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Published: 3/11/2013

CASH-FLOW COACHING

Local agencies aim to teach ‘true financial stability’

Classes offer 1-on-1 help for jobs and making the most of income

BY KATE GIAMMARISE
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Wendy Easler, right, helps Deborah Foreman of Toledo with her taxes Friday at the Financial Opportunity Center in North Toledo. Wendy Easler, right, helps Deborah Foreman of Toledo with her taxes Friday at the Financial Opportunity Center in North Toledo.
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Even though she works two jobs, being a single mom with three young children means Leather Stover has to stretch every dollar.

Luckily Ms. Stover, 27, of East Toledo has been able to take advantage of financial classes at the East Toledo Family Center, 1020 Varland Ave., one of a number of local agencies offering classes on budgeting, banking, managing bills, and building assets.

Other classes are available at the Financial Opportunity Center, 2860 Lagrange St. in North Toledo, and Crossroads Family Resource Center, 4543 Douglas Rd.

The goal is to help families achieve “true financial stability,” said Valerie Moffitt, assistant director at United North who helps run the Financial Opportunity Center in North Toledo. “[We want people] to have that nest egg and have good credit.”

Ms. Moffitt said the center strives to build such successes through one-on-one financial coaching, building job search skills, helping with resume writing, and assisting clients to achieve long-term goals.

During a recent Monday class at the East Toledo Family Center, two instructors worked with the women in attendance to help them write resumes and go through mock job interviews.

Instructor Tai Flores gently coached a student to try to tout her own accomplishments more, as if in a real job interview.

“Use words like ‘goal-oriented,’” she suggested when her student seemed at a loss for words to describe herself.

Other topics during the 10-week class include financial management skills, establishing financial goals, and understanding banking services.

A study earlier this year showed more than two in five Ohio residents have almost no savings at all to fall back on in the event of a layoff, health emergency, or other costly event. That group includes many low-income Ohioans, but also many people who would consider themselves middle-class, earning between $51,000 and $83,000 per year, according to the study, by the Corporation for Enterprise Development.

No savings means a “limited hope of building a more prosperous future” by saving for college, buying a home, or putting aside money for retirement, the study’s authors noted.

Financial coach Wendy Easler, right, and Nadine Bryant, center, of the United Way help Disarea Segura of Toledo with her taxes at the Financial Opportunity Center in North Toledo. Financial coach Wendy Easler, right, and Nadine Bryant, center, of the United Way help Disarea Segura of Toledo with her taxes at the Financial Opportunity Center in North Toledo.
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The study rated more than 43 percent of Ohio households as “liquid-asset poor,” which means that they have less than three months of savings to fall back on. Additionally, it rated 26 percent “asset poor” because the assets that they have — such as a savings account, home, or car — are overwhelmed by debt.

Financial education is a good thing, but that alone is not enough to lift people from poverty, said David Rothstein, project director of asset building for Policy Matters Ohio, a nonpartisan policy research organization.

“We consider it necessary but not sufficient,” he said, adding it should be coupled with state policies that support living-wage jobs, more equitable lending, and tax policies that help low-income to moderate-income workers, such as a state earned-income tax credit.

Building income and savings has been a major initiative at the United Way of Greater Toledo, which funds some of the classes.

Ms. Stover can’t say enough about how she has benefited from working one-on-one with a financial coach.

“She has helped me figure out ways to increase my monthly income and how to shave a little bit off my monthly needs,” she said just before a recent class at the East Toledo Family Center on managing utility bills.



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