Income

Local organization helping low-income families save, monitoring scams – FOX13 News Memphis

MEMPHIS, Tenn. – In the midst of a seemingly endless pandemic and rising inflation, for some it may seem impossible to save money, especially for many families in the Mid-South who live off a paycheck to the other.

Kenyetta Thompson-Powell also struggled to save before discovering the free resources available to Memphis to help her start building her wealth.

“At the time, I was a college student and had a family, so I was a mature student,” Thompson-Powell said. “I live paycheck to paycheck, there wasn’t a lot of income, because I was working part time.”

“I was looking to change the trajectory of my life and just needed to find something to help me save money and set a goal and the RISE Foundation did that,” she said.

Thompson-Powell heard about RISE Memphis from a classmate. The organization teaches financial literacy to eligible Mid-South low-income families. It offers various free courses with certified financial planners.

“It’s important to offer these services in Memphis because there are so many people here, especially who live in poverty, plus there aren’t a lot of financial education programs,” Shelia said. Terrell, CEO of RISE. “Most of the people we came into contact with didn’t get the kitchen table funding from their parents. So we’re helping people manage their money and eradicating generational poverty.

According to the US Census, more than 25% of families in Memphis live in poverty, and a Federal Reserve survey found that 35% of Americans would struggle to cover a $400 emergency.

That’s why Terrell told FOX13 that their programs not only help low-income families pay off debt, but also save money.

In fact, Terrell said that since launching their Save Up program a few years ago, they’ve helped nearly 1,000 Mid-South families save over $250,000.

They’ve also helped people save over $10 million to directly purchase specific assets, like a car or essentials to start a business.

“It’s important that you always pay yourself first,” Terrell said. “Just thinking about the pandemic, if it taught us nothing else, it taught us that you can’t afford to spend all your money, emergencies happen.”

“And if you start saving even a small amount on your paycheck, it will increase over time. And then when those emergencies happen, you’ll have a reserve to pay for them, and that’ll keep you from going. to predatory lenders,” she said.

One of the programs offered by RISE Memphis is called the Save Up program.

He works with small groups to help individuals create a budget or spending plan. They then identify a goal and work to save towards that goal.

RISE matches three times what participants save, up to $3,000. According to Thompson-Powell, it was an incentive that motivated her to save when she joined the program two years ago, although it hasn’t always been easy.

“It was enough to get me up and running because I knew that not only was I saving, but someone else was motivating me to save, supporting me to save, and they were saving with me,” Thompson said. Powell. “It was a challenge, I’m not going to say every game was easy and every month it’s just easy to put that $50 aside. There were months where I said I couldn’t really can’t do without it.

But after saving about $50 a month, Thompson-Powell hit her goal of saving $1,000. RISE tripled that amount, so she walked away with $3,000, enough money to start her own business.

“I was able to buy my MacBook Pro. I was able to buy an iPad, a screen projector, everything I would need to run my business successfully,” she said.

While RISE Memphis matches up to $3,000, other savings options are available through investments. But who should low-income families trust?

Social media is full of tempting offers such as digital currencies. Financial experts warn that while many investments offer excellent returns, for those who live paycheck to paycheck, it’s best to start small.


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“If they’ve never saved before, stay away from bitcoin,” said Gerre Currie, vice president at Federal Financial Bank in Memphis. “Roth IRAs are good, mutual funds are great. But, until you get to that point until you understand this educational element so that you understand it, you should not invest money in a product or service that you have no awareness.

RISE Memphis helps each person in their programs develop a budget that fits their needs, and helps them adapt as they grow. Participants said it also teaches habits they can stick with long after they finish the program.

“The Save Up program set us up for long-term success, long-term savings. A habit you have is to take a car everywhere you go. Are you able to walk in those places,” Thompson-Powell said. “For me, I thought I should have a Frappuccino every morning. I said ‘well you know what? I’m going to have it one day a week.

“I started every other day and then I don’t really need it. So you take something you could really do without and decide to put that in savings. And once you realize what you have and compare it to what you have to spend, you realize you really have money to save,” she said.

RISE Memphis offers several programs for adults and teens. You can find more information about registration here.