There is no better way to describe my experience with WWC. I returned to Maine in 2010 with a college degree, a baby and a mountain of debt that I couldn’t possibly pay off in my current location. As bills mounted, it felt like I would never be free of debt. I was at rock bottom.
I had done my own taxes in the past, but when I found myself living back home with my parents in 2010, I wasn’t sure I could sort through my finances on my own. The free tax help I found through the CA$H site was just the first step towards my future because, while there, I found out about all the other things WWC offers: Family Development Accounts and the money management class My Money Works.
I thought I was no good with money, that budgeting was too hard and not worth it. At WWC I learned I am good with money. It is never too late to change your frame of mind! I now have a plan and the tools I learned in class. I remember one of the activities was to record every transaction we made for a week-enlightening! I realized how much money I was spending on things I did not need-things that can quickly add up to an unpaid bill. I promised myself I would change. And while my income may not have changed significantly since I completed the class, I know how to wisely prioritize spending.
In the Career Planning class I took in 2011, I learned that sometimes the career you are looking for is not obvious. Sometimes it takes looking at your skills from a different angle. This class provided the chance to really research potential careers of interest. I could learn about day-to-day duties, salary range, and projected demand for that job in Maine. This information can really help you pick a field with opportunity now and in the future.
I was lucky to discover a career with openings and potential for future growth and, through the class, I determined that I was truly ready to embark on a new path. One course in social work was all it took for me to be sure social work was the career for me. I was accepted into the University of New England’s master’s program that fall. It is challenging-some days overwhelming-but I can see myself getting through it. I redirected the money in my FDA account from home ownership to education and was able to cover most of my first semester. One less semester to borrow for-a big relief!
Things look different today. So far, I have been able to pay off all of my debt except for my student loans. I continue to live within the income that I have and have been able to save toward both unexpected and planned expenses like car repairs or a family vacation. I did my own taxes last year. And I have a plan! I expect to graduate with a degree in Organizational and Community Practice in the field of social work in 2017. I want to work in organizations like the ones who helped me. I want to advocate for those whose voices are not being heard.