June 30th marks the conclusion of our Ware County Money Smart program. Money Smart begins with a series of 6 classes where participants learn about budgeting, checking and savings accounts, interest rates and other financial information that can impact them. Once the classes are completed, participants have the opportunity to earn up to $1000 in matching funds if they set up and contribute to a savings account. Participants also have access to monthly one-on-one meetings with CSI staff to help them develop ways to use what they’ve learned in the class. The goal of the program is to give participants the skills they need to improve their financial situation. Below are the experiences of two successful participants, Mrs. Alvatina Rivers and Mrs. Angela Carter.

Mrs. Alvatina Rivers, (pictured in the front row, third from the left) was a participant in this year’s program. Mrs. Rivers entered the Money Smart program to learn ways to improve her finances. When asked about her experience with the program she stated, “It has been a struggle, but I knew if I stuck with it something good would come out of it. I tell my children that you can do things if you put your mind to it”. Something good has definitely come from the program for Mrs. Rivers, who was able to exceed the required savings amount and receive the additional $1000 in matching funds.

Mrs. Rivers explained that working with Center Coordinator, Sherry Barnes, played a part in her meeting this goal. “Mrs. Sherry worked with me – she had patience – and it boosted me up that much more.”

When asked what tips she could pass on to others trying to save, Mrs. Rivers says she, “cut out eating out and buying things I didn’t really need. I have a fixed income, so it was difficult to find places to cut back, but Mrs. Sherry helped me and I stuck with it.”

Mrs. Rivers also stated she was motivated by her plans for her savings. “Me and my sister are planning on investing in real estate, so right now we are keeping an eye out. I want to use what I saved for something that will benefit me, not just spend it all up. Thinking about that made me motivated.”

To anyone in the community wishing to improve their financial situation, Mrs. Rivers says she, “most certainly recommends this program. I would invite people to go through it because it really helped me”.

Mrs. Angela Carter, (pictured above in the back row, fourth from the left) also participated in this year’s program and has seen a positive impact on her life. She explains, “I learned so much. For example, before this program I had gotten a loan for car repairs. I never really paid much attention to the interest rate or details because I needed the loan. But I learned in the classes about how much the interest rates can vary or even change and how it can affect you”.

Mrs. Carter has continued working with Center Coordinator, Sherry Barnes, each month and now has a plan in place to pursue her education. She is currently enrolled to begin Child Development courses in August. Mrs. Carter enjoys working with children, which she does now at the Ware Recreation Department. She sees earning her degree as a way to continue working with children and also having an opportunity to increase her income.

When asked if she would recommend the Money Smart program, Mrs. Carter says, “I would definitely recommend it, it’s a real good class. If I can do it, they can do it. I’m saving now, and I’ve got money in my savings account. Before this class I didn’t have a savings account. That’s a great feeling”.