Budget Buddies: Empowerment through Financial Literacy

A volunteer coach and participant work together at recent program for teen mothers in Lowell.

A volunteer coach and participant work together at a recent program for teen mothers in Lowell.

By Denise Boyd, Senior Marketing Program Manager, Tyco Security Products

Recently, I committed to becoming a coach for Budget Buddies, a non-profit based in Chelmsford that offers financial help for low-income women. I’m no financial genius, but I was fortunate to have good role models many women just don’t have. And I hope to pay that forward.

Connecting through a Networking Group

I first heard about the organization through Tyco’s Women’s Growth Network (WGN). A leader of our group and vice president of marketing here at Tyco Security Products, Anita Santos had heard the founding mothers of Budget Buddies—Anita Saville and Kathy Brough—speak at a fundraising event and invited them to speak at Tyco. “Budget Buddies’ goal is perfectly aligned with the WGN here in Westford,” Santos says. “Our mission is to empower women through education and service, and I’m pleased that our members have chosen to support this worthy program.”

Now celebrating its fifth year, Budget Buddies pairs each participant with a volunteer coach.  Together, “buddies” and coaches attend 12 workshops that build basic money-management skills and encourage financial self-confidence. Each coach is trained to help her buddy make and achieve SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, time-bound) goals during the six-month program.

“Research shows that women learn about finances through practical, hands-on experience,” says Saville, executive director of Budget Buddies. “Many low-income women lack role models who can give them basic education about household budgets and other key money management issues. Budget Buddies is effective because we not only offer financial education, we also offer support from other women.”

Making a Difference

Indeed, surveys of program participants show significant gains in money management competence and confidence. And that confidence often translates to other areas of the buddy’s life. For example, a former buddy has gained so much confidence that she is now serving as a coach herself. Another buddy recently met with Massachusetts Treasurer Deb Goldberg to share her experience with Budget Buddies.

“I was very happy to emcee the Budget Buddies fundraiser this year,” adds Massachusetts Representative Thomas A. Golden, Jr. “The program supports low-income women here in Lowell through its partnerships with local agencies such as House of Hope and Habitat for Humanity, and I’m pleased to see the difference Budget Buddies is making in our community.”

Saville’s and Brough’s enthusiasm and passion made quite an impression on us here at Tyco. We want to support Budget Buddies’ efforts to expand into other communities in Massachusetts, including Lawrence. By the time of the Conference for Women, I’ll be paired with a buddy and starting the workshops. I’m sure I will gain at least as much from this experience as my buddy will.

Interested in learning more? Stop by the Tyco Security Products booth at the MA Conference for Women. Budget Buddies representatives will be on hand to explain more about the program. Or visit budgetbuddies.org.

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▶ Read more from the November 2015 newsletter.