Kathryn Beach (left), financial coach for OnTrack, with Self-Help member services representative Kenya Jackson.
Self-Help branches in the Asheville area have teamed up with OnTrack WNC Financial Education and Counseling to offer free financial wellness coaching to Self-Help members. These coaching services give members an opportunity to meet individually with a trained counselor to get a financial checkup and make an action plan to help reach specific financial goals. Sessions are available in two of our branch locations — one on Hendersonville Road and the other on South French Broad.
Bill Carrington, a Self-Help Regional Director, has been a champion of the program.
“One of our big takeaways so far is that counseling is helpful for a wide range of financial situations,” Carrington said. “It benefits families burdened by debt and also families who want to save for a college fund or work toward buying a home.”
The coaching covers a wide variety of situations. We are careful to protect our members’ privacy, but here are two actual examples:
Building credit: One member opened a secured credit card after her first coaching session. She has subsequently reported that her credit score has increased 50 points. She is also saving automatically each pay period. Both actions are steps toward her eventual goal of homeownership.
Qualifying for a mortgage: Another member is a single mother with two children who came in to discuss how to build her credit so that she could eventually buy a home. We were able to quickly determine that her scores were already high enough to qualify for a mortgage! In the session, she also discussed positive actions she had taken to reduce her debt and received guidance on how to continue increasing her credit score.
This pilot program builds on a strong existing partnership between Self-Help and OnTrack WNC. Over the years, Self-Help has become familiar with OnTrack’s top-notch financial education and counseling services. Likewise, OnTrack often refers their clients to Self-Help when they need checking, savings or a credit-building loan.
OnTrack certified financial counselors Anna Smith and Kathryn Beach now work one full day a week in the Asheville branches to help interested members review their financial situation and develop a customized action plan.
In this video, Anna and Kathryn share examples of how members have overcome financial obstacles and reached specific goals.
“At OnTrack WNC, we are committed to helping people change their financial behaviors so that they can make life-long shifts in their money story and realize their dreams," Sarah Brown, Associate Executive Director at OnTrack, said. "We’re excited to bring together financial coaching and easy access to quality financial products. It’s a great match of expertise and commitment.”
If you live in or near Asheville and are interested in this free member benefit, book an appointment here. Unfortunately, this service is only available in the Asheville area at this time, but we hope to expand it to more areas soon.
Sonia Garrison is a consultant working with Self-Help to expand financial wellness services to our members.