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How the Pandemic changed the advice GreenPath Financial Wellness provides

GreenPath Financial Wellness Interview

Dave:  Hello everybody Dave Sullivan here for People Driven Credit Union. I’ve got an exceptional guest with me.

Julio: My name is Julio Lopez, and I’m from GreenPath Financial Wellness.

Dave:  You may recognize Julio. He had it in the office in our lobby for how long?

Julio: Three and a half years now.

Dave: We really enjoyed having him there, available for our members to walk in and have a face-to-face consultation. Unfortunately, we do not do that right now, but that’s one reason I wanted to bring him on the podcast. Julio, what has changed since COVID, and what questions do members have when calling? What the biggest kind of change for them from a budget perspective.

Julio: Yes, thank you for asking that question, Dave. The common theme across many GreenPath Financial Wellness callers is they are trying to understand how to manage the confusion and worry they are experiencing right now. The unexpected change of income is obviously a time of stress for all of us, not only from a physical standpoint but also emotionally and financially. We’re here to provide that guidance for the people to understand that they’re not alone.

One of the things that we’ve seen since this pandemic started is our hope hotline (888) 995 HOPE. We have seen a 50% increase. Many people are experiencing this change of income, and they are concerned about their homes.

Dave: Given that all restaurants and bars being closed for so long, hopefully, people are spending their money wisely during that time.  Did you see people wanting to spend money more responsibly, or were they really concerned about what do I really need to spend my money on to get through this?

Julio: That is interesting that you say that. One thing that people realize when they talk to us is how important it is to their budget. You’ll be surprised by how many people don’t even know what they regularly spend on groceries. When we take the time to sit down with them in a non-judgmental space, let them know one by one what their expenses are. Some of them haven’t realized that they have $50 or 100 dollars left over at the end of the month.

When we start planning and switch things on their budget and their finances actually start prioritizing. That is very important for budgeting, especially when you’re talking about going to the bars or eating out. I would consider that a Want. That is when we actually start discussing with the client. Is this something that we do really need? If so, let’s start up budgeting for that.

I’m not telling the client to take themselves away from enjoying dining out with their family.

Suppose someone thinks that it is a necessity for the family to continue living together, supporting each other.  Then we plan for that meal when you’re going to eat out or order out. That is one of the things that I’ve seen that has been very powerful for our clients when we see a deficit at the end of the month that they didn’t know existed.  How can we change their budget so they can actually afford things at the end of the month? That’s when our helpline comes in.

We are 100 plus HUD-approved certified counselors here at GreenPath Financial Wellness. We can prioritize, being able to talk about the mortgage if they have a mortgage. Talk about their car payment talk about their unsecured debts. One by one, we’ll be able to create that action plan that will take them from good to great!

Dave: That’s so important Julio, why don’t you share the phone numbers for people to reach GreenPath Financial Wellness. I know you said there was one for the hope association but also Greenpath.

Julio: Our phone number for our GreenPath Financial Wellness partners is (877) 337-3399. I did mention our hope hotline, which is something that we’ve used. It has increased by about 50 percent during this time, and that is (888) 995 HOPE.

Dave: Excellent Julio, I really appreciate you doing this with me. I hope we reach many people, and hopefully, we’ll get you back in the lobby one day.

Julio: Definitely, and people need to understand that we’re here for you! You’re not alone, and it is going to be okay.