Stand By Me: “I wish I had known about it sooner,” client states

January 28, 2022

Audrey and her husband, active retirees from New Jersey, enjoy their life in Middletown, but she said she’s struggled to connect to resources. “At first, I didn’t know how to get food,” she said, but she found help at the Neighborhood House. Then she learned about the Food Bank of Delaware’s Healthy Pantry Center, and that’s where she met Marilyn, one of the Food Bank of Delaware’s Stand By Me financial coaches. Marilyn handed her a card.

Audrey accepted the card, but took some time to reevaluate her needs before she reached out. About a year ago, she decided to approach Stand By Me, bringing with her a relatively firm foundation. “The bills were paid, and my credit score was good,” she said.  “I just thought I could be doing some things better. I knew how to budget, but this seemed like an opportunity.”

She and her husband retired to a two-story townhome, but Audrey’s concerned about safety on the stairs. Her husband’s vision is failing. “I’d like a smaller, one-story house. I wanted to increase my savings, and I always wanted to get my credit score to 850.”

So, Audrey – who pays the bills in her household – began Zoom meetings with Marilyn. “I learned I wasn’t saving as much as I could, and my debt-to-income ratio wasn’t good,” Audrey said.

What a difference a year makes! Marilyn is pleased with this client’s progress. “She came in with a deficit, and now she has over $1,000 surplus in her checking account. She refinanced her home for a lower interest rate. She works part-time, and she has a pension, so her surplus keeps going up, up, up.”

Audrey says she now has two savings accounts plus a surplus in her checking account. “I’m not spending all my disposable income on credit cards,” she said. “I keep better track of all of our expenses. My credit score was 850 for three months. You can have money in the bank, but you still have to have good credit.”

Meanwhile, Audrey says she will continue to meet with Marilyn each month and plans to find a smaller, affordable one-story home.  Marilyn notes the monthly appointments benefit her client. “She wants to stay on track, and she feels like the little push means a lot.”

For Audrey, Stand By Me offers security and peace of mind. “It’s been a saving grace. It’s a great program; the information is really good, and it’s free. I tell my friends to look into it. I enjoy speaking with her. I like this program; I only wish I had known about it sooner,” she said.

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