-face. Participants can go over their annual credit report and get help understanding how credit cards, medical bills, etc. can affect their score. Participants will get the help they need to make a plan that will point them toward success and financial independence.
Additional free classes offered by CASFB
These financial literacy programs are great stepping stones for those who want to take the homebuyer class, also offered by CASFB for free. “We see many participants from the financial literacy program take the homebuyer’s classes as well,” said Catherine. “We cover topics such as debt-to-income ratio, down payment assistance, shopping for the best loan and more, all of which are important for prospective homebuyers.”
CASFB strives to provide courses to everyone who wants to become more financially literate in the hopes of helping them out of poverty and teaching them how to build wealth for themselves and their families. For those interested in signing up for the financial literacy program, call Community Action Services and Food Bank at 801-691-5241 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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