Get in better financial shape – 10 tips from the Financial Empowerment Boot Camp

In Texas, working families are often unable to access traditional financial services that can help them repair or build financial stability but across the country, social service providers are working to educate client. That’s why our Financial Opportunity program brought in staff from the Baltimore and Maryland CASH Campaigns to provide training for more than 40 nonprofit providers about how to talk to their clients about money.

The Financial Empowerment Boot Camp covered the role of a practitioner, exploring their own financial values, exploring their clients’ financial lives, and financial content and resources.

Below are a few tips from the Boot Camp that can not only help clients you may work with but also help you with your own personal finances:

  1. Giving people the confidence to make better financial decisions and to access existing resources can change their financial reality. Most people don’t have someone to talk to specifically about their finances besides a bankruptcy attorney or credit counselor.
  2. You CAN talk to people about money. It may sound too personal, but you can do it even if you aren’t an expert on financial issues.
  3. Your finances don’t have to be perfect to talk to anyone about money. We are often ashamed of our own financial mistakes. Use these as a teaching tool and way to build rapport. No one is perfect.
  4. You already have many of the skills that you need to talk to people about money. Likely you have great skills around listening, asking powerful questions, problem solving, and making referrals.
  5. Getting to the root of someone’s values and beliefs about money can help to bring about true behavioral change. Understanding why people hold specific values and beliefs may help you to unlock what is getting in the way of their ability to move forward.
  6. Understand your own baggage and be careful not to judge. We all have thoughts and opinions about money. Know what your sensitive topics are and how to separate them from your conversations with clients.
  7. SMART Goals are more likely to be achieved. Help your clients to set goals that are Specific, Measureable, Actionable, Realistic and Timely.
  8. There are a lot of free resources to help you to build your content knowledge around savings, credit and banking. Check out the Financial Toolkit to learn about how to avoid predatory lending and credit scams. Bank On Central Texas offers a great locator to find appropriate checking and second-chance accounts or secured credit cards.
  9. Pull your own credit report annually and encourage your clients to do the same. This will not impact your credit score. There are websites where you can pull your own credit score, but be careful that they do not require a monthly fee for credit monitoring services or other services. Dispute any incorrect items to each of the three credit bureaus – Experian, Equifax and Trans Union.
  10. On time bill payment and your level of debt are the two most important items considered in your credit score. There is not a perfect amount of debt (besides zero), but your credit score is impacted by the ratio of the amount of debt compared to the total credit limit.

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