Finance and

2 Week Budget - Free Cash Flow

Instructions for 2 Week Budget - Free Cash Flow

2 Week Budget - Free Cash Flow web form

To use the calculator and save your results, you can download and use the Excel version: 2 Week Budget - Free Cash Flow.

Bankruptcy Information

National/State Organizations:

Federal Trade Commission

US Courts


National Consumer Law Center

Illinois Legal Aid Online

Chicago-based Organizations

Organizations that can help answer questions or help people through the process. Please note that when you call any of these organization’s main numbers, you often have to stay on hold for a long time (sometimes hours). Please let your participant know this so they can plan accordingly.

CEP Resource Guide to Chicago Social Services

The CEP Resource Guide provides contact information for Chicago organizations that specialize in other social services.

Please note that this guide was published in January, 2015, so some of the information may be outdated. Please check to confirm that the organization is still operating before using it as a reference.

CFPB's Financial Coaching Webpage

The CFPB launched a new webpage dedicated to financial coaching work. This page includes:

  • Information about CFPB’s Financial Coaching Initiative, including where you can find a coach for referral
  • The results of rigorous research conducted on financial coaching
  • Best practices in the field of financial coaching.

Check out the financial coaching webpage here:

The CFPB hopes you find this page useful in your work, and would love to hear from you! To reach the CFPB please email

CFR Focus Prepaid Card


The Focus Card is a reloadable, prepaid debit card issued by U.S. Bank. The card is preloaded and functions a lot like a debit card or a gift card. You can add value to the card in many different ways, including loading cash and/or making a one-time or ongoing direct deposit. You can use the card to purchase goods, pay your bills, obtain cash, and transfer funds into a savings account. An exciting feature of the CFR Focus Card is that it has an interest-bearing savings account that is associated with the card.

Conveniences of the CFR Focus Card:

  • No monthly fee
  • Free purchases where Visa is accepted
  • Free cash back with purchase
  • Access to an extensive and free ATM netwrk called AllPoint and MoneyPass
  • An online account management website at:
  • A mobile app
  • 24/7 support at their call center at 877-474-0010 (also listed on the back of the card)


Enroll at After enrollment is complete, the card will be mailed in a white, unmarked envelope within 7-10 business days. For step-by-step enrollment directions, watch the following YouTube video:

Informational Flyers

US Bank Customer Service

More about CFR: CFR is a nonprofit organization that combines the product development skills of Fortune 100 banks with the social justice commitment of community activists, resulting in breakthrough product ideas that can address inequality at scale. Community Financial Resources has assembled a network of bankers, technology providers and community-based organizations to create best-in-class financial products for low income and financially marginalized consumers. CFR is recognized nationally as a financial services industry leader, setting standards for consumer-friendly products combined with financial capability programs designed to address the fundamental inequalities of the U.S. economy.

Credit Scores Make A Big Difference!

Credit Scores Make a Big Difference! shows just how big of an impact your credit score has on a typical $10,000 loan. 

Financial Automation

Pay Yourself First - Financial Automation

  • Overview – This document provides the steps necessary to help participants automate savings/investing based on their pay period.
  • Required Information – Participant should have completed the basic 2 week cash flow tracker ( identified spending leaks.
  • Scope/Eligibility – Participant should be comfortable to allocating a line item from the 2 week budget as a saving/investing category

Step 1:  Help your participant identify a savings goal. Even as little as $5 a month to start will help them see the effects of saving over a longer term. Using your client’s paystub it should be fairly easy to figure out what they make each hour.  Encourage them to “pay themself first” and save at least an hour worth of their time on a weekly basis at least.

Step 2: Help them set up a savings account that is not linked to their regular checking/savings account.  Look through for a list of current savings/money market accounts available.  

Step 3: After reviewing the 2 week cash flow or budget prepared previously (you should have allocated a line item for savings) set up a direct withdrawal or deposit system that pulls money from their primary account into this secondary savings account at set, regular intervals.  

Step 4: Encourage them to leave this account untouched - opt out of a debit card so access is limited. Refer to other financial coaching articles referring to the power of compound interest to help them understand how their money will grow if left untouched.

