Finances a matter of family and community Money Mentors helps people get a handle on debt

People are often put off by the topic of money management. The Norwood Wesleyan Church helped parishioners get past their reluctance with a workshop.

Sound finances empowers people and communities, explained Phillip Telfer, Wesleyan pastor.

“Realizing money is a tool and using it well to help you and those around you. It means using your money to love people,” Telfer said.

Telfer presents a series of sermons on finances once a year, and this fall he added guest speaker Linda Mak. She introduced workshop attendees to Money Mentors, a service that educates Albertans in money management.

The oil industry is down and wages are down, said Mak, coordinator with Money Mentors Stakeholder Relations Team.

“People are not getting a call back to work. But the debts remain the same.”

Fortunately, the Alberta government has set up a resource providing free money coaching, financial literacy courses for adults, and a debt repayment program.

“We’re lucky to be in Alberta,” said Mak. “Our services can save a couple from splitting up because they cannot make it [financially].”

Money Mentors is the sole provider in Alberta of a five per cent interest debt repayment program for people in financial crisis.

“For high-risk debt, there are options and alternatives. We help set up a new repayment, coach you along the way,” said Mak.

The afternoon’s theme was making financial literacy your mindset.

“We have developed the tools for you, that’s not difficult. What about your mindset? Tune into a good mindset,” said Mak. “It’s the only way to set a role model for young ones.”

She doesn’t use the word budgeting because it hinders wise spending.

“I use the word plan. It is a spending plan, like planning a party or planning a shower.”

Participants got an impulse buying ‘emergency card’ for their wallet.

“Be in the driver’s seat to stop impulse buying,” said Mak.

Christmas spending is another pitfall. Last December, per capita spending in Canada was $1,500 per person.

“What about give a gift of giving? For example, I’ll do the dishes or do the shovelling for a month,” said Mak, noting that children often fall into the same patterns as parents.

“Why is this so?” she asked.

An audience member astutely answered. “Because whatever you’re fighting against is exactly the road you’re taking.”

Despite a small attendance, her final message was that participants have a role in financial literacy.

“Your partnership in all this is to spread the word. Those who attend will tell others,” she said.

An audience member followed through.

“My daughter is going to get this information,” she said.

Visit moneymentors.ca for more information.

Kate Wilson

Kate took up the reporter's pad and pen while living in northern Alberta. The writing bug stuck, and the next 20 years were spent covering everything from local politics to community happenings. She lives in Alberta Avenue with her daughter.

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