Financial Social Worker Profile – Interview with Constance McConnell, LCSW, Financial Social Worker

In our ongoing series exploring various types of coaches, we are excited to introduce a financial social worker who combines a strong clinical background with a passion for personal finance. With over a decade of experience in social work, including obtaining a clinical license and certification from the Center for Financial Social Work, our guest has worked in diverse settings such as schools, healthcare, and community mental health. Additionally, they conduct financial hardship evaluations for clients going through immigration court. Through guided exercises and cognitive processing methods, they help clients understand their relationship with money, making better financial decisions.

In this interview, we delve into their journey, motivations, common financial challenges faced by clients, and rewarding moments in their career. They share insights on how financial coaching can intertwine with personal growth, the importance of advocating for oneself, and how people can reach out for support.

Join us as we explore the unique and impactful world of financial social work.


Can you tell us about your experience and background as a financial social worker?

I have been a social worker since 2012 and attained my clinical license in 2015. During my time as a social worker; I worked in a number of settings including: schools, health care and community mental health. I received my certification about four years ago through the Center for Financial Social Work after my sister in -law recommended it to me knowing my clinical background and interest in personal finance. During sessions, my clients engage in guided exercises to help them explore their relationship with money, so they can make better decisions with their money. I work with clients at the individual, group and educational levels.


What motivated you to become a financial social worker?

I have always been curious about the complexities of how two people could make the same wages and use their money so differently. As a social worker, I understand the many influences that contribute to a person’s identity, behaviors and how they show up in this world. Personally, I enjoy learning about financial literacy and listening to financial personalities like Clark Howard and Paula Pant. I always share what I learn with my loved ones and they began to start asking me for personal financial tips. When I learned about this newer sector of social work, I was excited to combine my clinical background and passion for helping people with their finances. 


In your experience, what are some common financial challenges your clients face, and how do you assist them in overcoming these challenges?

My clients usually are experiencing life transitions such as: adjusting from a two income to one income household, increase in wealth after the loss of a loved one, experiencing scarcity mindset with their finances due to adjusting increased wealth after growing up in a household where finances were limited, experiencing imposter syndrome and needing to ground in their own strengths so they can confidently advocate for an increase in compensation at work and many other challenges. I incorporate cognitive processing methods through journal reflections that encourage clients to see how past, current factors in their lives impact their behavioral decisions around money. Exploring ones’ values, help ground them in why it is important to set a specific financial goal and engage in the behavioral financial tools that are encouraged later in sessions.


Could you share a success story or a particularly rewarding moment from your work as a financial social worker?

One of my most fulfilling moments as a financial social worker was when I presented at the North Carolina NASW Conference. At the end of my presentation, a  conversation developed around  advocating for professional compensation as social workers and how the topic is taboo. As social workers, we are taught to be helpers to others, but seldom how it is just as valuable to advocate for ourselves to improve our wellness.


What aspect of financial coaching do you find most fulfilling, and what drives you to continue helping clients improve their financial well-being?

I really enjoy learning my clients’ stories. All of them have been remarkable and to be part of someone’s personal growth journey is so rewarding and an honor. People don’t realize how intertwined one’s emotions, trauma, strengths, values, heart-ache,passions, mental health state and environment are with their financial decisions. So many people were not taught financial literacy as kids. Now as adults, we have the autonomy to be intentional around our own financial wellness and it is important to explore this aspect of being an adult. 


How can people reach out to you?


Interested in the Financial Social Work Certification?

For those interested in becoming certified in financial social work, you can register through this link and use the discount code ppd6274 to receive 10% off.

How to Avoid Falling Back into Debt After You’ve Paid It Off

Paying off debt can be a huge accomplishment that brings a great sense of relief and freedom. However, many people find themselves falling back into debt shortly after they’ve paid it off. This is a frustrating and demoralizing situation that can make it difficult to achieve financial stability. The problem of falling back into debt is all too common, but it’s not inevitable. With the right strategies and mindset, it’s possible to avoid this problem and maintain a debt-free lifestyle.

One of the main reasons people fall back into debt is that they don’t make lasting changes to their spending habits and financial behaviors. Paying off debt can be a difficult process that requires sacrifice and dedication, but it’s often seen as a temporary challenge. Once the debt is gone, it’s easy to slip back into old habits and spending patterns that can lead to new debt. In addition, unexpected expenses, job loss, and other life events can quickly erode progress and push someone back into debt.

