Published: Aug 31, 2011 8:48 PM EDT
Updated: Aug 31, 2011 10:44 PM EDT

LEE COUNTY, Fla.- A financial planning expert is teaching about 600 people a month in Lee county, how to manage their money. Dawn Russell is helping people budget wisely. The people must take her class, before getting help from Lee County.

"I advise the people to write down every expense for a month. And I mean every one, the burger at McDonald's, the bottled water at the gas station, the extra items at the grocery store. They all add up and can get people in trouble," said Russell.

She works for CredAbility, which used to be Consumer Credit Counseling Service. It is a non-profit group. Lee County pays her agency to put on some of the classes;  the United Way pays for most of the nearly 30 classes she teaches a month. People who are getting cash assistance to pay their rent or electric bills, must complete the one-hour class.  Lee Co. pays CredAbility $200 per class.  With roughly 50-52 classes a year, that works out to just over 10-thousand dollars.  The United Way pays for many other budgeting classes, held in locations all around the county.

"Lack of planning hurts people. If they can plan their grocery trip, and bring some coupons, they can save. Paying cash also helps. You know you can't spend too much, because you are paying cash," Russell told WINK News.

Kiccia McCoy attended the class on Wednesday. She told WINK: "I know I have a hobby, BINGO, that leads to some extra money going out.  I have to stop that. Also, with the grandkids, I tend to take them where I can't really afford it.  That has got to stop, too!"

The website for CredAbility is:  www.CredAbility.org  

You can also call United Way's information line, 211, to get information on classes.