Strategies for Workers
Building economic security for yourself and your family can be challenging and stressful. While there are a number of supportive benefits available to low-wage workers, the eligibility rules and application process can be complex. The Benefits Cliff is a phenomenon in which a small increase in income can lead to a loss of eligibility for some benefits. The realities of balancing a tight budget with no room for unexpected reductions in income or increases in expenses are stressful. However, finding and keeping a job, and continuously working to improve your skills and salary, are the best long-term strategies for economic security. Many families have found the ideas in this section helpful in dealing with some of these challenges.
Have you ever ended up worse off financially after starting a new job or earning a raise due to a sudden loss of benefits, such as child care assistance or Medicaid? If so, explore the strategies below and share your story with us here.
As every working parent knows, reliable childcare can be essential to getting and keeping a good job, or accepting a promotion with better pay. But quality childcare can be expensive. Subsidies are available to help with the cost but there have been waiting lists for subsidy for some child age groups. Childcare can fall through if the provider is sick, or if your child is sick and not allowed to go to childcare. And applying for benefits or taking advantage of the many helpful programs and services available can be much more difficult with childcare.
- Apply for a subsidy to offset the cost of childcare. Visit www.childcarersourcesinc.org to check current eligibility guidelines, status of waiting lists, and instructions on how to apply.
- There are free, high-quality child development options in Mecklenburg for low-income families. Head Start serves eligible children ages 0-5, while Meck PreK and Bright Beginnings are available for eligible 4 yr-olds. This site is your starting point for program and eligibility information and application. https://enrollprek.com
- Some employers offer a childcare subsidy for their employees who need help with childcare costs. Others may offer an emergency childcare option for short-term problems with available childcare. This is something you can ask your Human Resources department about.
A reliable form of transportation is also critical, but a breakdown can prevent you from getting to work on time. Public transportation is available but not always convenient. Explore these strategies in advance so that you will be ready if the car will not start one morning.
- Explore the bus and light rail routes that might work for you. CATS (Charlotte Area Transportation System) offers information on routes and fares for bus and light rail, as well as a free streetcar in the uptown area called City LYNX Gold Line. The CATS website has a lot of helpful information. Charlotte Area Transit System > Home (charlottenc.gov)
- Carpools might be an option to explore. Some employers offer help coordinating with workers who live near you. CATS (Charlotte Area Transportation System) also has a program called ETC. Employers who are interested in supporting car pooling can designate an Employee Transportation Coordinator to partner with CATS. Employees can get a 10% discount on transit passes. Your employer may want to explore this at ETC > Home (charlottenc.gov)
Lack of Necessary Skills
Many times, a new job or promotion will require specific skills. If you don’t have the necessary skills, don’t give up. There are many options for training and skill-building.
- Organizations like Goodwill Industries of the Southern Piedmont https://goodwillsp.org and Charlotte Works (www.charlotteworks.com) offer job skills training and job search support.
- Many employers offer training programs for new hires or current employees. For example, Atrium Health’s Rise to Success program offers support for tuition and books to Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools graduates who want to pursue entry-level jobs in healthcare.
- Many employers offer career coaching services to help you plan a career path. Ask your employer if it would be possible to job-shadow someone in the higher job you seek. Leverage your demonstrated commitment to get a mentor in your organization who can support your growth.
Making Tough Economic Decisions
Balancing a tight budget can seem impossible if there is an unexpected expense like car repairs or medical expenses. Options for quick cash such as pay day lenders and title loans can lead to mounting debt and make your situation worse in the long-run. Here are some strategies that may help.
- Balancing a tight budget can seem impossible if there is an unexpected expense like car repairs or medical expenses. Options for quick cash such as pay day lenders and title loans can lead to mounting debt and make your situation worse in the long-run. Here are some strategies that may help.
- Your Money, Your Goals is a training program designed to help you make financial decisions that can lead to long-term success and even wealth accumulations. Participating in this program is an excellent idea if it is available to you. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau of the federal government offers the resources mentioned in the program online at Your Money, Your Goals: Online resources | Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (consumerfinance.gov)