For years Kevin wasn’t able to get his spending and debt under control, but he knew he needed to do a better job of managing his money. In 2007, he enrolled in a debt management program with Guidewell Financial and stayed about a year. He says, “It really did help, but after I left, I still had problems paying bills on time and spent a lot on impulse. After attending personal finance seminars at my church and researching and reading, I decided to take the bull by the horns. When I called Guidewell Financial this time, they told me about their new financial coaching program and suggested it might give me the support and resources I needed to succeed.”
How Guidewell Financial Helped
During Kevin’s one-year program, he accomplished three major goals. One of the first things he did was develop an emergency savings plan. He says, “I was always good at saving change, but when I tried saving dollars, I always ended up spending them before very long. During coaching, we talked about what I could do to change this outcome. My solution was to open a savings account at a bank branch a distance from my home.” This approach helped him avoid dipping into his savings as it accumulated.
The second goal Kevin had was to regularly pay his bills on time. “For many years, I paid them when I thought of them, but it was hit and miss. Financial coaching helped me reverse this trend.” After strategizing with his coach, he went home and organized his finances. Then he looked for a way to make on-time bill paying a habit. Now he sits down and checks what’s due every Monday. “Having the same review day each week helps me make sure nothing slips through the cracks.”
Kevin’s final goal was to get his credit card debt under control. When his coach asked how much he felt he could pay off, he decided it was possible to reduce his credit card balance by $1,700 in the time left. To attain this goal, he made payments to his creditors each time he received a paycheck and limited further unnecessary charges. “That’s probably one of the most important skills I have gained. I learned how to say, ‘NO.’”
While in financial coaching, Kevin developed better financial habits, but this wasn’t his only reward: Five years ago, his credit score hovered around 460; his score today is 710. “Knowing that, I feel freedom and relief. It feels good to be on track.”
“I used to worry where I was going to get enough money to repay my debts. Now I know from day-to-day where I stand. It’s still a work in progress—I’m sometimes tempted to overspend—but when that happens I remind myself how far I’ve come. I feel good about the financial skills I’ve learned and the impact they’ve had on the rest of my life.”