Malinda Fills the Gap with Friendship

Malinda was referred to Operation HOPE by the Goodwill Career Center in March 2023, during a challenging period of going through a divorce and adjusting to the financial responsibilities of being a single parent. That’s when she met her financial wellbeing coach Erin Smith. Their initial meeting took place on March 21, 2023, where they discussed Malinda’s financial goals and her current situation, which included $3500 in credit card debt, a $130 charge off, $4200 in installment debt, a 660 credit score, and only $100 in savings. With little experience in budgeting, Malinda was eager to learn and gain the necessary financial education to manage her finances independently.

In their first session, Erin helped Malinda create a rough draft budget and assigned her the task of auditing her monthly spending. By their second session, Malinda had gained a clear understanding of her expenditures, realizing she was spending more than expected on food and subscriptions. This revelation strengthened her resolve to reduce her spending. Over the following months, with Erin’s guidance, she successfully removed inaccurate information from her credit report, reduced her credit card balances, and improved her credit score.

However, by July 2023, Malinda faced new financial challenges and felt discouraged, contemplating debt consolidation as a viable option. Erin and Malinda thoroughly discussed the pros and cons of this approach, deciding to explore other strategies before making a decision. By November, Malinda shared with Erin a promising opportunity to consolidate her debt through a friend who also supported her emotionally through this transition. Despite the risks associated with borrowing from a friend, Malinda chose to proceed.

Thanks to the continuous support from her friend and the valuable insights gained from her sessions with Erin at Operation HOPE, Malinda not only settled her debts with her creditors but also repaid her friend. She graduated from the Credit and Money Management program with a commendable credit score of 721. Now, Malinda thinks more carefully before using her credit cards, focuses on accumulating savings, and enjoys a significantly improved financial standing.

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