Learn how to be smart with your money

By COLBY DENTON

Posted 3/18/18

Come learn how to manage your finances, decrease debt and build up savings through Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland and United Way of the Ocoee Region’s “Be Smart About Money” program.

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Learn how to be smart with your money

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Come learn how to manage your finances, decrease debt and build up savings through Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland and United Way of the Ocoee Region’s “Be Smart About Money” program.

The program is a 10-session personal financial management course that is available to Bradley County residents. Based on the Dave Ramsey Financial Peace University, Habitat and its partners will teach families how to decrease debt, improve credit scores, manage money, build up savings and more!

The first course begins April 5 and runs until June 7. The second course runs August 2 until Oct. 4. Classes occur weekly on Thursdays from 6-8 p.m.

Habitat homeowners’ services manager NaCole Massengill explained that Habitat will match savings up to $1,000 for individuals and $1,200 for couples who have completed the program and have saved in a partnered bank using the teachings from their courses.

“People can use this saved money to pay toward their schooling, paying off mortgages or even down-payments or closing costs on homes,” Massengill said.

The partner bank for Habitat for Humanity is Pinnacle Bank. Participants must provide documentation of their deposits into the savings account in order to have their savings matched.

Participants only have to pay $25 to join the program, and be a resident of Bradley County who falls into the 60 percent area median income or below.

Habitat marketing and special events coordinator Natalie McNair stated just how extensively they have canvassed the community with promotional materials for the program.

“We have billboard ads going, as well as social media and our website. Plus, flyers are all over the community,” McNair said.

Seeing a need in the community, Massengill states not only Habitat’s, but also United Way’s funds are in the program because both organizations believe in the changes that come through its lessons.

She added that 2018 would only be the second year for “Be Smart About Money” to occur, as its results have spoken for themselves.

An example of this is a woman that Massengill states attended their first class. The woman caught on quickly, according to Massengill, and held onto the principles that she learned, which ultimately led to her saving nearly $1,000 afterward. She also taught her son the lessons that she acquired.

“Even before we had this program, our homeowners went through classes on budgeting, credit counseling and the like, because a budget can change from week to week,” Massengill said. “We want to set them up for success, so they can live that American dream and let them live where they want for as long as they want.”

Habitat believes that the program will impact Cleveland positively as the implementation of financial discipline relieves the stresses of financial burdens.

According to McNair, they want to help participants make their money work for them, instead of their money working them to death. She added that the class doesn’t just affect the participants, as participants’ children, parents and co-workers can hear the strategies taught in the course and apply them to their own lives.

Some financially responsible tips that Massengill and McNair stated include: be money-conscious; plan ahead for different scenarios, an example being meal-prepping; and keep a daily spending diary, which shows what was spent each day, and will allow the spenders to cut down on spending in unnecessary areas.

“We see a lot of people who are afraid to repeat the mistakes they’ve made in the past,” McNair said. “Mistakes don’t have to be a handicap. You can learn from them, grow from them and be in a totally different place two years from now than you were before.”

Massengill stressed that the program is not meant to be intrusive as a “What’s in your wallet?” sort of program; instead, it’s meant to provide participants with tools and resources to avoid making financial mistakes in the future.

“As [syndicated financial advice columnist and author] Dave Ramsey says, you have the opportunity to live like no one else,” she said.

Habitat hopes that participants will eventually be able to save for their children’s needs as well as retirement, and hopefully alleviate the stresses of typical financial irresponsibility.

“Be Smart About Money” is not affiliated with Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University. For more information, contact Habitat for Humanity of Cleveland at 423-476-6947. Those interested in joining the program can apply via the company’s website at www.habitatofcleveland.org, or by emailing smartaboutmoney@habitatofcleveland.org.

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