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  • Writer's pictureMosaic Forum

“Doesn’t matter who or where you are you need a plan” - written by Martha Villanigro-Santiago

Really. Many of us erroneously believe that making and following a budget is unnecessary because we do not have much money or own anything of real value. Whether you are retired or beginning your first job; whether you have a family, including children, or living at home with your parents or grandparents; and whether you have a weekly income, or you are unemployed, you need to have a plan to live a full and healthy life.

What do we want? What do we need? Is there a difference? There is one way to get answers to these questions. First, begin by deciding the things you want and write them down. At this moment you don’t need to worry about the cost. The next step is much easier. You can make your list a reality by finding a person, an organization, or a place, offering guidance, tips, and suggestions that may help you obtain the things you want.

There are many resources in your neighborhood, including your local library, community groups, and local government that regularly offer a variety of financial information and assistance. The best part is that many of these organizations offer it for free.

One very helpful organization is the Virginia Cooperative Extension (VCE) providing no cost financial education to more than 6,000 Arlington and Alexandria residents each year. For example, VCE offers a financial course for women, and services from a free financial counselor. VCE offers a lot more and you can read a full description by visiting or calling the main office at (703) 228-6400.

Another free option for you is to attend a local educational program. These programs may be sponsored by a community group. The Mosaic Forum, for example, offers workshops for participants to learn about health and social service providers in the community, and creates direct access to these providers. When you learn about the many services available to you, like free Medicare counseling, you are in a better position to make the best decisions for you and your family.

Lastly, there are numerous interest groups and professional organizations that offer a diverse list of services for individuals seeking to make important life decisions. One major organization is the American Association of Retired Persons, better known as AARP, a nonprofit, nonpartisan association whose stated mission is "empowering people to choose how they live as they age." AARP offers workshops, videos, articles and many other services leading interested persons to helpful information for issues including current news, like telephone scams and tips for staying healthy.

Organizations representing professionals also provide education and guidance to individuals seeking a professional opinion when preparing a life plan. For legal services you may contact Northern Virginia Legal Services . This organization partners with other legal aid organizations, state and local bar associations, as well as the courts to serve the region’s low-income and neediest populations. Services cover a variety of areas, including but not limited to Consumer Law; Elder Law; and Housing Law.

Our lives would be easier if we have all the things that we want. If we take steps to plan our future, we can be on the right path towards living a full and healthy life. Martha

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