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Financial Workshop: Your Slice of the Pie

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"Maria" is a fictitious victim of domestic abuse created by DVCC Housing and Financial Advocate Katie Evans. Maria's photograph accompanies Evans to the DVCC SafeHouses, where she helps residents learn how to create a budget through a workshop called "Your Slice of the Pie". The photo is taped to the wall, and then the group helps to decide the amount and source of Maria's income - whether she has a job, support from her family, assistance from the Department of Social Services, is eligible for food stamps, and so on. Then they decide on her expenses and which ones are fixed and which are negotiable. "Obviously housing and food are fixed expenses, but after that the discussions on what is fixed and what is negotiable can get very lively," Evans said. "For example, clothing and haircuts are necessary, but how much and how often is another question." Once the agreed upon information is on the wall along with Maria's photograph, the group comes up with a budget for her. "At our workshop In March, the residents did a great job. Marie paid all her necessary expenses and ended up being able to put $150 into savings each month," Evans said. While that was a positive outcome for the fictitious Maria, even better was the SafeHouse resident who later told Evans that she makes the same amount of money that Maria made in this scenario, but had never been able to save anything. Evans and the client sat down the next day, went over her budget and found that she could save $20 to $30 each month. "It wasn't $150, but it was more than she thought she could ever save and she was very excited," Evans said. In addition to the financial workshops at the SafeHouses, Evans works individually with DVCC clients to design budgets and explore housing options if they need a place to live.