Lisa needed food for her family of four, but the money wasn’t there. That’s when she found a local food bank supported by United Way, and she was able to get the groceries her family needed. A month later, she needed groceries again. That month, though, she was also struggling to pay her family’s utility bill. GraceWorks West was able to help her family meet their immediate needs by helping with groceries and with their electric bill, but Lisa’s family seemed stuck in a cycle.
While speaking with Kristin, the GraceWorks West food pantry manager, though, Lisa learned GraceWorks also offered help with budgeting and meal planning. She decided to go for financial counseling. Lisa said she was nervous going into her session because she was worried about being judged on her family’s expenses. That didn’t happen. Instead, she and a budget counselor simply laid out all of her expenses and looked at ways to fix her budget.
“You have to be honest about your bills,” said Lisa. “When you see it in your face, you really learn where your money goes.” She also learned how to read her bank statement, and the budget counselor set up a monthly budget allowance for the family and helped them pay off a cash advance loan.
The first couple months were tight, but soon Lisa’s family was putting money into savings and paying off other bills, including her son’s school instrument and repairs to their vehicle.
Now, Lisa is learning how to help others with budgeting. She said families can relate to her because she’s been where they are and she knows the struggles and hard decisions they face. Lisa credits the help she received with changing her life. “I wouldn’t be where I am today if this place wasn’t here,” she said.