Assessing and Managing Your Financial situation
Cancer and its treatment can leave a survivor with a need to review current and future financial goals. Events such as illness, disability, employment changes and investment disappointments can affect your personal and financial well-being. An assessment of your situation can help define your present financial status as well as prepare for future planning, saving, spending and dealing with financial emergencies. Preparation for changes and challenges to finances can contribute to increased financial security.
Assessing and Managing Your Financial Situation: Detailed Information
This information is meant to be a general introduction to this topic. The purpose is to provide a starting point for you to become more informed about important matters that may be affecting your life as a survivor and to provide ideas about steps you can take to learn more. This information is not intended nor should it be interpreted as providing professional medical, legal and financial advice. You should consult a trained professional for more information. Please read the Suggestions and Additional Resources documents for questions to ask and for more resources.
Cancer and its treatment can leave a survivor with need to review current and future financial goals. Dealing with financial matters might seem overwhelming. However, an assessment of your current situation can help define your present financial status, as well as prepare for future needs. Planned spending may help you avoid financial problems and be better prepared to deal with unexpected emergencies.
As a survivor, you are likely to be very aware of how quickly and unexpectedly life can change. Events such as illness, treatment, medical costs, changes in emplyment, the birth of a child, inflation or investment losses can affect your personal and financial changes and challenges may provide you some financial security.
This document provides a broad overview of ways to prepare for financial needs. Included are personal financial assessment and management strategies, such as:
- Assessing and budgeting for your current financial situation
- Developing a financial plan
- Recognizing signs of financial trouble
- Handling financial emergencies
- Dealing with unmanageable debt
Assessing and Budgeting for Your Current Financial Situation
Assessing your financial situation involves identifying your current and future financial plans and evaluating whether you need to make changes in order to reach your goals. Your assessment should take into account your current and projected income and compare that to your present and expected costs. Other good sources of information about support programs may come from:
Survivors may have expenses to include in the financial planning process that are specific to treatment and medical care. These may include costs, such as medications, insurance co-payments, hospital parking, as well as expenses affiliated with lodging and dining during treatment away from home.
During your assessment process, also consider the possibility of future emergencies and how you can be prepared. If you identify financial concerns, short-term and long-term planning along with saving and spending reductions will be needed.
Two types of financial statements are important to financial planning: cash flow statments and net worth statements.
Cash flow statements: This financial information compares your monthly net income (after deductions) to your regular monthly expenses. To create a cash flow statement, list your monthly expenses. Subtract the total amount of your expenses from the total amount of your income to define your cash flow.
Use this information as you create a budget to make plans for future spending. Compare the monthly expenses from your cash flow statement to the items you have listed in your budget-spending plan.
Examples of income include:
- Other earnings and sources of income
- Child support and alimony
Examples of regular monthly expenses include:
- Mortgage or rent
- Food and groceries
- Property taxes
- Insurance costs
- Savings and investment contributions
- Home maintenance costs
- Heating and air conditioning expenses
- Utilities, such as electricity, water, sewer, trash pick up
- Medical expenses, such as medical bills, prescriptions, hospital parking
- Child care and child support expenses
- Vehicle expenses
- Credit cards
- Personal care
- Entertainment, recreation and hobby expenses
Net worth statement: This list of personal financial information reflects your current "net worth" by looking at the total value of your assets (cash, property and other valuables with income potential) as compared to your total liabilities (money you owe). Use the information about your personal net worth as an important factor in the development of your assets and all of your liabilities.
Examples of assets include:
- Cash, including the amounts that are in checking and savings accounts
- Money market funds
- Certificates of deposits
- Cash value of life insurance
- Market value of real estate
- Retirement accounts
- Market value of vehicles and boats
- Personal valuables, such as jewelry and home furnishings
- Business assets or property
Examples of liabilities include:
- Mortgage balance
- Unpaid medical and dental bills
- Loan balances
- Home-equity credit line
- Credit card balances
- Taxes owed
- Other bills
As you begin assessing your financial situation, include the following steps:
||Include This Financial Information
1. Organize your financial records
- Bank, investment, loan and credit card accounts
- Insurance policies, billing statements and correspondence
- Documents such as real estate titles, insurance policies and tax files
- Legal, personal and family financial information including Social Security retirement and other government-sponsored benefit information
Organize your financial records to better understand where your money is spent and if it needs to be spent somewhere else.
