Did you know that over 60% of Americans do not have enough savings on hand to cover a $500 emergency? Only two of every five of us report creating a budget and sticking to it. These alarming statistics from recent years led United Way of Monroe County and its Financial Stability Alliance to explore with greater urgency the most effective strategies for creating long-lasting change among hardworking individuals and families.
One strategy United Way rolled out on a pilot basis this year was a financial coaching program, which paired individuals with a year of free professional services personalized around their starting point and their identified goals. Six months into the program, the eighteen participants have already increased their savings by an average of $333 and paid off an average of $946 in debt.
The coaching program, in partnership with Apprisen, a national nonprofit organization with 60 years’ experience supporting people in achieving financial stability, pairs up each participant with a professional coach. Together the participant and coach work to accomplish individually determined goals like establishing a budget, building savings, and keeping track of credit scores. One participant said, “I’m really excited because my coach has shown me where I can be if I stay on track.”
Though United Way planned to determine at the end of its first year if the program would continue, the outstanding success and positive feedback from participants at the halfway point have encouraged Community Initiatives Director, Amy Leyenbeck, to move ahead with a second year of financial coaching.
“We are truly impressed with the dedication this group has shown toward meeting their financial goals. Saving money and getting out of debt are two key components of financial stability and both are difficult without the right tools. It is incredible what people are capable of with adequate support, accurate information, and help with accountability. We can’t wait to see what the participants have accomplished by the end of year,” says Leyenbeck.
The program will continue to be offered for Monroe, Owen, and Greene county residents in 2019, integrated into United Way and the Financial Stability Alliance’s broader strategies to increase area residents’ financial health and wellness. The 2018 pilot program is made possible by a generous donation from German American Bank.
Community members interested in Financial Coaching in 2019 should contact Amy Leyenbeck, Community Initiatives Director at firstname.lastname@example.org. When local families save hundreds of dollars and get out of debt, more money stays in the community and the overall economy benefits.