Financial coach offers support + accountability for mom of three

January 4, 2022

Susan – not her real name – is unhoused with three children, and working toward a secure life for herself and her three children.  She focuses on overcoming the challenges standing between her current situation and stability. Now she is living in Philadelphia, but she wants to move to Delaware where she believes things will be better for her family. “Honestly, because of my situation, I’m just trying to survive. I’m kind of homeless. I’m back with my mom in Philly, sleeping on her couch,” she said.

In order to become independent Susan thought she could find temporary housing in a hotel for a couple of weeks before moving into permanent housing, but she’s been met with obstacles and setbacks along the way.

About a month ago, she was in Delaware to meet a real estate agent at the Milford Library, and that’s where she noticed a Stand By Me flyer.  Stand By Me offers personal, private, one-on-one financial coaching through a partnership between the Food Bank of Delaware, the State of Delaware and United Way of Delaware.

”I was looking for homeownership so I thought having a financial counselor would help me keep on track with my spending, especially because I spent most of my money on hotels,” she said.

So, Susan made a phone call, and received a call back from Melissa, one of the Food Bank’s Stand By Me coaches. “Melissa was available and scheduled an appointment with me the moment I called her. She was attentive to my needs and my concerns. In less than a month, she has helped me to see my credit score, develop a budget, and look into some saving options for my future. I have felt so inspired by our conversations. I understand finances, credit scores and etc. so she may not find herself explaining in detail certain things to me. However, the encouragement I receive from her is worth even more. I don’t have many people in my corner, so I feel very much alone. I begin to self-sabotage, self-hate, self-doubt that I am even able to meet my goals. I think Melissa believes in me and holds me accountable,” said Susan.

Melissa explains her goal in coaching is not only to provide financial knowledge, but also to “empower people to make the best decisions for themselves. It’s listening and asking them what they are going to do to get out of their situation.” That’s what connected with Susan.

“I have some income,” Susan notes, and has some awareness of financial literacy, but when she reached out to Melissa,  she found something else. “It’s about support. She’s a positive voice in my ear. Sometimes, I might doubt myself. I have a goal of $10,000 a month. What stops me is my insecurity,” Susan said.

Susan didn’t want to disclose her occupation, but said she’s self-employed and hopes to grow her business.  “She [Melissa] started by identifying needs – which way to go. She developed a budget to work on my credit score, started a savings plan. She holds me accountable. I don’t have friends to help me move in the right direction. She says, ‘Yeah, let’s do this.’ It helps to have somebody there,” Susan explained.

“It’s only been a month, and she’s made a significant impact, a huge impact supporting me,” she said, noting that she hasn’t found that sense of support from social services agencies.  “I don’t take things personal, but the moment I say I’m in a hotel, I’m lumped into a group where I don’t belong. I don’t think it’s just me.”

Meanwhile, Susan is more optimistic that her situation will improve and agreed to another interview in about six months.

“I appreciate the work you do,” she said.

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