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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

“Another day older and deeper in debt”

For many folks today the lyrics to the old Frankie Lane song is a reality. Buying on credit is the norm. Remember the old days of buying on “lay away” and Christmas clubs that you paid in every week so you had money for buying Christmas gifts? You didn’t talk to a banker about a mortgage until you had twenty percent as the down payment. It used to be that everyone looked forward to a mortgage burning party. Car loans were 2 years or maybe 3 years if you were lucky.

Fortunately we have a resource in Howard County that can set everyone from young to old on the smart path to avoid the mistakes of “buy now, pay later” mentality.

The program is called makingCHANGE and since 2003 over 6000 Howard County residents have used their online financial literacy programs or attended one of their 60 seminars held each year. Michelle Glassburn has been the President since 2007 and has focused on raising the bar on financial literacy in Howard County by coordinating a set of wrap-around financial education services available to everyone in the community.

Michelle is one of those persons who seems to have partnered with almost every organization in the County. It seems everywhere I go I bump into Michelle doing a financial literacy session or talk with someone who has partnered with her. Her most frequent sessions are on budgeting, childcare, clothing, credit score, education, debt, employment, furniture, food, goal setting, health care, housing, parenting, utilities, savings and transportation. The results of her seminars are impressive:

· 42% began using direct deposit

· 15% opened a second direct deposit bank account to save for financial goals

· 33% enrolled in the employer health plan

· 9% enrolled in the employer's 401K retirement savings plan

· 58% created new personal savings goals

· 64% created a household budget

· 15% created an emergency plan to avoid missing work

Michelle is always looking at new ways to assist people to financial literacy and she has been working to develop a matched saving program to encourage people to have savings for a “rainy day.” You can follow makingCHANGE programs on their blog or Facebook page.

If you have a group that you would like Michelle to do a seminar with call her at 443-718-9350.


Jason Reddish said...

makingCHANGE is a co-sponsor of an upcoming event at the Howard County Library - East Columbia Branch that will kick off Financial Education Month:

Money Matters Fair
Kick off Financial Education month with a fun-filled line-up of activities and classes to learn smart ways to stretch your money! The fair includes hands-on activities, information and resources for personal finance, financial aid for college, free credit reports, and tax advice. 10 am - 1 pm.

Cosponsored by Howard County Council Member Calvin Ball, Howard Community College, Howard County Public School System, Making Change: A Financial Wellness Center, and Friends of Howard County Library.

Jason Reddish said...

Forgot the date...

The Money Matters Fair is on Saturday, April 2nd.

makingCHANGE - A Financial Wellness Center said...

Thanks for highlighting our work in today's post! We are grateful and honored. It's wonderful to work with such great partners in Howard County. There are so many wonderful organizations that are taking a proactive approach to assist individuals experiencing economic crisis and to prevent those at-risk from reaching the point of hunger and homelessness. Financial literacy is a powerful part of the solution and we are pleased that so many recognize the opportunities it brings.

makingCHANGE said...

PS - Thanks also to Jason for highlighting Councilman Ball's upcoming Money Matters fair on April 2nd at the East Columbia Library. In addition to a host of great activities and services for all ages at the fair, we are pleased that this year we will be piloting VITA (free tax preparation) services for income qualified individuals. VITA programs are a wonderful way that communities across the nation assist low-income families in asset development. The process ensures they take advantage of many available tax credits that can provide a cushion of savings to deal with emergency expenses, training and education, or to start a business. We are delighted that VITA is finally coming to Howard County!