Lisa never expected to need help with her mortgage or finances, but after the company she worked for was bought out and her father passed away, she burned through all of her savings while she tried to find another job. Originally, she was confident finding another position would not be difficult; after all, she had a degree and years of experience in her field to recommend her. But openings were few and she was told again and again that she was overqualified for the part-time positions for which she applied. Over time, she found herself sliding down a financial cliff, until she was eventually deep underwater with her mortgage.
Once she was already in dire financial straits, she saw a billboard advertising the 1-800-GET-HOPE program for those in danger of losing their home to foreclosure. She called the number and through that conversation, she began working with the Housing Department at Neighborhood Christian Legal Clinic. Upon receiving assistance with her mortgage, Lisa was also enrolled in the Clinic’s financial counseling program, Building Wealth.
Ultimately, Lisa was surprised by how much she learned, although originally she was hesitant to participate in the Building Wealth program. She says, “I felt like I had a lot of advantages that I had squandered and here I am in this situation.” She admits to feeling ashamed of needing help in the first place, but acknowledges her delays in seeking assistance only made her financial recovery that much harder. “The sooner you realize you are about to go off that cliff, you should pick up the phone and call. If you think it’s hard now, it does get worse,” she says. “If you can head it off at the pass, it makes it easier.”
Jill Knight, the Housing Counselor who developed the Building Wealth curriculum and who teaches the course, understands the fears someone might have before going through the program. She says, “I think it’s a barrier for people sometimes to actually take the classes—they don’t want to be seen as ignorant or not able to manage their own financial health.” But Jill says even those who already think they know everything about their finances have something to gain from such a program. “I’ve never had anybody that said they didn’t learn anything. There’s always more to learn. Even things you already have some kind of knowledge about, it can help to sharpen those things and dispense the myths from the facts.” Lisa says that one of the most important things she learned during the program was how long it might take to get things back on track. “Be willing to commit to the fact that it’s not going to be fixed overnight,” she says.
Now, Lisa is employed and prepared to start making her own mortgage payments again, armed with all of the tips and knowledge she learned in Building Wealth. She says that her friends even call her up with financial questions since she completed the program, and she’s happy to oblige. Lisa says of her time working with Jill and the Clinic, “I’m really grateful about where I am now. I’ve never been happy to make a mortgage payment before. I literally think you saved my life because I just didn’t know what else I was going to do.”
To learn more about our Housing Counseling Program or Building Wealth, please complete this online form or call us at 317-429-4160.