Label and keep track of your financial records by using a notebook, storage box or a filing cabinet. You may also want to use a computer software program to keep track of your financial matters.
Continue to add new information and keep track of changes that occur in your financial life.
Include the financial information of your partner or spouse.
2. Review and become familiar with all of the financial areas of your life.
- Income, including wages, gifts, refunds
- Tax information, including income and property taxes
- Debts, including mortgages and loans
- Typical cost of living expenses, including food, utilities and transportation
- Bank accounts, including checking and savings accounts
- Credit accounts, including balances and interest rates
- Insurance policies, including medical, disability and life
- Property and estate records, including real estate and other assets
- Retirement accounts and pension plans
- Social security disability benefits
Identify where you are today from a financial perspective in terms of assets, such as real estate property, vehicles, investments, bank accounts, collectibles and other property.
Define where you are in terms of debts or liabilities, such as loans, credit card debt, and mortgage balance and unpaid medical expenses.
Find out about your current credit status, including any concerns you have and ways you can fix credit problems.
Assess how prepared you are to handle financial emergencies.
Try to find a way to contribute towards a financially secure future, such as your retirement, if you are not doing so already.
3. Prepare a Personal Budget or Spending Plan
- List of all income sources that are available to you, including salary or wages from employment, Social Security benefits, retirement income, investment income, and money gained through an inheritance or trust.
- Budget categories that reflect your total monthly expenses.
- Fixed expenses or those that do not vary much each month, including mortgage or rent housing costs, loan payments, insurance premiums, property taxes, and federal and state income taxes.
- Variable expenses or those that vary every month, including food, dental and medical expenses, maintenance and repairs of home and vehicles, home utilities and transportation expenses.
- An amount of money that will be used for savings or investments in your budget. Even if it is a very small amount, you will be taking a step towards building funds for your future.
- Money to be used for clothing, travel, entertainment and hobbies. During this process, pay attention to things for which you spend money but may not need, such as specialty coffee beverages, dining out and books.
- Investment income to build security for your future. For example, savings, retirement plans, the purchase of real property and other ways to invest.
Keep in mind that your budget does not have to be complicated as long as it meets your needs.
If you do not want to set up your own budget format, there are many styles of budget worksheets available online as well as in various financial planning books to help you itemize and record your financial information.
Use the amount of your net (take-home) pay for your budgeting and not your gross (before taxes) income amount.
Compare your total net monthly income to your total monthly expenses to identify your cash flow status.
If you are self-employed, remember to include quarterly estimated tax payments.
If you typically receive a very large tax refund every year (over $1,500), you may be able to reduce your tax withholdings to have more income throughout the tax year. You would then receive a smaller refund after filing your tax return.
Look at your budget in terms of both monthly and yearly spending patterns. For example, seasonal heating or cooling expenses may put extra strain on your budget during certain times of the year.
Consider your budget as an itemized prediction of income and expenses for a specified period.
Decide whether you want or need to change spending habits. If you have enough income to meet required expenses, your budget may still help you see ways that you can redirect spending priorities.
Keep in mind the following percentage amounts that are generally recommended for a personal spending plan:
- Housing and debt – 30%
- Taxes – 25%
- Household costs – 24%
- Savings – 15%
- Insurance – 4%
- Transportation – 2%
Keep track of checking, savings, credit card and other investment account information and activity. Financial software may be a useful tool for this. Some credit card companies offer a year-end summary of your card expenses. This is another way to track where you spent money throughout the past year.
4. Analyze your financial situation to identify potential problems and solutions related to your financial situation.
- Your analysis should include a periodic review of your current net worth.
- Your budget or spending plan will enable you to keep track of expenses.
- Changes in your spending plan can be made as the need is identified.
Write down specific issues that you want to address as well as actions you can take to resolve the problems.
