The author of this blog qualified for an auto loan after working with Andrea Heller, our Money Sense Manager, to tackle bill paying and face down a creditor.
I am a single mother and an educator. My child has complicated health and educational needs. We have moved many times in the past two decades, and I have had to change jobs many times. All of this has been challenging, and I have been very strong and resilient, but in addition to these there has been a pervasive challenge that has followed me and complicated my life, further, since I was in my early 20s. I have never felt capable of handling my own finances. I often got into “messes” and needed bailing out by a friend or family member.
Although I am an employed professional, and have held full-time jobs in the field of education, one area I have never excelled in is personal financial management. Prior to working with a financial educator at Opportunities, I hated creating a budget, hating feeling “limitations” of income and spending, and almost rebelled in a child-like way against paying attention to bill-paying. Sometimes I didn’t even open my bills! Of course, ignoring financial obligations, and not spending time on organizing my financial life led to all kinds of challenges. I learned that not being mindful of financial health and responsibilities only led to more stress and heartache. I often felt lost and always felt like a failure in this area of my life.
I started meeting with Andrea, a financial educator at Opportunities. I was nervous, every single time, for the first six months I met with her. However, she quickly put me at ease with her compassion, realistic help, “can-do” spirit, and most importantly, I never felt judged.
Soon, I started tackling items on my financial “to do” list, started taking care of bills, and set up ways to pay my bills on time. On payday, money would transfer automatically out of my account and pay my bills. This ended up being a lifesaver for me. I never knew what peace of mind I could create by setting up systems and making plans to pay my bills regularly.
I also worked closely with Opportunities Consumer Lending area to re-establish my credit. I was able to refinance my vehicle under their Wow Auto Loan program. This enabled me to not only repair the vehicle financed, but also pay off small, negotiated bills Andrea and I worked on. I needed to commit to this as an ongoing process to achieve success. I needed to take out this financing a couple of times to get myself on track. Once on track, I was able to finance a newer vehicle.
This financing coupled with the timely payment of my bills has helped to increase my credit score and build my confidence.
I have learned so much and come a long way toward a more sustainable financial future. It has been an empowering experience, and I am grateful to Opportunities for walking this journey with me!