Financial Health
March 18, 2015

Banking guidance sparks teacher’s financial recovery

Teacher Richard Leistiko embarked on a financial transformation that helped him pay off debt, improve his credit score, and build up an emergency fund.

Richard Leistiko is a man on a mission — choosing to leave his home state of Montana to seek out teaching assignments across the U.S., where he can guide students and help them succeed.

That journey has taken him to Nome, Alaska, and now to Oakland, California, where he teaches kindergarten at a charter school. During his travels, Richard also decided it was time for him to begin a financial journey.

Student loan debt led him to Wells Fargo’s banking store in Nome one day to talk to Personal Banker Drew McCann.

“I had just seen a Wells Fargo commercial that conveyed the message that Wells Fargo was willing to help people financially even if they had limited assets,” Richard says. “I decided to see if they could help me.”

Drew helped Richard develop a budget and created a plan for paying bills and managing daily expenses. They also set up monthly check-ins to monitor progress — habits Richard has continued with Personal Banker Brett Northrup in Oakland.

Over the next 18 months, the financial actions Richard took helped him pay off debt, improve his credit score, and build up an emergency fund.

“Seeing where my money was coming in and going out has made a world of difference,” Richard says, “and the monthly check-ins keep me committed to my budget and on track to reach my goals.”

Says Brett, “Drew and I just provided the information and direction Richard needed to move forward and succeed financially. But he’s done all the hard work. We couldn’t be prouder of him.”

A version of this story also appeared in the 2014 Wells Fargo Annual Report (PDF).