Look for ways to save money that you may not have previously considered.
Consider whether there are ways that your income can be increased, such as:
- Requesting a raise
- Earning extra income through a hobby
- Selling items you no longer need or use
Developing a Financial Plan
After you have organized, assessed and budgeted for your current financial situation, it is time to develop a financial plan. This requires that you identify and write down future financial goals, such as saving for retirement, putting money away for a home purchase or paying off all credit card debt.
A written financial plan helps identify and clarify goals, increase income, reduce debt and manage your finances. Your plan does not need to be complicated. However, a financial plan does need to be monitored and re-evaluated on a regular basis. If you are not able to meet your original financial goals, you can always change your plan or adjust your goals. The important thing is to start taking steps now to get your finances under control.
Include the following steps as you develop your financial plan:
1. Start by asking yourself questions about your financial goals, such as:
- Where do you want to be in terms of your specific financial situation in the future?
- How much money will you need to reach your goals?
- How much time do you have to reach your financial goals?
- Where are you now in terms of financial security?
- What can be done now to improve the chances of reaching your financial goals on schedule?
- Are there certain financial goals that are a priority over other goals?
2. Develop your financial plan by identifying long-term and short-term financial goals.
After you have considered where you want to be financially, both now and in the future, develop your financial plan based on those goals. Your financial plan should be based on your personal budget and individual needs, including income and debt management, family requirements, and goals for savings and retirement.
A financial plan uses both long-term and short-term goals to define how you realistically intend to reach financial success. Each of your goals should be measurable and state what is to be done and how much is to be achieved within a specific time. Keep a list of your goals to make it easy for you to update your financial plan as your needs change.
3. Use your financial plan to guide your current spending, saving and investing.
Review your financial plan and its specific long-term and short-term goals at least once or twice a year to make certain that your plan continues to address current needs. Revise your plan as often as necessary.
Managing Finances for the Future
Your financial plan can also be your guide for managing finances for the future. Managing finances includes rethinking spending options to reduce costs and giving you more money to put towards a productive and financially secure future. A budget can help you free up money to be saved or invested for use if there is an unexpected financial emergency.
Take the following steps to manage your finances for the future:
1. Identify the best ways to use your income.
An important part of financial management is deciding how to maximize the use of your income. Spending decisions may seem to be minor but could add up to hundreds or even thousands of dollars per year.
For example, spending $3.50 a day for a specialty coffee may not seem like a lot of money. However, you may be surprised to learn that this expense will add up to a total expenditure of $1,277.50 in one year. Spending $10.00 a day, five days a week, to eat lunches out, will cost you $2,600.00 per year.
Most people can find ways to spend their money more wisely. Look carefully at your daily choices to see where money may be draining out of your life. Start this process by separating your budgeted expense items in terms of:
- Necessary expenses, including food and housing costs
- Discretionary expenses that are useful to your life but not necessary, such as some clothing and grooming costs
- Unnecessary expenses that are enjoyable but provide no real benefit, such as gourmet food and beverage items
If you think you have a lot of time to reach your financial goals and there are no financial stressors in your life at this time, you may decide that it is not necessary to change current spending habits. However, if you are like many people who have concerns about future financial needs, a close review of your current spending style may be very helpful in finding the best ways to use your money.
2. Find ways to save money and reduce debts.
A good financial plan provides guidance for savings and debt reduction. You may find that a change in spending habits can quickly increase savings so that you are able to reduce your debt level. Some people may also want to evaluate whether taking a better paying job or adding a part-time job would be a good idea.
Save money and reduce debt by taking steps, such as:
- Repairing or fixing broken items instead of going out to buy something new.
- Negotiating lower interest rates and no annual fees with your credit card company if you are paying high rates and fees now.
- Doing social activities with friends that cost less or are free.
- Saving cash and change found in your pockets or purse every time you empty them.
- Depositing unexpected money into a savings account, such as tax refunds and money gifts.
A personal savings account may be the simplest way to save and protect your money. If you do direct deposit into a savings account, you may not even miss the money. You can earn small amounts of interest while the money remains in your account, but you are still able to access your money through a bank teller or an ATM (automated teller machine).
