Growing up, Darrell didn’t have a model for how to handle finances wisely. He lived in a public housing development in an impoverished area of the Bronx and had no exposure to education on financial issues. As a young adult, he was advised to co-sign for a family member’s car loan. Unfortunately, when his family member failed to make the loan payments, Darrell was harassed by creditors and his credit score took a major hit.
In the years that followed, Darrell did his best to repair his credit score. He used tax returns to pay off his credit card, and then worked on car and student loans; however, his credit score was still not where he wanted it to be. When he heard about the financial counseling program at Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, an FFP Grantee, and how he could learn to improve his credit score, he signed up.
Initially, Darrell was paired with Pilayne, a financial counselor. Together, they focused on the different steps that could improve his credit score, such as paying off his credit card in full each month rather than just paying the minimum, only using a portion of his credit limit, getting an additional card to increase his line of credit, and sticking to a budget. Once Darrell took these steps, his score greatly improved. Now that he felt his financial house was in order, he knew he wanted to explore retirement planning as well. He says, “I wanted to learn about retirement, insurance and planning for my family’s future.” So Pilayne referred him to Barbara, a CFP® volunteer at Restoration.
Barbara is a CFP® with over 25 years of retirement planning experience who has been volunteering with the FPA of Metro New York for almost 10 years. She says, “I liked my job, but didn’t feel like I was making a difference in enough people’s lives, so I began working with pro bono clients. Even just helping pro bono clients with one thing, putting them on track, makes a real difference.”
As Barbara and Darrell worked together, Darrell learned about different types of IRAs, retirement plans and insurance options. After discovering that he had benefit plans available through his job, he reviewed his options with Barbara and then enrolled in a 403(b) retirement plan. Barbara’s guidance was key for Darrell. “I didn’t know about retirement planning, so to have a professional help me understand and walk through it step by step, was a wonderful thing. I’m so grateful,” he said.
After his sessions with Pilayne and Barbara, Darrell felt much more secure financially, noting “I feel relieved and empowered. I have a safety net. And now that I am investing, I feel confident in my financial future… Thanks to the help I received at Restoration, I can save, budget, allocate money to pay off credit cards in full and on time. And if someone I know needs help, I am in a place to help the people around me. I am able to bless others thanks to the help that Restoration gave me.”
Barbara’s advice to other planners? “You may have a lot of knowledge but the most important thing you can do is to talk to a client in a way that works for them, with language they understand and can act on. It’s all about helping people and building a rapport with them.”
“I feel relieved and empowered. I have a safety net. And now that I am investing, I feel confident in my financial future… And if someone I know needs help, I am in a place to help the people around me.”
Together, Planner and Client were able to…
- Dramatically improve his credit score
- Set up a retirement account and start planning for longer-range goals
- Learn about many different financial issues so that he in turn can help others in the community