Nick Melefsky, a Program Associate at the CASH Campaign of Maryland, has worked first-hand with the MyBudgetCoach® (MyBC) platform since it introduced statewide in Maryland in 2014. Beyond his role in financial education and development, and maintaining the Campaign’s online presence, Nick also runs the CASH Campaign of Maryland’s Financial Coaching program and works with the MyBC platform daily In celebration of the start of Communally, Nick told us more on what it is like to work with our technology first-hand, every day.
The CASH Campaign of Maryland works with its statewide partners to promote programs, products, and policies that increase the financial security of low- to moderate-income individuals and families across Maryland. Many services are available at no cost to participants including free tax preparation, financial education classes and financial coaching.
The CASH Campaign was introduced to MyBC when the organization was offered an opportunity to be part of the research study led by The Center for Financial Security (CFS) at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. During this year-long study, the CASH Campaign tested the tool with 13 partner sites. Ninety-one coaches coached 137 client “members”. At the end of this pilot, members were able to save over $55,000 and pay down more than $42,000 in debt. After seeing these results, the CASH Campaign determined that MyBC would be a good fit to help support financial coaching programs in Maryland.
The introduction of MyBC to the CASH Campaign was great timing. The organization had received numerous requests from its partners for a financial coaching platform that could be easily implemented and was client-friendly. We determined that the needs for such a platform were the following: a central program that could be used by partners regardless of the size of their coaching program; either volunteers or staff could be coaches; allow the partner to access their coaching data while allowing the CASH Campaign to access the cumulative data; provide the coach with a framework for each coaching session; allow participants to receive a consistent coaching experience no matter where they were located in the state; and collect minimal personal sensitive information about the clients in order to reduce the risk of identity theft. The online delivery option for MyBC’s sessions is an excellent feature that the CASH Campaign knew would be helpful to its partners. Allowing members and coaches the flexibility to choose whether they wanted to have a session in person or online was critical to helping increase member retention in the financial coaching program. Some of the CASH Campaign’s coaches and members are in rural areas of the state where it is more convenient to conduct a session online instead of in-person. Many members are currently using a hybrid of online and in-person sessions.
Many of the CASH Campaign’s partner organizations do not have the capacity to hire full time financial coaches so they turn to volunteers to fill this role. The volunteer coaches the CASH Campaign helps to train and support come from all walks of life including teachers, CPAs, lawyers and financial advisors. Some graduates of the MyBC program are now volunteering as financial coaches to help others have the benefits they experienced.
Features built into MyBC allow coaches to reference them when appropriate with members in order to increase their financial knowledge. For example, MyBC’s built-in financial education feature has been a great asset to the coaching process. Sections covering credit, financial organization and financial concepts such as net worth help coaches educate members on topics they may hear often but may not be very familiar with. e. Members and coaches alike unanimously state that the MyBC activity Money Habitudes is their favorite because they get to look at what drives their financial decisions.
The MyBC program has given the CASH Campaign of Maryland a way to streamline and expand its financial coaching programs by providing a consistent coaching experience that produces clear and measurable outcomes. The tools that MyBC offers have also been a great help. The ability to visualize progress on a financial goal as a bar filling up excites a lot of members. The website being mobile optimized is also an advantage for both members and coaches; members like the ability to track their expenses while on the go and coaches like knowing whether or not a member is on top of their expenses.
The MyBC platform has demonstrated to the CASH Campaign of Maryland that members can learn to create and use a budget that helps achieve their financial goals - A Win-Win for both coaches and members.
Are you interested in learning more about the MyBC platform? Please contact Peter Rubenstein at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
As of March, 2018 the MyBudgetCoach service is longer owned or operated by Communally.