Davis: Get a grip on finances

Annie Ormsbee, left, developed the financial literacy program Lasting Change that has helped such people as Cadence Steinpreis, front, and Michael Overstreet learn to manage their personal expenses and budgets.
Annie Ormsbee, left, developed the financial literacy program Lasting Change that has helped such people as Cadence Steinpreis, front, and Michael Overstreet learn to manage their personal expenses and budgets.

Cadence Steinpreis and her husband, LaJames, had a problem getting money to hang around very long.

"It came in and would fly right back out," she said, "and nobody seemed to know where it was going."

For Michael Overstreet, the problem was being able to look beyond satisfying immediate desires to set short- and long-term goals.

In both cases, they found ways to get a handle on their personal finances through Lasting Change, a series of six free classes offered by Catholic Charities of Lexington.

Classes will be 6:30-8:30 p.m. beginning Sept. 16 at William Wells Brown Community Center.

Taking the classes was the change that Overstreet was looking for and needed.

"They were talking about what you really need as opposed to what you want," he said. "It's back to the basics. It's something that you say to yourself that you want to do and that you are going to do."

Lasting Change is a financial literacy program that is aimed at low-income folks who don't use banks. These people often fall prey to predatory lenders or rely heavily on social agencies or organizations to supplement their needs.

Annie Ormsbee, an Ameri Corps VISTA volunteer at Catholic Charities, said she developed Lasting Change after exploring about 32 other curricula that were good "but incredibly boring."

"I have sat through three-hour classes, but I can't sit through 20 minutes of the financial literacy classes," she said.

The program, Ormsbee said, is not lecture style, but hands-on with group participation encouraged. Participants examine their relationship with money to understand how to make necessary changes in the way they use it.

The program sets up one mentor for every three or four participants who can be called upon even after the classes have concluded. The classes are taught by certified accountants.

Scott Neal, president of D. Scott Neal, Inc., a fee-only financial planning group, has taught the class before and plans to again. He said the participants who started the program finished it and they all stayed awake.

"You have to make it relevant to where they are," Neal said, adding that the essence of financial planning is determining goals and then shaping the outcome to achieve those goals. Sometimes the goals have to be modified or refined.

One key, though, Neal said, is engaging the entire family in money discussions, something we don't always do.

"Money is to our generation as sex was in the '50s," he said. "We don't talk about it."

Participants who attend are awarded $25 for starting a checking account, $25 for attending the six classes and another $50 for starting a savings account.

The first hour of the class is devoted to creating a nutritious meal on a shoestring budget, and then participants get to eat it. The second hour is about finances.

Overstreet realized he was spending a great deal of his money on a bad habit and on fast food. He cut out the habit and learned how to prepare more nutritious meals as well as the benefits of taking his lunch to work.

He no longer has high blood pressure and he is paying off his debt.

"It was awesome," he said.

The classes were the push he needed to do the things he has been wanting to do, he said.

Cadence Steinpreis and her husband didn't make enough money to support what they were doing, she said.

"We don't have a crazy amount of things going on, but we were robbing Peter to pay Paul," she said. "You can only delay bills for so long."

Since taking the class with her husband, she has gotten a part-time job at night and on weekends to avoid baby-sitting costs, and they both have learned to plan ahead to avoid financial pitfalls.

"What I took away from that class was to think about the amount of work you had to do to make that money you want to spend," Cadence Steinpreis said.

"We're getting back on our feet," she said. "It's a different mind-set. We're not perfect, but we are moving in the right direction."

If you need help getting started on the road to financial stability, contact Ormsbee at (859) 253-1993, Ext. 223. The class is limited to 20 people, but classes are held four times a year.