There are a lot of people who are experts and have shareable knowledge about financial matters in Chilliwack, and there are a lot of people who could really use some tips.
Getting those people together is the simple premise that led to a series of monthly workshops presented by the Chilliwack Financial Literacy Committee starting next week.
“The experience is out there,” said Sabine Mendez, co-ordinator of the Chilliwack Healthier Community (CHC) group and the driving force behind the workshop series.
“Everyone can benefit from learning to manage their money better.”
From how to create a budget to learning about debt to finding out about free money people are missing out on, the topics are diverse and practical for all. There is no target demographic for the sessions.
“We do want to make sure that seniors know this is open to them,” Mendez said. “We want to make sure it’s open to single people, youth, families with or without kids. . . . We wanted to make sure not to target marginalized or vulnerable people. It doesn’t matter a person’s income.”
Still, part of the mandate of the CHC, who along with the Chilliwack Learning Society and the YMCA are hosting the workshops, is poverty reduction and helping marginalized people.
“If you can help them gain skills in that regard I think you can directly impact the question of poverty in this community.”
The workshop series kicks off Jan. 26 with “Budget Smudget! Who needs one?” hosted by Michelle Duncan from Prospera Credit Union.
Next up on Feb. 23 is “What money are you missing out on?” by Sun Life Financial advisor Terrence Brown.
For years Brown has worked to educate people, including high school students, about unclaimed grants and tax reductions. For example, in August 2015, the province offered the $1,200 education savings grant for children aged six, seven and eight. Two of his kids qualified so he was happy to receive $2,400.
Then he found out the enrolment rate in Chilliwack was just 27 per cent so he organized an information session at his child’s school, yet fewer than five households showed up.
“At this particular school, I would approximate that there’s over a quarter million dollars in unused provincial grant money available for the kids in grades 1, 2 and 3,” he wrote in a letter to the editor last April. “I’m truly baffled.”
The series of workshops are not only free but run from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. and include a light dinner (kids included), along with free participation for kids in Y programming while parents attend the workshop.
“The Y is so great,” Mendez said. “This is not just child minding, this is child activity. . . . allowing participants with kids to participate.”
Following the first two sessions Jan. 26 and Feb. 23 are: March 30, “Debt doesn’t have to be a dirty word”; April 27, “What does a bank do for me anyway?”; and May 25, “More money in your pocket.”
While the events are free there is room for just 25 people at each. To register email email@example.com or call 604-392-2404.