Innovative nonprofit expands to help Vermonters qualify for reliable cars

NEWFANE — More Than Wheels (MTW) has been helping northern New Englanders qualify for and buy new or gently used vehicles for 13 years. More than 2,000 individuals and families have saved thousands of dollars and transformed their financial lives in the process.

That's according to a press release that explains that, thanks to a generous grant from the Canaday Family Charitable Trust, more Vermonters can learn about the non-profit agency's unique combination of online financial education, one-on-one coaching, and car-buying services.

“Many low-income Vermonters have been served through the partnership of Good News Garage and the Vermont Agency of Human Services, and community action agencies offering financial education workshops,” noted MTW CEO Terri Steingrabe.

“Meanwhile, there is another tier of working Vermonters who haven't been able to stay on top of their finances through the economic downturn. More Than Wheels can help them save as much as $15,000 on the purchase of a new or gently used car,” Steingrabe added.

MTW's outreach priorities for 2014 are Vermont's veterans and military families and those who work in the healthcare, homecare, and social-services sectors, especially those whose daily responsibilities depend on their having reliable transportation.

MTW says that 76 percent of its clients are women, “many of whom are raising children.”

“We have been working with More Than Wheels for several years,” said Jason Posternak of Brattleboro Subaru. “Their financial coaches are terrific at empowering car buyers to deal with past credit issues and get themselves qualified to buy cars from us at great terms. This genuinely is a win-win-win situation.”

To qualify for the program, one has to live in Vermont, New Hampshire, or Massachusetts; take home least $1,000 per month; be able to afford a monthly car payment along with the costs of insurance, fuel, and maintenance; be 18 or older; have a valid driver's license or be in the process of getting one; have a debt-to-income ratio of less than 50 percent; and be willing to attend a financial fitness class and work with a budget coach.

MTW said most of its clients participating in the program can get a car within three to six months if they face only minor credit issues, and within six to 12 months if they face greater credit problems.

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