James Dunning, Transformance
Time and again we hear a familiar story: Tales of hard-working Americans who are overwhelmed by debt, have little or nothing in savings, and are on the verge of disaster when the next emergency strikes. The individuals and families are often stuck in a downward economic spiral due to poor decisions and unforeseen circumstances.
Recent studies support what we hear: More than 40 percent of the U.S. population lives in “liquid asset poverty” and 30 percent routinely use non-bank borrowing. That’s 140 million people who are struggling to keep up with rising costs and often borrowing against future income to make ends meet. Another frightening fact is that more than half of the U.S. population has sub-prime credit – which means they’re paying even more than they should in high interest rates.
Making more money isn’t necessarily the answer. A recent survey from GoBankingRates.com revealed that even individuals making six figures don’t have as much saved up as they should. Too many of us are spending more than we should or over-using our credit cards – regardless of how much we make.
At Transformance, we stress the need for consumers to better understand their credit scores, to gain knowledge in how credit and budgeting works, and learn basic steps to increasing their financial stability. We do this through one-on-one coaching sessions, workplace seminars, and tailored webinars. We also disseminate a lot of material – both online and in print – for free, so we can empower those in our community to make more informed decisions for themselves and their families. Transformance Navigators can also steer clients to local services we access through SpringFour.
But setting things right financially isn’t simply about finding the money you need to pay down mounting credit card debt or tucking a few extra dollars away for that inevitable “rainy day.” One of the things we’ve learned from the stories we’ve heard is that many situations are a result of poor financial behavior – behavioral habits that have been passed from previous generations, often creating a legacy of poverty or crises.
When individuals connect with our non-profit organization, we immediately schedule a coaching session and begin to look beyond just the immediate issues. Transformance clients and our certified coaches will:
· Discuss life-changing events or triggers
· Complete a detailed review of the client’s income, expenses, and bills
· Review existing credit report and score, comparing past behavior and discussing tips for improvement
· Discuss savings goals
· Discuss debt reduction
· Create a spending plan, reviewing options based on the client’s financial situation
· Prioritize goals and finished with a Client Action Plan, detailing the next steps needed to make those goals a reality
Walking hand-in-hand with those who need help, our agency has seen a positive change in the lives of many. On average, Transformance raises credit scores by 61 points and lowers debt by $580 per month. We’ve helped our clients achieve this by creating relationships, meeting with them one on one (or online, if they prefer), and encouraging them to make lasting behavioral changes.
SOURCES: Assets and Opportunity Scorecard 2015; FINRA Investor Education Foundation National; Bloomberg.com
JAMES DUNNING is the digital marketing manager, creative director, and storyteller at Transformance. A former newspaper journalist, James has worked in communication roles with non-profit and education organizations for the past 15 years.
Transformance Inc., is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit founded in 1974, and is a United Way Service Provider as well as a HUD-approved multistate housing counseling and education organization. The agency is formally accredited every four years by the Council on Accreditation for Children and Families (COA) to ensure compliance with top industry standards and best practices. The agency has its headquarters in Dallas, Texas, with satellite offices in Arlington; Austin; Amarillo and Ardmore, Oklahoma.