MoneyWi$e travels to Phoenix

Diverse group of organizations receive training on MoneyWi$e curriculum created by Consumer Action in partnership with Capital One Bank
Published: Monday, March 15, 2010

Desert Schools Credit Union invited Consumer Action to provide a MoneyWi$e training to community agency staff at their Phoenix headquarters. Sulie Richardson, community education officer with Desert Schools Credit Union, has provided some financial literacy training in the area but wanted local case managers, non-profit staff and key credit union employees to learn more about the MoneyWi$e financial literacy topics. On Feb. 24 Consumer Action provided training on the MoneyWi$e modules focusing on money management, establishing good credit, and buying a home.

Consumer Action’s Audrey Perrott led the session on money management. Participants discussed ways to educate clients about the meaning of money management and the activities that go with it. Ideas were exchanged on how clients can learn to save more, spend less, reach long and short-term goals, and overcome their resistance to setting a “budget” or spending plan. At each table participants were able to examine a variety of tools for establishing a spending plan. These included the traditional method of saving all receipts in one envelope as well as a variety of budget worksheets. Perrott also provided a variety of resources for electronic and online budgeting. The training also provided an opportunity for non-profit staff to exchange information about resources ranging from local food cooperatives to job training programs. Perrott assured the group that a resource sheet based on the discussion would be prepared and then shared with everyone.

During the session on establishing good credit, Consumer Action’s Nelson Santiago provided tips on how to talk to clients about credit, especially to those who are wary about using it. The group considered the concerns of clients who sometimes say they want to avoid credit or prefer to live on a “cash only” basis. Santiago then emphasized why a good credit history is important even for those who prefer cash, such as for finding a job, saving money on insurance premiums, or being able to rent a car to drive to a job interview across town. Santiago also talked about the difference between debit and credit cards. He answered questions about why credit cards can provide more consumer protection in the event of unauthorized use.

The home-buying session was conducted in an interactive format, with different sections of the module assigned to small groups who then presented the material to the rest of the class. Participants had no chance to even think about an afternoon nap as Santiago led the group through the intensive session covering the home buying process. Participants discussed the benefits and responsibilities of homeownership, down payment sources, comparing loan terms and shopping for a home among other key topics. During the workshop attendees also shared personal experiences and stories that helped illustrate home buying concepts. One of the groups led a discussion on the hypothetical case study found in the curriculum. They explained why the family described in the case study might prefer one home over another and talked about the type of mortgage that would best fit the family. Santiago also reminded participants about the federal homebuyer tax credit available to consumers who buy their first home or a replacement home by April 30, 2010. He also provided contact information for the Arizona Housing Finance Agency, where participants can learn about state and local home buying assistance programs. Many participants were unaware of this Arizona resource.

The daylong MoneyWi$e training featured a guest speaker from Take Charge America, a non-profit credit-counseling agency that is a member of the Association of Independent Consumer Credit Counseling Agencies (AICCCA). Mike Sullivan, Take Charge America's director of education, provided an overview of the organization’s services. They include credit counseling and debt management programs to help consumers repay debts over a period of up to 60 months. Sullivan also serves as president of the Arizona Jump$tart Coalition, a non-profit that focuses on improving financial literacy skills of school-aged youth.

During the training, Perrott reminded attendees that all MoneyWi$e materials are available for free to non-profit agencies. One of the attendees volunteered to show the class how to navigate through Consumer Action’s website to download publication order forms and curriculum materials to help them prepare for their own workshops. Participants were grateful for the training and many of them submitted publication orders on the spot. Consumer Action also received requests to come back to Phoenix to train additional community partners.




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