I Have a Good Job, I Have Money, Why am I so Broke??
R Empowerment presents a lot of articles on helping those in need mostly regarding evictions and homelessness. But we are much more than that. We have learned, have been taught, that money is only a band-aid for large wounds. Furthermore, money from charity is temporary. It truly is the quintessential example of the wisdom of
‘Give a man a fish and he eats for a day, teach him how to fish and he eats for a lifetime’
This is the main reason we focus on Empowerment vs Enablement. When funds are freely given in the way of rent assistance the opportunity to create a life change is not available. However, it is the education which empowers our recipients to make better life choices, create a change and learn new skills. Daniela’s inspiring and fun story below represents precisely that need. People who are struggling most often also need guidance in life. In addition, they need to be empowered to understand what got them to the place they are and how to avoid ending up there again. R Empowerment offers empowerment programs to take recovery to a higher, more permanent level. Replete with self-satisfaction and self-esteem.
Daniela was getting behind on her rent and was facing eviction. Daniela had a good job as a bus driver. She made a very decent wage. However, she had fallen into the trap of believing bank overdraft charges were just a reality of life because of her pay schedule. Daniela would pay her bills to avoid late charges, then end up with overdraft charges from the bank. Unknowingly many don’t realize how overdraft charges and ATM fees can crash your budget.
Daniela was charming and quite bright. Visiting with her was delightful, and I could see she needed more than money. As we visited, I was able to identify pitfalls other than overdraft charges. Additional charges such as ATM fees, movie rentals, and a daily trip to the coffee shop. In addition, paying to protect what she had taken to a pawn shop and more. Unfortunately, Daniela was so close to that she couldn’t see them herself.
I began slowly, not wanting to offend her or embarrass her…
Hey, these are mistakes a lot of very intelligent people make!
Daniela was receptive as such that she reversed the dynamic and actually made me feel more comfortable. I asked her about her ‘budget’. She had no budget, in reality, didn’t know what a personal budget was! I suggested we meet once a week for a while to learn how to make use of the most effective financial management tool to mankind: the budget. She didn’t resist at all. She genuinely wanted to know why she had such a good job, good pay, and was always broke.
I prepared for her the simplest of all budget forms – money-in/money-out, ($$-expected/$$-in-reality/variance). I asked her ‘just for fun’ to write down every penny that comes in, and every penny that goes out over the course of one month. She was stunned by the ‘miscellaneous expense’ total! People without budgets tend to forget those fast-food stops, movie rentals, bank fees, daily coffee fixes, etc. Many think their budget consists of rent, car, insurance, groceries, utilities. When she saw what a large percent of her pay went to things she never considered a monthly expense, she became locked-in for life in using even the simplest budget.
R Empowerment recognizes this ‘blind spot’ in many people’s financial management, and we offer classes even as basic as learning a budget to help those who are struggling to take
The first step toward empowering their personal success and changing their lives.
With simple date-pay adjustments by calling creditors, learning which bills to pay when we were able to save Daniela what her past-six-month history was in bank overcharges: $350 a month!!
She was hooked! She wanted to learn more! We evaluated what it was costing her to keep things in the pawn shop, which ones to just let go, use the library for access to movies and music, etc. (most libraries offer this to anybody with a library card, and there are also service companies that partner with libraries to help make this happen, such as Hoopla. We evaluated the logic of each event that was taking small bites out of her paycheck. She decided to have a garage sale and actually ended up selling so much that she was able to get rid of the storage unit she had been renting for years to hold things she didn’t need!
She not only made money, but she was able to take a monthly charge out of her budget for good!
Then we took the bold step of adding many of her miscellaneous charges such as taxes or liens, medical in arrears, pawn rental charge, etc. Furthermore, comparing monthly budgets for every month of any given fiscal quarter. For example, comparing September, October, and November totals to see the difference.
Daniela is a stellar example of a strong and intelligent young lady who had fallen into bad financial decisions. All she needed was a helping hand to teach her how not to do that! The initial subsidy money took the threat of eviction away, and it was a blessing! In addition, Daniela was able to concentrate with our leadership via our Empowerment program on how to ensure she will never find herself in a threatening situation again.
Money is an urgent and appreciated first step, but education is an undeniable lifetime gift.
If you have ever felt that your donations to any charity may end up as some temporary fix, consider donating to the R Empowerment program. We specialize in permanent, not temporary, solutions. You can rest assured that your money is going to help individuals make life-changing decisions. You can lift candidates out of the doldrums of financial failure and raise them to be empowered with knowledge and skills to make the rest of their lives look a whole lot different than what they are when they walk through our doors to begin the transition.