BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Financial literacy, budgeting, homeownership. For some Americans, these things come easily but others struggle to get ahead financially. In Bakersfield Community Action Partnership of Kern (CAPK) and Chase Bank are aiming to combat that issue.
Financial literacy is the ability to understand and use various financial skills. For many knowing these skills can be the difference between homeownership and homelessness.
“Financial literacy courses are important because of the fact that they give you guidance and many of us enter into the financial world without an education on what steps to take when it comes to budgeting saving or even receiving our first credit card or how to build credit,” said Shontay Smith Sweeney 1st Vice President Bakersfield community manager at Chase Bank.
This work is important to Sweeney because she can remember her own journey with college credit card debt and how beneficial a simple class on budgeting could be.
She said it's important for those across Kern to learn financial literacy early.
“When I often start many of my courses especially the one, I do on saving and budgeting not even half of my class has ever did a budget. Many people are actually scared to do a budget because they're afraid of where to start and their afraid of what the outcome will look like,” said Smith.
A little more than 55% of Americans don't use a budget to manage their hard-earned money according to a recent study by Penny Hoarder and Blank said in Kern County those statistics are similar.
Sweeney also said there is a need here in Bakersfield for free financial literacy classes and that through Chase Bank she can partner with nonprofits like CAP-K to teach those with the most need.
“One of the reasons we decided that we would bring the financial literacy here to M street is because our main goal is to get our residents here placed into permanent housing,” said Laurie Hughey, M street manager at CAP-K.
Hughey said that when their residents get placed into permanent housing they want them to have the financial tools necessary to survive.
Although the classes at M street are only for current and past residents Sweeney wants everyone to know that these classes are available for free to everyone at your local Chase Bank
"Really allow people of color, Hispanic culture, and all of people to have the equal opportunity to know how to purchase your first home. Know how to save and budget and really be able to help people of all whether you’re low or moderate-income but to give you opportunities to make wise choices and change the wealth gap in America," said Sweeny.
Sweeney said she understands there is some fear when it comes to finances for most people but to not let that stop you from learning something that could change your life.