Sometimes, the internet can be a treasure trove of valuable information. But if you’re looking for specific advice, you might not be able to get the help you need. When it comes to managing your money, having advice tailored specifically for you can be vital to your financial freedom.
There are some ways to get financial counseling for cheap or even for free with the help of your community. Here’s how to find the resources.
Do you need help?
Before diving into counseling or assistance, see if you need it first. Financial advisors can help you make important money choices. If you’re behind on bills, you might want to look for a credit counseling or debt management service to get you on track.
3 financial counseling services to look for
After you’ve determined that you need to enlist the help of a professional, you could get lost in the sea of options. It can be difficult to know where to start.
A good way to find quality help for cheap or free is to look for nonprofit agencies. They’re funded by grants and tend to provide resources for free or lower fees unlike for-profit groups do. Here are three kinds of services to seek.
1. Attend a Financial Planning Day
If you’re looking for in-person help near you, see if a Financial Planning Day program is happening near you. Four national financial nonprofits come together to offer a multitude of resources annually in different parts of the country. Some certified financial planners volunteer their time and services through speeches and one-on-one counseling on issues such as:
- Creating and maintaining a budget
- Managing credit and debt
The counselors cover a host of other topics, as well. The event isn’t held on one day only, but on many days throughout the year that best fit the local community. Find a financial planning event near you.
2. Consider a credit counseling agency
The Financial Planning Day initiative is growing but isn’t available in every state yet. But there are plenty of national agencies that may provide help near you.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC) offers assistance on a variety of issues from credit and mortgages to creating a debt management plan. The NFCC is the largest financial counseling organization in the country and has specialists providing help specifically for your needs. It has locations in all 50 states.
The American Consumer Credit Counseling (ACCC) offers free counseling, debt management programs, or assistance in paying off credit cards. The agency helps everyone from young adults trying to pay for college to retirees trying to navigate health care issues and independent living. The ACCC operates nationwide, but depending on where you live, there might be different services available.
The Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP) provides financial assistance free of charge for people in need. The organization pairs you up with volunteer financial planners to offer help based on your situation. The group provides grants to communities across the country to reach underserved families. It has provided grants in 37 states, and you can check if your state has a recipient of its grants. The FFP also has national programs targeted to help military members and people with cancer.
Credit.org offers financial education and housing assistance. Some services, like credit and debt counseling, are free. But debt management plans could cost money.
3. Find local community support
Sometimes, national organizations work with local groups to offer financial planning and counseling. But some places in your community might not be associated with a larger group.
Then you can try seeking local community help from your bank or credit union, college or university campus, a military base or faith-based organization. Ask specific questions, including:
- What services are offered?
- Can you help me make a financial plan?
- What are the fees (if any)?
Try to find certified financial planners or certified credit counselors, and ask to see their accreditations before working with them.
Seek help if you need it
If you’re struggling to make ends meet and can’t find a way to get on track on your own, there is help available from a variety of sources. While some agencies charge money, others might offer free or discounted services. Don’t be afraid to get help if you’re having a hard time managing your debt or making a budget. A little help can go a long way.
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