Featured image forMoney Club West

Written by Sue Davis, PATF Program Specialist

If you were to make a list of the skills needed to be successful at living independently, understanding how to manage money would be very close to the top. This important fact is what inspired PATF to create our financial education guide, Cents and Sensibility, and subsequently, Money Club, a program to help young people with disabilities learn the ins and outs of managing their finances.

After the success PATF had in 2015 with its initial Money Club pilot project in Narberth, Montgomery County, we were eager to try the program again. This year ACHIEVA’s “A Home of My Own” program in Allegheny County launched Money Club West, applying our curriculum, once again using Cents and Sensibility, as a guide. In order to maximize the valuable lessons contained in the book, PATF has developed a companion manual for educators.

Six men sit at long folding tables in a classroom with a whiteboard behind them that reads "Happy Holidays" and Christmas tree decoration behind them. One of the men in the center is talking, the others lean in with elbows on the tables, watching, listening and smiling.

A group of young adults meet monthly in Money Club West to learn how to manage their money more effectively.

Excited to see how ACHIEVA is making this program work for them, our Operations Director Tracy Beck and I took a road trip to attend Money Club West’s December meeting. Navigating plummeting temperatures and icy conditions as we made our way across the state, we reached ACHIEVA’s warm and welcoming offices just as night fell. We found Kaylynn Petri, the Program Coordinator, already there, with fellow supports brokers and coaches, Tom Vash and Eric Schubert, ready for their Money Clubbers to arrive.

The young adults enrolled in Money Club West have been meeting monthly since Spring 2017. They are all involved in “A Home of My Own”, a program that prepares young adults with disabilities to live independently. The young adults we met are either living in the community with supports or preparing to do so in the future.

A young woman sits in a chair, smiling and holding up a paper showing an activity she's completed.

Samantha shares the results of her comparison shopping activity. She plans to buy an iPad to increase her independence.

At each meeting, after signing in, each participant makes their monthly “deposit” into their IDA account, which will be matched by a contribution from PATF. At the end of the program everyone will use their savings to purchase the assistive technology (AT) of their choosing. Members are saving for such things as tablets, laptops, and helpful apps and software. After making their deposit, each person talks to the group about their accomplishments over the last month. Monte talked about opening a new savings account. Evan shared that he is getting a Section 8 housing voucher. Tara explained her research on choosing a laptop.

We were thrilled to listen to individual members presenting to the group their results from a recent activity about comparison shopping. They each talked about how they decided on what to buy, and how it was going to help them to live more independently. They described exploring different prices for the AT they’ve chosen to buy, from various retailers. Samantha read her very detailed report that she had written for the group with the help of her life coach, Sarah, about how she plans to use an iPad to increase her independence.

Two men sit, turned toward each other, at a table in front of a whiteboard. One of the men is talking and gesturing with his hands toward a paper on the table. A woman stands behind them laughing at what he's saying, with her hand resting on the back of his chair.

Chris shares ideas about a recent activity with fellow Money Clubbers.

The group is currently learning about the dangers of identity theft and how to keep your personal information safe and protect your PIN when using ATM’s. Kaylynn asked everyone to email her a list of ways a person can avoid identity theft. A gift card is the prize for the person with the best answers!

We were so impressed by the enthusiasm and clear investment of everyone involved. Regardless of where you are when you start this journey, Money Club West is a reminder that everyone has something to learn from Cents and Sensibility, whether it’s understanding financial terms, learning to make informed financial decisions, or determining how to manage your money safely and wisely as you move forward towards independent living.

Curious about Cents and Sensibility? Want to learn how to manage your money so your money doesn’t manage you? Check out our financial education materials and website.