Avoiding the problem of falling back into debt is crucial for long-term financial stability and success. It requires a commitment to making lasting changes to your financial habits and a willingness to adapt to life’s challenges. By developing a plan for maintaining your debt-free status, you can enjoy the peace of mind and financial security that come with being debt-free. In the following sections, we’ll discuss some strategies for avoiding the pitfalls of falling back into debt after you’ve paid it off.


Understand Why You Got Into Debt in the First Place

Reflecting on Your Debt

To avoid falling back into debt, it’s essential to reflect on why you got into debt in the first place. Did you overspend on credit cards or take out too many loans? Did unexpected expenses arise, such as medical bills or car repairs? Did a loss of income or job loss make it difficult to keep up with bills? Understanding the root causes of your debt can help you avoid repeating the same mistakes.

Identifying Behaviors, Habits, or Circumstances

Once you understand why you got into debt, it’s important to identify any behaviors, habits, or circumstances that contributed to the problem. This might include overspending, relying too much on credit, failing to save for emergencies, or not having a budget in place. Perhaps you simply didn’t have the financial knowledge or resources to manage your money effectively. Take a close look at your finances and be honest with yourself about what went wrong.

Addressing the Factors

To prevent falling back into debt, you’ll need to address the factors that led to your initial debt. This might involve developing better spending habits, such as sticking to a budget and avoiding unnecessary purchases. You might need to work on increasing your income or finding ways to reduce expenses. Building an emergency fund and prioritizing savings can also help you avoid the need for credit or loans in the future. Consider seeking financial education or guidance if you need help developing a plan.

By reflecting on the reasons why you got into debt, identifying any problematic behaviors or habits, and addressing those factors, you can avoid falling back into debt. The key is to stay committed to making lasting changes and to be proactive in managing your finances. With the right approach, you can maintain a debt-free lifestyle and enjoy greater financial security.


Continue to Live Within Your Means

The Importance of Maintaining a Budget

Maintaining a budget is crucial for avoiding falling back into debt. A budget helps you track your income and expenses, so you know where your money is going. It also helps you plan for the future and avoid overspending. Once you’ve paid off your debt, continue to live within your means and maintain a budget to stay on track.

Ways to Cut Back on Expenses

To stay within your budget, you may need to cut back on expenses. This can be difficult, but it’s necessary to avoid falling back into debt. Look for areas where you can reduce spending, such as dining out less often or shopping for groceries on sale. Consider ways to lower your bills, such as negotiating with service providers or switching to a lower-cost plan. You might also want to consider downsizing or finding ways to reduce housing costs if necessary.

Tips for Avoiding Unnecessary Spending

To avoid unnecessary spending, try to distinguish between wants and needs. Focus on the things that are truly important and find ways to cut back on non-essential purchases. Before making a purchase, ask yourself if it’s something you really need or if it’s something that can wait. Try to avoid impulse buys and stick to your budget as much as possible. If you do make a purchase, look for deals and coupons to save money.

By maintaining a budget, cutting back on expenses, and avoiding unnecessary spending, you can stay within your means and avoid falling back into debt. It takes discipline and planning, but it’s worth the effort to maintain a debt-free lifestyle. Remember to focus on your goals and prioritize your spending accordingly. With the right approach, you can enjoy financial stability and freedom.


Build an Emergency Fund

The Importance of Having an Emergency Fund

One of the best ways to avoid falling back into debt is to have an emergency fund. An emergency fund is a stash of money that you can use to cover unexpected expenses, such as medical bills or car repairs. Without an emergency fund, you may have to rely on credit cards or loans to cover these costs, which can quickly lead to debt. By having an emergency fund, you can avoid these financial pitfalls and stay on track with your debt-free goals.

Setting Up and Funding an Emergency Fund

To set up an emergency fund, start by determining how much you need to save. Ideally, your emergency fund should cover three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Once you have this figure, open a separate savings account and begin setting aside money each month. You can do this by automating transfers from your checking account to your emergency fund. Be consistent with your contributions and avoid dipping into the fund for non-emergency expenses.

