Staying on budget: Catholic Charities Fort Worth offers employer-based financial coaching

by Mary Lou Seewoester

North Texas Catholic

July 13, 2021

Areli GardeaAreli Gardea
Areli Gardea (NTC/Juan Guajardo)


William, who works in housekeeping for a hospital, struggled to pay rent on time. Maria, whose salary is more than sufficient for her needs, has never been able to stick to a budget. And Sarah, who works in an entry-level position, has never been able to save regularly.

Fortunately, they all work for companies that partner with [email protected], the Catholic Charities Fort Worth employer-based financial coaching program. They each meet regularly with Areli Gardea, a [email protected] navigator, who helps them gain the knowledge and skills for financial wellness and resiliency.

In working with Gardea, William realized his salary wasn’t sufficient for his needs, so he found a second, part-time job. He also learned that working two jobs is a temporary solution, and he is on track with savings so he can train for higher paying employment as a pharmacy technician.

Maria, who had tried everything from Dave Ramsey strategies to budgeting apps, finally stayed within her budget for three months, saving substantial amounts each month. And Sarah has made savings deposits every month since beginning [email protected]  

Gardea said clients see results because navigators work one-on-one with them to determine their needs and wants, set goals, put it on paper, and then make an action plan.

Judith Priest, director of CCFW client navigation, said [email protected] re-launched in January 2021 as a re-designed, expanded, and more robust version of its former employer-based coaching services, which focused on lower wage earners.

[email protected] now serves not just the working poor, but all employees at partner companies, including those struggling to recover financially from a crisis or those who earn a living wage but lack the resources and knowledge to build financial resiliency and plan for the future.

“Some people may earn a living wage but have really high debt, or they don’t have adequate savings and they can get upside down in a hurry,” Priest explained. “Those people also need help and this program is designed to address that.”

Priest also noted that the pandemic “showed us how fragile and vulnerable we all are. A major crisis can … shake someone’s stability very quickly and most people are unprepared for that kind of shock.”

[email protected] currently partners with eight businesses including hotels, nonprofit organizations, and a major hospital. CCFW collaborates with company leaders to promote it as an employee benefit.

“Our main goal is to help those employees gain the knowledge and confidence to achieve their financial goals, to empower them with the skills they need to overcome obstacles, increase savings, eliminate debt, and strengthen their ability to navigate any financial concern,” Priest said.  

She said [email protected] also helps CCFW’s mission to end poverty.

“When we work with one family at a time in a program like My [email protected] and they learn skills they can teach other family members, that’s when we really can have a ripple effect in the community that lasts more than just a transactional encounter.”

Areli Gardea

William, who works in housekeeping for a hospital, struggled to pay rent on time.

Published (until 7/13/2036)