Financial coaching helps woman dig out of debt

March 10, 2022

Monique’s voice quivers and her emotional response is obvious – even during a phone conversation – as she expresses gratitude to the guidance and support she received through the Stand By Me program at the Food Bank of Delaware, and in particular from Marilyn, her counselor.

When the Newark resident initially met Marilyn at a Women’s Center, she was drowning in debt, feeling so frustrated and helpless that she wanted to avoid the issue and the creditors hounding her. “I was divorced, and the divorce damaged my credit,” she said.

Stand By Me, a partnership with the State of Delaware and United Way, is a financial literacy program that offers free one-on-one support for state residents who want to learn more about how to manage their money and make sound decisions about spending and saving.

Monique met with her counselor through web-based meetings and regular phone calls. “Marilyn gave me the tools I needed to clear $50,000 in debt…,” said Monique. Rather than dodge the bills she couldn’t afford to pay, Monique learned to confront the problem. “Marilyn taught me how to contact my debtors and tell them what I could afford to pay. She gave me the confidence to have the initial conversation, and I really appreciate that.”

Marilyn said when she first met this client, Monique was out of work, but Marilyn helped her find a job that matched her client’s skills and needs: she was able to work remotely, and as a bonus, the job offered good wages.

“It is a good job, and I told her to contact the debtors and offer settlements. I told her to say what she could pay and stand her ground,” said Marilyn. “When she called me and said ‘I’m completely out of debt.”, I was so happy. Now she has good savings too. “While Monique was paying down that debt, she started her own business. “I had to support myself and my children,” she said.

Monique praised Marilyn’s ability to make a personal, yet professional, connection. “She’s non-judgmental. She really helped me because she makes things easy to understand.”

Even though Monique is out of debt, she told Marilyn that she wants to maintain the connection to her financial counselor; the two will continue to have a monthly phone call to check in – to stay on track.

Visit to learn more about Stand By Me – available in English and Spanish – and other programs offered by the Food Bank of Delaware.

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