Managing your finances is hard enough when times are good. Now that many of us are dealing with uncertainty, unemployment, and anxiety about … well, everything, it’s become even more difficult to decide what to do with our money — if we even have enough brain space to deal with our finances after we deal with all of the other changes in our lives.
Luckily, several reputable financial organizations are offering free personal finance resources to help us through the coronavirus pandemic. A couple of organizations are even giving people the opportunity to speak with a financial professional for free.
The Financial Planning Association is offering pro bono, short-term financial guidance to underserved individuals and families. The FPA defines “underserved” as “low-income individuals and families, military personnel/veterans, domestic violence survivors; people affected by natural disasters, serious medical crises, bankruptcy, etc.” and all of its pro bono advisors are Certified Financial Planner (TM) professionals who are trained to help.
If you don’t qualify for pro bono assistance but you’d still like some financial guidance, the FPA put together a free resource titled Navigating the New Reality, which includes budgeting and investing advice as well as general tips like “Practice Financial Distancing”:
“Bad ideas, spoken with confidence, can sound pretty good these days. We listen and believe confident people, regardless of the quality of their ideas. If these confident people spout complicated ideas, our brains shut down instead of analyzing their ideas. If you are persuaded by them, you will only hear ideas that validate these opinions. These noise peddlers don’t have the answers. If you have to listen to them, question their assumptions and don’t just assume they are right.”
The XY Planning Network, an organization of fee-only financial advisors who specialize in financial advice for Gen X and Millennials, is also offering pro bono financial advice for people who have experienced a loss of income due to the coronavirus pandemic. You can also visit their blog, which includes a recent post on how Millennials can navigate a recession:
“Do not stop contributing to your retirement account during a recession. The only reason you should stop or reduce your contribution percentage is if you need extra cash from your paycheck to cover living expenses (if you have an emergency fund, you shouldn’t have to do this). As equity and fixed income prices fall during a recession, your periodic contributions purchase more shares at a lower price (see this article on Dollar Cost Averaging). Think of it as buying at a discount. Purchasing at lower valuations allows for greater long term growth potential.”
The Foundation for Financial Planning, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau have all developed free coronavirus-related resources, providing advice on everything from bill-payment options for small business owners to tips for financial caregivers (that is, for people managing an older family member’s finances). Be aware that the NFCC website will give you the option to connect with a nonprofit financial counselor, but that doesn’t mean that person is offering free counseling.
If the COVID-19 outbreak has changed the way you’re managing your day-to-day finances, let us know—and if you’d rather access mental health counseling than financial counseling right now, we’ve got a list of free mental health resources for you too.