Juggling the finances is a tricky game for many families. Shannon Keane, the Centre Manager at YMCA Manurewa Early Learning Centre, has witnessed firsthand just how tough it can be for families. She’s on close terms with many of them, and likes to help from month to month, as she can, to ensure that the debt doesn’t pile up.

A little while ago, BNZ approached Shannon offering to lend a helping hand as part of their annual volunteer programme called “Closed for Good.” As part of the Closed for Good programme, staff from local BNZ branches come into one of the YMCA centres for a day and do work around the building - like weeding, cleaning, or other useful tasks. But when they approached Shannon, she had a light bulb moment.

“I know from my work that families experience debt recovery and they can come into financial hardship. So providing a workshop like this would, I thought, be a really nice way to show our families that we want to support them in an educational way too,” says Shannon.

Shannon felt that instead of asking the BNZ staff to do the usual odd jobs around the centre, that some kind of financial literacy workshop would be far more beneficial for people in the local community. But before suggesting the idea to BNZ, Shannon wanted to run the idea past parents at YMCA Manurewa Early Learning Centre to see what they thought. “We always like to include the parents in the decisions that we make, and we knew that a financial literacy workshop would be meaningful,” explains Shannon.

The idea of a financial literacy workshop was welcomed by parents, so in September three BNZ Business Managers came into the centre to run two hour-long sessions. The first session was in the morning, and the other in the afternoon, so that parents would have an opportunity to come in when they had a bit of time to spare. The morning session attracted five parents who come into the centre; and eight parents managed to be there for the afternoon session.

Financial guidance and strategies were the main topics of the morning session. All of the parents who were there received several freebies from the BNZ Business Managers. One of the freebies was a money box that was split into three sections to make spending and saving easier. Of the three sections, one was for saving, another for sharing, and the last for spending.

Later in the afternoon, the session focused on financial goal setting. Everyone who sat in on the workshop was asked what financial goals they’d achieved in the past (such as buying a house, car, or even saving up a little money). Then they were asked what goals they wanted to achieve in the future. Once again, the parents were able to get a lot of one-on-one help from the BNZ business managers, which was incredibly useful.

Even before the workshops were over, it was clear to Shannon that they were a huge hit with the parents. “As the BNZ Business Managers were leaving, quite a few of the parents mentioned that it would be great to get them in again at a later stage,” says Shannon. “The conversations were really positive. One parent I approached five times and I suggested that she come along to the workshops. But she told me that she’d budgeted all her life and didn’t need any help. However, she did eventually decide to come, and she found that the different financial strategies were really positive, and now she’s going out and telling these to her friends and family. It’s great that we’re making such a widespread difference in the community in that way.”

Some time in the next month, Shannon is hoping that the BNZ Business Managers might return and run through these key financial lessons for the parents who weren’t able to be at the workshops. “It’s always our goals to increase education beyond our centre. Some parents have specifically requested for the BNZ Business Managers to come back in and talk about credit card strategies, which would be really useful.”