Spent: Looking for Change - An Event Focused on the Unbanked

On Wednesday, Feb. 24, 2016 the Indiana Assets & Opportunity Network, in partnership with the Indianapolis Asset Building Coalition, Ivy Tech Community College, and Purdue Extension-Marion County, held a lunch-n-learn concerning the effects of payday lending on families. There were both students and faculty who participated in the event. The group watched a documentary called Spent: Looking for Change, produced by filmmaker Davis Guggenheim, which followed four families as they endured various life crises while being unbanked with little to no money saved. The film highlighted the issues each family encountered as they tried to buy a home, find adequate care for a disabled child, start a business, and afford bills while helping a sick grandmother.

The reactions from the crowd were overall humbling, as many stated they “felt relief knowing they weren’t alone” because many circumstances in the film were similar to their own. As the A&O Network  discusses, unfortunately, young Americans don’t receive financial education in the classroom, but learn instead by their parents’ relationship with money. This event was an opportunity to be transparent about the difficulty of becoming financially stable.

The facilitators presented solutions to the audience to help ease the burden of financial stress, such as using Volunteer Income Tax Assistance or myfreetaxes.com to get their taxes done for free. Rachel Halleck, from Ivy Tech discussed ways for  students to utilize campus resources to help with mental counseling, job development, and employment coaching.  Jan Townsend from John H. Boner Community Centers discussed the Individual Development Account (IDA) program as a way to build assets towards homeownership, starting a business, furthering education, and now, car ownership and home repair. Also, Cheryl Koch-Martinez from Indiana Legal Services gave insight on important legal steps to take if someone has a debt issue. And lastly, Naomi Bechtold from Purdue Extension discussed the importance of savings. She set up computers for attendees to take "The Indy Saves Pledge"through America Saves and begin to save each month.

It was a rewarding event for everyone involved. We plan to host another lunch-n-learn on the Ivy Tech Community College - Lawrence Campus. We'll keep you posted!