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Jeremy’s Hope Story: A Savings Account

I’m Jeremy and this is my hope story…

A friend told me that Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas offered a financial education program, Family Financial Transformations, and strongly encouraged me to enroll. I didn’t think I could afford enrolling in the program and also, because I wasn’t Catholic I didn’t think I could go to Catholic Charities. My friend shared with me that all Catholic Charities services are free and based on need – not religion, race or nationality.

So I enrolled and when I met with our Family Financial Transformation program specialist, I was open about my circumstances.

My wife, Maria, stopped working a year ago after she got sick. We started falling behind on our bills including our property taxes. We tried to apply for Social Security Disability (SSD) but the application was denied.

I work as a fork lift operator and get paid $13.53 an hour but after taxes and insurance for our family it only leaves us $365 a paycheck. I got a title loan on my used truck for $518.21. We were in over our heads with an APR of over 230%!

I applied for Catholic Charities’ Kansas Loan Pool Project (KLPP); but unfortunately my debt-to-income ratio was too low so I did not qualify. It was puzzling to me that I qualified for a title loan with my debt-to-income ratio but easily got the title loan. That title loan was killing us…

Catholic Charities did not turn their back on us though. Our program specialist helped me forge ahead. We were determined to get my family’s bills in check.

I applied for our family to be part of Catholic Charities’ Family Financial Transformations program, we took classes and through it found a way to budget our family’s money to pay off our title loan. The great part of the classes were that our two young daughters learned how to budget with their peers in a separate classroom. The teachers made learning about saving fun! Our girls loved going to financial ed classes. We had never talked about money before and now we talk about it a lot – and guess what? We don’t argue, we talk.

In the middle of all this, we were also behind with our property taxes. We worked with our program specialist who coached Maria and me through taking care of the title loan and helped us make a plan to save money to get current our property taxes.

Two weeks ago, I shared with our program specialist my family received a letter from the Social Security Administration saying that Maria was approved for disability! And our news got even better, last week our family received a check for $4,500 from past disability which we will use to pay our property taxes completely and to begin a savings account in case of an emergency. A savings account…we couldn’t have imagined that at the beginning of this year!

My goal now is to start putting $250 into savings every month so my family never gets behind on our property taxes or bills again. Thank you, Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas, for helping us understand how to budget and save – and more importantly for giving us hope in a very dark time in our lives.

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Catholic Charities of Northeast Kansas serves the most vulnerable men, women and children of all faiths across 21 counties. We provide innovative programs and solutions that stabilize and strengthen individuals and families to have hope for the future. Follow us to stay up to date.

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