Building a Financial Foundation – Learning about Better Money Habits with Bank of America

By LIFT on April 14, 2014

Categories: Financial Strength, Our Work

At LIFT, we help people find jobs, secure housing, and navigate to vital resources to meet their critical needs.  Advocates work side by side with members to solve the biggest challenges in their lives and this often leads to very personal conversations about circumstances that put them on shaky ground. But there is a topic that can be difficult for our advocates to broach: PERSONAL FINANCES.

There is something about talking about money that makes just about everybody squeamish.  Budgeting can be an uncomfortable, delicate topic, but we also know it’s an absolutely essential building block on the path to financial stability.

For Financial Literacy Month this April, we decided to launch a “Building a Financial Foundation” workshop series to train LIFT advocates on talking to members about budgeting and financial wellness. As part of our national critical needs partnership with Bank of America, we leveraged the bank’s financial coaching expertise to put on a “train-the-trainer” event for our staff and advocates in Philadelphia.

On Friday April 4th, 4 Bank of America professionals led a lively discussion for 20 of LIFT-Philadelphia’s staff and advocates about the financial situation of LIFT members, their critical needs, and how we can incorporate conversations about expenses and savings into our ongoing work with members.

Using three Better Money Habits™ videos from Khan Academy as teaching aid, an all-star team of Bank of America leaders talked about connecting budgeting to our member’s major life goals like getting a job, home, or education. For many LIFT members with little income, saving may seem daunting, but by putting a little away money every month they can begin to build a nest-egg for a security deposit, college classes, and life’s unexpected emergencies.

Because finances are such a personal issue, we talked about connecting your own efforts to reduce spending on everyday expenses to a member’s budgeting goals. Many advocates are still learning how to manage their own finances and they learned a lot of tips that will make them more confident discussing financial wellness.

Better Money Habits

At the end of the session, we broke into small-groups to practice making budgets for LIFT members. We realized that by connecting members to vital resources in the community (discounted internet, food pantries, transportation assistance) that reduce their monthly expenses, they can start to build savings for their broader goals.

All in all, it was a hugely upLIFTing day and the LIFT-Philadelphia team is now equipped with the financial coaching tools they need to help members get ahead. We are excited to bring this workshop series to more LIFT regions, partnering with Bank of America employees to train our advocates and enable more families to build strong financial foundations.

Stay tuned for more posts about how we are collaborating with our corporate and foundation partners to help lift thousands of people out of poverty for good!