Saving money through banks, credit unions and retirement accounts are considered to be very safe methods to keep your money, as they earn interest and are insured up to a specified amount. A bank money market account is similar to a savings account, but tends to pay higher interest rates. Insurance protection for this type of account is the same as for savings accounts. Sometimes you can link the money market account to your checking account.
3. Identify the best ways to invest your money.
Financial management may also include investing whatever money that you can. The best methods of investing income will depend on your situation and preferences, the risks you are willing to take and the time you have to manage your investments. Talk with a financial planner or other investment professional to learn more about investment options and risks.
The following are some common types of investments, generally listed in order of increasing risk to the investor:
- Certificates of deposit (CDs) and money market funds
- Bonds and bond funds
- Real property investments
- Stocks and stock funds
Recognizing Signs of Financial Trouble
The following may be signs of a potentially serious debt problem in your life:
- Relying on home equity or student loans or borrowed money for income
- Making late mortgage or rent rental payments that result in extra penalty fees and could even put your home at risk
- Paying for frequent "overdrafts" on your checking account
- Having credit card accounts that have been maxed out
- Making late credit card payments that result in penalty fees and increased interest rates
- Having no savings or emergency fund
- Using credit cards to pay for day-to-day expenses such as groceries
If one or more of the above warning signs applies to your situation, consider various ways to learn more about debt management strategies, such as reading about personal finances or working with a nonprofit consumer credit-counseling agency.
Credit counseling or debt management programs are supposed to provide debt-counseling services that involve negotiating with creditors to set up a debt management plan. The purpose of this type of plan is to help the debtor repay his or her debt by working out repayment plans with creditors that may include reduced payments, fees and interest rates to the debtor.
If you decide to use this type of service, keep in mind that some credit counseling programs are ethical while others charge excessive fees and provide poor service to consumers. Be certain that you use a nonprofit agency and have full knowledge of any fees you will be charged. Also, understand whether the service promises to lower the amount you owe, or the interest rate you pay, or to only lower the payments you make every month without significantly changing the terms of your debt. Keep in mind that many credit-counseling agencies receive most of their compensation from the creditors to whom the debt payments are distributed.
Handling Financial Emergencies
Financial emergencies come from life events such as loss of employment, family changes, legal problems, sudden illness or long-term disability. Taking steps to prepare for such emergencies in advance may help you avoid serious stressors and a possible financial crisis.
The following steps may help you be better prepared to deal with a future financial emergency:
- Put away savings to build a cash reserve (emergency fund) that can help you cover unexpected events. Your cash reserve amount should ideally be able to cover three to six months of living expenses.
- Keep cash reserve funds in an account that you can easily access if the money is needed.
- Consider putting additional savings in investment accounts that generate a higher return than a regular savings or checking account.
- Purchase long-term disability insurance.
- Create a plan to deal with unexpected emergencies, including what you could do, where you could you go, who might help you.
- Identify potential credit and loan sources or other ways you might be able to quickly increase your income during a financial emergency
In many cases, an effective debt management strategy is to pay off the highest interest rate debt first, while making minimum payments to the lower interest rate debts. After the highest rate debt is fully paid off, begin making larger payments on the next highest interest rate debt while still making minimum payments on the lower interest rate debts. Continue this process until all of the debts have been paid off.
Contact the people to whom you owe money to explain your situation before collection agencies are involved. Some may understand and be willing to help you find a solution. For example, you might be able to arrange to make lower payments for a certain length of time.
If your debt is the result of illness, there may be disability waivers for major loans and credit cards during the time you are not able to work. You may also be able to access funds from your retirement account in the event of a disability or a financial hardship. However, be certain that you understand whether there will be consequences for early withdrawals, including increased taxes or penalty fees. Keep in mind that it will always be important to pay your rent or mortgage, utilities and taxes.
Dealing with Unmanageable Debt
Sometimes, despite making the best efforts to deal with financial situations, people find themselves burdened with debt that has become unmanageable. During such a time, seeking bankruptcy may become necessary.
