Author Archives: Jamal Jimerson

Beginning to Break Free (Tashia’s Story)

Tashia w/ her children

Tashia w/ her children

Tashia is an administrative assistant at the Wilson Gray YMCA in Hartford, CT.  It is there that she meets and enjoys working with people from all walks of life.  This particular branch of the YMCA is located in Hartford’s Clay Arsenal Neighborhood, which is one of the most impoverished communities in Connecticut.  In addition to working fulltime at the YWCA, Tashia is a single mom raising two children while attending Springfield College for a degree in Human Services.

Tashia heard about the Connecticut Money School’s financial coaching program by one of the trained coaches, Faith.  Faith was recruited and trained as a financial coach in December 2014.  Prior to becoming a financial coach, Faith formed a bond with Tashia, as she too worked at the Wilson Gray YMCA as a Program Manager.

With Faith’s help, Tashia established SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) savings goals.  “Faith has so much passion for helping others.” Tashia says, “She helped me to understand how I could save money without continuously withdrawing money out of my savings account.”

Faith also helped Tashia to improve her credit score.  Together, they pulled Tashia’s free credit report from and reviewed it closely.  In reviewing the report they found a discrepancy showing that items were purchased in Texas, a place that Tashia never visited.  Tashia was absolutely shocked.  With the help of her financial coach, Tashia filed a credit dispute to have the item removed from her report and now realizes the importance of continuous credit monitoring.

Today, Tashia says she is thankful for the help and resources she received from the CT Money School financial coach.  Newly empowered in managing her own finances, Tashia carries financial knowledge and skills that she can use for the rest of her life.  What’s even more endearing is that Tashia is better prepared to help her two children to navigate finances as well – not only serving as an example, but also as a resource.

At the CT Money School, our staff and volunteers are proud of the accomplishments of Tashia and so many other individuals and families that have utilized our services.  Learn more about workshops being offered in your community or contact our financial coaches TODAY!

– Michael Heaven, Financial Coaching Coordinator

Financial Coaching: What It Means to be Creative, Resourceful, and Whole

It brings me great joy to take time off from my day-to-day responsibilities to volunteer as a financial coach for the CT Money School. In this role, I work 1:1 with an economically disadvantaged person (we refer to as the “participant”) to provide him or her with meaningful support toward fulfilling their financial goals. Thanks to Points of Light and Bank of America, I participated in several hours of volunteer training in preparation for my meeting with a participant. In February 2015, I met Laura. Laura is a middle-aged divorcee and mother who works both full-time as a teacher and part-time in a low-wage service job. She is very passionate about her teaching work and has been in the field for 25 years. Laura enrolled in the CT Money School to get help with managing her household finances.

During our first meeting, which is designated as our “Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely (SMART) Goal Setting” session, Laura explained that she did not have enough income to pay her bills and she needed to “build a savings”. During that session, she seemed very disoriented about her finances and under-confident in her ability to pay her bills. Through powerful questions, effective listening, and a sharp adherence to the C.O.A.CH model, some key things I learned in the first session were that:

  1. Laura does practice some great financial behaviors
  2. Laura does not have a budget
  3. Laura is creative, resourceful, and whole

The 3rd point is probably the most poignant. I learned Laura’s competencies as well as her perceived obstacles by her own admission. She had the answers to her “problems” and my role in this process was not to tell her what to do or how to do it, but to help her develop the confidence to do what she already knows and serve as both thought partner and motivator. At the end of our first session, Laura established a SMART goal – save $600 in 6 months by saving $100/month every month using direct deposit. To start the process, she agreed to participate in a free budgeting class. During our second meeting, Laura told me that she completed the budgeting course and put together a draft budget on her own. Our goal in the second session was to review her income and expenses. She discovered that:

  1. There were ways to increase her income
  2. There were ways to decrease her expenses

We exchanged ideas with methods and strategies that Laura could use to improve her cash flow. By the conclusion of our second session, Laura agreed to explore more informal and formal methods of increasing her income and reducing her expenses. She expressed to me that she enjoyed the idea sharing and that there were many things she “never thought of doing” to improve her financial situation.

I am indeed looking forward to our next meeting. Our conversation was great and she really seems dedicated to the process of coaching. I can honestly say that the CMS training equipped me well for this experience. Laura is the true manifestation of what it means for a person to be creative, resourceful, and whole. All she needed was some good conversation, a little light, and the confidence to get started on the pathway to her goals. I am proud of Laura and I am proud to be a volunteer for this amazing program. Check back in with us in 6 months!