Scenarios in Which an Emergency Fund Can be Useful

An emergency fund can be useful in a variety of scenarios, such as unexpected medical bills, car repairs, or job loss. It can also come in handy for unexpected home repairs or appliance replacement. By having an emergency fund, you can avoid falling back into debt when these situations arise. It can also give you peace of mind knowing that you’re prepared for the unexpected.

Building an emergency fund is an important step in avoiding falling back into debt. It may take time and effort to save up the necessary funds, but it’s worth it for the financial security and peace of mind it provides. By setting up and funding an emergency fund, you can avoid the need for credit or loans in unexpected situations and stay on track with your debt-free goals.


Avoid Credit Card Debt

The Dangers of Credit Card Debt

Credit card debt can be a slippery slope that can quickly lead to falling back into debt. High interest rates, fees, and penalties can quickly accumulate, making it difficult to pay off the debt. Additionally, credit card debt can negatively impact your credit score, which can make it harder to obtain loans or credit in the future. To avoid the dangers of credit card debt, it’s important to use credit cards responsibly.

Tips for Using Credit Cards Responsibly

To use credit cards responsibly, only charge what you can afford to pay off each month. Don’t carry a balance on your credit cards, as this will only result in high interest charges. Always make payments on time and in full to avoid fees and penalties. Consider using credit cards for specific purposes, such as travel or online purchases, and avoid using them for everyday expenses. Be mindful of your credit limit and don’t exceed it.

Paying Off Credit Card Debt in a Timely Manner

If you already have credit card debt, it’s important to pay it off in a timely manner to avoid falling back into debt. Start by prioritizing your payments on credit cards with the highest interest rates. Consider consolidating your debt with a balance transfer credit card or personal loan with a lower interest rate. Avoid using your credit cards while you’re paying off your debt. Make a budget and stick to it to ensure you’re making consistent payments.

To avoid falling back into debt, it’s important to use credit cards responsibly and pay off credit card debt in a timely manner. By avoiding credit card debt and paying off existing debt, you can maintain a debt-free lifestyle and enjoy greater financial security. Remember to be mindful of your spending habits and prioritize your debt payments to stay on track. With the right approach, you can enjoy financial freedom and peace of mind.


Seek Professional Help

Why Seek Professional Help

If you’re struggling to manage your finances or stay out of debt, seeking professional help can be a great option. A financial advisor or credit counselor can provide expert guidance and advice tailored to your specific situation. They can help you develop a plan for managing your money and avoiding debt. They can also provide support and accountability to help you stay on track.

Benefits of Professional Assistance

One of the main benefits of seeking professional assistance is the expertise and knowledge they can offer. A financial advisor or credit counselor can help you develop a comprehensive financial plan that takes into account your goals, income, expenses, and debt. They can help you identify problem areas and provide solutions to help you avoid falling back into debt. They can also help you navigate complex financial situations, such as investing, retirement planning, or dealing with creditors.

Resources for Finding Help

If you’re interested in seeking professional help, there are many resources available. Consider reaching out to a local credit counseling agency or financial planner. You can also search for certified financial planners or credit counselors online. Look for professionals with good reviews and certifications from reputable organizations, such as the National Foundation for Credit Counseling or the Financial Planning Association.

Seeking professional help can be a valuable tool for avoiding falling back into debt. A financial advisor or credit counselor can provide the expertise and guidance you need to manage your finances and stay on track. Remember that there is no shame in asking for help, and seeking professional assistance can be a positive step toward achieving your financial goals. With the right resources and support, you can enjoy financial stability and freedom.



Avoiding falling back into debt after paying it off can be a challenging task, but it’s not impossible. In this article, we’ve discussed several key strategies for staying debt-free, including understanding why you got into debt in the first place, living within your means, building an emergency fund, avoiding credit card debt, and seeking professional help. By following these tips, you can stay on track with your financial goals and avoid the negative consequences of falling back into debt.

Take Action to Avoid Falling Back into Debt

The key to avoiding falling back into debt is taking action. Start by reflecting on your financial situation and identifying areas where you can improve. Develop a budget and stick to it, avoiding unnecessary spending and focusing on your financial goals. Build an emergency fund to prepare for unexpected expenses, and avoid credit card debt by using credit cards responsibly and paying off existing debt. Don’t be afraid to seek professional help if you need it, and remember that there are many resources available to support you.

