Money Management class at Chico Corps puts participant on path to success

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By Vivian Lopez –

At age 38, Delilah Knight opened her own bank account for the first time in 19 years.

She had opened one at 19, but it was left in bad financial standing. This time was different as Knight signed up for the Money Management class at The Salvation Army Chico (California) Corps to help her gain control of her finances.

“Because of my history, I have never had a real bank account. I was addicted to drugs. My credit was shot. This class was an opportunity for me to…be taught the basic skills that I didn’t have financially,” Knight, a Chico Adult Rehabilitation Program (ARP) graduate, said. “It has shown me how to take those steps to clear up all the damage that I made of my financial life, so it just kind of ties into getting my life on track.”

Knight stayed connected to the Chico Corps after graduating from the ARP in April 2018 and works in the ARP warehouse. Corps Officer Lt. Arwyn Rodriguera encouraged her to be part of the first cohort of the Money Management course, which covers opening a checking account, choosing a bank, borrowing basics, budgeting, maintaining and repairing credit and more.

“I came to the ARP with nothing. I was wearing the clothes that I walked out of jail with and that is all that I had in the world,” Knight said. “Now I have built this great life. So I have to be financially responsible for myself and this class has helped me do that—budget my money, start a savings account, and move forward as an adult who is functioning in a normal way.”

In addition to opening her bank account, Knight started putting $50 from every paycheck into a savings account, got her credit back on track and even opened a 401(k) retirement plan.

“I’m actually saving money for the first time in my life,” she said. “Now I have a little whiteboard on my wall and I write out my bills on it and I write out…my budget. The budget thing is a really big deal for me because I blow money. If I have it usually, I will blow it. Now, I’m learning how to budget my money wisely. I’m not just living paycheck to paycheck.”

Jose Bravo, the Money Management class instructor and a Chico Corps Advisory Board member, is proud of the progress Knight’s made in such a short time.

“At first, it was difficult to get the participants to open up. But then once they did you could see things click and people understanding more, and it started to relate and hit home for them,” Bravo said. “For Delilah, she was able to say, ‘OK, this is how this was useful.’ And the thing that was great is she was able to take that information and apply it to her day-to-day life. To hear that she’s doing phenomenal and utilizing the stuff she learned from the class is a big win.”

Rodriguera also expressed her excitement at the steps Knight is taking to build a future she’s excited about.

“She now has a car. She’s making her rent payment. She has scheduled out what she can spend,” Rodriguera said. “She’s found that balance—that sweet spot—of, ‘If I want something, I save for it and I don’t have to spend it all at once.’”

Knight’s biggest financial goals moving forward are to continue improving her credit score and eventually save enough money to buy a house.

“My whole life—not just my financial life—has changed,” Knight said. “I have a job that is amazing and I have a great home and a great vehicle. And I have a bank account and I have money in that bank account, whereas before I didn’t have anything,” Knight said. “This class has opened my eyes to so many things.”

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