Have Better Conversations About Money With Clients So They Can Succeed

By Laina Green, Financial Capability Manager

8085692095_171e78c3bf_bI was at a recent training in Medford. Facilitator Elena Fracchia of United Way Lane County led the group in an activity called “good debt, bad debt.” The group did a sit down stand up exercise choosing whether certain types of debt were deemed to be “good” or “bad.” When the topic of “payday” loans came up, most of us quickly and confidently were ready to affix the “bad” label. Then someone asked us to hold on a moment.

The participant said that recently one of her clients had to get her family through a few months of expenses until other resources could be secured. Without the payday loans there would have been no other way for her client and her family to pay rent and other expenses, the participant said: “I can see now that however we feel about payday loans, they are a resource.”

We began a rich conversation about how easy it is for us to bring our own values and judgments into our work with our clients. Many participants in the training expressed how important it is to learn to leave our personal financial values aside and meet clients where they are. This allows us the ability to learn about their circumstances and serve them better.

This type of conversation and flexibility is a key feature of the Your Money Your Goals Toolkit (YMYG) “Train the Trainer” events that have been rolling out across the state in Salem, Medford, and coming soon in La Grande thanks to a Bank of the West grant.

The YMYG toolkit contains 14 modules. Modules 1 thru 5 provide an introduction to the toolkit and information about assessing your client’s situation, how to start financial conversation with your clients, considering emotional and cultural influences that might come into play for clients’ financial decisions, and how to actually use the toolkit. The remaining models are full of actual activities, worksheets, and resources to use with clients.

Along with talking about what debt actually is and the discussion about good debt, bad debt Module 11 contains many tools clients can use to understand and effectively deal with their debt. Some of these tools include worksheets for debt management, debt to income ratio, and debt reduction. The module also has information and resources about student loan debt and a section about consumer rights in regards to debt collection and what to do when debt collectors call. The entire module is an excellent resource for case managers to help clients feel empowered when it comes to debt. And since the tools are easy to use, the case manager, no matter what their experience level with financial issues, can also feel empowered to support their clients.

Training our partners in how to use the toolkit combined with how to train others in the toolkit hopefully means the exponential spread of knowledge and use of the toolkit.  Neighborhood Partnerships will be hosting one more YMYG Train the Trainer event on Friday, December 11th in La Grande.

If you are interested in attending please contact Laina Green at: 503-226-3001 x105, or lgreen@neighborhoodpartnerships.org.


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