In May 2015, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) launched its Financial Coaching Initiative, targeting recently-transitioned veterans and economically vulnerable consumers to help them with their financial goals. The program places 60 certified financial coaches at organizations around the country to provide individualized educational services.
A client shares her story about working with CFPB financial coach, Donna O’Connor, AFC® candidate.
I began working with a financial coach in the summer of 2015. As a 26-year-old working professional I had very little understanding of the options available to me financially. I had been paying my bills and living month to month since graduating University with my Bachelors. In 2014 I took a new job and moved to Seattle, but in order to do this I maxed out my highest limit credit card to pay for moving expenses. I had tried to save for the move during the previous year but was unable to as I was making a low wage and my income went almost exclusively to bills. By the summer of 2015, when I started working with a financial coach, I was at the point where I felt that I was falling apart financially. I had more credit card debt than I could handle. I had missed payments that year due to not having the money to pay them, causing the minimum payments to increase to over $300. I had hit the point where I was panicking and had no idea what to do about it.
I was surprised to find how much easier it was to accomplish my goals when they were based on my personal wants and needs.
I was terrified for my first meeting with a financial coach as I felt embarrassed and vulnerable. Within the first 5 minutes of the meeting the fear was gone and I felt confident that I had made the right choice asking for help. I expected to be told what I should do to fix my financial problems but this was not the approach of the financial coaching program. Instead my coach asked questions that enabled me to come up with a financial plan on my own that fit my wants and needs. I was unsure if I’d be able to implement my financial plan in real life. I was surprised to find how much easier it was to accomplish my goals when they were based on my personal wants and needs. It has now been 8 months since I started working with my financial coach and I am impressed with myself at how much I have been able to accomplish. I have paid off all my collection debt and have been able to get all my credit cards back into good standing. My credit score has improved immensely and I feel confident that I have the skills to keep my finances stable. I have started a 401k and am excited to continue growing in my knowledge and financial abilities.