Be warned! This is a long post but bear with me and please read it all! I think that you will be proud to see how far I have come and all that i have done!
As you know, going into AmeriCorps, you aren't in it for the money. I am here to help others! I am provided a living stipend which covers my living expenses.
I have always been closed off when it comes to discussing my financial situation. I have felt embarrassed, not sure what others would think, scared, and confused. Now, I feel confident in saying that 1. I needed help especially with being an AmeriCorps member 2. I still need help and will continue working with a financial counselor. 3. I am not afraid to tell others that i am working on my situation 4. I am slowly learning how to take control of my money 5. i loved online shopping and have now ceased my spending! 6 I am taking control! Here are the ways I have grown and couldn't be more proud of where I am today!
Here are some ways I have been more resourceful with my money as an AmeriCorps member. There is also a little blurb about how AmeriCorps has helped me through financial troubles. I hope that it helps some members in the future!
1. Haircut....what's a haircut : you know going to a salon, getting pampered, talking with other women.....i have no idea what that means any more! haha I have been cutting my own hair since moving to KY in august. I have done an okay job, but do miss that little bit of pampering! It has saved me a good amount of money. I am VERY picky about who cuts my hair, which is not the best thing in the world, but looking forward to getting one soon!
2. Food stamps....SNAP benefits: yes, i am a currently benefiting from food stamps. I would be sticks and bones if i didn't have this resource. It has helped me tremendously! At first i was reluctant to use it because of the stigma associated with using the card. But hey, i do need help to help others at this time! Advice for other members, if you are able, try and get food stamp benefits, they help immensely, especially if you aren't living at home!
3. No cable....not even the local channels. I have always wanted to see what life would be without having cable and this put me in the right situation. I never had that push to jump into the world of no tv. But after doing it, i love it. I find that when i do get a chance to watch tv, i get bored and think about all the other things that i could be doing! This all started in Nov. I will continue this! I might get the local channels to watch jeopardy but other than that, i have been doing a lot of crafts (pictures to come soon), more cooking and baking, and playing with the kitten.
4. Riding my bike to work.... this has helped me in many ways.....1. the most important, it helps the environment and have even tried to convince others to ride their bikes as well, promote a green commute! 2. it gives me some added exercise. 3. saves on gas money.
5. I love coupons! I browse the red plums and smart source when they come in the mail. If i need a shirt or something, i print coupons off line to receive a discount. I only buy clothes from the sales racks and clearance areas. I must say i love Target and JcPenney. I can really really cute things too! This will continue into the future and beyond!
6. Carpooling......I have learned how much i love my family. I have not been home in a year because of the distance and the expense to get there. I have really missed them. I know that every family has it faults, but i love mine and can't wait to see them! I am hopefully going to be able to go home with a friend in July! I wouldn't be able to go if it wasn't for sharing a ride and driving her gas efficient car! Thanks B, you are the best!
7. My furniture...I mean brianna's furniture haha. Basically, i have been passed on furniture from close friends of mine! Without the gracious donations, i wouldn't have any furniture to sit on! My table came from my grandparents, and the mattress i have was one that water leaked onto and the store sales man gave me a deal for. If you are moving, save furniture! See if any family members and friends are getting rid of furniture. Check out craigslist...but watch out for bed bugs!!! Ekkkk.
8. Discounts......i received a discount on my rent because i am an AmeriCorps member. I was loaned a bike to ride from a local bike shop. I am very grateful for both!
9. Little things here and there......i do not have a dishwasher, so i needed a dish dryer thing. Mrs. G was awesome and was able to find me an amazing, new rack for free! I am so glad for this. I have decorated my apartment with my craft projects! Paint. I am getting from freecycle.org! This is a great website. You are able to recycle things that you don't want anymore by giving them to those who need it. There are different groups in areas all around the world. I am going to be getting paint from someone in lexington, for free!
10. Future financial help....the education award....As you all know, i am going back to school at EKU this fall to get a second degree in nursing! I wanted to be able to do this loan free and the educational award will cover tuition plus books! I couldn't be happier. This award has helped me meet my goals. I will be working as a CNA full time as well and will be able to pay other expenses and save money! AmeriCorps has helped me reach my financial goals of no student loans this year!
11. The best thing that i have been able to do financially is be involved with a financial counselor through an IDA program. The IDA program was established to help low income families save money and purchase say a business, go to school, or put a down payment on a house. Since i am considered low income, I applied for a specific program. I have to save $500 over a 9 month period. At the end of the nine months, they will match my 500 by 8! I will be getting $4500 in January! This will pay for my second semester of college! With going loan free this coming year, i will have reached my goals. The best part of the IDA program is that i meet with a financial counselor each month. We discuss my goals, how my budget is going, and was to improve my savings. He has taught me how to budget correctly, how to save, etc. I will also be attending a financial makeover 8 week session! I have read a Dave Ramsey book and my counselor follows his teachings! I am ever so grateful for Dave Ramsey and my counselor.
One last thing I think is important is that Jesse has taught me the value of a dollar. He has guided me in spending and has showed me how to take control! He has taught me how serious money is and that I don't have anyone there to bail me out if i were to get into trouble. He has been my support and has even attended a counseling session with me. I hope that I have even taught him a few things here and there through my sessions and readings! I couldn't have gotten this far without his support and persistence. Thanks for standing by me through this time in my life and being my wall!
My ultimate goal is to be debt free, even mortgage free, one day! I would like to be able to help others and teach them how to take control of their finances! I want others to know that its ok to accept help. Everyone needs help at some point in time. I would love to be able to help a friend out or family member out, say they needed a car, i could go out and buy a $3000 car and it wouldn't even dent my financial status. It would be like owh yea, here is a car for you, please take care of it and make the best out of it! Of course, i would probably send them a book on managing their money etc. How great of a feeling would that be to know that i had come sooooo far and was able to help someone in need without it affecting my finances!
All in all, i have learned how to be more resourceful with what i have. I have learned to give up some things in my life, like haircuts and pedis, cable, and pricier clothes, and am very grateful for this lesson! The next time I am able to get a haircut, i will appreciate it more than i have any other time in my life! I am very thankful for the people that have passed down items to me and AmeriCorps for teaching me valuable lessons. I have learned how to take control and manage my money. AmeriCorps has opened opportunities that I will be grateful for the rest of my life.
This is taped on my computer. Behind the "just say no" are my long term and short term goals. I use it when thinking about buying something online! I usually get roped in on the deals and sales. This has helped me a lot!