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New homeowners learn how to get financial house in order

December 2, 2014
Melissa and Tim Ivey

Melissa and Tim Ivey (front) will take the financial planning tips they learned from "Where Does Your Money Go" into their new home in Huntington. Their children are (from left) Adin, Charis, Jozie, and Addison.

Melissa and Tim Ivey of Huntington, Indiana, are feeling the excitement of any couple of building a new house. But the Ivey family has some additional responsibilities beyond picking out paint colors.

Their home is being built through Huntington County Habitat for Humanity, a Christian ministry that constructs affordable housing using volunteer labor. In addition to putting in sweat-equity, the Iveys must complete home education courses. Two required classes — including Where Does Your Money Go? — are taught by Karen Hinshaw, a Purdue Extension educator in Huntington County.

“I went into the class with a mindset of ‘I know about finances,’” says Melissa, a financial operations manager for a credit union. “The class really opened my eyes, not just to finances, but other everyday things.”

Going through class exercises of creating a spending plan and budget helped Melissa and Tim, a Title I paraprofessional at a local elementary school, identify areas where the family could improve. With their busy schedules, the family of six often relied on takeout meals on the go.

“You may not think it’s that much week by week, but when you figure it out for a year, the amount is a huge shock,” Melissa says.

One of the things Melissa found most helpful about the class was goal-setting. Hinshaw had each person make a goal for the following week’s class. Hinshaw helped Melissa set goals to make home life less stressful, such having the children do household chores and crockpot ideas for nights when Adin has ballgames.

“It changed how we do things at home,” Melissa says.

The Iveys now work together more as a family and eat out about 50 percent less. Melissa also gave up one of her favorite routines — stopping at McDonald’s for morning coffee. They will continue to use the financial tools they learned as new homeowners.

“This program has something to benefit for everyone,” Melissa says. “In my line of work I see people struggling with money every day. I’ve referred some clients and a coworker to the class.”

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