The Financial Journey is a unique series focused on financial education and opportunities. These stories have been created through a strategic partnership between Wells Fargo and Word In Black.
By Aaron Allen
If you’ve ever had a goal and had trouble sticking to it, you’ve probably gotten advice like this: Find someone to hold you accountable. Trying to exercise more? Get a workout buddy. Want to eat better? Involve your family in planning healthy meals.
The same advice works for another common goal: Managing money better. Whether you want to save more, stick to a budget, pay off debt, or work toward a big purchase, you may benefit from an accountability partner. That’s where financial coaching and counseling come in.
Financial coaches work with clients to transform their financial outlook by helping them build skills in areas like budgeting or building credit, and by holding clients accountable on their journey to achieve their financial goals. That description is from the Local Initiatives Support Corporation, or LISC, a community development organization with a network of Financial Opportunity Center® partners where clients receive financial coaching at no cost.
Laura D’Alessandro, LISC’s financial health director, says effective financial coaching is tailored to each individual client.
“Everybody’s financial picture looks different and what we are trying to do is help people achieve financial goals,” D’Alessandro says. “Each coach assumes that people are the experts in their own lives and the coach’s job is to discuss, create, and uphold positive financial routines and behaviors — and coaching gets to behavior change over the long term.”
A financial coach can also help connect you with other programs and public benefits you may qualify for.
Keyonna Wright worked with a financial coach at HumanKind, a local LISC partner organization in Virginia. With her coach’s guidance, Wright created a savings plan and stuck to it, built her credit history, and met a major financial goal: paying off her car.
“I don’t feel accomplished every day, but when I have things that I paid off, that’s when I’m like, ‘I was putting in that work,’” Wright says. “These programs really cater to my needs. And it’s not just me, it’s three lives – me and my two kids. It really sets the foundation of ‘We’re going to be OK.’”
LISC is just one of many organizations providing financial coaching at no cost to clients. Seeing the need to help people bolster their financial stability, the Wells Fargo Foundation has provided millions of dollars for financial coaching and counseling programs, like LISC’s.
Lisa Price manages financial access and asset-building grant programs for the Wells Fargo Foundation. She says rather than focus on financial education alone, they want to support long-term, transformative solutions like coaching and counseling.
“When an individual engages with a financial coach or counselor, they get to identify what their own unique goals are and what they want to achieve for themselves — whether it’s to save money, decrease their debt, get a better credit score, or even establish a credit score,” Price says. “Instead of that one-time class or webinar, if you meet with a coach many times over a period of time, you are meeting with somebody to hold you accountable toward doing the things you said you wanted to do.”
Like exercise and a balanced diet, financial health is also key to overall wellbeing. Research has shown that financial stress can affect physical health. Finding an accountability partner for your financial journey, like a financial coach, could make a positive difference in your wellbeing.
“Having the bedrock tools to be financially healthy impacts the whole person and every aspect of their life,” Price says. To find no-cost financial coaching in your area, start by checking with local human services agencies, which may be independent nonprofits or part of city or county government. Some even offer virtual coaching.
- LISC has a network of more than 100 Financial Opportunity Centers across the country. Contact a local office near you: lisc.org/about-us/local-offices (no cost)
- CFE Fund Financial Empowerment Centers: fecpublic.org/about (no cost)
- Operation HOPE: operationhope.org (no cost). Select Wells Fargo bank branches have integrated HOPE Inside centers where financial coaches offer no-cost, one-on-one financial coaching and educational workshops. See a list of all HOPE Inside locations at https://operationhope.org/impact/our-locations/.
- Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education: findanafc.org (may be no-cost or for a fee)
- National Foundation for Credit Counseling: nfcc.org/agency-finder (may be no-cost or for a fee)
Wells Fargo Bank, N.A. is a member of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation.