In 2015, Emily was a single mom attending school full time, with no income other than child support. “I was so bogged down that I didn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel,” she said. Then she went to a finance workshop that changed her life.
“A friend of mine signed me up to meet one-on-one with John, a financial counselor at Cottages of Hope,” said Emily. “My finances were a mess. I was of the attitude that if I ignored the bills, they would go away.”
The bills didn’t go away on their own, but Emily was able to get her finances on track with a solid budget plan. Her first step was to get a job to supplement her child support. Then John helped her consolidate her debts and start chipping away at them. She finished school, paid off all of her debt, and has been able to build up her savings.
One thing that she accomplished early on was to purchase a car once she had steady employment. Emily said that when she bought the car, “my credit was not so good, so my interest was high.” After a year, she had raised her credit score enough that she was able to refinance the loan at a much better interest rate.
After just two and a half years of working with her financial coach, Emily was able to purchase her first home. She continues to build up her savings, making that a priority with every paycheck. She also takes advantage of free tax preparation at Cottages of Hope through the national Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program (VITA). Naturally, she uses her yearly refund to pay down debt and build up her savings account.
“For anyone who’s struggling with finances, there’s hope,” Emily said. “If you put your money to good use and save it, you can accomplish a lot.” United Way is proud to partner with Cottages of Hope through the SparkPoint Center, bringing multiple resources together in one building so individuals and families can work toward prosperous, financially independent lives.