By Sol Vilera-Ramos
As a financial coach at Neighborhood Trust, I find that there’s a lot of confusion about exactly what I do every day. When people hear “coaching,” they may think, “Oh, that’s only for people who are in crisis mode.” Or they may feel shame about having to seek help with their money.
But the way I see it, people go to their doctor for an annual check-up every year, and if you have a car, you’re supposed to send it to the auto shop for occasional check-ups. So why not do a check-up for your finances? I’ve been helping people do these “check-ups” for themselves nearly every day since joining Neighborhood Trust over two years ago.
As a financial coach for TrustPlus, our employer benefit service, I’ve had the opportunity to work with low and middle-income people across the country via phone or Skype. I advise everyday people on any financial issues they have, such as credit problems, student loans, or bills in collections.
The best part about being a financial coach is breaking down overwhelming tasks in our client’s lives, making them feel manageable, and taking the first step towards their financial goals together. From there, clients can really start making progress on their financial goals and dreams. With my guidance, clients have been able to take the steps needed to overcome obstacles that can feel insurmountable if you’re dealing with them all alone. It’s a wonderful feeling to see their progress with each session.
I’ve had a lot of memorable moments on this job, but one client stands out as being particularly special. When I first met her six months ago, she was 45 years old and never had a bank account. Working together on getting a bank account, establishing direct deposit, building an emergency savings fund, and more recently, acquiring her first credit card, I have seen a change in her. She has gained confidence every time we talk about her life, her goals, and her challenges. What is even more rewarding is that she is sharing the lessons she has learned with her family and friends. She is now using her new-found empowerment to empower others–exactly what progress looks like.