To get free financial advice from a money professional, Americans can turn to a number of resources. Pro bono providers range from the Financial Planning Association to the Federal Voluntary Income Tax Assistance Program to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling.
This should be welcome news to the millions of Americans who continue to stress out about the state of their personal finances. For many, COVID-19 has disrupted their source of income, leading to rising debts, unpaid mortgages or rents, and the inability to fund emergency expenses such as medical bills.
“The need for financial advice is great,” says Marguerita Cheng, certified financial planner and CEO of Blue Ocean Global Wealth, based in Maryland. Cheng says the three most asked questions she’s heard since the COVID-19 crisis broke out in March 2020 are: How do I apply for unemployment benefits; How do I manage my cash flow, including bills to be paid; and which of my financial resources can i tap for money?
Hiring a dedicated Certified Financial Planner (CFP) to help you heal your troubled finances is the best medicine, but it’s also costly. That makes it out of reach for most financially troubled Americans.
Fortunately, more and more certified financial planners are devoting their time and services to helping people in financial need for free. Better yet, these finance professionals are just a phone call (or a few clicks) away.
Here is where Americans can seek free financial advice from a professional:
- Association for financial planning
- National Foundation for Credit Advice
- Financial Planning Foundation
- The Federal Association of Personal Financial Advisors
- The Association for Financial Consulting & Planning Education
- Savvy ladies
- Voluntary income tax assistance
- Housing and Urban Development Department
Before working with a pro bono financial professional, it is a good idea to check to see if you are eligible for free advice. Some organizations may limit their services to underserved communities, low-income people, military personnel, people with disabilities, or other communities.
Association for financial planning
The Financial Planning Association is the largest community of CFPs and the primary membership organization for more than 22,000 certified financial planners. Since its inception in 2000, providing free, non-binding financial planning guidance to those in need has been a hallmark of the FPA.
Its COVID-19 Pro Bono Financial Planning Program provides a list of approximately 80 CFPs across the country.
Those seeking advice can click the Pro Bono Program link to contact a CFP in their area. When working with a CFP, you will be asked to fill out a letter of commitment that sets out the terms and expectations.
National Foundation for Credit Advice
Through a national network of member agencies covering all 50 states and US territories, you can schedule a free one-on-one consultation with an accredited advisor who will perform an in-depth review of your finances and discuss the challenges that stand in the way of affordable debt settlement and offer a range of Solutions.
“Debt settlement isn’t the only benefit of the program,” said Bruce McClary, senior vice president of communications for the NFCC. “What sets an NFCC-administered debt management plan apart from a for-profit company is that it involves ongoing financial education, coaching, and guidance from a finance professional. This is not what you would get from a for-profit deleveraging company or if you file for bankruptcy. “
Financial Planning Foundation
Since 1995, the non-profit foundation for financial planning has provided the needy with the means for high-quality financial planning on an individual basis free of charge.
The FFP grants promote opportunities for personal exchange between volunteer financial planners and people in need. The Consumer Resources page has a variety of free financial planning resources, such as workbooks, worksheets, and helpful links to help people understand and improve their financial health.
National Association of Personal Financial Advisers
The COVID-19 pandemic has led many finance professionals to give back to their communities by offering free financial advice. Members of NAPFA, which represents fee-based advisors, waive their fees and help those in need.
Association for financial advice & educational planning
The Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education, in partnership with the Wells Fargo Foundation and the nonprofit military aid group Yellow Ribbon Network, offers free virtual counseling and coaching sessions, as well as free COVID-19 funding with accredited financial advisors and financial fitness trainers.
You don’t have to be a member of the military to participate. The sessions are virtual and free.
With 3,000 volunteers in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, Savvy Ladies provides access to unbiased, independent advice from certified professionals for women of all ages and backgrounds.
This 501 (c) (3) nonprofit has helped 20,000 women and provided a variety of services including webinars, online courses, and a free finance line. Fill out a helpline inquiry form with your question and you will be connected to a volunteer financial expert. Each question is limited to one call.
Voluntary income tax assistance
Benefits.gov’s Voluntary Income Tax Assistance Program provides free tax assistance to those earning US $ 54,000 or less, the disabled, the elderly, or those with limited English speaking taxpayers.
Volunteers who are IRS certified offer a free basic income tax return with electronic filing.
Housing and Urban Development Department
The Department of Housing and Urban Development sponsors housing counseling agencies across the country that can advise on a variety of housing-related issues, from buying a home to foreclosures and credit issues.
How To Find Free Financial Services From A Pro
Before reaching out to a pro bono financial advisor, it is important to first take stock of your current financial situation:
- Evaluate your finances. Organize your paperwork and list your assets and debts to help you keep track of your finances.
- Access your free credit report. Go to AnnualCreditReport.com to get your latest credit report for free. The three credit bureaus – Equifax, Experian and TransUnion – will continue to offer free weekly online credit reports during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Visit reputable personal finance news sources. Read personal financial resources, including the US News & World Report and its financial advisory content, for the latest financial news.
- Contact the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau for answers. The CFPB is not just for filing consumer complaints. It’s also a collection of vetted, reliable financial advisory and educational tools, backed by the U.S. government, and available free of charge to Americans. “It’s very stressful when you have financial challenges and you don’t know where to go,” said Desmond Brown, associate director of consumer education at CFPB. “We want to help people to reduce their stress.” For example, Brown’s Consumer Education Department offers a brief introduction to credit counseling, as well as a report that distinguishes between nonprofit and for-profit credit counseling services. Ask CFPB gives clear, impartial answers to hundreds of financial questions, and Your Money, Your Goals helps people expand their financial knowledge, skills, and resources to achieve their money goals.