United Way of the Wine Country (UWWC) and Catholic Charities of Santa Rosa (CCSR) have partnered to pilot a new program that will enhance services for United Way’s Earn It! Keep It! $ave It! (EKS) free tax preparation services. EKS is the first step in a larger effort to bring greater financial stability to the residents of our region. Using Corporation for Enterprise Development’s “Household Financial Security Framework” CCSR and UWWC are looking for ways to increase services into and the overall impact of EKS services by offering benefit enrollment, financial education, credit repair, and matched savings to EKS clients.
1. Financial Education
Catholic Charities’ Learn, Earn, Act, Plan (LEAP) Program includes financial education workshops. By working with community partners, we connect with families in crisis to help them when they need it most. This allows participants the opportunity to learn financial skills centered on money management and practice techniques. Participants are provided with a credit report, credit counseling. Throughout the course they work on creating a budget and bill calendar. They are also taught how to use a bill and income worksheet and spending plan. Participants are supported in creating SMART goals based on their personal needs.
Earning income is a central focus in most households, through employment, accessing public benefits, and tax credits. Once families are earning enough money to meet their basic expenses, they can start to set aside some of their earnings. As they build savings, families can leverage that resource into long-term assets-such as education, a home, or a business. We work with participants to create an Action Plan and follow their progress for 6 months.
Client outcomes that we are tracking include savings, debt reduction, and credit score improvement. As a result of financial education and coaching, we expect participants to show positive increases in their knowledge, awareness, confidence, and hope, related to the management of their household finances.
2. Financial Coaching
Financial coaching is an effective method of building and developing financial capability. Coaching can address the gap that may occur between financial education and adaptation of positive financial behaviors. When looked at through the lens of behavioral psychology, positive psychology informs goal formation and implementation, while ideas around procrastination and salience of action or intention is grounded in behavioral economics. Financial coaching intervention uses this set of evidence-based approaches. Through inclusion of this evidence-based theory, financial coaching offers a distinct approach that has the potential to facilitate goal attainment through goal setting, implementation intentions, and monitoring. By utilizing principles from behavioral psychology, the field of financial coaching has the potential to facilitate behavior changes that result in greater financial security.
Catholic Charities will recruit and train the volunteers to offer financial coaching to participants in order to offer added support in developing the framework needed for success. Participants work with coaches to set SMART goals aimed at reducing debt, improving credit scores, and building assets including increased savings. Coaches will work with participants for 3-6 months.
3. Credit Repair
Credit counselors look at a person’s total financial situation, counsel participant and strategize the ways to address any issues on credit report. and help work out a plan to pay off their debt. They can help to create a money management plan, a debt pay down plan, and also provide resources and referrals to workshops related to money management.
At Catholic Charities, we will request the credit report at no cost to the client, review the report and create an annotation based on the results. The participant will be able to view the report with the counselor and discuss strategies on what the next steps may be. The participant will also learn how to access their credit report in the future, how to read a report, and how to talk to debt collectors. If there is an outstanding collection that is creating a barrier to accessing housing, employment, or credit, the participant can apply for a fund to pay off some debt.
4. Matched Savings
- EARN is a national nonprofit helping working families achieve prosperity through savings. It is a free, easy to use program that helps people save for what’s most important. For every $20 a participant saves, they’ll get $10 in cash rewards. In just 6 months, they will have at least $180 dollars saved from their own contribution and earned rewards.
- 47% of Americans cannot access $400 in an emergency without going into debt or selling something. Families with a savings cushion of just $250 to $749 are less likely to be evicted, miss a payment, or receive public benefits after a financial shock like losing a job.
- With EARN Starter Savings anyone can build an emergency fund, kick-start a habit of saving, and build financial stability. 83% of EARN savers have a strategy for handling a financial emergency, and 64% consider themselves a regular saver at program’s end- an increase of 35%.
- Catholic Charities partners with earn to offer the EARN Starter Savings Program to our clients. We plan on launching the customized matched savings program which will allow us to determine the program length, reward structure- match or bonus payments, reward amount, and customize the pre-and post- program survey.
Independent Development Accounts (IDAs)
- Independent Development Accounts (IDAs) are special savings accounts that match the deposits of low and moderate income savers. For every dollar saved in an IDA, savers receive an additional dollar, or more, depending on the guidelines of each program. Typically, IDA savings and match may be used for postsecondary education or job training, homeownership, or to start a small business. In addition to earning match dollars, participants learn about budgeting, saving and receive additional training before purchasing an asset. Catholic Charities is awaiting grant assistance in order to start offering IDAs to our community in the spring of 2017.
- Over the last decade, more than 85,000 IDAs have been opened in programs administered by more than 1,100 sites across the country. The impact of this initiative has resulted in more than 9,400 new homeowners, 7,200 educational purchases and 6,400 small business start-up and expansion purchases. While returns on IDA investments are difficult to calculate, the Corporation For Enterprise Development (CFED) estimates that each federal dollar invested in IDAs would yield a return of approximately five dollars to the national economy in the form of new businesses, additional earnings, new and rehabilitated homes, reduced welfare expenditures, and human capital associated with greater educational attainment.
How do I access financial coaching, credit counseling, and financial education classes?
• Call for an appointment (707) 528-8712 x 215
• Stop by the Jubilee center at 987 Airway Court
• Talk to a Resource Table Assistant at your tax appointment
How do I sign up for EARN?
• Catholic Charities is a partner with EARN. Please use our EARN page and sign up so we can keep promoting the product.
What if I don’t have a bank account?
• You can sign up first and then we can help you get a bank account with a bank that will best meet your needs.
What are the rewards?
• $20 minimum to be saved each month for six months. Participants can set their own goals.
• Earn up to $10 in rewards after month 2 for a total of $60. The rewards are deposited into the participant’s bank account after they have completed the program requirements.