Niles nonprofit hosts financial literacy workshop on goals, budget

Published 1:30 pm Saturday, February 26, 2022

NILES — A local organization continues to educate the Niles community on ways to improve their financial literacy.

Helping Our People Evolve, a Niles-based nonprofit known as HOPE, hosted 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. The meetings are hosted 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 establishing goals, Johnson said it is important to write down goals and to make sure goals are connected to your values or a larger purpose.

“I want people to understand how to set those goals to line them up with their budget,” she said. “When you set that goal, make sure it’s connected to your values. Make sure that you’re going to be able to carry those things out with where you are financially. So all of that stuff is interconnected and that’s the thing that I wanted people to get out of this.”

Johnson also discussed budget tips as well as common budget issues many people face. She offered the following tips for preparing a budget:

  • Budget your money before the month begins or your actual pay date.
  • Budget for quarterly or semi-annual expenses, such as car or life insurance.
  • Include savings for an emergency plan into your budget.
  • Save for big purchases or plan for holiday spending with a Christmas club account. 
  • Set realistic spending limits by evaluating prior months spending habits.
  • Miscellaneous or “mad money” categories should get smaller and smaller.

Johnson hopes people come away from the workshop with a better understanding of how to handle their budget.

“It means a lot to me to be able to give back and to be able to share my experiences and provide people with the means and the resources in the tools to improve their financial health,” she said.

HOPE Community Development Director Doug Freeman believed the workshop was informative and set a good foundation for people in attendance.

“One of the things that I took away was that the importance of budgeting and also the importance of having a goal and following through with it and not being sidetracked with things that are going to pull you away from it,” he said. “I think it was very important that she emphasized that it’s on you and you should set a goal with a vision. If you don’t have the vision, then you’re not going to 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 be centered around credit.

“We’ll discuss credit scores, how to improve your credit score and how to use credit responsibly,” she said. “We’ll also be discussing what I would consider good debt and bad debt and the importance of having a good credit score.”

With two workshops left, Freeman hopes the community takes advantage.

“I think that word of mouth is going to spread,” he said. “That’s the way we learn and that’s the way you get informed about different things in the community. Once these workshops are over with, people who attended will speak with other people and tell them what they got out of the workshop and hopefully they would direct them to Ms. Johnson for further development.”

In addition, Freeman hopes to develop a financial literacy program for area youth.

“That is our next goal,” he said. “That program is going to be very influential because a lot of the youth are looking to spend money but they don’t know how to spend money. These are some of the things that we are going to push and hopefully we can get that off the ground this summer.”