Final Thoughts

Falling back into debt can be a frustrating and demoralizing situation, but with the right approach, it’s possible to avoid this problem. Stay committed to your financial goals, take action to manage your money responsibly, and seek help when you need it. By following these strategies, you can maintain a debt-free lifestyle and enjoy greater financial stability and freedom. Remember, it’s never too late to take control of your finances and achieve your goals.


5 Extreme Couponing Tips to Cut Costs Quickly

Image Credit: Justin Lim on Unsplash

If you’ve ever used a coupon to
save on one of your favorite brands, you may have wondered just how much is possible with coupons. As it turns out, couponing is an entire lifestyle for some people, and it can be used to cut store bills down drastically – hello savings!

If you’re interested in giving extreme couponing a try, it’s important not to rush in without a plan. There are some best practices learned from the experts that require some preparation if you want to get the most out of your coupons. Let’s dive right into the process of extreme couponing so that you can start saving like a pro.

1. Learn the Lingo

The extreme couponing community has created its own language to quickly reference important ideas related to couponing. Familiarize yourself with them to be prepared for your first couponing adventure.

  • Blinkie: A coupon acquired in-store, usually next to the item on sale.
  • BOGO: “Buy One Get One.” This is a type of deal that stores offer, allowing you to walk home with an extra item for free, or for half of the price, if you buy multiple.
  • Doubling: When the store doubles your savings by matching your coupon.
  • Filler: An unneeded item that a couponer buys to make a deal work.
  • Overage: The money you can get from a store if you save so much that they owe you.
  • Stacking: Some coupons can be used together, like manufacturer coupons and store coupons, which can significantly increase your savings.

2. Collect and Organize

Of course, before you can walk into a store expecting to save big, you need to collect your coupons. There are several ways to do this, from online couponing sites to newspapers to store flyers. Explore your options and try to collect as many compatible coupons as possible.

After you’ve collected enough coupons to save big, you’ll want to organize them. Consider investing in a binder or an accordion folder so that you can keep your coupons organized and grouped in a way that makes sense. One popular way to group coupons is to keep the ones that will expire soonest closest to the front of your binder so that using them is top-of-mind.

3. Study Your Store

Unfortunately, not every store has the most generous coupon policy. Some don’t allow you to stack certain coupons or use coupons with deals. Before you walk in with a plan, check out the store’s coupon policy online or ask an employee about it. This will save you the embarrassment of being turned down at the register and feeling obligated to purchase items at full price.

If one store has strict rules, remember that you don’t have to stick with it! Explore other store options until you land on a store that allows you to coupon how you’d like to.

4. Stack Your Coupons

If your store’s couponing policy allows it, try using two coupons together to significantly increase your savings. While it’s usually not permitted to use two store coupons or two manufacturer coupons on the same item, many stores allow you to stack a manufacturer coupon on top of a store coupon.

Another way to stack your savings is to use coupons on already discounted items. If you stumble upon a BOGO deal or a 50% off deal, adding a coupon (or maybe even two) to your savings may allow you to walk away with an item for next to nothing!

5. Don’t Buy What You Don’t Need

Saving money can often feel like a game, especially since couponing can be really exciting. However, this mindset can cause couponers to purchase huge quantities of unneeded items just so that they can use more coupons.

In the long-run, this defeats the purpose of using coupons to save money and only results in collecting junk you likely won’t end up using. Before you get too excited, remember why you started couponing to begin with and try not to get distracted!

The Bottom Line

Budgeting is an essential part of a healthy financial life, but you can’t always save as much as you’d like to through budgeting alone. Couponing can be a fun and exciting supplement to your financial strategy to cut down your costs and help you achieve your savings goals.

Remember, extreme couponing will take some practice to master. Even those who do it every day are always learning. Stay focused, keep hunting, and get saving!

If you enjoyed the couponing advice above, check out Capital One Shopping’s visual below, which offers even more couponing tips to help you save big.


7 Methods to Eliminate Debt Quickly

Are you in a debt crunch?

If so, you probably know the stress and anxiety it can bring you and your family.

Debt is an extremely common financial situation to have. With over 95% of adults issued a credit card it can be easy to over-utilize this piece of plastic and put your financial future in jeopardy..

In this post, I’ll explore several methods you can use to eliminate debt quickly and much more. Let’s get started.

Use Side Hustles to Crush Debt

Side hustles are one of my favorite methods to reduce your debt because of how easy they can be to start.

