One-stop shopping for your financial future

March 20, 2012 5:25:34 PM PDT
Businesses bundle services all the time, right? So why not social service agencies? 7 On Your Side looks at how you can do some one-stop shopping when it comes to your financial needs.

It's common for people to bundle their Internet, cellphone and telephone services. Now the United Way is taking it one step further.

Mission Graphics in San Francisco hopes to leave a lasting image with its customers. The custom t-shirt shop opened just 17 months ago inspired by help from Spark Point and the Mission Asset Fund.

"SparkPoint is a United Way of the Bay Area initiative that connects people to multiple services, helping them to meet their financial goals and help them become economically self-sufficient," explained United Way's Kelly Baston.

Micaela Nabor and her husband Bruno came to the Mission Economic Development Agency (MEDA) for some tax help, and what they got was a lot more.

"The idea is that they are able to increase their income," said MEDA's Diaro Romero. "They are able to use to reduce debt and improve the FICO score."

Free tax preparation help is available to anyone with an income of $50,000 or less. There's also assistance with banking services, guidance is offered for people looking to buy their first home, and training is provided for those looking to start a business.

"Not only did they help us to do a business plan, which I wouldn't have known how to do a business plan otherwise, but we also got connected with savings help," said Micaela Nabor.

"They really design their own course," said Baston. "So they decide what do they need to meet their own goals and to become more self-sufficient."

To get them started, the Mission Asset Fund gave the couple up to $2 for every $2 they saved. They launched Mission Graphics in October of 2010. Business has admittedly been slow, but it recently received a loan from Mission Asset Fund to get Mission Graphics through the hard times.

"Our goal is be able to stay through this and grow and eventually be able to move out of this space into a larger space on the street," said Nabor.

Free tax preparation services are available through April 16 but Spark Point is open year round.

For the nearest Spark Point or free tax preparation service nearest you, call 211.

ABC7 is hosting an online tax chat and hotline on April 3. Tax experts will be on hand to answer your tax questions for free. THe hotline and chat will be open 4:30 - 8 p.m.

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