Womanspace has been delivering financial literacy classes since 2008, and we have seen building success with this program. With support from TD SEDI, Life Long Learning Association Lethbridge and Government of Alberta Community Initiatives Program Womanspace offered six sessions of classes in the last twelve months.
Your Money, Your Life has two main components: workshops and one-on-one work. First, the project offers a series of financial information workshops specifically designed for low-income women. Topics covered in the series of workshops include budgeting, saving, making small investments, obtaining legal wills and power of attorney documents, retirement, understanding life insurance, money and values and emotions, and managing debt. Womanspace provides a light meal, childcare during the sessions and transportation to ensure barriers are reduced to encourage women to attend.
Your Money, Your Life provide our clients with the tools needed to ensure that are able to plan for the future, whether that future is simply being able to manage their monthly finances to allow them to purchase fresh produce on a weekly basis or on a larger scale, such as setting aside money for an emergency fund. We provide tools that can be put to immediate use garnering immediate results as well as education to assist them in changing long standing poor financial management habits. Many of our clients come from generational poverty and have never been taught the very basics of money management. The information provided through our sessions allows them to break that cycle of poverty for themselves and their children.
Womanspace has supported over 100 women in taking control of their financial future through the Your Money, Your Life sessions and in one-on-one budget and financial support services. Clients have reduced their dependence on food banks, opened bank accounts, thereby discontinuing use of pay day loans and cheque cashing stores, reentered the workforce, returned to school and opened savings accounts. With our assistance, a number of our clients have established estate plans. While on the surface this might not appear to fit within the financial literacy framework, what it does in fact show is that these clients are now able to think beyond the immediate needs of food and shelter, and are able to make plans for their future and future of their children.
We anticipate receiving funding to continue this program throughout 2015, and believe the success of the program illustrates the on-going need to provide opportunities for financial literacy that is focused on women's needs.