April 1 kicks off Financial Literacy Month.

It’s a great time for families and individuals to focus on creating a budget, according to Financial Wellness Coach Brandie King with Operation Hope.

The nonprofit helps people create a personal finance plan, providing services to low and moderate income individuals in Chattanooga’s under-served communities.

The program also offers credit and money management workshops, credit coaching, steps to creating a budget and improving your credit score. The service is free.

The goal is to help people who are struggling financially get back on their feet.

“I see everyone from young adults just starting out to families who are trying to establish credit,” said King.

King says most people don’t have enough savings for an emergency.

“Three to six months of savings of your expenses, that would really be great because you never know if you lose a job or you quit to take care of an aging parent or something like that,” said King.

She says one of the biggest mistakes people make is getting into credit card debt.

“Once you get that ball rolling, it’s like I already have $2,000 on it so those shoes are $100, what’s an extra $100,” said King.

She advises clients to start paying off the card with the smallest balance first then work their way to the bigger balances.

This time of year many people have questions about what they should do with their tax refunds.

“I say let’s look at this, should you save some or should you pay down debts? We’ll look at your individual plan because sometimes when people hear you should save it all or pay off your debts that may not be for your specific situation. Those are some of the things we will look at for you,” said King.

Operation Hope is located inside First Tennessee Bank at 5526 Brainerd Road.

You will need an appointment but you don’t have to be a First Tennessee client to take advantage of the free service and classes.

Anyone interested should contact Brandie King at (423) 645-6563 or click here to send an email.