Savings program key to helping students and their teacher improve their money management
Sound sweet? It is, according to the students who do exactly that every semester in the Matched Savings program at Bow Valley College, the only post-secondary school in Calgary to offer the program. Students save a maximum of $50 a month for four months and receive triple the amount—up to $600—on top of that from generous Bow Valley College donors. They can use the money to pay off debts, pay tuition and mandatory fees, and on other specifics laid out in the program.
Student learns saving strategies for a new life in a new country
Mouna Marouki (Academic English) learned many new skills to help her save money in the Matched Savings program—even though she needed to follow a strict strategy to find savings on her small income.
She was used to saving in Syria where she worked for 15 years as an office administrator. It wasn’t difficult when she had a job, especially since her mother had instilled in her the practice of saving money.
“I joined the Matched Savings program so I could continue learning, as my mom wanted me to,” Mouna says. “I also needed to learn a new saving strategy for Canada—it’s an expensive life here.”
She was attracted by the opportunity to gain the 3:1 return she would get for saving $50 a month and taking the workshops that are part of the program—including budgeting, banking, and consumerism. Mouna recommends the Matched Savings program to other students.
“Learn about the small things that you spend on,” she advises. “You control your budget, so be aware of advertising that is all about the product, not about the benefits to you.”
She thanks the donors. “With all my heart I thank the donors, not only for sacrificing their money, but for their aim in helping us be aware of saving.”
Even the teacher learns how to better manage money
Bow Valley College’s financial empowerment coach, Blanquita de Rebolone de Colley, says that she learns more about herself from the students that enrol in the program and from the program itself.
“When I began working in this role, I decided that I couldn’t just stand and preach in front of students. I need to walk the talk,” she says. “They think that because I’m in front of the class that my life is perfect, when I’ve been in the same situation as them. I have money stress and credit card debt and I spend too much money. When they share their stories, I can relate.”
Blanquita says that her family’s attitude towards money has changed. They are more open about finances—even her kids spot promotional scams—and she’s amazed by how much money her daughter has saved.
Matched Savings helps student pay down her debt
After Hearty Joy Que (Licensed Practical Nurse, second year) enrolled in the program she began to teach her husband about what she was learning. He was resistant at first, but Hearty is winning him over with the success of her investment in the program.
“I actually learned how to manage money and not to lose it on unnecessary things that you buy,” she says. She and her husband built up large credit card debt, which really bothered Hearty. But now, thanks to the Matched Savings program, she feels on top of it.
“Credit card interest grows like a snowball,” she says from experience. “It can become so big that you can’t pay it.” But because of the Matched Savings program, Hearty is staying on top of her debt, and managing to save each month.
“It saved my life, and the life of my family,” Hearty says. “Control your money and save for the future. It’s never too late.”