From “A Mess” to the Family’s “Financial Manager”: Raquel Torruellas Knows Her Tricks

Robin Ladouceur, HomeOwnership Center (HOC) Coordinator at Neighborhood Housing Services of New Haven (NHS), welcomed a customer with the homeownership goal of getting pre-approved for buying a home. Robin was impressed by how this customer was already one step ahead. “Raquel just has such a good set of tips, tricks, and apps that she uses to manage her family’s finances.”

Raquel Torruellas and her family are tenants of a house that recently became available for purchase. The landlord is giving this family extra time to get pre-approved. Raquel started preparing and saving years ago because she knew that her family needed to take some steps to manage their finance. “I’m a school bus driver, and I have nothing to regret about that, but it’s not something that pays you a very high salary, and my husband doesn’t have a high income either,” Raquel said.

After talking to Robin for advice, Raquel was excited that her financial management skills had already brought her closer to her goal. “Normally, Robin helps customers start from the beginning, like start saving. I was already saving money, trying to fix my credit and get a budget,” Raquel said.

She did not build her skills overnight. Like many young individuals becoming independent, Raquel messed up her credit score and had no idea it could be a problem. “I was a mess. I was spending money like crazy and not thinking about saving. I did not realize how much money I was spending outside.” Raquel recalled, “I used to sign checks that I knew the money was not there for.”

When Raquel decided to repair her credit, she took it seriously. “I have a calendar, which is my best friend, and my phone that’s always with me,” Raquel said. She uses the Notes App and Calendar App on her phone to list all the bills ahead of time.

“I plan a couple of months ahead, maybe six months, if I can do it for six months. I put in each day that I need to make a payment in my calendar, and I use colors. For bills, I use black; when I’m done with something and going to receive money, that’s absolute green,” Raquel said.

It has become a habit for Raquel to check her phone every day, in the morning, to see if there are notifications about paying her bills. She will check the boxes once she pays them off. “I have 100% of payments, you know. I’ve never failed to make a payment, even in the pandemic.” Raquel was proud of her progress.

Her skills don’t only help with the family’s finance, they have also improved Raquel’s marriage. “My husband was not trusting me with the financial things until he let me handle it and saw that it was better,” Raquel said.

She summarized her experiences in one sentence: “You are never too old to do something new.”

The HomeOwnership Center helps customers with homeownership goals from pre-purchase counseling to mortgage lending, real estate listings, and repair programs. There is no limitation on eligibility, and everyone who wants to buy a home in Connecticut is welcome. It is never too late to start your homeownership journey!

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