Bankruptcy is a method of dealing with debts that is overseen by the federal court system. Although many people feel embarrassed and guilty about the need to declare or file for bankruptcy, in most situations no one did anything wrong and the situation could not have been avoided.
The Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act, enacted in 2005, makes it more difficult to discharge (forgive or dismiss) debts than it was in the past. Among other things, the current bankruptcy law requires that those seeking bankruptcy go through financial management training and credit counseling. Each state has its own complicated bankruptcy formula that takes into consideration income, expenses and unsecured debt.
The following are the two most common types of bankruptcy for individuals:
- Chapter 7 Liquidation: This type of bankruptcy allows a debtor to keep exempt property (as defined by each state). Most debts are erased although you must meet certain requirements to qualify. Other property may be sold and the income divided among creditors.
- Chapter 13 Reorganization: This method of bankruptcy allows a debtor to keep non-exempt property, such as a home. A plan to pay creditors back over three to five years is developed. Some debts are paid in full, some are repaid as a percentage of the amount owed, and some are not required to be repaid at all.
If you find yourself in a financial crisis for which you are considering bankruptcy, talk with a lawyer who is aware of the new legal requirements to find out what options are available and what would work best in your situation.
If you need assistance figuring out how to improve your financial situation, talk with your family or a loved one. A financial planner or accountant may be able to help with recommendations for savings, retirement and investments. If you cannot afford to pay for this type of professional assistance, contact a cancer organization in your area for financial guidance and other services.
This document was produced in collaboration with:
David S. Landay, Esq., author of Be Prepared: The Complete Financial, Legal and Practical Guide for Living with Cancer, HIV and Other Life-Challenging Conditions.
"Bankruptcy Abuse Prevention and Consumer Protection Act of 2005." CCH Bankruptcy Reform Act Briefing: Special Report. 13 December 2006.
"Bankruptcy: How It Works, How to Prevent It." Fowles, Deborah. About Financial Planning. 20 December 2006.
"Dealing with Financial Emergencies." Credit.com. 12 December 2006.
Federal Trade Commission for the Consumer. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (As amended by Public Law 104-208, 110. Stat. 3009. 13 December 2006.
Fullner, Wanda. A Primer on Personal Money Management for Midlife and Older Women. Revised. American Association of Retired Persons: Washington, DC, 1992.
"Have a Plan for Your Money." AARP: Financial Planning. 13 December 2006.
"Hill-Burton Free and Reduced Cost Health Care." U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration. 11 January 2007.
Himmelstein, David U and Elizabeth Warren et al. "MarketWatch: Illness and Injury as Contributors to Bankruptcy". Health Affairs: The Policy Journal of the Health Sphere. 2 February 2005.
Landay, David S. Be Prepared: The Complete Financial, Legal and Practical Guide to Living with Cancer, HIV and Other Life-Challenging Conditions. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1998.
Mundis, Jerrold J. How to Get Out of Debt, Stay Out of Debt & Live Prosperously. New York: Bantom Books, January 2003.
Petersen, David. Seminar: Financial Planning for People with HIV/AID. New York, 1994.
"Planning for Financial Emergencies." The Financial Planning Association. 12 December 2006.
Quinn, Jane Bryant. Making the Most of Your Money. New York: Simon & Shuster, 1991.
"Reduced Cost Health Care." HRSA: Question and Answer. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Health Resources and Services Administration. 3 January 2007.
"Setting Financial Goals," "Building a Financial Safety Net" and "You Can Get Out of Debt." Fowles, Deborah. Your Guide to Financial Planning. 4 January 2007.
"10 bad habbits that lead to debt disaster." MSN Money. 4 January 2007.
"20 Ways to Save on a Shoestring." Dunleavey, MP. MSN Money. 3 January 2007.
"Why Should I Budget" and :"Guilt-free Budgeting: No Blame, No shame." Fowles, Deborah. Your Guide to Financial Planning. 12 December 2006.
"Your Financial Plan: Getting Started On a Secure Future" and ""Budgeting: How to Prepare a Workable Plan." Infosources Publishing. Teaneck, New Jersey. 11 January 2007.
