SOMERSET, NJ - Have you ever asked yourself how can I reduce debt, build assets, get good credit, or protect my identity?
If so, you can start taking action this week, thanks to the Somerset Community Action Program (SCAP) and the Franklin Township Community Resource and Services Department.
This Wednesday the first of three free financial literacy classes will be held at the municipal building at 475 Demott Lane. The classes are designed to help attendees learn how to take control of their financial matters. 
"Many families are faced with bad credit, crushing debt, and left with difficult options to recover from their financial setbacks," SCAP Board President Kimberly Francois said. "Our Financial literacy courses are intended to be a positive asset-building path for your long-term financial health."
The classes will be facilitated by local CPA and financial advisor Carletta O. Beckwith. 
"I am passionate about helping people succeed with their money," Beckwith said. "I think that there is a knowledge gap when it comes to finances.  A big reason for that is because financial literacy was simply not taught in school.  Money is one of the biggest resources you will have to manage in your life.  I want to provide individuals with the critical skills they need to thrive in the areas of finance."
Wednesday's class will focus on debt reduction and asset building. Attendees will learn how to make a debt plan that will prioritize what you owe and get it paid off faster.  Techniques on how to improve your net worth and the importance of building assets will also be discussed.  Attendees will also learn how to understand retirement plans, savings accounts, and investments that can build financial security and literacy.
"Financial Literacy is learning the skills to make better decisions about money management," Francois said. "These skills are critical in today’s complex society and tough economy. Having the knowledge and skills is especially important for low-income individuals and families.   Financial literacy is an important avenue to move out of poverty." 

Beckwith held other successful free workshops earlier this year, and she will be doing at least one every month for the rest of the year. 
"The reaction to the workshops have inspired me to deliver more and more," Beckwith said. "Everyone who has attended has expressed gratitude and has shown an eagerness to implement many of the financial principles I have outlined. When I see faces light up and people taking copious notes, I feel like I have done my job.  My mission is to educate and inspire so that individuals will begin to take control of their finances, work their plan and act on that plan with discipline."  

Financial Literacy Workshops:

A list of classes can be found below. All classes will start at 7 p.m.            

Building a Good Credit Rating: November 8, 2017

  • Understand how to use credit to your advantage. Learn how to receive a free copy of your credit report annually, also learn how to read your credit report and fix errors.

Consumer Protection: December 13, 2017

  • Learn the benefits of having a checking and savings account at a financial institution.  Understand different types of insurance and how to protect your identity and your assets.
"I want to provide individuals with the critical skills they need to thrive in the areas of finance,' Beckwith said. "I'm doing this to show individuals that despite their income level, they have the power to create a future of promise and dignity.  As I always tell my clients, it is not how much money you make, but it is all in what you do with what you make."
Although free, the event does require pre-registration.  Please call 732-846-8888 to register for the event.

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