Talking about finances can involve hard painful moments. But there we were, on a Tuesday afternoon at a Sound Outreach financial coaching session with our client Justine Gordon – and we were laughing. Just a few months ago, that wouldn’t have happened, but along with new financial management skills, Justine was feeling something she hadn’t had in a while: trust.
Even though we were enjoying this particular session, Justine tells us it’s never easy to talk about money. “It’s a huge source of frustrations,” she says. “I’m 51, I’m poor – and I have a Master’s degree. I feel like I should have money.”
Justine came to Sound Outreach via our Center for Strong Families, where she received employment assistance. Our employment coach noticed her financial situation and connected Justine to Silke Bone, one of six accredited Financial Counselors on our financial empowerment team. Justine has been meeting regularly with Silke for over a year. Their relationship has taken time to grow, but now it is strong and based on trust, now they can laugh together. Even after Silke changed locations to meet with clients in Spanaway, Justine did not change counselors. She preferred to travel so she could continue her financial counseling with Silke.
Justine had been working hard at reducing her debt, but without the right information, her efforts did not lead to positive outcomes. This is where Silke’s financial coaching has been most valuable. “Having somebody as an advocate who is available and accessible is extremely helpful because you don’t get that anywhere else,” Justine said. When she signed on with a debt consolidation company that caused more harm than good, Justine says Silke stepped in with precisely the advice she needed: it was not her fault, but she would have to take control of the process.
Silke encouraged Justine to be active in speaking to her lenders and banks so they can see her as an equal partner in resolving her accounts. Using that advice, Justine paid off thousands in debt by being in control of the debt consolidation process. Silke views her role as mainly keeping Justine on track and focused on concrete actions, but Justine thinks the counseling helped her in a way that went beyond finances: “I took the power back,” said Justine. “Silke made me feel no shame.”
Justine has made so much progress in a relatively short period of time. “I had no idea what credit is,” she said about her first attempts to tackle her finances. When she attended one of Silke’s free workshops on building credit, a switch flipped and she thought, “In our society, nobody offers that information. That is something everyone who has a credit card should go to.”
Justine truly inspires us with her persistence. We are proud to work with her on her journey toward financial stability. If you feel similarly inspired, please consider making a donation that will help Sound Outreach continue supporting our clients to help themselves. In addition to financial empowerment services like the ones Justine described, our entire Sound Outreach team is connected to a continuum of integrated services that help clients advance from insecurity to stability to prosperity.
For more information about our services and ways you can get involved, please visit www.soundoutreach.org/services/