Willie Learns to Budget


In January, we met Willie, a man who suffers from OCD and Anxiety. Willie is a veteran and is currently involved with the VA mental health clinic. He also receives assistance from HUD VASH (rental subsidy for veterans). Willie was referred to us because his landlord decided to renovate the apartment complex he lived in. At this place, he did not have to pay utilities, however at his new home he would have to – which meant finding money for deposits at both MUD and OPPD.


Willie couldn’t see how he could pay for either deposit and he reluctantly came to Together for help. After we completed our HUD risk assessment and detailed budget with him, we were able to show him how he could pay one of the deposits on his own. We reviewed his income and how it came in during the month vs. when he had to pay all bills – Willie learned more about how to manage his money when we showed him what had to be paid at the beginning of the month with his first paycheck and what to pay with his second paycheck.


Willie was relieved. Not only could he get through this unexpected move, he could get through each month a little easier.


Sometimes it is the little things like this, which many of us take for granted, that help people stay in their homes – with little or no assistance.


Our services are more critical than ever, and with the compassion of our charitable supporters, we are able to carry out our mission of helping local people in desperate need.

what can companies do for employees

Poverty and homelessness have many causes and are often the result of multiple factors entering a person’s life.

One of the things we know about people experiencing extreme poverty and entering homelessness is that almost everybody has a job. Those that do not have a job, want one. Unfortunately there are often obstacles in their way.


Did you know – until a family’s combined income reaches $43,000, they qualify for state, federal or private aid for access to food stamps, child care programs, sliding scale medical services and free and reduced lunches for their children, reliable transportation and other programs?


You can make a difference.


There are a few simple things your company can do that can help make a big difference for all your employees and the bottom line. 


Work Hours

Elementary schools days are approximately 9am to 3pm. There are before and after-school programs but they come at an extra cost to young families.

Consider this Does your work day have to start before 9am for all employees? If so, can you offer flextime options for employees so they can manage their resource for a second job, child care, eldercare, education, and carpooling or bus schedules?   

See this Entrepreneur article on the benefits of flextime by clicking here


Work Week

Many work weeks are 5 days a week. One of the biggest expenses a family has is child care. Some child care providers offer discounts for predictable, shortened schedules. As a bonus, transportation expenses are reduced too.

Consider this – Does your work week have to be 5 days a week for all employees? Will a schedule of 4 – 10 hour days still get the job done while reducing personal expense such as transportation and child care expenses? Not only could your frontline staff benefit, it could reduce overall corporate expenses and help the environment.

See this Oil Drum article on 16 reasons a 4 day work week may is a good idea by clicking here.  



In the Midwest we rely heavily on personal vehicles for transportation. The annual cost of a reliable vehicle (including payments at $270, maintenance and fuel) is $8,758.

Consider this Encourage public and other transportation for everybody. Give incentives to those that carpool – a better parking spot goes a long way. Do you have bike parking? If you near a bus line consider the CEO greeting employees as they get off the bus.

See this visual from VisualEconomics.com by clicking here



Healthcare expenses are increasing for families and employers. Not just the cost of health insurance (for the employee and employer) but the out-of-pocket expenses families pay for over the counter medications, co-pays and procedures. The average working family of 2.5 people spends nearly $3,000 annually.

Consider this Some of the problems with out-of-pocket expenses is their unpredictability. Flexible spending accounts can help families stabilize these expenses and provide a pre-tax benefit for the employee.

See this visual from VisualEconomics.com by clicking here and this wikipedia post about Flexible Spending Accounts by clicking here


Consider this Prevention is often the best medicine. What incentives do you offer for a Well Workplace? Do your vending machines have junk food and soda? Do you encourage the use of the stairs? Do you set a good example?

See this program from the Wellness Council of the Midlands by clicking here.   



Not every raise is helpful. Some employees qualify for programs that help their household net income – a small raise could put them in a higher income bracket but still not pay enough cover the full cost of these programs.

Consider this Encourage conversations with staff to see what they need to help make ends meet.

See this Cliff Effect visual from Voices for Children by clicking here.


Presenteeism and Absenteeism

Can your hourly staff take a sick or personal day and not lose income? Presenteeism is more than just somebody showing up sick because they have to, it’s also about being distracted by other life issues like “how am I going to pay the light bill?”

Consider this Examine your company policies. Can you offer sick days or pto to part time and hourly employees? Do they get paid vacations like exempt staff?

See this article from The Atlantic by clicking here.  



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