If you’re interested in improving your budgeting skills, your goal setting skills, or even your credit rating, Solid Ground’s Financial Fitness Boot Camp (FFBC) has you covered.
In the first workshop of this four-part series, participants learn how to put together a monthly budget, get tips for reducing costs, and share advice with other attendees about where to find the best deals.
Putting together a budget
Noel Lerner, FFBC/Tenant Counselor, carefully teaches everyone who attends how to build a monthly budget. Noel goes down the list, helping you figure out exactly what you’re spending money on every month, including things that you might never have thought about before.
She also provides a consistent energy that keeps everyone involved and even having fun. When the FFBC series relaunched last summer, Noel talked about how her enthusiasm and optimism can help power the series: “I find that I can walk into a room and say, ‘Budgets are cool,’ and people begin to believe it.”
Noel walks the group through a practical monthly budget to help everyone identify where they’re spending their money and where changes could be made. Everyone might remember to include their rent costs in a budget, but it’s important to remember to also include regular purchases like haircuts and laundry costs to avoid falling behind by the end of the month.
Even for experienced budget makers, the session is a great refresher, and attendees come out of it with a real, personal budget that they can then build on and continue to use long past the session itself.
Tips for reducing costs
Along with teaching attendees how to make a comprehensive budget, Noel hands out tips on easy ways to estimate how much you’re spending every month. While it’s impossible to know exactly how much you might spend, the tips – including how to estimate what your grocery spending will be – can get you closer and closer to building a budget that helps you stay on top of your spending.
She also singles out areas where people can make an easy adjustment to their spending, cutting down on costs without cutting down on what you do. For example, cell phone and internet bills can often be brought down by shopping around for better offers, or even just talking to your provider. This is just one of many useful suggestions shared over the course of the FFBC.
The savings from all of these tips can then be put into your savings, or “right into your pocket, where it belongs,” as Noel says. She also recommends three savings accounts to stay on top of your goals: one for rent and housing, one for your car, and one for anything else.
Hearing from participants
While Noel’s expert guidance is packed with useful tips, one of the most valuable parts of the Boot Camp is hearing from the other people there.
Curious about where to get the best prices on fresh produce? Someone has an answer for that. Wish that you could save $10 on internet service every month? Someone has a way to do it. Interested in finding a helpful car mechanic in your area? Someone knows where to go.
The setup of the Boot Camp, which encourages attendees to discuss their own experiences to make sure that they get the most out of the series, is a great way to make sure that you get to hear real, practical advice from other people.
This summer’s Financial Fitness Boot Camp is hosted on Wednesdays from 3-5pm throughout July. The second talk, focusing on understanding and improving credit scores, will take place July 17 at Solid Ground. (Note: While participants must attend all four sessions to receive a Certificate of Completion, the workshops are offered quarterly at Solid Ground, so makeup sessions may be available!)
The four workshops:
PART 1: BUDGETING
PART 2: CREDIT & CREDIT REPAIR
PART 3: BANKING
PART 4: GOAL SETTING
Questions about FFBC? Contact Noel at firstname.lastname@example.org or 206.694.6864.