In 2013, Dallas resident David Hernandez was thrilled to be graduating from The University of Texas at Arlington, proud of his accomplishments and his new degree. Then reality set in, and excitement quickly turned to fear as the 26-year-old struggled to find a job and begin his career.
As weeks turned to months with no job prospects, David’s concern grew. Bills began to stack and soon payments for his recently acquired student debt would be due. Relatives were unable to help; those not in similar situations were recovering from bankruptcy and decades of fiscal mismanagement.
Unsure what to do, David was certain he needed to gain a better understanding of how to manage his finances.
“I didn’t want to fall into the same systemic cycle,” he said. “I want to do better than what my family knows.”
In crisis, David turned to Catholic Charities of Dallas, who in turn recommended Transformance as a possible solution for financial education and stability. Among the many services offered, AIM (Accountable. Inspirational. Motivational.) is a matched savings program for Collin, Dallas, Southern Denton and Rockwall county residents supported through private funding and the United Way of Metropolitan Dallas. The goal of the program is to help individuals kick-start a savings account, matching up to $25 per month of every dollar saved. Those who stay in the program for 12 months and complete the monthly touchpoints – classes or counseling sessions – will end up with $600 in savings.
David admits his understanding of saving money was limited; he knew enough to know he needed to learn more.
“You have to start somewhere,” he said. “I feel like money is the start of it but you have to move to gaining knowledge about your money. You’re going to find yourself in a situation that you’re stuck in if you don’t learn about financial education.”
While enrolled in the AIM program, David found himself in a precarious situation. An unexpected illness landed him in the hospital, and high medical expenses only increased his financial worries.
“I had to go to the hospital and [the bill] was recovered by a collection agency,” he said. “I was literally scared for my life. I’ve heard so many bad things about collection agencies that I didn’t know what to do. I called Transformance to talk to my counselor to tell her the issue and asked what were the next steps that I should take.”
David’s counselor – one of several Transformance employs to help clients navigate through murky fiscal waters – took time to discuss his options and gave him practical advice to document his payments and show cleared checks and receipts to clear up the bill. These same counselors encouraged him to make his monthly savings deposit, to gain a better understanding of credit and budget issues, to consider planning for retirement as he began his career. Though online and in-person classes, Transformance outreach counselors provided clients with financial education that makes an impact on future fiscal and lifestyle goals – often for free. It’s one of the many features David shares with his friends and family when financial issues come up in conversations.
As David spreads the word and becomes a champion of Transformance and its services, he said he will always appreciate the compassion and support he received from his counselor in times of crisis.
“Life is hard enough as it is to go it alone,” he said. “It was always nice to have someone in your corner.”
Are you ready to kick-start your savings plan? Learn more about AIM on our website, sign up for more information or give us a call at 1-800-886-9070.