What to Expect In Your First Session
1. During the first session, your counselor will talk with you about your finances. What is keeping you up at night? What is important to you? What are you saving for? What are your short and long term financial goals?
2. After filling out some paperwork, your counselor will do a Financial Health Assessment. In other words, he/she will ask you questions about your income, expenses, debts, payment plans, and priorities. This usually takes 20-30 minutes and provides your counselor with a good picture of your financial health. Remember, visits to the Financial Empowerment Centers are strictly confidential. We never share information without your permission. Documents you may want to bring to your first appointment include:
- Pay stubs or other documents related to your earned income
- Documents stating the amount of your public benefits (unemployment, TANF, SNAP, LIHEAP, etc.)
- Child support or alimony letters
- Bills, especially if you are overdue on them
- Credit card statements
- Bank statements
- Any documents relating to identity theft
If you don’t have the documents above, it is still okay to make an appointment. It just makes it easier if we have more information about your situation.
3. After filling out the Financial Health Assessment, the counselor may pull your credit report. The Financial Empowerment Centers generally pull Experian credit reports. There is no cost to you and it will not affect your credit in any way. The counselor will review your credit report with you, making sure you understand what is on it and helping you to identify any errors. If there are errors, the counselor can help you remove them by working with the creditor and credit bureaus.
4. Once you and your counselor have talked about priorities and goals, the counselor will provide you with an action plan for next steps so your path ahead is clear.
5. The counselor may make a second appointment to see you and give you some steps to take between visits to help your financial situation.