Free financial help for Coasters

A new financial literacy program is starting up on the Coast.

Money Skills, a free program intended to guide people with challenging financial situations through the world of budgeting, saving, investing and consumerism, begins Feb. 21 and runs for four weeks.

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Weekly sessions will be held in Gibsons, Sechelt and Pender Harbour. Topics include budgeting, savings, credit, debt, consumerism and investing.

The program was born of a partnership between the Community Resource Centre, Sunshine Coast Community Services Society (SCCSS) and Sunshine Coast Credit Union.

"There wasn't really a service to give people those basics. If you don't get that either in your family of origin or some other way, there's no place to pick it up," said SCCSS executive director Vicki Dobbyn.

Working with their clients, both the Community Resource Centre and the SCCSS realized that financial woes are often front and centre in the challenges faced by Coasters.

Partnering with the Sunshine Coast Credit Union, the groups were able to train volunteers in order to offer the programming on the Coast, thanks in part to a subsidy from the bank.

Help with financial literacy is also offered to more specialized groups like First Nations and youth. In the future, organizers are hoping to offer more help to Coasters with unique money challenges.

Spaces are still available for the Gibsons and Pender Harbour sessions, but Sechelt is quickly filling up Dobbyn said.

The Sechelt sessions will be held Mondays at SCCSS on Inlet Avenue. Gibsons programming takes place on Tuesdays at Elphinstone Secondary School and Pender Harbour classes are set for Wednesdays at the Community School. All sessions run from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.

"We would like to see that be a regular thing every year that is kind of ongoing," Dobbyn said.

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