Newly engaged couple Rachael and Delah first visited the Financial Empowerment Center in September 2019 to find out if they were on the right track to start their new life together. They expected to leave their appointment with a bit more knowledge about their finances and maybe even a wedding budget. “We initially went thinking it was a one-time visit, but we have gained so much more,” says Rachael.
Lisa, their financial coach, helped them develop a new approach to their finances. Created through a partnership with the City of Akron, the FEC provides free, one-on-one financial coaching focused on helping Summit and Medina county residents acquire the skills to budget and save, access safe and affordable banking and raise their credit scores.
“We were both raised by single parents who didn’t have financial knowledge or resources, so they couldn’t teach us these things,” says Rachael. “Because of financial coaching, we’ll be able to teach our children the value of financial empowerment.”
The FEC advances United Way’s Bold Goal 3 – to financially empower 11,000 people by 2025. Through programs like free financial coaching, Volunteer Income Tax Assistance and Bank On Rubber City, the FEC is helping individuals and families build lasting financial stability.
Two years after their first visit to the FEC, they walk out of their regularly scheduled appointments as husband and wife with a wedding paid for debt-free as one of their many financial achievements. “Even while saving for our wedding, we were able to have more financial freedom,” says Delah.
With the help of the free coaching provided by the FEC, Rachael and Delah have created a sustainable budget for their life. “We have a lot of pride in how far we’ve come and what we’ve accomplished,” says Delah. In addition to $22,000 in savings, the couple has improved their credit scores by a combined 104 points and paid off over $22,500 dollars of debt.
As they look ahead, Rachael and Delah plan to tackle student loan debt and purchase a new home saying, “we believe the Financial Empowerment Center has set us up with a foundation and skills that will constantly help us achieve whatever our goals may be.”
As of June 2021, 2,486 Summit County residents are on the path to financial empowerment. FEC clients have reduced their debt by a total of $2.2 million and increased savings by more than $1.5 million.