Assessing and Managing Your Financial Situation: Suggestions
The suggestions that follow are based on the information presented in the Detailed Information document. They are meant to help you take what you learn and apply the information to your own needs. This information is not intended nor should it be interpreted as providing professional medical, legal and financial advice. You should consult a trained professional for more information. Please read the Additional Resources document for links to more resources.
Assess your current financial situation by organizing and reviewing personal financial records related to your income and your debt. Start the assessment process by asking yourself:
- What is your current financial situation?
- Do you have concerns about credit or loan debt?
- What is your current credit status?
- How would you handle a financial emergency?
- Do you need to take steps now to create future financial security?
Create a financial planning information list that includes your bank accounts, legal, personal and other financial information. If you have a spouse or partner, be certain to include their financial information.
Compile information into a net worth statement that includes all of your assets, such as income, investment worth, net property value and the estimated value of collectibles and jewelry.
Create a cash flow statement that includes the total of your assets and income sources minus your debts or liabilities. Compare your income to your expenses during a specified period, such as one month, six months, and one year.
Develop a financial plan that includes long-term and short-term goals that can serve as action steps to reach your ultimate goal.
Goals should be measurable so you can identify if you have reached the goal as well as a timeframe for reaching your goal. For example:
Effective goal: To save $20,000 over the next three years to use as a down payment for the purchase of a house.
A goal should not be so general that you do not know what you are attempting to accomplish. For example:
Ineffective goal: To save more money.
While identifying goals for your financial plan, ask yourself:
- What do you want to accomplish in terms of your long-term personal financial situation?
- When do you want to reach each of your financial goals?
- What short-term goal steps do you need to take to accomplish your long-term financial goals?
- Do some financial goals take priority over other goals?
Develop a personal financial budget to identify the best ways to spend your income.
Include necessary expense categories such as:
- Savings and investments: emergency fund, 401(k) and IRA contributions, savings and education funds
- Home expenses: mortgage or rent, home repairs, maintenance and improvements
- Utilities: electricity, water and sewer, cooking and heating fuel and telephone
- Food: groceries and eating out
- Health and medical: fitness plans, dental and medical appointments, special services and medications
- Transportation: vehicle payments, fuel and oil, vehicle repairs and maintenance
Also include the following items in your budget:
- Insurance: medical, long-term disability, mortgage or rental, vehicle and specific personal property coverage
- Debts: credit cards, student loans and other loans
- Family expenses: child care and support payments
- Entertainment and recreation: hobbies, vacations, cable services for home and date expenses
- Pet expenses: food, grooming and veterinarian services
- Taxes: federal and state, including quarterly estimated tax payments if you are self-employed.
- Other expenses: spending that does not fit into other categories such as clothing, shoes, grooming, gifts and donations
Develop a plan to put away money towards an emergency fund and compile a list of ways to avoid debt problems.
You may decide to set up a savings account to be used only for financial emergencies or use only one credit card account, only when absolutely necessary, while paying off your credit card debt.
Identify ways in which you will be able to reduce expenses to increase savings.
Define which of your current expenses are:
- Discretionary (useful, but not necessary)
- Not necessary
Watch for signs of a serious debt problem and seek assistance if the following apply to you:
- Late payments for mortgage or rent that result in extra penalty fees
- Credit card accounts that have reached the credit limit
- Late credit payments resulting in increased interest rates and penalty fees added to your bill
- The need to borrow money to pay your bills or day-to-day expenses
- Overdrafts on your checking account
- No savings built up
Assessing and Managing Your Financial Situation: Additional Resources
The resources listed below provide more detailed information and support services to help you with assessing and managing your financial situation. Please read the Detailed Information and Suggestions document for more information and questions to ask.
National Foundation for Credit Counseling
Email: Send email through the Web site.
The National Foundation for Credit Counseling is an association of nonprofit consumer credit counseling organizations. The Web site provides information about making a budget, managing debt, bankruptcy, buying a home, choosing a credit counseling program and other financial topics. You can also search for free and low-cost credit counseling or financial education programs in your area. Some information is available in Spanish.
