Helping Parents Better Handle Their Money with First Things First in Chattanooga

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Updated on Tuesday, October 7, 2014

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Last week, the MagnifyMoney team had the privilege of visiting First Things First, a not-for-profit organization in Chattanooga, TN. FTF strives to improve on the well being of their community and works to strengthen the family unit in the greater Hamilton County area.

Part of the organization’s dedication to family focuses on fathers. FTF notes on their about us page that 77 percent of dads in Chattanooga say fathers should be more active in the lives of their children and nearly 30 percent of the households with children under 18 are headed by women.

In order to help men become, and stay, present in their children’s lives, FTF offers workshops and classes specifically geared toward men. These are men from all walks of life: single dads, married men, expectant fathers, formerly absent fathers, and men who spent time in prison and thus forced to be away from their children.

Not only does FTF teach fathers what to expect from being a parent, but the staff also works hard to ensure success in all fronts. The organization helps men secure jobs, learn coping skills, and figure out how to effectively communicate with their child’s mother.

FTF doesn’t solely focus on men, but also strives to help couples prepare for marriage or deal with difficulty after they’ve exchanged vows.

Our team was given the opportunity to sit down with fathers, mothers and couples to discuss their financial situations and see how we could help make their lives easier.

We found the ingenuity displayed by many of the fathers incredibly impressive.

These men, often tired by being swindled by large banks and corporations, found unique ways to skirt the traditional banking systems in order to keep more money in their pockets. We know it is often those at the lower end of the socio-economic spectrum who are punished the most by bank fees. It’s often the poorest in our communities who are consistently hit with overdraft fees, minimum deposit requirements and monthly account maintenance costs.

We also were touched by a couple who came in to get counseling about how to handle some repairs that needed to be made to their home. The wife owned a home and the surrounding land, which was valued at $175,000. She only had $30,000 left to pay on her mortgage, but was interested in borrowing $20,000 in a home equity line of credit to make some significant repairs to the home, including a new roof.

The wife went on to explain when she started shopping around for rates, one lender tried to offer to her $200,000 when she only wanted $20,000. We applauded her decision to walk away from the massively increased offer because she felt something was amiss. She asked for our confirmation that her gut was correct and how she could secure the a loan without landing herself into a seedy situation.

It isn’t uncommon for a lender to lure a borrower into taking out significantly more than he or she needs, but it also isn’t uncommon for a borrower to jump at the chance to get more money.

Our nearly 10 hours of discussions with mothers, fathers and couples left us feeling more needs to be done to help the unbanked, increase financial literacy and empower every consumer – regardless of their net worth – to feel in control of their money.

We want to give a special thanks to First Things First for letting our team come visit. They’re doing incredible work in their community and proving that a little education and dedication can go a long way to make meaningful changes.

Could people in your community benefit from one-on-one financial sessions? Then get in touch with us via [email protected]

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