Download "Pay Yourself First - Financial Automation" (PDF)

Financial Coach Portal

Project Money coaches can log in to the Financial Coach Portal for program information and updates. 

Financial Literacy Tools by The Simple Dollar

The Simple Dollar is a website dedicated to conducting data-driven and unbiased research, that for the last few years has served as a trusted resource for families, organizations and major publications such as Forbes, Business Insider, and The Wall Street Journal.

Their recent research found that over half (study estimated 70%) of Americans are effectively financially illiterate. In an effort to be a part of the solution, they created a series of guides designed for students and parents that give practical advice on developing and building upon healthy financial habits throughout one's life as well as a comprehensive handbook on credit.

You can see the guides here:

Project Money

Our financial coaching program, Project Money, has started! Please make sure you’re telling all of your clients about the great opportunity to meet with a financial coach to help them achieve their financial goals. Question #5 on our CEI survey asks our tax clients if we’ve told them about any other CEP services, and we’re only at 4.4 for that question -- I know we can do better than that! Here’s a recent testimonial we received from a former Project Money member to give you some inspiration.

Things Are Going Well! Thank you, Lorena. Because of you [and my coach] my credit score is in the 700s now and businesses are sending me all kinda proposal but you showed how to read the fine print and pay attention to APRs... So I'm happy to say thank you again.

Clients can learn more about the program and apply at Become a Project Money member.

Retirement Savings

Want to travel or pursue your other hobbies after you retire? Whatever your retirement dreams, you should start planning and saving now to make those dreams come true. Here are a few retirement-savings tips and reminders:

Plan to save

First, set a realistic retirement savings goal. Consider how many years your retirement will last, what you want to do when you retire, and how much you’ll need for each year of your retirement.

Next, schedule your savings. Depending on what works best for you, commit to saving a certain amount every year, every month or even every week for your retirement. Stick to your schedule.

Lastly, regularly review your savings goal and schedule to make sure you’re still on track.

Start saving now

It’s easy to put off saving for retirement to another day. The earlier you start, however, the more likely you’ll save enough for retirement. By starting sooner rather than later, you’ll also benefit more from compounding – earnings on previous earnings.

Participate in your employer’s plan

Start participating in your employer’s retirement plan as soon as you can. If the plan allows you to contribute to the plan from your wages, contribute as much as you can up to the plan limits, which for 2018 are:

  • $18,500 to 401(k) or 403(b) plans
  • $12,500 to SIMPLE plans

If you are 50 or older by the end of the year, your plan likely allows you to make additional (catch-up) contributions of $6,000 to 401(k) or 403(b) plans, and $3,000 to SIMPLE plans.

If your employer doesn’t have a retirement plan, request one.

Contribute to IRAs

Contributing to Individual Retirement Arrangements (IRAs) is a simple way to save for your retirement. For 2018, you may be able to contribute to a traditional or Roth IRA the smaller of:

  • $5,500 ($6,500 if you are age 50 or older), or
  • your taxable compensation for the year.

Some factors may limit or eliminate your ability to make IRA contributions while others may limit you from deducting your traditional IRA contributions.

Avoid early withdrawals

Your retirement savings are for when you retire. To maximize the amount available when you retire, avoid taking money out early from retirement plans and IRAs. Remember that you usually have to pay an additional 10 percent tax on the amount of money you take out of your plans or IRAs before you reach age 59½, unless you qualify for an exception.

Other Resources:

  • Saving for retirement – information about saving for retirement, including how changes in your life can affect retirement planning.
  • Types of retirement plans – information about common types of retirement plans, including how much you can contribute per year.
  • Retirement Plans FAQs – answers to common retirement plan and IRA questions.
  • Retirement Saving Tips for Individuals – useful tips about saving for retirement and understanding your employer’s retirement plan.

Spending Leaks

Help your client identify spending patterns or leaks and find ways to reduce them.

Spending Leaks

Tax Time Saving: VITA Tax Preparer's Toolkit

This VITA Tax Preparer's Toolkit is designed to help you show clients why tax time is the right time to save. 

Developed by Meredith Covington, Janie Oliphant, Dana Perantie, and Michal Grinstein-Weiss at the Center for Social Development at Washington University. 

TransUnion Credit Report User Guide

TransUnion Credit Report User Guide.