The world of homeownership can be an intimidating place for anyone one starting out on the journey. Habitat for Humanity recognizes the need for financial education and support in order to prepare homebuyers for a successful future. Habitat Budget Mentors are one way Habitat provides that extra support.
Budget mentors are volunteers who work with families to navigate healthy financial lifestyles. They meet with a family about once a month, over six months, to help track the family’s goals to work towards a budget that is right for them.
The mentors begin assessing the family’s current financial situation by:
- Tracking all expenses for at least three months
- Assisting in obtaining a copy of a free credit report
- Working to create a budget based on their current housing situation
Next, the mentors work with the family to prepare for homeownership through:
- Setting a budget for their projected mortgage with Habitat
- Creating a payment plan for any current debts and using the budget to prevent any new debts
- Making a savings plan for a $1000 emergency fund prior to closing on their home
- Setting long term goals: Ex. saving up three to six months of living expenses
- Saving for large home projects, retirement and other issues such as life insurance
“I think by offering this course with a budget mentor to the families, Habitat for Humanity is not only improving living situations, but also preparing these home buyers for success by improving their financial situations and giving them the tools for the future.” Said Family Services Coordinator, Nikki Dahlke, who coordinates homeowner education.
Each family directs the one on one sessions with their mentors so they can better tackle issues or concerns they have in their current situation and also for their future. Habitat can provide a safe place for families to ask their questions and get real answers. With a budget mentor, there isn’t an underlying reason to sell them advice or talk them into buying something. The mentor provides a sense of security and trust in the information they are receiving.
“It is clear the Habitat staff members truly care about the families and the same compassion extends to the volunteers. The staff has given us incredible flexibility with the scheduling and agenda of budget meetings allowing us to balance our volunteer time with a full-time work schedule,” said Habitat budget mentor, Derek Friesth.