Living Month to Month

How one working mom lives on a less-than-survival budget

By Uma Ramiah

Judi Ambruso’s done everything right.

Education-wise, resume-wise, familywise.

At 58, she has degrees in business administration and business management and a certificate in computer and network administration. She temps at a New Haven-based international nonprofit, owns her own home and volunteers at Christ and The Epiphany Church in East Haven.

Submitted by Anonymous on Created: January 2, 2015 - 2:25pm
Submitted by Anonymous on -- Updated: January 2, 2015 - 2:26pm

Smart About Money featured in New Haven Register

For too many people, the scariest moment of the month is when the credit card bill arrives.

That’s when folks have to face what all those little and not-so-little purchases have added up to, and realize once again that they’re not saving money, not meeting their goals, not getting ahead.

Now there’s a program to help with that.

Created: August 27, 2013 - 2:00pm
-- Updated: August 11, 2017 - 1:40am

'Many of these families have used all their means to stay afloat'

By Cara Rosner

When she first heard about Smart About Money (SAM), Susan didn’t think the budget coaching program was for her.

The Branford resident has a steady, good-paying job in the medical field and typically pays her bills on time. She figured she didn’t need SAM.

Submitted by Cara Rosner on Created: July 17, 2013 - 2:11pm
Submitted by Cara Rosner on -- Updated: July 18, 2013 - 10:21am

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.

Submitted by Cara Rosner on Created: November 20, 2012 - 1:34pm
Submitted by Cara Rosner on -- Updated: November 28, 2012 - 9:23am

Introducing SAM 3.0!

As United Way continues to work towards advancing the common good by creating opportunities for a better life through our focus on income (one of our three identified building blocks for a good life), help for individuals and families in our region to increase financial stability takes on new life with the expansion of Smart About Money (SAM) budget coaching program to SAM 3.0!

Created: April 9, 2012 - 4:32pm
-- Updated: April 9, 2012 - 3:03pm

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.  

Created: July 14, 2011 - 11:25am
-- Updated: June 1, 2015 - 5:45pm

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.

Created: April 25, 2011 - 12:43pm
-- Updated: March 9, 2015 - 4:30pm

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.  


Created: March 31, 2011 - 10:55pm
-- Updated: April 7, 2011 - 12:57pm

SAM has Style

Thanks to Jennifer Heath, the Vice President for Community Leadership from United Way of Greater New Haven in partnering with me this week to tell Connecticut Style viewers about our great partnership in the SAM Program! We had the unique opportunity to tape a segment for WTNH's lunchtime lifestyle show.

Created: December 17, 2010 - 4:09pm
-- Updated: June 1, 2015 - 5:28pm

Smart About Money is a Free Program Helps Low to Middle-Income Families Set and Achieve Financial Goals

SAM uses volunteer Budget Coaches to help educate, guide and encourage households to identify and work through specific financial concerns and goals. The curriculum is based on a budget coaching program developed by Co-Opportunity, Inc. and United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut.  Together, SAM participants and coaches work to change behaviors toward achieving long-term financial success. 

Created: November 24, 2010 - 11:55am
-- Updated: December 1, 2010 - 3:30pm

Budgeting Tools

The development of a household budget accurately reflecting your family’s income and expenses is the first step to creating financial stability for you and your family.  Here’s a great step-by-step way to begin thinking about what you will need to consider when creating a household budget. There are many budget creation tools available in the community. For your convenience, here are a few suggestions and a simple budget creation document to get you started with developing a household budget.

Step 1: Identify Income

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Created: October 5, 2010 - 2:25pm
-- Updated: February 4, 2015 - 12:51pm

Smart About Money (SAM)

Making good financial decisions is a goal most people want to achieve.  Often, however, people don't have information, tools, and support to help them to achieve greater financial stability.

United Way of Greater New Haven provides services, such as volunteer budget coaching, and connects people to services, such as free tax preparation, so people can make the best use of the resources they have.

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Created: June 8, 2009 - 2:34pm
-- Updated: April 28, 2016 - 10:36pm
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