Get Prepared for a Financial Planner

By Rebecca Wiggins, Executive Director, AFCPE®

Do you find yourself struggling to pay off debt, or sticking to your spending plan each month? Are you trying to find extra money leftover so you can begin saving for your child’s college education? Or maybe you are just uncertain of where to start or what questions to even ask?

If that sounds familiar, you are not alone.  According to the FINRA Financial Capability Study, 50% of Americans do not have an emergency fund of three months expenses set aside for unexpected bills due to sickness or injury, job loss, or other emergencies. 63% of the study participants could not answer more than three out of five questions correctly about aspects of economics and finance encountered in daily life. For many people, that lack of confidence and knowledge leads to shame and avoidance.

Thankfully, there are great resources available to get you started.

Working with a licensed financial planner is an essential step in reaching your long-term financial goals like saving or investing for retirement. However, there are also highly trained professionals that can meet you where you are and get you prepared to meet with a financial planner. Accredited Financial Counselors® (AFC®) complete rigorous certification training to understand and address the entire life-cycle of the client. They work with you through a tailored approach based on your complex needs and unique goals.

AFC professionals are focused on financial education through a counseling approach and do not sell any investment or insurance products. They will work with you to determine your needs, goals, and challenges. Together, you will build an effective spending plan to help you stay on track and achieve your goals. Once the foundation of your financial house is stable, an AFC can refer to you a licensed financial planner, like a CFP® CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®.

No matter where you are in your financial journey, there are reputable resources and professionals available.  Professionals should hold a nationally-recognized certification that requires ongoing ethics and continuing education. If you aren’t sure, you can contact the national associations, Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education® (AFCPE®) or Financial Planning Association.  To find an AFC professional, you can search online: http://www.afcpe.org/find-an-afc. To find a CFP, go to http://www.letsmakeaplan.org/choose-a-cfp-professional/find-a-cfp-professional.


Let America Saves help you save money. It all starts when you make a commitment to yourself to save. Take the first step today and take the America Saves pledge to save money, reduce debt, and build wealth over time. And it doesn't stop there. America Saves will keep you motivated with information, advice, tips, and reminders to help you reach your goal. Think of us as your own personal support system.

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