The Love Columbia Program Helps People Learn New Budgeting Habits

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Nadia Ryakhmyatullov was working a minimum wage job when she found out she was pregnant with twins. Knowing that major expenses were on the way, she got a second job, but she was still living paycheck to paycheck.

One of his jobs has become full-time. She won a raise. But even after a second raise, she barely made it. She started a management position at a Columbia hotel. Despite this better paying job, she continued to struggle to cover her expenses. The story remained the same after other transitions and leadership positions.

Then Ryakhmyatullov heard about Love Columbia from Jane and Scott Williams, members of his church. Jane Williams is co-founder of Love Columbia. After searching online, she came across the organization’s Extra Mile financial management program.

“It was such an eye opener. I just didn’t realize I had gotten used to living paycheck to paycheck. It wasn’t that I wasn’t earning enough. money,” Ryakhmyatullov said of his takeaway from the 16-week program.

“I unlearned that habit and created a habit of saving instead.”

For anyone wishing to join the Extra Mile program, Love Columbia has payphone hours from 8:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. Monday through Wednesday and 3:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Wednesday. People can call 573-256-7662, leave a message, and receive a callback from Love Columbia one to two business days later, the organization said.

There is a screening to determine which program is the best. People are connected with service coordinators for further assessment of the situation and connection to coaching.

After: 100 Columbia-area children receive beds during “Hope to Dream” event at Faurot Field

Individual coaching

Extra Mile participants have an individual coach to help them acquire financial skills.

When Ryakhmyatullov and his coach sat down, they started to figure out where his money was going to rearrange his priorities.

“The biggest revelation I had was every time I went to buy something miscellaneous – oh, it’s $3 here, it’s $4 there – when we sat down and put all my money and where I was spending it was hundreds of dollars that went to this $3 miscellaneous item.”

The program, which she completed in 2016, also provided tips on how to be a smart grocery shopper, she said.

“I’m more strategic in buying my items,” Ryakhmyatullov said, adding that she no longer has financial planning issues. His current job is as a manager at the Hampton Inn and Suites on Fellow’s Place on Stadium Boulevard.

Ryakhmyatullov is now a coach herself for Extra Mile and is working to start her own life coaching business.

One of the people she has trained is a woman named Anna.

When Ryakhmyatullov started working with Anna, Ryakhmyatullov admits that she had a budget problem herself. Helping Anna with her own situation put Ryakhmyatullov back on track, she said.

“It gave me that responsibility back. … (Saving) is such a habit now that I can’t see myself ever going back,” Ryakhmyatullov said.

Anna’s story touched Ryakhmyatullov because they had similar circumstances: a single mother, two children at home and a good job.

Anna is a night supervisor in Sterile Processing at Harry S. Truman Memorial Veterans’ Hospital.

“I was looking for something (that could help). I had a house that was falling apart and I was trying to find a way to save it and fix it,” Anna said, adding that most meals were at restaurants. . “I was also looking after 20 or more people. I had my whole family at home. The money was going to fast food and I was taking care of people.”

Anna consolidated and paid off her credit card debt thanks to Ryakhmyatullov’s coaching.

In June 2021, she sold her house, is now renting, and set personal and financial boundaries for her family. She works to save to buy her own duplex, where she plans to rent the other side.

“(Nadia) taught me that I was responsible for no one but myself and my children,” Anna said.

One of the ways Anna focuses on her family’s financial stability is by linking her children’s credit to her own. This way they will have good credit scores when they reach or graduate from college, she said. They won’t have to worry about having co-signers, she said. Much of what Anna learned from Ryakhmyatullov she taught her children.

“My daughter, she saved $7,000 to $8,000 and went back to my job,” Anna said, adding that her daughter is in college while her son is a sophomore in high school. “They have checking accounts, savings accounts, credit cards (with a limited balance), retirement plans, life insurance and they’ve had it since they were 13 or 14.”

Anna encourages anyone in a similar situation to herself or Nadia to call Love Columbia.

Managing the money you earn is important, added Ryakhmyatullov.

“A lot of people see a budget as a restriction. It’s not. You tell your money where it’s going and you know when and where it’s going,” she said. “The reason (Extra Mile) is four months is that these habits are created.”

Impacts of the Extra Mile program

When a person signs up for Extra Mile, they are paired with their coach. They meet once a week for 16 weeks and follow a set schedule.

The program will reach its 10th anniversary in 2023.

“They pull together receipts and invoices and create a budget and have the accountability and support to stick to the budget,” said Kelli Van Doren, Extra Mile program director who started out as a volunteer at Love Columbia.

The program has a completion rate of approximately 50%. The reasons people don’t complete the program are varied, Van Doren said. Other life situations could affect completion, or some of the first tools provided are sufficient for this person.

Either way, people are getting financial advice they can apply to their lives, she said.

Participants are encouraged to complete tasks. This includes gift cards and monetary contributions that can be used to pay off debt.

“Some people say I never learned that. Some people are aware of (budgeting), but it was handled differently in their family,” Van Doren said.

Many of those who complete the program work in low-paying jobs. There are others, however, with well-paying jobs but high debt, she said.

Love Columbia also has the Extra Mile payday relief loan program for those who are eligible. Participants must continue with Extra Mile for at least four weeks before they can apply for the loan.

“We pay off the title or the payday loan and you pay us back monthly, and as you make payments, your balance goes down,” Van Doren said.

Extra Mile helps people make small changes that can have a big budget impact.

“The people who want to be in the program are the ones whose money isn’t working right now,” she said.

Charles Dunlap covers local government, community stories and other general topics for the Tribune. You can reach him at [email protected] or @CD_CDT on Twitter. Please consider subscribing to support vital local journalism.

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