“Set short-to-long term goals, follow your budget and practice good record keeping,” teaches Myra Boggs, an instructor with Working in Neighborhoods and teacher of the Financial Literacy class held monthly at the Freestore Foodbank.
The class is one component of the required case plan designed for any client currently enrolled in the Shelter Diversion program, a service that helps families secure safe housing and includes intense case management and a path to stability.
“This is only one tool we provide that is designed to further establish self-sufficiency for our clients,” says Sarah Humphries, Freestore Foodbank Housing Specialist and Shelter Diversion Case Manager. “Our goal is to bring them to the next level of independence and self-reliance; teaching them how to fish so they can eat every day – a hand-up vs. a hand-out.”
“Many of our customers never learned how to properly manage money,” she says. “We’re talking about being intentional about paying the rent before Christmas shopping.”
Myra adds that when an individual doesn’t have any money management skills, it’s very common that all money coming in will be spent, without a plan to save any of it. “Even if they can only afford to put aside a few dollars a week,” she says, “developing that discipline for the long-haul is crucial. We’re re-training them with new information.”
That’s important for some clients, like Mora, who has three teenage boys at home “who eat everything,” and her SNAP benefits don’t last the full month.
Goal setting is also a critical component of the lesson, as many clients are actively looking for work or wanting to go back to school and finish a degree or start a new one.
“The mentality of scarcity is often a self-serving prophecy,” says Sarah. “We’re giving our clients the tools to think differently for a better outcome.”