Payment Partner helps teen get control of finances

A Goodwill NCW program helped a teenager struggling with money become a young adult with financial freedom.

As a then 17-year-old moving out on his own in an apartment through Agape of Appleton, Josh Fry was referred to Payment Partner, a program of Goodwill NCW that helps eligible participants pay their monthly expenses and manage their money. The program provides representative payee and bill-paying services to people of all ages who receive Social Security benefits, veterans’ benefits or pensions and those who work and receive paychecks, and who find themselves unable to manage their finances.

Before starting with the program and receiving Social Security, Josh said he had a summer job cutting grass and earned about $1,300 in three months.

“I was a young kid who was going through a growth spurt, so I spent a lot of money on food. I maybe saved 30 bucks.”

He then began working with Payment Partner and receiving payee services and a spending money allotment.

At first, he struggled with using his money wisely, said Carmen LeMaster, Payment Partner Team Leader.

“When I started with Payment Partner, I got my $15 spending check every week,” the now 22-year-old from Kimberly said. “When I started with them, I was blowing the $15 in the first day.”

The program gradually taught him to how to create a budget and how to follow one. Now, Josh handles his finances on his own, makes on-time credit card payments and holds a positive credit score with the lessons he learned from Payment Partner. He graduated from the program when he was 21.

“Once he started to be more consistent in his spending, gradually I would let him take responsibility for one bill at a time to see how he would do with that responsibility,” Carmen said. “First it started with him paying for his cellphone, newspaper knowing that we would be responsible for his shelter. We had everything written down in his budget, including his soda money, laundry money and even vitamins. As time went on we gave him the chance to pay his rent on his own. It worked, and he was feeling successful that he didn’t need our help. We sat down for a complete review of things he needed to watch for, like insurance that is not come due every month. He applied to Social Security Administration to receive his own funds and in July 2019 he started it all on his own.”

“It has helped me so much,” Josh said.

“When I go grocery shopping, I know what I need and what I can get, and I have my finances in my head, and I know what I can’t afford that week.”

Josh continues to check in regularly and checks in regularly to provide updates.

“This month he reached out to see if we could go over the budget he has been using and if there was anything I would change for him,” Carmen said. “I was really glad to see him and saw how successful he has been, and it made us really proud of him as a team.”

Payment Partner has taught him not only the importance of budgeting but saving.

Josh, who works part time at Sam’s Club, has set new goals for himself. He wants to be out of Agape in the next five years and living on his own 100%.

He appreciates Payment Partner and the lessons learned for getting him to where he is today.

“The whole team was amazing,” Josh said. “I can’t say enough about them.”

Click here for more on Payment Partner.

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