Caritas Anchor House

Working at the heart of homelessness

From the frontline: Meet Ruby, Our Finance and Budgeting Volunteer

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From the frontline: Meet Ruby, Our Finance and Budgeting Volunteer

22nd April 2021
“I am trying to help install good budgeting and spending habits which suit resident's lifestyles.” Ruby is one of our amazing volunteers who donates her time to help residents with finances and budgeting. This week, Ruby shares with us the support she is giving to Thomas.

I’m Ruby, and I started volunteering at Caritas Anchor House back in November. I am a full time accountant and live not too far away in the local area. My employer recently started giving us Friday afternoons off, as a new wellbeing initiative. I decided instead of chilling back at my flat, I wanted to give something back to my local community and use my finance skills to teach residents here about budgeting. I reached out to Caritas Anchor House last October and they really liked the idea of me coming to check in with residents on how they were doing with their budgeting on a fortnightly basis.

Budgeting is an important skill which a lot of people don’t do. It’s so easy to lose track of our daily spending habits, if we don’t have a plan or a budget. As a starting point for each resident, we go through their monthly incomings and outgoings as best as we can, and work where they can make savings and set targets. I then create a spreadsheet for them to use to keep on track of their spending on their phones or using the computers in the IT suite at Caritas Anchor House

These budget plans really helped Thomas keep on top of his spending and get back on track with the payments he had to make. From our first meeting, Thomas knew what he wanted to improve on. We broke down what his incomings currently were, his current financial situation, how much money he owed, how he was going to pay it back and what that left him with for spending money each month. I didn’t want him to feel bad if he decided to go out one week or buy clothes when needed. I wanted there to be transparency and trust between us, so he could learn as we go along. We developed a realistic plan, for example we knew that he wasn’t going to give up smoking suddenly and spend £0 this month on cigarettes. We came up with a plan, and reasonable workaround which would work for him. 

Thomas has recently moved out of Caritas Anchor House, and I saw real progression in his understanding of how budgeting can keep him on track and become financially sustainable so he could live in own place. I helped him to learn more about his finances, create better spending habits and to make sure he was able to track his outgoings effectively.

Thomas said, “My budgeting course with Ruby has really helped plan ahead for each month and understanding where my money goes. I’ve started to pick up better habits. Once I’ve paid my rent, I then know straight away to budget ahead for my washing, food and other essentials. I am making small, but good changes in my life which is saving me more and more money. I still smoke a lot, and I am planning to quit soon and buy a vape to save as much cash as possible.”

What’s important is that these budget plans are not something which residents have to adhere to as a strict rulebook. I encourage residents to contribute to them for the start and then make adjustments as we go along, so it remains realistic and something which works for them. I am trying to install good budgeting and spending habits which suit their lifestyle.

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