August 1, 2017 | This year, SparkPoint Marin received grant funding from Marin Community Foundation to specialize in services for individuals from 60 to 70 years to help with more of the life circumstances that are critical to financial health for this age group.
How do I prepare the tax returns that I need to file for my past due taxes?
I am on disability payments and having a hard time making ends meet. Are there other sources of assistance or income that I can qualify for?
I would like to take out a loan to replace my car, but I can’t qualify for the interest rates that I think I can afford. What can I do to get access to credit?
My home needs major repairs and I have no extra income after paying my rent and the bills for my living expenses. How can I afford to maintain my home?
These are some of the many challenges that SparkPoint Marin sees among our older adult population. Older and retiring adults can be financially vulnerable despite having the assets that they have worked years to build and preserve. For many in our community, the combination of a high cost of living, disappearing defined benefit plans and a fixed income means new financial worries instead of a life of ease in retirement. Many seniors are making ends meet on social security income and credit sources as single member households. Some have personal wealth that is tied up in property assets with limited cash income to meet their daily expenses. As many as 7,000 seniors in Marin (21%) are part of an “eligibility gap,” where their income is above $10,830 per year (Federal Poverty Line) and too high to qualify for public assistance. However, their income is below the annual $27,334 estimated as the minimum necessary to afford basic living expenses in this county.
This year, SparkPoint Marin received grant funding from Marin Community Foundation to specialize in services for individuals from 60 to 70 years old whose financial planning goals can be more dependent on their fixed earning capacity and changing life circumstances. To help with more of the life circumstances that are critical to financial health for this age group, Leslie Klor, a housing advocate with twenty years of experience, will be joining our in-house expertise beginning in August 2017. Leslie brings a wealth of knowledge to share on subsidized housing programs, housing vouchers, creative housing alternatives and what it takes to be a good tenant. Her role at SparkPoint Marin will be to help people living with limited means to explore local housing options.
For anyone interested in becoming a SparkPoint member, membership begins with a one hour orientation to our services and an in-depth assessment of personal finances. Our coaches assist members with spending plans for living on a fixed income. They provide avenues for reducing monthly costs, increasing savings and improving personal credit scores to manage debt. They assist members who want to earn new income with their job search. They are trained on tax matters and prepare tax returns. They help with applications for public assistance, and, as of August, affordable housing options, to help individuals reduce expenses and stretch their income further.
As one real life example of how coaching can help with a loss of income and other compounding issues, one member came to SparkPoint to find a way out of the debt that had mounted after she lost her job of fourteen years. She was a single mother supporting a family and had been through a surgery that prevented her from going back to the same job. At SparkPoint, she received support to polish her skills for a new administrative position and landed a job as a receptionist. She devised a spending and savings plan to manage her new income for paying down her debt. In the course of taking these steps, she also succeeded in raising her credit score to secure greater financial freedom for herself and her family. These are some of the real benefits that are possible with client-centered coaching.
Financial health and living well in retirement go hand in hand and they require a sustained effort. SparkPoint Marin recognizes that the cost of living can be a significant barrier to living the dream of a carefree retirement. We are here to give people financial options to empower them to improve their life circumstances and enjoy a life of greener pastures here in Marin County.
Upcoming SparkPoint Orientations:
Monday, August 14 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
Wednesday, September 6 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, August 23 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Wednesday, September 12:00 to 1:00 p.m.
To reach our Housing Advocate Leslie Klor, email Sparkpoint.firstname.lastname@example.org
To learn more about our other services or to register for an orientation session, please call (415) 526-7530 or email email@example.com
 Shelley Hamilton, CEO MARINSPACE with assistance from Lee Pullen, Director of Aging & Adult Services, County of Marin. Aging Action Initiative; the first six months, April 2015, p. 3