Healthy, Wealthy & Wise

Back Commentary Jan 10, 2018 By Shandra Thomas

When you really think about it, what are the two pieces of finance that can impact someone the hardest? The answer, we think, is budgeting and credit.

So why is it that we don’t learn about these topics in school?  

Life OnTrak is a 501(c)3 nonprofit that has served the greater Sacramento region since 2011, providing financial coaching and training and credit education through local partners who work with economically disadvantaged adults. We work to help correct the issues created due to lack of financial education and believe financial independence is an important component of bettering the lives of others.

We give individuals the right tools and education to help them better manage their financial goals; our organization measures our impact by tracking an individual’s finances, via their credit score, debt amounts, income, savings and expenses.

Related: How to Vet a Financial Advisor

Life OnTrak does not believe in temporary solutions. We want to empower people so they can be financially stable and independent. We do that by providing wrap-around services using a financial coaching model to deliver financial counseling. We know from experience that people will work harder toward their own goals and that life is much easier when finances are an asset and not a hindrance.

Our credit score affects so many other areas of life. Without credit, it is difficult to secure stable housing, establish a utility account, get a cellphone plan or even get a job. Having good credit means having the security of being able to use a credit card or secure a loan when needed, so we help people by providing direction, resources, tools, building blocks, accountability and — sometimes most importantly — hope.  With the support of our counselors, our clients often feel better about themselves as a byproduct of making better financial decisions and seeing a light at the end of their tunnel.

Our goal with every individual is to reach self-sufficiency and empower them with the tools and skills to make sound financial choices that will positively affect their futures, and the futures of their children. We deliver most of our work by collaborating strategically with organizations who already serve our economically challenged families. This is our way of supporting the work currently being provided to our communities and doing what we can to add an extra layer of support that helps folks succeed in all areas of life.

We are truly different in that we are a full-service financial resource. Our counselors are equipped with the knowledge, education and credentials to assist from the basics of credit and budgeting to handling the home purchase, from start to finish. So, whether clients have a desire to handle money better, build their credit or are looking to buy their first home — we can help them without referring them to another agency or partner.

We get to do what we love every day: help people be more financially independent by making healthier financial decisions. However, we feel like there is so much more we could be doing. What we have learned is that our education system does not do a good enough job of providing youth with the financial tools to succeed once they turn 18 and are eligible to sign an agreement with a credit card company or loan application. Not everyone is fortunate enough to have parents who taught them how to manage money and build credit properly. You could be putting yourself in a position that will take years to dig out of, or worse — force you to file bankruptcy.  

Our children are our future and we should be doing everything we can to provide them with all the tools they need to succeed, finances and otherwise. You can join us in our efforts to empower our children — directly and indirectly — and let’s work together to create a society that supports progressive financial education for our future generations.

This story is part of the 22nd annual Capital Region Cares, Comstock’s special publication dedicated to nonprofits and charitable giving. You can order the 2017-2018 edition online here. To submit your nonprofit success story for consideration in next year’s edition, fill out this online form.

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