“I love to journey with whānau and see them come to a place where they are able to achieve their financial goals – that is really awesome and, for me, it’s what my financial mentoring role at Money Mentors is all about.”
Jo is a Kahukura Financial Mentor and the Team Leader of Money Mentors – Visionwest’s budgeting service. Jo previously worked for a mortgage broker and has a pharmacy background but neither job was as rewarding as her current role.
Sometimes the reward can be as simple as a few passing words. Jo tells of a gentleman, recently been released from prison, who came to Money Mentors for help with repaying his financial debt and setting good financial goals for the future. He worked with Jo on these and made a huge effort to overcome his financial challenges. One day he turned to Jo and said, “If it wasn’t for you helping me set and achieve goals and believing in me, I’d be back in prison by now.” That’s a life transformed!
I was attracted to budgeting because, through my work in mortgage broking, I saw how many people were facing financial struggles. Before that, I worked in a community pharmacy for many years where, once again, I heard stories of the financial challenges facing so many. It bothered me that I was not able to do anything tangible to help them.
My dad worked as a budget adviser for many years, so I talked to him about budgeting. It seemed like one way I could make a positive difference in the lives of people who were doing it tough. I put my name forward to do volunteer budgeting for Visionwest which I did for a while before a fulltime financial mentoring position came up and I got that.
When asked what the most challenging thing about being a Visionwest financial mentor, Jo talks about meeting with whānau whose income is not enough to meet even the most basic needs like food, rent and power. Seeing the real struggle whānau like these are going through is heart-breaking but also provides the inspiration needed to work hard to find a solution to their financial situation.
There are so many people who cannot afford even the basics for themselves and their family. It then become a vicious cycle of need because, when you can’t afford to pay for the necessities, you quickly go into debt. So many people fall behind on bills like rent, power, and water. I’ve even met people who have gone into debt to pay for their weekly food.
Financial Mentoring to make a positive difference
It’s making a positive difference to people like these that Jo sees as being the most rewarding part of her job. “It’s a privilege to walk alongside someone as they make the journey towards better finances. People will walk in feeling stressed and with a huge weight on their shoulders. Sometimes it takes a while, but with consistent work, the time comes when that weight is lifted, and you can see them relax as hope for their future returns.
It’s not always easy for a person to ask for financial advice. Many who come to Money Mentors feel a sense of shame or embarrassment at first. The team here works hard to put their mind at rest by welcoming them and listening carefully to where they are at. Once we know the pinch-points for the money issues, we can begin to work to restore their hope and finances – that’s when the transformation occurs.
In recent years, the Money Mentors service at Visionwest has grown in client and mentor numbers. Jo is quick to talk about what attracts new financial mentors to the service,
If you like supporting whānau and being able to journey with them on their financial journey and see the difference you can make in the life of a whānau, it’s a great job. Seeing families walk out knowing that they are paying off debt, or that they can afford to put food on the table for their family, or that they don’t need to delay paying their rent each week is such a great feeling.
I just wish more people knew about us, that we are non-judgemental, and that the financial mentors at Visionwest are here to journey with them and support them to set outcomes and help them achieve those.
Jo is also quick to shout out a message of thanks to those who donate to help Visionwest’s services.
I want to say a simple thank you to all the Visionwest donors. Every dollar given is put to great use and helps our whānau in so many different ways.
Click here to find out more about Money Mentors, Visionwest’s financial mentoring service.