Federal Trade Commission
Email: Send an email through the Web site.
Phone: 1-877-FTC HELP (1-800-382-4357)
The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is the governmental agency that oversees many consumer protection issues, including credit reporting, identity theft, fair debt collection processes and other credit issues. The FTC Web site provides information on a variety of subjects, including buying a car, investing, preventing identity theft, choosing a credit card, and managing credit problems. Through the site, you can also file a complaint about a business transaction or report identity theft. Current information about filing for bankruptcy, dealing with creditors and repairing your credit history is also provided. Information on the site is available in Spanish.
LIVESTRONG Navigation Services
Email: Send email through the Web site.
Intake coordinators are available for calls Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Central Time). Voicemail is available after hours.
LIVESTRONG offers assistance to all cancer survivors, including the person diagnosed, caregivers, family and friends. The program provides education, information about treatment options and new treatments in development, counseling services and assistance with financial, employment or insurance issues. To provide these services, LIVESTRONG has partnered with several organizations, including Patient Advocate Foundation and EmergingMed.
The Financial Planning Association
Calls are answered Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. (MST).
The Financial Planning Association® (FPA®) is a nonprofit, membership organization for the financial planning community. FPA offers educational resources to help individuals discover the value of financial planning, including information on investing, tax planning, insurance, retirement planning and more. Tools on the FPA Web site outline financial planning decisions you should consider at different times in your life. The site also includes an online financial planner referral service called PlannerSearch to help you locate a financial planner in your area.
National Association of Personal Financial Advisors
The National Association of Personal Financial Advisers (NAPFA) is a professional organization for financial planners. Membership is limited to financial planners who charge customers a set fee rather than those who earn commissions from products that they sell to customers. From their Web site, you can find a fee-only financial planner in your area. The site also includes information about how to choose a financial planner and tips for managing your finances, as well as articles about investing, long-term care and disability insurance policies, retirement planning and more.
Health Resources and Services Administration
The Health Resources and Services Administration is a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Through this site, you can find community health centers that provide health care services regardless of a patient's ability to pay, and hospitals, nursing homes and other facilities that provide free or reduced cost care under the Hill-Burton Program. Links are provided to sites that offer information about Medicare, Medicaid, State Children's Health Insurance and other government programs.
U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
Email: Send email through the Web site.
TTY for deaf and hard of hearing callers: 1-800-829-4833
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs oversees benefits to nearly 25 million men and women who have served in the military during wars or official periods of conflict. If you are a veteran or the spouse or child of a veteran, you can contact this agency for information about your benefits. The Web site has information about health services, pharmacy benefits, life insurance, vocational rehabilitation, employment resources, compensation, pensions and more. Some information on the site is available in Spanish.
Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services
TTY for deaf and hard of hearing callers: 1-866-226-1819
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services is the federal agency that oversees the Medicare and Medicaid programs. The Web site offers direct links to each program. The site also offers a glossary of agency terms and a search tool. Some common Medicare and Medicaid forms can be printed from the site, or you can call the toll-free number to request that forms be mailed to you.
Email: Send email through the Web site.
Phone: 1-888-OUR AARP (1-888-687-2277)
Calls are answered Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to midnight (EST).
AARP is a nonprofit organization for people over the age of 50. The AARP Web site includes information on a number of financial and practical subjects, and you do not have to be an AARP member or over the age of 50 to access these articles. Financial information includes worksheets for calculating income, expenses and cash flow, as well as tips for overall financial planning, including retirement accounts, reverse mortgages and investing. You can also use the Web site to request help with finding affordable legal services. Some information on the site is available in Spanish.
Smart About Money
Sponsored by the National Endowment for Financial Education®, this Web site offers information on many aspects of financial planning, including investing, banking, budgeting, saving for retirement, tax planning, estate planning and more. The site includes a free interactive course on the basics of investing, as well as links to many online resources. You can also request financial planning tools and worksheets from a variety of businesses, universities and nonprofit organizations across the country. Many of these tools and brochures are free, but some require a payment.
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