By Debra Bell
OF THE WEEKLY STAFF
Money: It’s a topic filled with power, drama and occasionally a little fear.
But the Greater Bangor Asset Disability Network, Eastern Maine CA$H Coalition, and United Way of Eastern Maine are ready to help area residents take control of money through the Stretch Your Dollars Day event, held 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. Saturday, March 2, at Eastport Hall, 128 Texas Ave. in Bangor on the University of Maine Augusta’s Bangor campus.
According to Gwen LaPointe, disability resource coordinator lead at Eastern Maine Development Corporation and Tri-County Career Center, this is the second year that the event has been held. It originated as an opportunity to help the people the Career Center sees as well as people with disabilities who don’t have access to financial counseling.
LaPointe noted that this daylong workshop originated as an opportunity to help people with disabilities gain access to valuable financial literacy skills. But as her team developed the idea, it was evident that this was something that could help more than just one demographic. It could be something that would help lots of people.
Last year’s event was so well received that it made sense to hold it again, LaPointe said.
This year’s event is once more open to the public. Attendees are invited to take part in free seminars split into three sessions of four concurrent programs.
“There’s something for everyone,” LaPointe said.
Session one, 10-10:45 a.m., has the following concurrent sessions:
• Work and Your Disability Benefits. This workshop will help people with questions about working and their disability benefits.
• Bangor on a Budget. Aspen Maquera, the brains behind the website, www.bangoronabudget.com, provides tips on maximizing your dollars while having fun in Bangor.
• Home Ownership. MaineStream Finance staff will discuss planning for home ownership.
• Invest in Yourself. Get paid first. This workshop will focus on helping people learn how to develop a savings strategy, identify expenses and set goals to empower attendees.
Session two, 11-11:45 a.m., has the following concurrent sessions:
• Paying for Your Education. This panel discussion will tackle ways to help pay for education and what to plan for.
• Extreme Couponing. Learn the tricks and tips needed to become a smart couponer.
• Self-employment. Starting a business can be a daunting task. This workshop helps attendees learn what’s required and where to get help.
• Lower Your Energy Costs. Find out the top 10 ways to reduce energy costs for homeowners and renters alike.
There will be a break between sessions two and three for a free lunch. At the same time, attendees will be able to visit the exhibitor room and visit with vendors.
Session three, 12:45-1:30 p.m., has the following concurrent sessions:
• Family Development Accounts. Attendees will learn about a savings account with a 4-1 match and how to fund the future.
• The Thrifty Gardener. Money, space and experience are not barriers to learning to grow food. Master Garden Volunteers offer tips for low-budget gardening.
• Dress for Success for Less. Looking great and feeling confident can give your work life a boost. Learn some simple tips for developing a wardrobe to impress without breaking the bank.
• A Consumer’s Guide to Buying a Car. Savvy car shopper Stephanie Desrochers shares her tips for putting the power of car buying back in your hands.
As an added bonus this year, attendees can also get their taxes done while learning new skills, gain asset coaching and enhance their financial literacy.
“The Ca$H Coalition also will be offering free tax preparation services at the Stretch Your Dollar Day,” LaPointe said. “People can make appointments for free tax prep by calling the same number for pre-registering for the fair.”
Advance registration is required for the free event. Contact Karen Tolstrup at United Way 941-2800 or Karent@unitedwayem.org to register.