On Her Way: Ms. Saunders’ Story

Ms. Saunders is an active caregiver for her grandchildren and first came to LIFT-DC toward the end of 2018. During her intake she discussed that she had recently overcome being homeless. While facing housing insecurity, Ms. Saunders used a variety of credit cards in order to make ends meet. Though she was eventually able to find stable housing, her debt had grown significantly in that time. As someone living on a fixed income, she came to LIFT looking for support in tackling her debt in a sustainable way. She has done that, and much more, during her time in LIFT’s coaching program!

As Ms. Saunders describes it, before coming to LIFT, she “would talk about [goals], but never actually get it done.”  It was through coaching that she could make a plan to meet her goals by having “someone to hold you accountable and motivate you at the same time.”

Ms. Saunders has been one of our most involved members, happily taking advantage of the range of resources offered by our LIFT-DC team. She has attended more workshops than most of our members, on topics ranging from improving health and wellness to simple budgeting; she received a free Passion Planner each year that we have been able to offer them; and she has had the most consistent attendance (and fewest cancellations) of any of member on my caseload. She also is eager to share resources she comes across outside of LIFT so other LIFT members may better access them.

One of my first encounters with Ms. Saunders, even before I knew she would be my member, was during one of our Focus on Finances workshops, spotlighting how members could build and improve their credit. I learned quickly that Ms. Saunders is engaged, eager to learn, and is always interested in finding (and sharing) resources! These qualities (and her sense of humor) have been clear to me from our first interaction up through our most recent meeting. She enters every meeting and workshop ready to get down to business. During our initial coaching meeting together, almost before I could (re)introduce myself, Ms. Saunders started sharing updates about her progress on her debt action plan and the steps she had taken since meeting with her previous coach. That ability to hit the ground running is one small example of what has allowed her to consistently progress toward her goals and to overcome any bumps in the road along the way.

In addition to that she has also been working on completing a series of digital literacy certifications offered through the DC Public Library, a resource she learned about from a previous LIFT coach. Ultimately, she wants to build those skills in order to share them with senior citizens, always paying forward the resources she has received.

Since starting with LIFT, Ms. Saunders has been able to pay down over $2000 in credit card debt, closing out three accounts in the past 6 months alone. She was able to achieve this by making a log of all her debt, including balances, monthly payment amounts, and due dates; then, working with her LIFT coaches, she prioritized certain accounts and made a debt action plan using the ‘snowball’ repayment method. Ms. Saunders has been very committed to her debt reduction, essentially memorizing each account and balance and providing thorough updates at each meeting. Furthermore, Ms. Saunders had also used nearly all of her goal funds toward paying down her debt.  This dedication to her goals is why she has achieved so much!

I was able to speak with Ms. Saunders yesterday about the Emergency Fund we were able to send to her. Before I could update her, she had an update for me: she reported that because of some side income she should be able to pay down another account by June, well ahead of schedule. When I told her that she would be receiving a check from LIFT for nearly $1,000 she was beside herself and thoroughly appreciative. In the classic Ms. Saunders, goals-first way, she happily let me know that she’d be putting it straight toward her goals; half of it she would save and the other half would go toward her bills.

Ms. Saunders is immensely grateful for LIFT coaching and is a champion of our organization. As Ms. Saunders says, “whatever your goals are, LIFT will start you on your way.”