Residents share their thoughts on the Assemble Financial Coaching Program

September 13, 2021

As part of the Assemble Futures program, Assemble provides all residents with free financial coaching and support, from the time they sign their lease and throughout the rental period. The Financial Coaching Program is designed to help residents improve financial literacy and wellbeing and sets them on the path to owning their own home. Assemble’s Financial Coach Sarah has over 17 years’ experience in banking, real estate, and money management.

When 393 Macaulay Rd residents’ Kate and Britt first signed up to the Assemble Financial Coaching Program, they were a little hesitant. What could it teach them that they didn’t already know? 19 months on, and they’ve now cleared their debt, have a rainy-day fund set aside, almost saved 10% of their home deposit and are working towards 20%. “Our work with Sarah has empowered us to look ahead with confidence, and we no longer feel a sense of uncertainty about our financial stability.”

Could you please describe your financial situation before you began the financial coaching program at Assemble?

Prior to engaging in the program, our financial situation was very different to what it is now – I had some savings and Kate had some credit card debt and no savings. We went into the program with the expectation that together we would save a 10% deposit by the end of the 5-year lease.

A    And after the program?

B   After working with Sarah for 19 months, we have almost saved a 10% deposit for our home and will easily save 20% by the end of our lease period. Kate has managed to clear her debt, and even have a rainy-day fund set aside. Sarah has tailored the program to suit our personal goals and pushed us to be more ambitious in our approach to finances, without compromise to our lifestyle. And we no longer rely on debt to pay for things!

A    Before joining Assemble, what were your thoughts about owning your own home?

B    Owning a home was something we really wanted but without help from parents or family, seemed out of reach and unrealistic. With soaring property prices and so many uncertainties, it was hard to know how much we needed to save and what was an attainable goal.

A    When you think about purchasing a home now, on a scale of 1-10, how achievable does it feel for you?

B    Purchasing a home now feels about a 10, very achievable. Because we know the purchase price of our home and feel confident about what our mortgage repayments will be, there is nothing at this point that feels like a barrier. We’d always assumed we would have to pay Lenders Mortgage Insurance* with our 10% deposit, but now we expect to have 20%, we won’t need to pay this. We’re even thinking about a shorter-term mortgage to pay off the apartment quicker. Before we started the financial coaching program, we never thought any of this would be possible.

A    Why is the idea of homeownership important to you? And how do you think it will shape your future?

B    Now that we’re in our 30s, we’re starting to look ahead and think about what a secure financial future might look like for us. We believe that homeownership will play a key role in future-proofing a more secure life, and ultimately, a stable retirement. Our work with Sarah has empowered us to look ahead with confidence, and we no longer feel a sense of uncertainty about our financial stability.

A    Many people are hesitant to talk about their personal finances, has the program changed the way you think about money?

B    Kate had lot of shame and guilt about how she spent her money, but Sarah’s method showed her that she can still achieve her goals while living the lifestyle that’s important to her. She’s always managed to find a positive in our situation and is a big believer in celebrating financial goals, in whatever way matters to you.

A    According to Relationships Australia, 70% of couples reported that money causes tension in their relationship. Would you say that financial pressure was previously affecting your relationship, and how has that changed since participating in the financial coaching program?

B    I was in a good financial situation prior to the program but as I mentioned, Kate had some debt and no savings. When planning things like holidays together, this would put pressure on Kate’s financial situation. Since joining the financial coaching program, we are now on a level playing field, and this has strengthened us as a team and improved our overall wellbeing.

A    Would you recommend our program to others that are yet to sign up?

B    Yes! We’ve already recommended the Financial Coaching Program and other Assemble Futures projects to our friends.

*Lenders Mortgage Insurance (LMI) protects your lender in the event that you default on your home loan and there is a ‘shortfall’. A shortfall happens when the proceeds from the sale of your home are not enough to cover the outstanding amount you owe to your lender. You can expect to pay LMI if you borrow more than 80% of your home’s value.