Savings & Credit Programs

 Are you ready to save for a first home, a business expense, higher education, or a car to help you get to work?  Would you like assistance with budgeting, debt reduction, credit building or saving? We can help.


Overview-Savings and Credit

What We Do

Our Savings and Credit Program works with Vermonters who want to improve their financial well-being and who are ready to take steps to achieve economic success. The Savings and Credit Program offers financial education workshops and confidential, personal financial coaching for individuals, families, as well as employees of local businesses. We can help you develop strong financial habits through budget and credit coaching, and provide you with the tools to help you navigate emergency savings, investing, retirement, tax planning, and insurance. We also offer Individual Development Accounts (IDAs): matched savings accounts for the purpose of starting a small business, buying a first home, or attending higher education or training. More information on IDAs can be found by clicking on the "Vermont Matched Savings" navigation bar.

Our personal Financial and Credit Services are FREE.

Contact Mary Johnson, "The Money Coach" in the Morrisville office at 802-760-8209 or

Mary works with both individuals and couples about their personal and family finanes as well as finances related to small buisness owners. Mary can guide you on the phone and online through a variety of strategies, including savings and budgeting tools, and pulling your credit report for both personal and business purposes.

Additonally, Mary can assist small business owners in accessing COVID-19-specific funding for businesses.

In the Barre area, contact Liz Scharf at

Capstone has two AFCPE Accredited Financial Counselors on staff in the Barre office: Margaret Ferguson and Liz Scharf.

Who is AFCPE? Formed in 1983, the Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education is the Nationally Recognized Leader in Financial Counseling and Education. Counselors are trained to work with clients through life-cycle financial education to create lasting behavior impact. AFC certification represents the highest standard in the field of financial counseling and education.

Margaret is the primary contact and can be reached at to set up an appointment. Please include a phone number where she can call you back. Or leave your name and number with our receptionist at 802-479-1053 for either Margaret or Liz.

We are not conducting in-person financial services at this time due to the COVID-19 pandemic.  We are available for online and phone consultations as noted above



Personalized Financial Coaching

If you are struggling financially and don’t know where to turn for assistance, or, you just want to learn how to better manage your finances, our Savings and Credit Program Coaches can direct you on a course for stability and help you understand your unique financial situation through:

  • Credit Coaching
  • Budgeting and Building a Savings Plan
  • Debt management including credit card, student loans, and more
  • Tailored-to-your-needs Financial Coaching
  •  Tax preparation through our Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program 

To schedule a free and confidential appointment to discuss your financial situation, please contact: 

In the Barre area, please contact Liz Scharf at and include a good phone number to call.  

In the Morrisville area, please contact, The Money Coach, Mary Johnson at 802-760-8209 or



Financial Education Workshops

Capstone offers FREE periodic fianancial education classes to anyone who is interested in learning more about personal finances. Topics include Budgeting, Debt Management, Credit Building, Saving and Planning for the future, and Smart Car Purchasing. 

Our customized financial workshops can help employees of your organization gain valuable knowledge about budgeting and finances, debt reduction, retirement, investment, and credit building.  As part of our series, we offer a credit clinic where we meet individually with your employees to review their credit reports and offer an action plan to improve or build their credit. 

For pricing and scheduling for businesses, please contact Liz Scharf at 802-477-5215 or

PLEASE NOTE: We are not currently offering any in-person workshops due to COVID-19 concerns. 

If you are interested in one-to-one personal financial coaching please see the our coaches' contact information on the "Overview-Savings and Credit" navigation bar.


Vermont Matched Savings (IDA Accounts)

We are currently accepting new enrollees in this program.  Have your savings matched with grant money! Please email to request an application. 

What is Vermont Matched Savings?

The Vermont Matched Savings (VMS) program, (also known as Individual Development Accounts or IDAs) is designed for qualifying individuals who are ready to start saving some of their earned income for an important asset. Successful participants receive Matched Funds on their deposits up to program maximums. Highlights of the program include:

  • Participants can use their savings and match for a home purchase, home repair, college or vocational education, job skills training or certification, to start or expand a business; some grants also allow tools required by your job, and the purchase or repair of a vehicle for employment purposes.
  • Participant savings are matched on a 1:1 basis. Participants are eligible to receive $1,000 in grant funds to match their savings of $1,000. You have two years to save the full amount, but must save $500 the first year (that's about $10 a week.)
  • While you save, you attend a series of financial education workshops to improve your personal money management skills and recieve additional training specific to the asset you choose. At this time (during Covid-19) we are providing this piece remotely to individuals by phone or video phone.  
  • Income and asset guidelines apply: These include being eligible for the Earned Income Tax Credit or household income up to 200% of the poverty level plus you may have up to $10,000 in net personal assets, not counting your home, vehicle, or job tools.
  • You or your spouse/partner must have current earned income through a job or self-employment at the time of application. 

Find out if a Vermont Matched Savings Account is right for you.  If you live in Washington, Lamoille, or Orange County, contact Maureen Dougherty at for an application or call the Capstone receptionist at 802-479-1053.  Give her your name, address and phone number and tell her you are interested in the VT Matched Savings. Please contact Maureen by email regarding your existing account.

If you reside in another area of Vermont, contact your local Community Action Council (















Make Your Own Budget

Here are a few budget templates to get you started on a path to financial stability


Mitten Matched Savings for Head Start Families

Are you currently enrolled in Capstone's Head Start Program?  Do you want to learn to manage your money, budget, build credit and save money?  Do you want to see your $500 saved become $1500?

If you answered Yes to those questions, then the Mitten Matched Savings Program is right for You!

Here's How it works:

Contact your Head Start Home Visitor or Family Advocate to sign up for the program

Make a Savings Goal and set up auto save to make it easy for you to save!

Work with a Capstone Money coach: 

----Take 2 or more financial education classes

----Attend 2 or more money coaching sessions

Save up to $500 over 6-12 months in a new savings account 

Continue Saving:  For every $1 that you save, we will match you with $2  

Spend your money on your goal (or continue to save!)

In Lamoille County, contact Money Coach:  Mary Johnson at or 802-760-8209

In Washington and Orange Counties contact Money Coach:  Elaine Toohey at or 802-279-7636  


Vermont Saves

Vermont Saves is a state-wide savings initiative designed to promote healthy savings habits in Vermont households. In affiliation with the national campaign  America Saves, the initiative is based on principles of social marketing techniques and behavioral economics. Savers "pledge" on the Vermont Saves website to save for a specific savings goal such as, retirement, college, paying down debt or emergencies. Once the saver has pledged they will recevie an intereactive text or email advice specially geared towards their personal savings goal. Online tools such as budget calculators, saver check list, blogs, and resoucres are available through the America Saves website for those who pledge. 

Vermont Saves is reaching out to parnters across the state who are interested in promoting savings habits. If you are interested in pledging for your savings goal or for information click here. If your business, nonprofit, financial instituion, educational institution or community group is interested in partnering please contact Margaret Ferguson at 802-479-1053 or


Recent Blog Post

The holiday season is so exceptionally stressful that The American Psychological Association opened a hotline to help people cope with unmanageable stress centered on major stress inducers: family, shopping, over eating and spending.

As a financial coach, I often get the question, “should I put my extra money into savings or pay down my debt quicker?” 

Financial Coaching At Capstone Community Action: in Barre, Morrisville and Randolph

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