The Free, Easy-to-Use Toolkit for Financially Empowering Your Clients

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Tackling money and credit problems is as much an emotional and psychological journey as it is a practical one. But it’s life altering when you take control of what has been out of control for so long. Transformation is at the heart of the Your Money Your Goals Toolkit designed by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). The free Toolkit makes it easy and customizable to set client financial goals, choose financial products and build money management skills for social service providers who aren’t experienced with such things.

Neighborhood Partnerships’ IDA Program Coordinator Laina Green, our staff lead on YMYG, used to work directly with clients in financial dire straits when she was at the NAYA Family Center. She said people would be in tears at the prospect of pulling their credit reports or looking at their spending habits.

Her clients’ experiences aren’t unique. Millions of Americans are missing opportunities to save money, are buried in consumer or student debt, their credit history is poor and many feel helpless to change their situation.

People with low incomes often face financial barriers because of little resources and training. Your Money Your Goals aims to remove those barriers by tapping into trusted social services providers, volunteers and legal aid workers.

As CFPB Director Richard Cordray pointed out this week: “Benjamin Franklin once said, ‘An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.’ In the case of financial education, that can be true both literally and metaphorically.”

In 2014, Neighborhood Partnerships had the opportunity to contribute to an investment in Your Money Your Goals knowledge right here in Oregon. Jessica Junke and Laina Green on our staff as well as NP board member and United Way of Lane County Director, Income and Investments Elena Fracchia, Nancy Yuill Executive Director at Innovative Changes, and Yolanda Vanderpool Homeownership Coordinator NeighborImpact presented this test case at the Oregon ON Spring Industry Support Conference.

Oregon was selected as one of 21 states to be a part of the CFPB Your Money Your Goals field-test that reached 1,600 people nation-wide. The training was piloted in Bend, Eugene and Portland with great results. More than 200 partners attended trainings, loved the flexibility in how they could apply the Toolkit and were very energetic about expanding its uses.

Laina says that she wishes YMYG was around when she was doing casework because with it a case worker doesn’t have to be an expert. You can pick and choose different modules that fit the bill. I think any case worker who has been oriented/trained in the Toolkit could use it with ease.

Your Money Your Goals is broken up into three sections:

  • The Toolkit: Offered in English and now available in Spanish.
  • The training: Aids can help your staff or volunteers make more effective use of the toolkit.
  • Follow-up resources: As you train, learn what’s most useful by surveying the trainees both before and after

The core mission of the Toolkit is to build financial empowerment. Trusted advisors can:

  • Conduct needs assessments
  • Develop action plans with clients
  • Provide resources and referrals needed to implement action plans
  • Monitor progress and evaluate results

Oregon service providers are clamoring for Your Money Your Goals. Anyone can download the Toolkit and resources for free from the Your Money Your Goals website. The Bank of the West funding will allow us to facilitate a second rollout through the Oregon IDA Initiative’s statewide reach, training trainers in every corner of the state. Laina will be coordinating that rollout and more information will be coming soon.

The YMYG rollout also received Bank of the West funding which will allow us to facilitate a second rollout through the Oregon IDA Initiative’s statewide reach, training trainers in every corner of the state. Laina will be coordinating that rollout and more information will be coming soon.

Neighborhood Partnerships will continue to work with funders, nonprofits and public entities to deploy Your Money Your Goals across the state. Step-by-step partnerships between Oregonians working through Your Money Your Goals has the chance to subtly, yet seismically shift the foundation of financial choice and empowerment for people with low incomes and their communities.

As Laina told me, although conversation around money, debt and credit can start off emotional there’s great power in facing reality and having someone there saying: “we’re going to do this together.”