Are you currently serving in our uniformed services? The Financial Planning Association™ of Massachusetts (FPAMA) is committed to supporting our military families – especially those who have family members deployed as part of a reserve or National Guard unit. The FPA of Massachusetts offers free financial coaching and planning to all those who are serving us in this extraordinary way. We will help you define your goals, create budgets, establish savings plans, take advantage of your employee benefits (including military), protect your assets and cover risks, and plan for the unimaginable. What do you need to do? Just make a phone call to get started! This is no sales gimmick. There is no cost to you and no selling permitted by our volunteers. Call the toll-free FPA of MA Referral Line 1-855-54-FPAMA. You’ll be matched with a CFP® practitioner who will work with you at no cost.
How Does the System Work?
- First, the soldier or family member contacts the FPA and requests financial coaching or planning assistance. The request must include certain contact information such as address, telephone number and email address. The FPAMA home office then assigns the case to one of our volunteer financial planners who have been trained and understand the unique circumstances of military personnel and some of their benefits.
- The assigned planner contacts the soldier to determine the general nature of the requests and needs. In almost every case the soldier will have to provide detailed information about how much money is earned and spent, their goals, and the financial assets they presently have, along with any debt. This base of information is essential if the plan is to have any real value. The soldier may be entered into Money 101, which is an on-line data gathering tool used for pro bono cases. The planner assigned may have other resources to use to accomplish the same data gathering.
- Once the soldier has provided the data, there may be a need for a face-to-face meeting, or there may be other ways to refine the data before the plan is created. Once the plan is created it is delivered to the soldier. That may be done in person or by mail or other means. Usually there is then an opportunity to meet with the planner (and this may be done by telephone conference call or other electronic means if distances are a problem) and go over the plan and discuss any questions that may have come up.
- The implementation of the plan is the responsibility of the soldier. Most plans involve taking full advantage of employment benefits and contacting other professional resources available (e.g. military or pro bono attorneys). Savings and investment techniques usually focus on use of 401k plans, Thrift Savings Plans, Savings Deposit programs, etc. The planner can provide suggestions about sources of support and product (e.g. insurances) but cannot handle the sales.
How Long Does the Engagement Last?
Typically it takes a few weeks to complete a plan if all the data is available. After the plan is delivered and discussed, the engagement is essentially completed unless the soldier has additional questions while implementing the plan. If the soldier is scheduled for mobilization and deployment, the planner is a resource for the family throughout the deployment and into reintegration upon return. The objective of the program is to have the soldier deploy with a workable plan in place to ease the impact of the family separation, and to assist in getting back into “normalcy” upon return. Of course a soldier who already has a plan in place from a prior engagement can have the plan updated to support a life change; and a mobilization and deployment surely is that!
The soldier must:
- Establish goals for the plan
- Provide the planner accurate data about
- Assets (things owned and investment accounts)
- Liabilities (amounts owed like mortgages and credit cards)
- Implement the plan
- Keep track of progress
- Make adjustments as necessary
What will the Planner do?
The assigned planner will:
- Record the data in an orderly way and provide a summary
- Analyze the data and compare it to the goals
- Create a plan for budgeting, savings, debt pay-down and savings
- Make projections about possible outcomes
- Provide a report and recommended actions
The Financial Planning Association at the national level has several useful resources about the military. The National Military Initiative is the place to access that information.
If you need more information about financial planning in general, please go to the Financial Planning 101 in the tool bar above. To connect to a multitude of resources, including pamphlets and booklets, checklists and worksheets, etc. go to the Resources button above. There are many useful materials you can access to get started