Advisors offering free, no strings attached financial planning to those hit by COVID-19

Advisors offering free, no strings attached financial planning to those hit by COVID-19
Posted at 7:18 PM, Jun 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-03 19:18:19-04

Financial advisors around the country are offering pro bono help to those impacted financially by COVID-19, no strings attached.

But despite the historic economic downturn, some advisors say they aren't getting many calls.

"'Financial planning' evokes being wealthy, having stocks and bonds. And that's not necessarily the case," said Kristin Pugh, a senior wealth advisor in Georgia.

She believes some people are deterred from seeking help because they have misconceptions about financial planning. Regardless of income, anyone with bills to pay and money to manage can benefit from this free help, Pugh said.

Also servings as Director of Community Outreach and Pro Bono Planning for the Georgia Financial Planning Association (FPA), Pugh says doing this work is a personal mission for her.

"In short, growing up poor made it so I have a particular, want or need to help the community," said Pugh. "Just a deep empathy for the amount of financial illiteracy that's out there, because of my own experience growing up."

The FPA reached out to chapters across the country to make a list of advisors willing to do to pro bono work during the economic crisis.

The help could range from a few phone calls to a six-month relationship.

Pugh says people facing hardships can advocate for themselves right now. She's advising many clients to try and get their bills lowered or postponed, like your credit cards or cell phone bill.

"It makes sense to call these people and say, 'I don't want to get dinged on my credit score for not making this on time, how can we work on this together'," said Pugh.

One of her clients negotiated with a collection agency, lowering the lump sum payment she owed from $500 to $300.

San Diego resident Susan Capra encourages people to take advantage of this free financial advice. She lost her dream job in the fashion industry during the 2008 recession and had to navigate much of this on her own.

"I learned a lot about calling up the agencies and seeing what they can do. You never know unless you ask. Pick up the phone and ask what are they doing to support the people in your situation," said Capra. "Focus on the biggest bills you have, and figure out how to either reduce those big bills, defer those big bills, get help."

In addition to finding a minimum wage job, Capra reduced unnecessary spending and made only the minimum payments on her credit cards.

Rather than renewing her car lease, she opted to put a little money down on a used car with low payments.

"This is not the first financial crisis we've been through; it's not the last. This is everyone's opportunity to educate yourselves, and there's light at the end of the tunnel."

You can find a certified pro bono financial advisor through FPA or the Foundation for Financial Planning .

Have the 5 On Your Side Investigators confront your issue. Click Here.

Reopening Ohio
Gov. Mike DeWine and the State of Ohio have established a plan to begin reopening Ohio businesses starting May 1. Below is a timeline of the businesses allowed to reopen.

May 1: Medical care – non-essential surgeries and procedures that do not require an overnight stay will be allowed beginning May 1.
May 4: Manufacturing, distribution and construction businesses that were ordered to cease activities may reopen on May 4, as well as general office environments.
May 12: Retail establishments and facilities will be allowed to reopen on May 12.
May 15: Salons, barbershops, day spas, tanning facilities, massage parlors, tattoo parlors and piercing businesses. Restaurants will be allowed to serve patrons on outdoor patios. More details here.
May 21: Restaurants and bars will be allowed to reopen for dine-in service. Read more here. Campgrounds will be allowed to reopen. Read more here.
May 22: Horse racing will be allowed to resume, with no spectators. Casinos and Racinos are not included in the reopening. Read more here.
May 26: Gyms, fitness centers, regulated pools, recreation centers and studios will be allowed to reopen, with new requirements. Non-contact and limited-contact sports leagues, such as golf, baseball and tennis will be allowed to resume. BMVs across Ohio will reopen, but government officials encourage citizens to utilize the BMVs online services when possible. Read more here.
May 31: Day care centers will be able to reopen in Ohio. Read more about the plan to reopen day cares here. Day camps and summer camps will also be allowed to operate. Details on that here.

While these announced reopenings encompass the majority of the businesses, agencies and events closed and canceled by the state's orders, the governor has not yet made an annoucements on when K-12 schools in the state will reopen, nor when places of public amusement, such as theme parks, gambling businesses, skating rinks, movie theaters, and others will be allowed to reopen. See a full list of indoor and outdoor places that remain closed here.

Click here for more details on the state's "Responsible RestartOhio" plan.