Meet the SAM Coaches: They'll teach you how to be 'Smart About Money'

By Cara Rosner

As a personal banker, Jennifer Hanley is used to helping people manage their money. But her financial guidance became even more personal — and reached an entirely new demographic — during her time as a volunteer budget coach in United Way’s “Smart About Money” (SAM) program.

SAM helps families work toward their financial goals through one-on-one sessions with trained volunteer budget coaches. The free program is offered by United Way in partnership with The Annie E. Casey Foundation.

The simple things matter, like behavioral economics

It turns out that my random decisions are not so random, rather highly predictable  and easily influenced.  And I am not alone.  Behavioral economics has unraveled a whole new world of understanding people's actions, and provided compelling evidence to break-down some of the stagnant or ineffective structures/policies/ideologies that have persisted for so long.  

Much of the best anti-poverty work is using behavioral economics to help people make lasting changes.  As we have gotten deeper into developing our budget coaching program for lower-income families -- Smart About Money (SAM) -- what at first seemed like a relatively simple program design has evolved as we work to incorporate the best new thinking from the field.  There are many simultaneous forces stretching our work -- science, technology, economics -- in ways I wouldn't have predicted just a few years ago.  

Budget Coaches Share that it Pays to Get Smart About Money

 

It makes sense to get Smart About Money.

The twelve households that participated in a new pilot program learned that they could get smart about how they spend their money, and make changes to improve their financial situation.  Smart About Money (SAM) is a program that matches volunteer budget coaches with lower-income households to help participants set and achieve financial goals.  The Annie E. Casey Foundation and United Way of Greater New Haven have partnered to bring the program to people living in New Haven, Hamden, East Haven and West Haven.

Connex Credit Union is Changing the Community at the Drop of a Coin

Start collecting your coins and cash them in at Connex Credit Union's North Haven branch's coin-cashing machine during the months of April, May and June all all the fees collected will be donated to United Way of Greater New Haven.  

Connex kicked-off their Coins For Change program on Saturday, April 2, 2011 at their Hamden branch at  2100 Dixwell Avenue.  Pictured above are Kathy Hart-Jones, United Way; Derek Beere, Mason; Annette Gunn, Connex; and Steve MacLaughlin, WTNH.  

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