Helping low-income families improve their financial wellbeing through financial coaching

4 November 2014
Author: Ana Fremont
Many Canadian households are struggling to get by and are caught in a vicious cycle of debt and poor credit, without any savings to rely on in case of emergencies or loss of income.

While some community-based organizations across Canada have begun experimenting with financial programming for low-income people that goes beyond financial education, community partners indicate that additional one-on-one supports are needed for their clients to overcome systemic and other barriers.

By contrast, the financial coaching field has grown in the US over the last decade, and research has proven that this one-on-one financial intervention can be successful at helping low-income families adopt financial attitudes and behaviours that improve their financial well-being.1

In response to this need, Prosper Canada partnered with West Neighbourhood House and the Salvation Army's Toronto Harbour Light Ministries and Homestead Addiction Services to pilot financial coaching for shelter residents over a four-month period beginning in summer 2014. 

Through financial coaching, participants identify and set their own goals, develop a realistic action plan to achieve them, and are supported by their coach until their goals are reached. The coach helps clients change their behaviour using a collaborative process that is supportive and provides the information and resources clients need to improve their financial security.

Our financial coaching pilot was an opportunity for all organizations participating in the program to learn more about how financial coaching could be incorporated into transitional services and support a successful transition to independent living. We are now working on identifying program improvements and opportunities to test this model and its impacts in different contexts in Canada.

If you would like to talk to Prosper Canada about opportunities to implement financial coaching in your organization, email: info@prospercanada.org.

Read more about financial coaching here.

1City Foundation, Neighborworks America. Scaling Financial Coaching: Critical Lessons and Effective Practices.

THE AUTHOR

Ana Fremont is a Program Officer with Prosper Canada. From 2004-2011 she developed and managed several financial education programs including financial coaching and foreclosure prevention counselling services in New York and Chicago.

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