By Jasmine Carvalho with United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut

United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut is committed to individuals and families being financially secure. In Connecticut, one in three families struggle to make ends meet with the high costs of necessities such as child care, housing, and food (Connecticut United Ways, 2016). In the 40-town region of central and northeastern Connecticut, 41 percent of families struggle to meet their basic needs. United Way connects these hard-working individuals and families with resources to get ahead through their support of many initiatives and programs.

One such program is the volunteer Budget Coaching program. This free program is designed to provide individuals with the opportunity to achieve financial security through meeting one-on-one with a trained budget coach. Throughout a four-month cohort, participants work with their coach to identify ways to manage expenses, set and meet financial goals, and develop an action plan to pay bills on time, reduce debt and save.

Last year, 100 percent of participants increased their financial management skills and 68 percent reduced their household expenses. One of these participants was Johannie Cruz. “I was a bit apprehensive at first, but I looked at my daughter and realized that I had to take control and I needed a plan.” She was struggling to make ends meet, even while working full time, having just gone through a divorce, taking care of her youngest daughter, and living with medical concerns. She heard about the program through a friend, whose encouragement helped her decide to join the volunteer Budget Coaching program.

Johannie was understandably concerned about being in a position of having to open up her financial life to someone she had never met before. But before long, her coach became her friend and mentor. “She never judged me. She was truly there to help me succeed. I worked with her over the next four months to track my expenses, develop a budget, [and] create short- and long-term goals and an action plan to achieve them. I learned a lot about discipline and worked really hard to use all the tools the program gave to me to help me organize and prioritize my finances.” Throughout the cohort she achieved amazing results and has since been able to purchase her own condo! Listen and/or read about another participant’s experience here.

We have worked with participants at different stages in their financial journeys. If you or someone you know is interested in learning more about the program and/or applying today, visit https://UnitedWayInc.org/UWBudgetCoaching. With questions, contact Tasheenah Brown at tbrown@unitedwayinc.org or (860)493-1122.

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