Ines’s Story: Living Within Her Means

Meet Ines, a financial coach for the community nonprofit IronBound, who lives with her three children and husband in North New Jersey.

What do you do?

I’ve been a financial coach for a little over a year. I work for a nonprofit social service corporation called Ironbound Community Corporation.

It’s right up my alley because I have a major in finance and a minor in psychology. I get to help community members who aren’t familiar with budgeting and money management using my education and own best practices.

I’m self-taught and a self-learner. My nonprofit doesn’t offer training, but they try to send us to workshops and helpful events. When I first got there, there wasn’t anyone who trained me to do what I do now. It’s all about trial and error when assisting community members.

I love what I do and I plan to stay here as long as the position is available. I say that because as a nonprofit, we’re always looking for funding.

What did your childhood teach you about money?

There wasn’t really any financial education during my childhood. My parents didn’t teach me the value of money because they didn’t receive any that they can pass down to me and my siblings.

Now as a financial coach, I see the importance of starting to teach kids at a young age.

As a child, I was never really taught how to save. As a young adult, when you start earning income, you think you could do anything you want with your money. I wasn’t taught about saving money or saving for big purchases. Money came and went out; there was no savings for financial goals.

When have you felt most financially secure?

I think it was after I graduated college and got my first job. I still lived with my parents and I had a full-time job that was helping me pay for my immediate expenses. Back then, I didn’t have any priorities, so I didn’t have to worry about monthly expenses. Now, my mentality is different from when I was single. My priorities have changed now that I am married and have three kids.

What’s the best piece of financial advice you tell your clients?

I always tell them to keep in mind: what is your financial goal? Ask yourself, “Is this (impulse buying) worth you not having the money you want to save up for your goal?” That’s my thought process.

What’s your thought process when saving up for something?

Once I have a financial goal in mind, I keep thinking about my purchases. Is this purchase going to keep me from getting one step closer to my goal? Sometimes I have to give up something I want at the moment for something I want later in life.

What are your financial goals?

In the long-term, I want to be able to purchase a home for my family. I’m currently renting, but it’s getting more expensive. I don’t like the idea of renting when I know that I could be putting that money towards purchasing my own house.

In the short-term, I want to pay off my car because right now I’m in a leasing agreement, and as a financial coach I learned that it’s not the best option. My goal is to buy my car out by the end of this year and then focus on building up my savings to purchase a home.

What does a financial achievement look like for you or your clients?

Financial achievement is being on track with your finances. At the end of the day, you want to learn and be able to live within your means. It’s living outside of what you can afford—that’s the problem. I try to help my clients change their money habits. That’s also something I try to keep in mind for myself as well.

Get used to living with what you can afford so you’re never in a situation where you feel financially stressed.

What does money mean to you in your life?

It’s a tool to survive and put food on the table. I don’t like to look at it that way, but that’s how I view it.

As a financial coach, do you teach your kids any money lessons?

My kids are still very little (four-year-old, three-year-old, and one-year-old), so they haven’t had any real exposure to money. When they get a little older, I’ll obviously teach them. When we go to the supermarket, I explain to them we can only get things we can afford, and I try to teach them through those experiences.

How did you feel about winning $50 from the SaverLife Tax Time Pledge?

I’m always trying to make money, so it was a really nice surprise! That’s $50 that’ll go towards my kids’ savings. Every extra bit of money I get, I put into my kids’ savings funds. I hope it’ll help them with funding their education.

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