Marisela Cardona has let her husband handle most of the family finances through all 20 years of their marriage.
She manages a portion of the family income for household expenses in her own checking account, but she has steered clear of dealing with major bills and expenses except for the payment on her car, she said.
Now, after taking a series of financial education classes through United Way’s new Bank On Denton County program, she said she feels ready to take on more responsibility.
“That was the whole idea behind [doing] this — I want to be able to provide for me,” Cardona said.
Throughout Tuesday’s final session of the series, which focused on loans, Cardona asked questions and worked through scenarios for when a loan would be a good option, and when it would be financially damaging.
At the end of the class, Michael Herron, the United Way volunteer who led the class, presented her and another participant with certificates that area banks will honor to help them open checking accounts.
This was the first complete series of classes offered through Bank On Denton, said Pia Owens, a family engagement specialist who helped coordinate the sessions, which were held at Borman Elementary School in collaboration with Communities in Schools of North Texas.
Condensed sessions called “power classes” are scheduled in Spanish and English in Little Elm and Denton, according to the United Way website. The goal is to help empower members of the community to better handle their finances, by teaching them about checking and savings accounts, credit cards and loans and how to spot a predatory lender or scam.
“I’m hoping that they walked away with [the idea that] ‘I didn’t know that and now I know it.’ I enjoy leaving people with something they didn’t already know,” said Herron, who works for Chase Bank.
The most beneficial aspect of the class for Cardona was learning how to budget — a skill that she said she still needs to master.
“I really needed to learn how to budget — I did and still do,” she said. “But I have a teenager, I have an 18-year-old, so I think for me to teach my kids how to budget their money, I need to do it, too, and this is awesome for me.”
At the end of the class, Cardona began asking Owens when and where the next classes would be, saying she would help spread the word to let people know about the program.
“I actually have recommended it to my friends and family,” Cardona said. “Some of this is new to me, but it’s not really new because I’ve been having to deal with a lot of the banks for other reasons, not my own. Seeing it on paper now, it makes sense. When I’m helping someone else, it’s going to make more sense later on.”
JENNA DUNCAN can be reached at 940-566-6889 and via Twitter at @JennaFDuncan.