Buy Christmas gifts or pay bills? This was a question Dorothy and her husband struggled with last year. Living from paycheque to paycheque, they barely made ends meet, let alone having extra money for Christmas. On the verge of bankruptcy they had to find a way to improve their financial situation or Christmas would be another sad season.
“The Salvation Army’s budget counselling, along with diligence and determination, moved us toward a better future,” says Dorothy. “In the past few years, at Christmas, we could only afford to buy the children one very little gift, and that was taking money from bills. That meant for a lot of guilt and panic. This year, we are back on track, which has lifted a huge weight.”
At The Salvation Army in Dartmouth, N.S., a certified counsellor works one-on-one with clients, takes the time to thoroughly understand their situation and provides specific advice. When Dorothy kept her receipts and recorded everything she had spent, she saw that some of her money was spent on items that could be eliminated.
“We sat down and showed our kids where our money goes,” says Dorothy. “We are getting better habits that are benefitting us now, as well as our family. Bills are being paid on time. We don’t have to worry if a service will be cut. And there is a bit of money to spare at the end of the month. That feels good.”
Budget counselling is one of many services offered by The Salvation Army. Cooking classes teach people how to create a whole meal on a tight budget. The food bank is restoring dignity and making life easier for a lot of working poor. A moms and tots group mixes play time with guest speakers who provide parenting resources. A women’s fellowship is a place of encouragement, healing and empowerment. And, in January 2016, Sally Ann foot care will provide a free service to seniors that will help prevent serious foot issues.
“We ask what people need and from there develop appropriate programs,” says Kelly Currie, Community Services Coordinator.