I have recently worked with local social housing landlord, Dumfries and Galloway Housing Partnership (DGHP), on a financial inclusion project. This was designed to help their tenants to save money, manage their money better and reduce financial stress.
Financial coaching was offered in an online course, a printed course or face-to-face coaching, with tenants choosing the option that suits best.
Financial inclusion and lifelong learning
Coaching helped them to investigate their habits and attitudes towards money, as well as offering practical ways of dealing with money better. The success of previous projects suggests that it will have a positive impact on the rest of their lives.
Fran, a tenant for over 30 years, had never missed a rent payment, until recently. Her social housing officer, Evie, realied that this was unusual and wanted to check that everything was OK. When Fran explained, Evie suggested this project could help. Fran was skeptical and a bit nervous, but agreed to try it.
Fran works part-time and gets some benefits, for dependent children. Her husband died a couple of years ago, leaving her emotionally and financially bereft. While her husband was alive, they had enough money to do what they pleased. However, now she was finding it difficult to make ends meet.
She had never been in debt, believing that if you didn’t have the money, you did without. However, recently she had taken out a couple of loans and had an overdraft that was creeping upwards each month.
This made her feel ill. She wasn’t sleeping well. Money was the first thing she thought of when she woke up and the last thing she thought of at night. She was constantly worried about money and felt sick when she thought about her debts.
Then the kids needed shoes. School trips were coming up. The car needed a service. And so on. She needed the car to get to work. It was important that the kids didn’t miss out. She had to find the money to pay for these things.
This was how the situation with her debt had developed. She knew that things had to change, but didn’t know where to start. Thankfully I did.
As we chatted, I already had some ideas that might help her. We started discussing her feelings and thoughts about money, about spending, and about making decisions. We realised that one of her main problems was her generosity – she constantly gave to others, without a thought for herself. She is the type of person who would give you the coat off her own back. It is a lovely trait in a person, and she will never lose that generous personality, but she realised that it couldn’t apply to money. She had to stop being so generous with money and giving away things of value, if she was to get her finances under control.
What can we change?
We looked at Fran’s income and expenditure, and identified areas for improvement. As well as focusing on cutting costs, we also looked at ways that Fran could increase her income. None of these were difficult, and Fran had more money coming into the house, which was helping her to gain control.
Each time I visited Fran, I could see the difference in her. She was positive, enthusiastic, and excited about what had happened since we had last met. She felt much calmer and more in control of her money, but what changed most was her decision making. Fran thought about money in a different way and had started questioning purchases. “Do I really need that?” “Can I get it cheaper?” “Can I borrow it?” “Could it wait till next week?”
“No overspending at all now. I really think twice about every purchase and if I don’t need it I won’t get it.”
This massive change in her thinking and the impact it had on the money in her pocket was huge.
Something to look forward to
Another problem was that she loved a wee holiday, but felt that she was not going to be able to afford one this year. I felt that she totally deserved something to look forward to. We looked at how she could make it happen.
We worked out when she wanted the holiday, how much she would need and how much she would need to save each week. I asked her if she could save that money. Initially dejected, she said it wasn’t possible. Then the “new” Fran took over and she said “Yes! I CAN do it!” She then started listing the things that she could do to make it possible. A 5-minute chat later, she had a savings pot sorted out, and a list of things that she was going to do that would put money in her pot!
This is the biggest switch in Fran – it’s the belief that she can make things happen. And she will. I am confident of that.
The best bit
My absolute favourite moment with Fran was when she told me this.
“No offence, but I was dreading you coming to see me. I nearly phoned to cancel, because I had too many other things to do and I didn’t think you could help. I didn’t feel I had a life – I was so bogged down I was drowning. Now I feel like a different person and you have totally changed my life.”
This feedback made me laugh, as well as bringing a wee tear to my eye. I haven’t changed her life. All I have done is given her the tools and the support to change her OWN life. She has done the work, she has made the changes, and she is the one who will benefit from this for years to come. I am so proud of the her and the work that she has put in!
What about you? Could you benefit from this?
If you are a DGHP tenant, feel that you could do with help with your money AND you are willing to put in some effort then read on! We can support you to make positive changes in your financial life, so please get in touch now. It’s all completely free of charge and there are only a few places left, so please don’t miss out.
If you are not a DGHP tenant, but feel that you would benefit, then please get in touch directly with me. I can then advise you if there would be any funded opportunities for financial coaching for you.