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(Omaha) -- Shedding financial debt may be an alternative to trying to shed weight, according to a Creighton University study.

Julie Kalkowski, executive director of the Financial Hope Collaborative in Creighton’s Heider College of Business, says they found taking control of your finances could result in several health benefits, including weight loss and a decreased risk for developing chronic diseases.

“The women in the program said their demand for other social services, outside help, was reduced by 23-percent,” Kalkowski says. “That’s also a big deal because social services are slammed right now because so many people are in trouble.”

Stress is the number-one cause of health problems in America, and money is the number-one cause of stress, so Kalkowski says it’s a win-win to get more fit while gaining more monetary savvy.

Kalkowski says, “We would be the first people in the country to make that correlation between improved health outcomes and a financial education, financial coaching intervention.”

For nearly a decade, the Financial Hope Collaborative has offered its year-long Financial Success program which helps low-income single mothers manage their monthly cash. They significantly reduce shut-off notices, evictions, overdrafts and payday loans. Kalkowski says a focused approach to monthly bills can reduce the stress that can be brought on by lifestyle and finances.

Gina Colpitts enrolled in the program in 2011, when she was living paycheck to paycheck and worried about her utilities being disconnected. Colpitts says the program helped her become healthier and more independent.

“By taking the class, that’s when I learned they did my credit score and they said, ‘You shouldn’t be putting money into rent, you can actually afford a house,’ and I was like, ‘What?'” Colpitts says. “I didn’t think it was even a possiblity for me.”

Colpitts says she was “nearing depression” before enrolling in the program, but now she has no health concerns, went back to school, bought a house and got a huge promotion at work. She attributes it all to the program.

For information on enrolling, contact Tamicka at (402) 280-3736 or email financialConfidence@creighton.edu.

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