Did you know that over 50% of Hoosiers don’t have emergency savings to buffer against unexpected financial shocks? Only two of every five households report creating a budget and sticking to it. These alarming statistics led United Way and the Financial Stability Alliance, with support from German American, to launch an innovative, free financial coaching program in January 2018. Individuals were paired with professional Financial Coaches from Apprisen—a national nonprofit organization with 60 years’ experience supporting people in achieving financial stability. Participants received a year of free, personalized financial coaching as part of this pilot program. The program works in complement with existing financial services offered, including Bank On Bloomington, the Free Community Tax Service, FamilyWize Prescription Discounts, and Money Smart financial literacy resources available to the community through United Way.
The results of the pilot program are impressive—on average, participants saved $1,265 and paid-off $581 in debt over the course of the year. The group of 16 set and met more than 42 goals, cumulatively built their saving by $20,245, and paid off debt totaling $9,306. In addition, more than 91% of participants said they were more confident about their finances—and 82% said that the program was even better than expected.
Due to the success of the program and the overwhelming positive reviews, United Way will continue the program and is currently accepting applicants for the next financial coaching cohort until January 20, 2019. Interested applicants will complete an online application and pay a $20 enrollment fee, which will be refunded to participants at the successful completion of the 12-month program. Participants will go through an initial interview with a coach to determine detailed, individual financial goals to work toward, and a thorough review of their current financial situation. Following the initial meeting, participants will work with their coach monthly throughout the year to make progress on their stated goals, build savings and assets, and become more financially stable.
One coaching participant shared that through guidance and accountability, they were able to save enough money to pay delinquent rent and avoid eviction. Evictions can spiral a family from relative stability into turmoil. Eviction costs on the family, landlord, and society are expensive, including security deposits, intermediate housing or hotel costs, moving costs, storage fees, not being able to cook at home, using many safety net services, and potential job loss and homelessness.
Another participant runs a small business. She learned to track her monthly expenditures, was able to separate business expenses from personal expenses, and pay cash for significant home repairs. People with multiple jobs and self-employment benefit from thorough financial knowledge and organization. This program provides guidance and follow-through for working parents and people with multiple jobs.
Another participant set goals to pay off debt and build savings for Christmas purchases. During her journey she paid off two credit cards but encountered an unexpected $1,000 medical expense. She adjusted her budget, set up a payment arrangement, and reduced her medical debt by half, while still managing to save $612 in her Christmas account.
“People at all income levels struggle with financial decisions every day. Stress over finances can lead people to have poorer health outcomes, be distracted and less productive at work, and experience a lower quality of life overall. United Way wants our community to have access to the tools and information they need to make informed financial decisions that will improve their financial stability, and thereby improve their overall quality of life,” said Amy Leyenbeck, Community Initiatives Director.
Community members interested in Financial Coaching in 2019 can complete the online application, or contact amy (at) monroeunitedway.org.
Individual and corporate sponsors interested in sponsoring an additional cohort may also contact amy (at) monroeunitedway.org for more information.