By Nancy Winckler-Zuniga
Gail Peterson stands proudly in front of her new house. She loves the space, the yard and that it’s hers. Getting it took patience, perseverance and putting into practice lessons learned from the financial education classes she took through RealSense Prosperity Place.
“I saw this commercial with a Jaguar player in it and signed up to volunteer as a greeter at the tax-preparation sites at first,” Peterson said. “Then, I found out about the workshops!”
Peterson found herself repeatedly sitting up front and hanging on every word. She attended the classes once a week learning about everything from building a resume to how to save a little at a time.
“I learned how to save my income tax portion after taxes and saving other things,” Peterson said. “I learned that if I don’t need it, I don’t have to buy it. I’ve become very thrifty.”
Peterson has become more than thrifty. She encourages friends and family members to watch out for their own finances — taking lessons she learned home to them.
“Another thing I learned from one of the financial workshops: if you never had a checking or saving account before, you can open one immediately. I shared that information with my brother, and he opened an account!”
Peterson said that too many people use check-cashing places and pay fees instead of keeping it secure in a bank. Security is important to her and having a new place to call home is thrilling.
“I had butterflies of joy when I saw the house,” she said. “I had seen it before, but it was too much. I waited ’til the asking price came down, and I could afford it. I love the brick; it reminds me of the houses I saw on a trip to Savannah. It was a place I could call home.”
Secure in that new home, she is looking to volunteer more and help others use the lessons she learned from RealSense.
“Here’s what I want to tell everyone,” Peterson said, “Don’t live in the moment — plan for the future and use RealSense Prosperity Place as your tool.”
For more information on United Way of Northeast Florida’s RealSense initiative, visit unitedwaynefl.org/realsense.