Chloe’s Homebuyer Success Story

CHLOE'S HOMEBUYER SUCCESS STORY Chloe Wiliams is a Missoula middle school teacher and single mother determined to buy a home. About a year after leaving her now ex-husband, Chloe came to Homeword to take the Get Ready for HomeOwnership class. “I had gotten a divorce,” said Chloe, “so I was a new single parent living in a small apartment with my son. I wanted to try to buy a house for us so he could have a yard.” Chloe met with Homeword Homebuyer Educator Julie Pavlish for individualized one-on-one counseling following class. At their first meeting, they went over Chloe’s finances and determined that she needed to work on her debt ratios before she would be able to buy a house. “The counseling with Julie was great,” she said. “We met once or twice a year for the last four years. She was so patient! I was getting really concerned that I wouldn’t be able to buy a home, but she got me through the fear I had about money and the debt—because I had a lot of student debt.” Julie coached Chloe through signing up with FedLoan Servicing, an organization approved by the U.S. Department of Education to service college student loans that supports borrowers with easy ways to manage their repayments. They also worked together to put together Chloe’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) documentation. Finally, after years of hard work, Chloe’s loans were forgiven. “I couldn’t believe it!” Chloe said. “I called Julie up and was [...]

September 13, 2023|

Budgeting Mindfulness to Reduce Stress

BUDGETING MINDFULNESS TO REDUCE STRESS In addition to consolidating debt, as highlighted in our previous post, various budgeting tools and practices can help reduce your stress while helping you gain ground on achieving your financial goals. Understanding Your Ins and Outs The first and most important step in creating a budget is knowing where you want to go with your money. Then you need to track all your income and expenses. Your budget destination tells you why you are working so hard daily to cut expenses and capture savings. Putting a picture of your goal on your refrigerator or in plain view keeps that destination close in mind. Oftentimes we “budget” monthly bills, but do not budget our everyday expenditures.  For example, you might get paid twice a month and must pay seven different bills. When you diligently track what comes both in and out of your account, however, you can see where your money really goes and realign your spending with your priorities. Taking Control and Owning Your Choices Taking control of your spending is important, but focusing on what we call “spending balance” is also key to your financial well-being. Money can be emotional! If you don’t have enough money, it can cause stress. When you’re sitting flush, you’ll have more of a sense of freedom. Spending discipline is necessary, which may mean sacrifice. It doesn’t mean always going without, however. Our best advice? Take control of how you spend your extras. Track the “outs” and determine [...]

August 31, 2023|

What Does Home Mean to You?

WHAT DOES HOME MEAN TO YOU? For the second year running, we hosted a group of new University of Montana freshmen at our Big Sky Experience site activity. We invited students to our beautiful Orchard Gardens property, where 35 income-restricted multi-family homes are situated on 4.6 acres near the urban-rural fringe of west Missoula. After a tour, we shared how we use sustainable methods to create homes throughout Montana, support renters in a tough market and strengthen Montana communities. In addition to a presentation from Home ReSource about reducing waste and developing a more circular economy in Missoula and building a little free library and pantry to place at Orchard Gardens near the bike trail, we wove in discussions related to our work. In one of our discussions, we explored the meaning of home, part of our namesake and a concept to which we are dedicated. We gave students a simple writing prompt asking them to describe what home is to them. Here is how they responded: Home is... something that changes from person to person. To me, it means where I can be with my loved ones, including family, pets and my girlfriend. I don't think it really should matter too much where it is as long as you have those close people near you. the place where you have friends and family that you can trust and love. a place where you feel welcome and where you want others to feel welcome as well. a safe place [...]

August 28, 2023|

Consolidate to Dominate Your Debt

CONSOLIDATE TO DOMINATE YOUR DEBT Owing money to many creditors can be overwhelming. Remembering multiple due dates and making multiple minimum payments, all while watching those outstanding credit card balances barely move can make your financial life feel out of control. Debt consolidation can be a smart way to finally dominate your debt. Balance Transfer Consolidation People often try to consolidate debt using a credit card balance transfer offer. These offers allow you to consolidate high-rate credit card balances onto one credit card with a low or 0% rate for a short period of time, usually 6 to 12 months. The challenge is that you’ll usually pay a 2-3% fee of each outstanding balance for the transfer, which increases your overall debt. Plus, if you’re unable to pay off that balance within the allotted period of time, your debt returns to a high rate and your monthly payment increases. Balance transfers may sound attractive but rarely help you take control of your debt. Fixed-Rate Debt Consolidation Loan Conversely, a debt consolidation loan is a fixed-rate, fixed-term loan. That means your interest rate and monthly payment will remain the same for the life of the loan, giving you a guaranteed monthly payment and payoff date. Furthermore, unlike a credit card, a fixed-term loan does not offer you a credit line that you can keep tapping into, which helps you avoid the temptation to spend more and helps you pay down your debt faster. Secured vs. Unsecured Debt Consolidation Loans There [...]

August 2, 2023|

What I Learned as an Intern at Homeword

WHAT I LEARNED AS AN INTERN AT HOMEWORD My name is Kaitlyn Opperman, and I am the sustainable development intern at Homeword. I am currently a University of Montana student majoring in environmental science and sustainability, with a concentration in sustainable livelihoods and communities. I have been very interested in sustainability since I was young, and it is my goal following graduation to work with sustainable infrastructure in urban and urbanizing areas due to the demand housing places on our resources and infrastructure. One of my professors at UM, Dr. Alex Metcalf, was the one to introduce me to Homeword. He and I had a meeting to discuss the possibility of finding an internship for me, and he recommended Homeword as an option. Thanks to him, I reached out to Homeword’s deputy director, Karissa Trujillo. Together we formed a role for me as an intern with the organization. In my internship over the past two months, I shadowed Karissa to find out what she does in her role as deputy director. I learned how development projects are completed and about the sustainable features implemented in different properties. Additionally, I gained hands-on experience by assisting with tasks around the office and attending meetings and a Montana Fair Housing training alongside Homeword staff. Here are five things I’ve learned about as an intern at Homeword: Managing people I’ve never been in a manager position. Through being a part of the team at Homeword, shadowing my supervisor Karissa and reading a book [...]

July 31, 2023|

Housing Co-Ops: Another Tool in Our Housing Solutions Toolbox

HOUSING CO-OPS: ANOTHER TOOL IN OUR HOUSING SOLUTIONS TOOLBOX June is Homeownership Month, and every year at this time we reflect on the successes from the last year and the challenges that remain. There are many challenges to rental and homeownership market today—shortages, out-of-reach prices and rising interest rates—but it has sparked creative thinking as a result. One of these creative approaches is housing cooperatives, buildings jointly owned by a corporation made up of its residents. We have seen the same worries on so many of our community members’ faces over the last two years. Buyers and sellers, folks new to our community and long-time residents, almost universally exclaim, “It’s so hard to find a home that I/my child/my friend/my parents can afford, and I don’t know what I’ll/they’ll do. Missoula doesn’t feel like I/we/they will be able to call it home much longer.” Sometimes, as we look at the landscape that buyers are heading out into, we feel the same way. To find a solution to these problems, however, we must get creative and do things differently than they have been done before. This is the Homeword way. The best part is that we don’t do this work alone. We were so excited when, at the Montana Housing Conference in 2022, the Montana Cooperative Development Center offered to bring their knowledge on cooperative housing directly to communities throughout the state. We learned that the first housing cooperative in Montana was located in Hamilton, and our state partners at [...]

June 15, 2023|
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