Building Healthier Financial Habits – A Participant Spotlight on Leihualani Naldoza

It’s been said that discipline is “remembering what you want.” For Mrs. Leihualani Naldoza, that has certainly held true when it comes to her family’s finances. The Hilo resident and Ho‘oulu Waiwai program participant explains what it was like for her and her husband prior to finding INPEACE’s financial capabilities services:

“Before [financial] coaching, we were living paycheck to paycheck. We were in debt with cell phone bills, speeding tickets, car insurance and car payments. We barely could afford gas.” Sadly, this situation is common in Hawai‘i. A survey conducted by QMark Research for the Hawaii Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice in 2016 found that 48% of Hawai‘i households live paycheck to paycheck, and that just one unexpected expense could cause a serious or devastating financial hardship.

While this type of hardship may be commonly attributed to the high cost of living in our state, Leihualani recognized that beyond the essential needs of her family, their money management habits needed to improve. As she puts it, “We were reckless and careless with our money.” With this goal in mind, Leihualani sought the help of INPEACE’s Ho‘oulu Waiwai financial coaching services.

“Leihualani first started coaching at the end of December, 2020,” explains Christy Rose “Nohea” Kaolulo, INPEACE’s Ho‘oulu Waiwai Financial Capabilities Coordinator. “Each coaching session was about an hour long. We met on a weekly basis so we could get to know each other and to keep her connected to her goals: to spend her money more responsibly and to pay off her bills that were past due, along with accumulated debt.” Nohea gave Leihualani assignments designed to instill new, healthier money management habits: focusing to pay down debts, especially past-due debts, one at a time; eliminating many nonessential expenses; adding to a savings account whenever possible.

After some initial struggle developing these new and healthier habits, the results came. Nohea watched proudly as, “Within 3 months, she eliminated all of her debt, except her car. Because of working together, she was able to take the reins and her weekly coaching sessions changed to monthly check-ins to review her progress.”

Believe it or not, our marriage and relationship has improved a whole lot and we are so happy.

Taking charge of their finances had some unexpected positive results for the Naldozas. As Leihualani explains, “Believe it or not, our marriage and relationship has improved a whole lot and we are so happy. The $50 a week that we have budgeted for ourselves to use on whatever we want, gives us a type of peace that is hard to explain.”

Leihualani provides some final words for Nohea and INPEACE: “Thank you so much for swooping in and helping us to save ourselves. Thank you for always checking up and letting us know that you weren’t here to scold us and get mad when we failed, but you were here to support us even when we fail and taught us that it’s okay to fall, just don’t forget to get back up.”