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Charlotte non-profit offers money management tools to boost people in need

Volunteer advisers help people learn key personal finance skills.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Money management skills are something easily taken for granted. But when someone lives paycheck to paycheck, one emergency can be a make-or-break situation. A Charlotte-area non-profit is working to change that, seeking solutions to help people who are less fortunate in our area.

Jasmine Milton has faced one challenge after the next in recent years.

"I was just recently released from prison in 2019," she said.

The single mom managed to find work after she was released, but the pandemic was yet another curveball.

"We were one of the first people to get laid off," she told us.

Her work stopped. But the bills didn't.

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"I was starting from the bare bottom, I just need the money to pay these bills, but it's important to have the budgeting aspect down too to know how to spend my money wisely," she admitted.

She found help at Common Wealth Charlotte, a non-profit that has spent the last six years seeking solutions to help people facing economic challenges.

"We want people to be capable – that’s what brings true upward economic mobility," said Chuck Jones, the executive director of Common Wealth.

The non-profit offers low-interest loans, access to checking accounts, and financial education. The group is made up of volunteer financial advisors who work with clients to help them better leverage their money.

"The shadow services of check cashing and predatory lending can really steal someone’s income," said Jones. "Someone will need a $600 rent payment and take a loan with a 400% interest rate. We don’t want them to do that."

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In the last six years, they’ve helped 15,000 Charlotteans – and it’s working. 95 percent of Commonwealth clients pay back their loans, credit scores increase by an average of 84 points, and after a year of working with them, people who previously didn’t have a bank account average a balance of $1.500.

"It was just a step-by-step process," Milton said. "The loan they gave me was the starting point and it helped me build myself up."

Common Wealth Charlotte works with several area financial institutions to be able to offer low-interest loans.

Contact Michelle at mboudin@wcnc.com and follow her on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

WCNC Charlotte is always asking "where's the money?" If you need help, reach out to the Defenders team by emailing money@wcnc.com.