Start by finding a side hustle that’s right for you. There are hundreds – if not thousands of potential side hustles that almost anyone can start. Finding one that you enjoy can be just a few searches away.

Once you’ve found a side hustle you’re happy with, you can use the additional income to lower your debts.

Depending on how much debt you have – this could take a few years (or more), but don’t give up.

Some of my favorite ways to flip money include driving for delivery apps, selling candles from home, flipping furniture, or working as a freelancer.

Find Other Ways to Increase Your Income

Starting a side hustle or business isn’t the only method to increase your income. Take advantage of your 9-to-5 by asking for a raise or finding another higher-paying opportunity at a different company.

If you choose to ask for a raiser – be sure to have some numbers or accomplishments to back it up. This will increase your chances of landing a higher pay.

If this is not an option for you, switching companies or industries can be an easy way to increase your income. By finding a similar job at a different company it’s possible to increase your pay anywhere from 10% to 20%.

Reduce Debts with the Highest Interest Rates First

While there are two main methods of paying off debt – the debt avalanche method and the debt snowball method – I prefer the avalanche method.

This method of paying off debt will reduce the total amount of interest you will end up paying.

If you want to become independently wealthy – you’re going to need to save as much money on interest as possible. To organize your debts, create a spreadsheet that includes the type of debt, the total amount owed, the interest rate, and the minimum payment each month. This will help you to better track which debts are getting paid off and which debts are accruing the most interest.

Take Your Budget Seriously

There’s no doubt that budgeting your money correctly can help you to pay off debt much more aggressively than those without a strict (or any!) budget.

By budgeting your money you can make better decisions with your money to help you reduce debt at a quicker rate.

How do you budget effectively?

Creating a balanced budget will require you to understand both your monthly income and expenses. To start your budget, write down all of your monthly income. Next, write down all of your monthly expenses – like your mortgage or rent payment, minimum debt payments, and other expenses like your utilities or groceries. Subtract your expenses from your income to gauge where your finances stand. If you are at a net loss, you’ll need to either find ways to cut expenses or increase your income.

Build an Emergency Fund

If there’s one thing we all know about emergencies it’s that they will happen. It isn’t a matter of “if” – it’s a matter of when they will happen.

When trying to pay off debt, an emergency can cripple any progress you’ve made on reducing your debt.

If you want to decrease the likelihood of this happening – try to establish an emergency fund if you don’t already have one. It’s a good idea to start small – maybe $500 or $1,000 then build it up over time.

This money should be used for one thing and one thing only – true emergencies. But what is considered an emergency?

In simplest terms, think of items that are unexpected – like a major hospital bill, a car repair, or dental procedure. Items like car maintenance however – should not be considered. Any repairs or expenses you can expect should instead be budgeted for.

Start a Business

Similar to starting a side hustle, starting a business can be another great way to build your income and rescue debt.

But there’s one main caveat – don’t go into more debt to start your business.

There are many small businesses you can start for less than a few hundred dollars. For example, investing in digital real estate like a website or blog can be done for less than $20.

Small businesses can require a significant amount of work to get started – but once they develop, scaling them can become easier and easier.

Stop Using Debt Altogether

This one might seem obvious – but sometimes can get overlooked. If you’re already drowning in debt a credit card can be the worst thing for your finances. By avoiding these obvious traps it can not only help you pay off your debt quicker but also avoid it later down the road.


By using a few of the methods above, you’re sure to start reducing your debts one month at a time.

Whether you choose to pick up a side hustle, start a business, or revisit that pesky budget – reducing your debt is going to take some sacrifices and hard work but it’s certainly possible. Stick to it and watch your debt start dwindling away. Good luck!

6 Smart Ways to Get Ready for Moving House

Moving, whether its just across town, to a new city or even to a different country altogether, its an exciting time. It’s also one of the most stressful things we can experience. There are so many things to consider, choosing a house, visiting schools, booking a moving company, arranging for passports and visas, changing addresses on all your mail… this list just seems to go on and on, there are so many balls to keep in the air. Moving can also be a very expensive, here are 6 ways to help you prepare financially.

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Beat the Heat to Save More Money

The first official day of summer has come and gone, and we’ve been having the weather to vouch for it! I’ve always preferred being hot to being cold, so I’ve never been one to complain, but having a little one at home who’s clearly uncomfortable has made us rethink our home cooling situation a bit.

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