Balancing a checkbook. Managing credit card debt. Dealing with tax problems. Living within a budget. These are all personal finance issues many of us have faced at one time or another, but for some women, they can be overwhelming. And that’s where Budget Buddies is helping.
Budget Buddies is a Massachusetts-based nonprofit organization that provides financial coaching for low-income women, enabling them to become more economically self-sufficient. This amazing program pairs personal financial coaches with women in need to teach them basic money-management skills. Over the six-month program, the coach and mentee (or “buddy”) attend Budget Buddies’ financial literacy classes together, and then meet to apply the lessons from the classes to specific financial issues or goals.
Catherine Jenkins is a Budget Buddies mentor and board president, when she’s not busy being an engineering manager at NETSCOUT. “The founding mothers of Budget Buddies, Anita and Kathy, saw a real need in the community where caseworkers weren’t able to help. Because personal finances are unique to each person, they felt one-on-one counseling would be the most effective approach. Through our program, we provide a personal coach who meets with a buddy on a weekly basis for six months, helping to empower them so they are better able to take care of their own finances,” stated Catherine.
NETSCOUT has long been a supporter of Budget Buddies. In addition to employees who serve as volunteer mentors and board members, NETSCOUT has donated computers and sponsored events.
Catherine explained that the women the program helps simply never learned the fundamental skills of managing personal finances. For many of them, this topic was never taught in the home and until only recently wasn’t taught in schools either. Budget Buddies provides this much needed education in a safe, one-on-one way, teaching women important skills such as how to handle credit cards, opening a bank account, comparison shopping, whether to buy on credit, how to negotiate a payment plan to pay off debt, etc.
“We offer counsel and education, but we’re also here to listen and be supportive in a very non-judgmental way. Budget Buddies coaches help women develop the skills and self-confidence to become financially independent. And because these skills are typically learned in the home, we believe we’re helping the next generation as well, as kids will now learn the importance of basic money-management from their mothers,” added Catherine.
Since Budget Buddies was first launched in 2010, the organization has implemented nearly 50 educational programs in partnership with 24 local community agencies and trained more than 375 coaches who mentor hundreds of women. Budget Buddies continues to grow, expanding to new communities across Massachusetts and into New Hampshire.
Helping women and making a real difference in their lives is a prime driver for many of the organization’s volunteers. “I’ve talked to women who’ve finished the program and it’s very heartening to see someone who started off looking intimidated, but now feels confident that they can take control of their finances. I’m proud to be able to help women who are less fortunate, and I’m proud to work for a company like NETSCOUT that cares about the community and is so supportive of its employees volunteering and giving back,” concluded Catherine.
To learn more about Budget Buddies, visit their website.