At one point or another, financial issues have kept most of us awake at night. In fact, a new Bankrate survey finds that only 52 percent of us have more emergency savings that credit card debt.
Delma, a grandmother from Miami, wasn’t prepared when she lost her job several years ago.
“I didn’t have the savings to fall back on,” Delma said. “I didn’t have the credit to lean on. I didn’t know how to budget effectively to survive while trying to get on my feet.”
A friend told Delma about United Way Center for Financial Stability, where financial coaches work one on one with people to help them meet their goals. Since opening its doors in 2009 with funding and support from Bank of America and other partners, the Center has provided free help to more than 16,000 people in Miami learn how to budget, manage and save money.
“They taught me about my credit score and I was able to raise it 100 points,” Delma said. The Center also helped her secure a loan, prepare her own taxes and create a plan to become financially stable. “Now, not only can I support myself with dignity, I can be a resource to other people as well. It’s an incredibly powerful feeling.”
Debra, a single mother of five children, also turned to the Center when her ex-husband walked out and left her facing mounting bills and possible eviction from her home. Her financial coach helped her set up a budget, pay down all her debts and register for classes at Miami Dade College.
The work Bank of America and United Way are doing in Miami is part of a larger effort across the U.S. to help people improve their overall financial stability. By bringing together resources, ideas and people to one place – like a “one stop shop” – United Way and its partners are making it easier for low-wage families to find out what they’re eligible for and to get the help they need.
Job training, food, affordable housing and child care are not easy to find or access. By bridging the gap, the partnership has helped more than 4,000 address their financial situation in the past year alone.
“A person’s financial life is so basic to his happiness,” said Debra. “Having that help is just tremendous.”