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Updated on Friday, October 3, 2014
This week, the MagnifyMoney team returned to Chattanooga, Tennessee. Our original visit in June was inspired by the documentary Paycheck-to-Paycheck, which featured the Chambliss Center for Children. During the documentary, we saw a desperate need for financial education, so we packed up our bags and headed to the Chambliss Center to host financial seminars and one-on-one meetings.
The staff and parents of children at the Chambliss Center were warm, welcoming and shared unbelievable stories with us. So many men and women felt broken by the complex banking system and many had turned to predatory lenders in their hours of need.
During our one-on-one meetings, we provided specific guidance to help people feel empowered and save their money by finding the best financial products for their lives.
We were able to help one woman, we’ll call her Anna, cut her credit card debt by thousands of dollars after we walked her through the process of setting up balance transfers.
Upon our return to the Chambliss Center, we were able to check in on some familiar faces and make some new friends. We were particularly excited to catch up with Anna and see how the balance transfers worked out. Anna walked into the room with a confidence we didn’t see during our last visit. She smiled, joked and shared her enthusiasm that her debt, which just months ago had tipped over $12,000 was now down under $6,000. By utilizing balance transfers, Anna could put all of her monthly payment towards chipping away at the principal instead of just throwing money at interest charged by the bank.
In addition to our time at the Chambliss Center, we were also given the opportunity to provide one-on-one meetings at First Things First, a non-profit dedicated to strengthening families in Hamilton County, Tennessee
First Things First provides a variety of resources for families, but some are focused specifically on fathers who may no longer be with the mother of their children. The organization helps these men learn how to be present in their child’s life, handle child support, find employment and learn the life skills necessary to be a good parent.
We were able to sit down with some of the men and listen to their financial struggles.
Questions ranged from where to bank without being charged fees to how to get a loan from someone other than a payday lender to how do you save money?
We were impressed with so many of the resourceful ways these men, and the women we met, found ways to save money and create strategies for themselves as the underserved and unbanked.
Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sharing stories and lessons we learned from our time down in Chattanooga.
We want to thank the staff of the Chambliss Center and First Things First for welcoming us into their communities and a heartfelt appreciation for all the men and women who took time out of their days to come speak with us.