Fighting Your Way Out Of Holiday Debt

Time To Sign Up For Homeport’s Financial Fitness Courses

Homeport offers Financial Fitness courses throughout the year, but there may be no better time to sign up for classes than now – when the first holiday bills start arriving.

Beginning Jan. 24, Homeport, a HUD Certified Housing Counseling Agency, will be offering 10- hour financial fitness workshops to improve your money management skills including budgeting, financial planning, savings, banking, credit, taxes and insurance.

The free classes, on a space available basis, offers participants the chance to address debt recently created, and to avoid a similar mess when the 2015 Holiday Season comes around, according to Netta Whitman, Homeport’s Assistant Director of Learning and Engagement.

The classes are broken into two, 5-hour courses the last two Saturdays of each month.

Some of the plans to address debt should be obvious. But unless spelled out, people may choose to not address opportunities, or come up with a strategy for spending the next season, she said.

For example, some debt can be addressed by Income Tax returns, and learning how to spend money that may come back, Whitman said.

“We don’t want them to continue Christmas shopping,” she said. “Income Tax refunds can be a way to pay off debt or begin savings.”

Half of a return might be able to go to paying off debt, a quarter could go for savings, and a quarter might be used for spending, Whitman added.

One of the more popular savings plans the course teaches enrollees is the “52-Week Money Challenge,” according to Layden Hale, a Senior Counseling Advisor at Homeport.

Students of the class are provided a handout that illustrates how incremental deposits on a weekly basis can add up. A dollar for the first week would be followed by $2 the second week, three dollars, the third week, etc. By the time the final three weeks arrive, each week would provide $50, $51 and $52. Such a savings plan would net $1378 after a year, Hale said.

The classes are offered 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Homeport’s main office, 562 E. Main Street. Individuals who take the 10 hours of coursework qualify for individual follow up from Homeport’s financial advice team. To sign up, visit www.homeportohio.org/learn. For more information, call 614 221-8889, extension 134.

“Our courses have helped close to 1,000 people over the last decade to achieve their financial goals,” Whitman said. “It’s rewarding to help people to achieve their dreams, from paying off debt to purchasing their first home.”