Empowerment Stories: Philadelphian takes charge of her finances after foreclosure scare

After Clarifi counseling sessions, Philadelphian Monique Ketter went from losing her car to increasing her credit score by 200 points and gaining confidence in her finances.

When Monique Ketter arrived at Clarifi in 2018, she says she was in “a very dark place.” She was still reeling from the financial impact of a 2016 layoff from her job as a family advisor with a cyber charter school. By the time her position was reinstated in 2017, she was behind on her car payments, mortgage, and other bills—and struggling to make up lost ground.

“It was just this awful snowball effect,” she said.

First, her car was repossessed. Then her mortgage company sent a notice of foreclosure, as she’d only been making partial payments. The thought of losing the Northwest Philadelphia home she has owned for 18 years and where she is raising her daughter, now a high-school senior, was devastating. Monique
turned to her job’s Employee Assistance Program, which sent her to Clarifi.

I gained more financial knowledge in a single meeting than I ever had before in my life.

Monique Ketter

“I went into that first meeting with, I’ll admit, a bad attitude,” she said. “I was in financial straits, I had lost my car, and the next thing was my home and I just could not see my way through this. I was feeling downtrodden and could barely talk about it. I didn’t think anyone could help me.”

“But then my counselor, Lorrie Graham, broke through those walls. She didn’t make me feel like I was a bad person or being judged. During the next hour-and-a-half, I gained more financial knowledge in a single meeting than I ever had before in my life.”

Lorrie helped Monique secure a loan modification with her mortgage company, which would kick in after she proved her ability to pay on time every month. During that meeting and later phone counseling sessions, they talked about budgeting and setting financial priorities—including the need to avoid bank overdraft fees, which Monique was racking up regularly.

“The house was the biggest issue, but the financial knowledge Lorrie gave me helped me land in a better spot,” Monique said. “I left that meeting with a complete change in mindset.”

She has made all of her scheduled loan payments and never incurred another bank overdraft fee. And though she assumed that the car repossession had damaged her credit score permanently, she used what Lorrie taught her to set priorities and always pay bills on time—raising her credit score by 200
points. She was able to purchase a car in 2020.

“I remember Lorrie said, ‘This is just a moment in your life and you will get beyond this.’ That’s exactly what I needed to hear at that time,” Monique said. “She will always have a special place in my heart.”