As Inflation Costs Rise, Financial Navigators Can Help

Amber Nielsen

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As the pandemic continues to affect income and inflation increases, many residents of Charlotte are struggling to make ends meet. Inflation is such that the average family's expenses are $433 more expensive per month than they were a year ago. That is a monumental ask for most families, especially those who were struggling to make ends meet before the pandemic. The Financial Navigator program may be able to help.

This program is a partnership between the City of Charlotte, Cities for Financial Empowerment, and Common Wealth Charlotte and was first launched in November 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. It offers one-on-one financial counseling to those who are financially affected by the pandemic in Charlotte or Mecklenburg County.

Your financial navigator can refer you to different resources and give you ideas about how to cut costs, navigate debt repayment, and make ends meet. Financial Navigators are both a source of financial education, as well as connections to a wide variety of financial resources. The Financial Navigator program is available in English and Spanish.

To get connected to Financial Navigator, call 311 or fill out the online application form. 311 will submit an interest form on your behalf with your contact information and times available. After you submit this, you will receive an intake form to fill out. This intake form asks for information like type of need, household income, language, etc. This interest form will put you on the queue for the Financial Navigator program, and a Financial Navigator will call you during a time that you are generally available. They will call you three times before you need to resubmit your interest form.

To date, more than 3,100 people have requested the program, 1,700 sessions were completed, and 7,000 referrals were made to other services and resources.

Tonia Frazier, the program lead for Financial Navigators, says that many people don't know that this resource is available. Many who end up participating in the program are extremely grateful and mention that they only recently became aware of this program. Many are referred to Financial Navigator program through 311, without knowing beforehand that this program exists.

Others who have called are older adults who are on a fixed income. Ms. Frazier appreciates the opportunities to help them navigate inflation and increased costs. By strategizing together, they are often able to figure out a way to make ends meet.

Frazier shared, "I love it when we are able to provide assistance to clients that meets specific needs. We get to educate people so that they can take charge and advocate for themselves. And, if I can't give them anything else, I can at least instill hope."

Hope, education, and connection to more help are the cornerstones of the Financial Navigator program. If you are struggling to make ends meet due to the pandemic and related issues, request the Financial Navigator program by calling 311.


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