Saving money and living within your financial means is the focus of Launch Okanagan financial literacy programs. (Contributed)

Launch Okanagan: Learning how to save money

Financial literacy enhanced with breakfast fundraiser Tuesday, Nov. 8, in Kelowna

Money management skills have taken on added importance given the turbulent global economic times we live in today and how that impacts our personal finances, from the growing cost of groceries to rising interest rates on mortgage and credit card costs.

For more than 10 years, Launch Okanagan has been educating and empowering people with the tools they need to attain financial security and stability.

As that effort continues, Launch Okanagan will hold a fundraiser breakfast Nov. 8 at the Coast Capri Hotel featuring guest speaker Kelley Keehn, a national media personality and personal finance expert.

Jennifer Robins, executive director of the Launch Financial Education Society, said the goal of Launch Okanagan programs is to help participants gain confidence in how to deal with money and create a financial plan to live their lives.

Last year, the non-profit delivered 25 programs to 275 participants, the majority of whom are youth, single moms and dads, families and other individuals in need of developing crucial money management and budgeting skills to help avoid falling into debt.

“We often are left feeling overwhelmed when things are not going well, but what we have learned from our program participants over the years is how uncomfortable they are talking to anyone about this,” Robins said.

“It is hard to talk about money with family members, your partner or even financial institution experts is what we have learned from people…there are bigger issues such as the cost of housing, cost of living, interest rates going up that are challenging for anyone to deal with.

“But we try to help people focus on what you control in your life, things you can control, and gain the confidence to put yourself in the right direction….It has a bigger impact on the quality of our lives than sometimes we recognize.”

One of the programs offered by Launch Okanagan is a match savings initiative, a 12-month program designed to teach participants how to save money and see the benefits.

Robins said each participant is required to save $25 to $50 a month for a one-year period, which if successful at the end of the 12-year period leaves them eligible for up to a maximum $1,800 top up, made possible through fundraisers like the upcoming breakfast and sponsor support.

With a $2,400 savings at the end of the program, Robins said participants have used that money to help start a small business, start a Registered Education Savings Plan for their children, purchased tools for their work or pursued further post-secondary education options to improve their employment options.

Another program, called Dollars & Sense, is a free eight-week money management program to help provide a better understanding of everyday financial matters such as budgeting, spending and debt management.

But perhaps most important, these programs reinforce the notion that a little can go a long way when it comes to saving money, Robins says.

“Making small changes in our spending habits can add to bigger things over time. That first step is just being able to ask for help and that is where we see Launch Okanagan coming in to help point people in the right direction,” she said.

Along with the breakfast, Launch Okanagan also has a 50/50 draw on its website with the winning ticket to be drawn at the fundraiser event.

To buy a ticket or learn more information about Launch Okanagan, check out launchokanagan.ca.

READ MORE: Okanagan MP calls for action against Iranian tyranny

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