Picture of currency and the word money spelled out in scrabble letters

Financial Literacy Month

April is Financial Literacy Month

Finances. Yep. It’s that word that is known to make some people cringe the minute they hear it. April is a particularly popular month when it comes to finances. Not only is it tax month, but it is also “Financial Literacy Month.”

According to a recent study by LendingTree.com, 64% of consumers are currently living paycheck-to-paycheck. That’s 12% higher than in April 2021. And while the general rule is that everyone should put at least 10% of their paycheck into savings, that is no longer realistic, especially for people living with low incomes. Why? Because most of their paychecks are being spent on basic living expenses, leaving very little for savings.

Financial Literacy 101

Financial Literacy – a definition: the understanding of financial concepts, including saving, investing, and debt.

Sounds simple, right? The truth is that many people find themselves overwhelmed when it comes to personal finance.

Some are lucky enough to have family/friends who can help financially, but for people with no support system, dealing with paying debt, building credit, and putting aside money for savings, becomes more challenging.

It’s not just people with low incomes who are living paycheck to paycheck. People of all classes are struggling to make ends meet. According to a 2019 survey conducted by the Federal Reserve Board, 16% of adults would not be able to pay their current month’s bills in full, and another 12% of adults said they would be unable to pay all their current month’s bills if they had an unexpected $400 expense that they had to pay.

Resident Services at Mercy Housing

Resident Services support Mercy Housing residents living to their full potential by providing services and resources in several areas, including Financial Stability. Ensuring residents have the skills and tools necessary to build a stable financial future, Mercy Housing works with community partners to offer classes and workshops addressing the following:

  • How to open a bank account
  • How to keep a budget and manage money
  • How to address debt
  • How to build credit
  • How to save

The GAIN Program at Decatur Place

The GAIN program is a new and in-depth financial literacy program that was established in 2020 at Mercy Housing Decatur Place in Denver, CO.

“The GAIN program has helped me put my goals into focus. I was able to have a clear vision of my path and with the help of my caseworker, I was able to break my goals down into smaller more manageable steps that proved to be successful. I’m grateful for the turn my life has taken thanks to the direction of the GAIN program. I now have a better work ethic and I’m determined to keep succeeding.” – Francesca, MHMP resident

GAIN (Growth, Ambition, Inspiration, and Nurture) is what Mercy Housing calls this program. It is a HUD-approved program otherwise known as the Family Self-Sufficiency (FSS) Program enabling residents of federally assisted housing to save a portion of their rent when their income increases. GAIN has been designed for Mercy Housing residents at Decatur Place Apartments in Denver, CO with the goal of motivating and supporting residents to achieve their financial goals, leading to future success. This innovative program offers participating residents an escrow account incentive for graduating participants.

The FSS program is grounded in the core belief that families want to work and get ahead, having held deep aspirations for themselves and their children. With goals that include, owning a home, obtaining a college degree, starting a business, saving for their children’s education, and/or becoming debt-free, participants will be given the tools to help them take steps forward in achieving their dreams.

GAIN involves an intensive process of self-reflection and teaches participants how to build assets, economic mobility, and how to become self-sufficient. A series of on-site financial Workshops help establish financial skills, confidence, aspirations, and practices that are predictive of future financial well-being.

Participating residents also receive services focused on employment support, education, financial literacy, and family needs.

Additional Incentives Include:

  • Individual Coaching and Training/Individual Training and Services Plan Each GAIN participant will work 1:1 with the FSS Coordinator and receive training and coaching to advance their FSS Individual Training and Services Plan (ITSP) goals set to become self-sufficient.
  • Enhanced Supportive Services, Education Each FSS participant will be offered enhanced supportive services such as individual financial coaching, educational opportunities, job application/mock interviews training, and access to homeownership trainers.
  • Understanding and Analyzing Systemic Racism in America training to be better equipped to navigate necessary systems.
  • Increased Access to Tech Device and Wi-Fi Each FSS participant will have access to a Chromebook and property Wi-Fi to complete 1:1 financial coaching virtually with a coach, and online college courses.
  • 1:1 case management service with the FSS Coordinator, virtual homeownership courses, job applications, and interviews.

The GAIN program currently has 23 Decatur Place residents enrolled.

Financial Literacy Month

For residents, financial literacy education is offered year-round. Through partnerships with community leaders and organizations, , and volunteers who help Mercy Housing residents through one-on-one training and/or financial workshops, we support residents as they take steps forward to achieve their dreams.