Regions Hampton Roads

FinFit offers ‘financial wellness programs’

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Print this page by Veronica Garabelli
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Jennifer Creech says FinFit allows employees
to focus on their jobs instead of worrying about
their bills.

Many of us are familiar with the benefits of staying physically fit, but what about the pluses of fiscal fitness? Virginia Beach-based FinFit is trying to help people get their personal balance sheets in shape.

“We are a true financial wellness program,” says Jennifer Creech, FinFit’s director of business development. “…There is no one out there to date that does exactly what we do.”

FinFit offers its free, financial wellness program to companies around the country. When a business signs up for FinFit, employees can access its website, which includes budget planning, financial calculators, educational tools, identity theft protection and debt management.

FinFit also offers employees short-term loans ranging from $500 to $5,000, depending on income. Employees must fit the following criteria before getting a loan. They must 1) complete FinFit’s financial wellness assessment, 2) be full-time employees who have worked for their employer for at least six months, 3) have no current garnishments and 4) make $10 an hour or more.

Employees have five months to pay back the loan through payroll deductions. Loan interest rates vary by state, but in Virginia the rate is 9 percent. That rate is much lower than typical payday loans, Creech says. 

According to The Pew Charitable Trusts, payday loans typically offer about two weeks of credit and must be fully repaid the next time the borrower gets paid. The annual interest rate is around 400 percent, says the nonprofit’s “Payday Lending in America” series, which outlines problems with payday loans and suggests solutions.  

According to Creech, most of FinFit’s borrowers are single women. Most borrowers are taking out loans of $500 to $1,000 for short-term-emergencies like replacing a hot-water heater or tires on a car. Most borrowers make $46,000 to $52,000 per year, she says.

“As you know, folks that are financially challenged are spending their day worrying about how they are going to get funds to be able to take care of the situation that’s in front of them, so they’re not focused on doing their job,” Creech says about the benefits of FinFit’s loan program. “We create that focus and put them right back into doing what the employer is paying them to do.”

FinFit, which was founded in 2010, employs about 30 people. The company was named one of Virginia Business’ 2014 Best Places to Work.

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