When life hands you lemons, they’re not always sweet. Oftentimes, hardships like divorce, funerals, or maybe an unexpected bundle of joy can bring about financial shifts. When this happens, financial counseling can be the solution you need to getting back on your feet.
Whether you are in the process of managing your debt, expanding your savings, or are in need of immediate financial assistance, all signs point to Members Exchange Credit Union where we offer free financial counseling for all members.
What Does a Financial Counselor Do?
A financial counselor is generally well-versed in a variety of financial topics from finding affordable housing to lowering credit card debt. Financial counselors can also be trained in areas such as navigating public benefits, military pay, and assisting individuals with a disability.
Overall, a financial counselor can assist you with the following:
- Understanding basic financial principles
- Managing debt
- Learning money management
- Determining financial goals
- Creating a strategy to work towards them
- Dissecting financial stability within personal relationships
- Understanding the relationship between money and self-esteem
- Determining your eligibility for tax credits, government assistance, and other benefits
- Examining and improving your credit score
While there is a specific accredited title financial counselors can hold, the Accredited Financial Counselor Certification, most positions do not require certification. Offered by the Association for Financial Counseling & Planning Education, the available certification indicates that an advisor has had over 1,000 hours of financial counseling experience and has passed the AFC exam.
How Does Credit Counseling Work?
For most institutions, credit counseling begins by selecting your preferred counselor and collecting the documentation needed to properly assess your finances such as billing statements. Your initial visit will take approximately an hour where your counselor will review pay stubs, expenses such as rent, car notes, and internet bills. You’ll discuss your current needs and future financial goals before implementing a financial strategy.
From this information, your counselor will create a profile including assets, budgets, and address overspending or inadequate finances needed to build savings. Factoring in certain elements, a new budget, and income goal may be created in order to support your goals for savings, emergency, or retirement. If debt repayment is needed prior to building up your foundation of savings, your counselor will then offer solutions including debt consolidation or balance transfers to get you into a lower interest rate and kick start your financial freedom.
What is the Difference Between Financial Planning and Financial Counseling?
Generally, a financial counselor will assist you in getting out of debt, build an emergency fund, and tackle any lingering bills that have gone ignored. By doing so, you create a healthy financial foundation for yourself and can then prepare for future planning and investments.
Financial planners are more skilled at assisting clients with saving for retirement, expanding their stock portfolio, or setting aside savings for putting their kids through college. Unless a financial counselor is registered as an investment adviser, they are prohibited from giving investment advice or buy and sell assets.
Why Receive Financial Counseling from a Credit Union?
For starters, most banks will not provide free financial counseling to their customers. They may offer incentives such as lower fees or free checking if you have an investment account, but will not provide you with a financial counselor or advisor. At a credit union, you become a part-owner as soon as you open an account, so you are treated as such. Credit unions provide educational resources like financial counseling to help their members advance into a life of financial wellness and stability.
How Do I Get Started?
At Members Exchange Credit Union, not only do we offer our members financial counseling, but it’s at no cost to you! This makes getting started with financial counseling easy. MECU partners with GreenPath Financial Wellness to offer FREE counseling sessions Monday through Saturday during business hours.
GreenPath is a non-profit organization dedicated to assisting our members with their financial goals. Receive free individualized counseling, guidance, and educational resources. In partnership with GreenPath, Members Exchange Credit Union will help prepare you to make those financial decisions when the time comes.
Schedule a Free Financial Counseling Session in Jackson, MS | MECU
So whether you are considering owning your first home, applying for college, or need to pay down debt and improve your credit score, Members Exchange Credit Union in Jackson, MS is here for you. Not yet a member and want to take advantage of free financial counseling? Open an account today to begin fast-tracking your financial freedom. Learn more about our free financial counseling partnership with GreenPath and empower your financial future at Members Exchange Credit Union.