With some help from AID FOR AIDS’ New York Immigrant AIDS Link (NYIAL), Spanish-speaking immigrants living with HIV or AIDS in New York City can now do what the U.S. government, and most other governments around the world, can’t seem to do: balance their budgets.
NYIAL’s Financial Management interactive workshops take clients through all the basics of household budgeting, so they can reconcile their income and expenses and get themselves on a firm financial footing. The participants are all clients receiving rental assistance from the Hispanic AIDS Forum or Sustaining Living Fund. They are required to attend the workshop in order to get aid with housing.
“First, we look at what comes in – all the different types of income, from salaries and bonuses, to investments and Social Security,” notes David Mosquera, NYIAL’s outreach coordinator and workshop facilitator. “Then we look at the other side of the ledger, all the essential expenses like rent and food, and diversionary expenses like vacations, cable TV and movie tickets.”
Clients, says Mosquera, learn to distinguish between “Lo necesita” versus “Lo quiere”—what one needs versus what one wants. “It’s a matter of determining your priorities…first you take care of what you need, and if there is any income left over, you can budget for what you want. The individuals at our workshops have never gone through this exercise before.”
The workshops can accommodate about a dozen people. Currently there are 33 people on the waiting list. “The response of our clients has been tremendous,” notes Mosquera. “In truth, I do very little talking during the workshops. It’s mostly clients interacting with each other, exchanging ideas and setting their own individual priorities and goals.”
Mosquera says NYIAL would like to expand the scope of its financial education activities by bringing in guest speakers on such topics as managing credit card debt, and opening checking and savings accounts.