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Financial literacy program offers tools for Steamboat residents to find stability

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — As the executive director of Routt County United Way, Kate Nowak understands the importance of financial stability in a town like Steamboat Springs, where many people often struggle to make ends meet.

“Basically, this stemmed out of some work that the Financial Stability Board committee was doing for United Way,” Nowak said. “We did a year of interviews with different agencies and programs like the Workforce Center, LiftUp of Routt County and Routt to Work to find out what was being done out there for financial stability and what the issues were. The No. 1 issue was financial literacy.”

Nowak said the study revealed people in Steamboat were having problems managing their money and many lived paycheck-to-paycheck. To address the issues, United Way teamed up with the Steamboat Springs Chamber, Yampa Valley Bank, Routt to Work and Routt County Human Services to present a series of workshops designed to offer financial education to adults. The workshops began in the fall and are being offered in two phases.

The first phase, Frameworks, took place in October and included four classes put on by the Routt County Human Services Department based on information from the Financial Health Institute out of Denver. It was focused on the behavior behind spending money and how we spend it.

A second phase, Get More Out of Your Money, will begin next week and will offer five classes aimed at giving people the tools needed for a successful financial outlook. The first class of the workshop, Income and Expenses, Your Savings Plan, will take place from 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. Tuesday at Yampa Valley Bank, 600 S. Lincoln Ave. Other classes will follow on Jan. 21, Jan. 28, Feb. 4 and Feb. 11.

“We got involved here at the Chamber because we have a lot of business owners that request this sort of thing for their employees,” said Vic Walker, membership manager for the Chamber. “Obviously it’s difficult to live and work in Steamboat. It’s expensive, and it’s surprising how many people don’t have the basics down, and they are important.”

The five-class workshop is being spearheaded by Nicole Stone and Rohail Abid and will feature a different lecturer each week. Classes are hands-on, and that’s a big reason the class size is being capped at 15 students.

If you go

Get More Out of Your Money topics
• Jan. 14 — Income & Expenses: Your Savings Plan.
• Jan. 21 — Credit Reports: Scores and Borrowing Basics
• Jan. 28 — Managing Debt: Car Loans, Payday Lending, etc.
• Feb. 4 — Building Your Financial Future on Feb. 4
• Feb. 11 — Managing Debt: Student Loans, Collections, Credit Cards

The workshops are being set up in two phases, and Nowak said she is hoping the series will be rotated between the two phases until everyone that is interested in taking part has been given a chance. Nowak added that participants can take part in phase 2 without taking part in the first phase. Participants are also not required to go to all of the classes in a single workshop.

The classes are free, but because enrollment is limited participants are asked to RSVP. Dinner and childcare will be provided. Nowak said there is still room in the second session, and that anyone interested in taking part should contact Untied Way to RSVP at 970-879-5605, extension 11 or by emailing office@routtcountyunitedway.org.

Nowak said she hopes this will become a revolving series of events and already has plans to offer the Framework workshop again in March.

“They’re going to get tips and tricks on how to manage their money better,” Nowak said. “The bottom line is to understand, you know, smart financial strategy.”

To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.


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