Women Learning to Budget

For Mary Gills, keeping track of her receipts has allowed her to take control of her expenses and better manage her money. “Oh my gosh! You don’t even spend time thinking how much you’re spending, but when you have it on paper, it just blew me away,” she recounted.

By keeping track of every single expense, participants could see how all the little expenses — i.e. Slurpee's, cigarettes, or eating out — could really add up. Mary explains, “That was the key for me — seeing where my money is going. And then even more when you times your expenses by a week, and then you times it by a month, and then you times it by a year.”

“ I can organize my life now, and I’m really going to follow through on that.”

Sham Gullett, another participant, noted that something she’s been learning is how to budget her money, distinguishing be- tween what’s a need and what’s a want, and realizing how you can save your own money: “I’m taking away how to make a budget for my money and the different resources that are here in South Bend. I’m learning a lot with what’s available for me, a person with very little income.”

In short, through the many tools and resources that the Bridges Financial Management Class offers, many of the participants now feel a great sense of agency and self-empowerment As Mary relates:

“I’m glad that I’m able to be a participant and that something like this is available in the city. We’re beginning to get ahead. It’s going to be a process and you’re going to have to work through it, but you can get there.”

It was moving to hear the participants talk about the importance of the mentors — people they trusted to ask difficult questions. Our mentors included Andy Harlow, President of First Federal’s Elkhart Division, who has been a weekly mentor for seven of eight classes. When asked why he does this twenty Saturdays out of the year, Andy said, “ the participants give me more than I ever given myself.”