NILES — A local organization continues to educate the Niles community on ways to improve their financial situation. literacy.
Helping Our People Evolve, a Niles-based nonprofit known as HOPE, held its second of four financial literacy workshops at Niles Cedar Lane, 1 Tyler St. Hosted by financial coach Paulette Johnson, the workshops aim to teach community members the importance of budgeting, goal setting and how behaviors affect finances. Meetings are held at 6 p.m. on the fourth Wednesday of each month and are available in-person or virtually through the Hope for Niles YouTube channel or the Helping Our People Evolve – Hope Facebook page.
This month’s workshop focused on setting financial goals and creating a budget. When setting goals, Johnson said it’s important to write goals down and make sure the goals are related to your values or a larger purpose.
“I want people to understand how to set these goals to align with their budget,” she said. “When you set that goal, make sure it’s tied to your values. Make sure that you will be able to achieve these things where you are financially. So it’s all interconnected and that’s what I wanted people to take away from it.
Johnson also discussed budget advice as well as common budget issues that many people face. She offered the following tips for preparing a budget:
- Budget your money before the start of the month or your actual pay date.
- Budget for quarterly or semi-annual expenses, such as car insurance or life insurance.
- Include savings for an emergency plan in your budget.
- Save for big purchases or plan your vacation spending with a Christmas Club account.
- Set realistic spending limits by evaluating past months’ spending habits.
- Miscellaneous or “crazy money” categories should get smaller and smaller.
Johnson hopes people will come out of the workshop with a better understanding of how to manage their budget.
“It means a lot to me to be able to give back and to be able to share my experiences and empower and resource people in the tools to improve their financial health,” she said.
HOPE’s Community Development Manager, Doug Freeman, found the workshop informative and established a good foundation for those in attendance.
“One of the things I took away was the importance of budgeting and also the importance of having a goal and going after it and not being distracted by things that are going to take you away from it” , did he declare. “I think it was very important that she emphasized that it’s up to you and that you have to set a goal with a vision. If you don’t have the vision then you’re not going to go away. Stick to the Goal If you have a vision, you’re going to stick to the goals.
According to Johnson, the next workshop – scheduled for March 23 – will focus on credit.
“We’ll discuss credit scores, how to improve your credit rating, and responsible use of credit,” she said. “We will also discuss what I would consider good debt and bad debt and the importance of having a good credit score.”
With two workshops remaining, Freeman hopes the community will benefit.
“I think word of mouth will spread,” he said. “That’s how we learn and that’s how you get informed about different things in the community. Once these workshops are completed, those who attended will speak with others and tell them what they took away from the workshop and hopefully direct them to Ms. Johnson for further development.
Additionally, Freeman hopes to develop a financial literacy program for local youth.
“That’s our next goal,” he said. “This program is going to have a lot of influence because a lot of young people are looking to spend money, but they don’t know how to spend money. Those are some of the things that we’re going to be pushing and hopefully we can get that off the ground this summer.