People of Earnin: Alison Slater
Alison Slater is a New York native. Throughout her life, she’s lived in every borough of New York besides Staten Island. Currently in grad school for social work at Columbia University, her heart for helping people is infectious. Here’s her story:
“After 9/11, I lost my first job out of college. I ended up starting my own home business as an art consultant selling artwork. I would travel up and down the East Coast with my friends and we would do art shows. Even though I wasn’t making that much money, I thought it was the best thing ever because I felt like I could make my own money when I wanted to. I felt independent.
Fast-forward to 2020, I was working as a crisis counselor for a national crisis hotline. Being a crisis counselor was stressful because you're talking to people that can be suicidal and there are times when you're on the phone with someone for hours, trying to talk them out of not taking their own life. You have to have a certain type of heart to do that kind of work, but I still very much loved what I was doing. I worked the overnight shift so when people couldn't sleep or were depressed, they would call me.
Unfortunately, I ended up in the hospital and lost my job. So then I was unemployed and lived in a shelter for three months. The thing that saved me was the fact that I was on medical leave from my university. As a former corrections officer who worked on Rikers Island, I was concerned about the conditions that the inmates were forced to live in. I ended up resigning and decided to become a Peer Advocate with the Legal Aid Society working to prevent incarceration. My supervisor suggested the Social Work program at Columbia University to further my career, which is what I’m doing now.
Being a grad student at Columbia, I was able to get housing. But during that time, there were periods when I didn't have money for food. The great thing about Earnin was that, even though I’m unemployed, I still get to use it while I'm looking for work. It's such a convenience because it's so hard to find work right now. I have a lot of experience, a lot of certifications, education, and I’ve had so many interviews, yet I still can't find work. Earnin’s helped me between checks for food and groceries.
Then, when the government cut the extra $600 out of our unemployment checks, and it really hurt a lot of us. It hurt because people don't think $600 is a lot of money, but when you have rent and a small child, it really makes a difference. I had to get really crafty with how I managed my bills. I changed cell phone companies, so my phone bill went from $200 to $40. I cut out a lot of subscriptions that I had like Netflix and Hulu. I just had to consolidate.
My next goal is to pay off my credit cards to rebuild my credit. I’ve been trying to save with each check that I get because my ultimate goal is to buy a condo and to buy a condo, you need good credit. I'm also going through a separation with my husband so that has impacted my income since he’s not there to help provide for the household. There’s a lot of moving parts but the $100 that the Earnin app provides, it does so much.
After graduate school, I really want to work with families, specifically, helping families make wiser economic decisions. I think families are the foundation of communities. I would like to help educate people on financial literacy and how important credit is. For instance, if they want to buy a house or a condo, teaching them how to do that. Because upward mobility is being able to move up, and that's what helps create good neighborhoods.”
Tell us your story and inspire other members of the Earnin community! If you’re interested in being featured on our social media and blog, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org.