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Rodney Brooks

For all you folks who say you can’t afford a financial adviser, here’s an opportunity to get all the financial advice you want — for free.

In October, Financial Planning Days will be held in cities across the United States as hundreds of certified financial planners will offer free financial advice to area residents, in partnership with local city governments. These events will be held in schools, municipal buildings and libraries, depending on the city.

This will be the  seventh year this program, jointly sponsored by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Financial Planning Association, the Foundation for Financial Planning and the U.S. Conference of Mayors.

The groups say their mission is to bring “free, ethical financial planning advice to the public through one-on-one advising sessions and group workshops.” The certified financial planners will volunteer their time and offer “no-strings-attached” advice.  They will not distribute business cards, take names, or sell financial products or services.

“Everyone can benefit from financial planning. And Financial Planning Days is a great opportunity for consumers to get free, no strings attached, one-on-one advice from professionals,” says  Kevin Keller, CEO of the Certified Financial Planer Board of Standards. “Those professionals participating in this event are serving the public’s need for competent and ethical financial planning advice, which is something we hope people will take advantage of.”

The financial planners will be seated at tables and meet privately with individuals and couples to answer questions. Topics can include budgeting, managing credit, getting out of debt, income taxes, home ownership, planning and paying for college, estate planning, insurance and many others. Also, free classroom-style workshop presentations covering key areas of personal finance are also available.

“Too often people think financial planning  is something  that only the wealthy can afford, but that is not the case,” says Pamela Sandy, president of the FPA. “The members of the Financial Planning Association are constantly working to build awareness of financial planning within their local communities.”

For free registration go to or call toll-free at 1-877-861-7826. The groups say walk-ins are always welcome.

Events are planned in the following metro areas:

  • Akron, Ohio, Oct. 1
  • Arlington, Va., Oct. 22
  • Atlanta, Ga., Oct. 8
  • Baltimore, Md., Oct. 29
  • Chicago, Ill. Oct. 8
  • Cincinnati, Ohio, Oct. 9
  • Columbus, Ohio, Oct. 5
  • Huntington Beach, Ca, Oct. 15
  • Indianapolis, Ind., Oct. 15
  • Lakewood, Colo, Oct. 22
  • Los Angeles, Calif., Oct. 29
  • Lubbock, Texas, Oct. 8
  • Miamisburg, Ohio, Oct. 1
  • Milwaukee, Wis., Oct. 22
  • Oakland, Calif. Oct. 15
  • Rosemead, Calif., Oct. 23
  • San Antonio, Texas, Oct. 8
  • San Francisco, Calif., Oct. 22
  • San Rafael, Oct. 29
  • St. Paul, Minn., Oct. 29
  • Tempe, Ariz., Oct. 22
  • West Sacramento, Calif., Oct. 22

Last week’s question: Do you expect you will enter retirement with debt (including a mortgage)? 

Pam Evans of Norwalk, Calif.: No, I won’t have any as I have none now.  I took SS at 66 and used that money to pay off my mortgage. I have credit cards but pay them off each month if I do use them; mostly I use cash or my debit card. I do have a $75K equity line just in case I want to buy a new car or something exotic (which I doubt)!

Bill Sheehan wrote:  I not only expected to, I planned to, and I retired last year. Here’s why:

I sold a big house near the city and bought a modest condo as close to paradise as I will ever see. I have enough cash to pay for the place outright, but what I don’t have is a crystal ball. Most of my vast fortune is in index funds. The one thing that could dampen my retirement is sequence of returns risk. A 2008-style crash now would cause problems later when I’m too old to work even if I wanted to. I looked at how long it took for investors to be made whole in previous crash and recovery cycles. Thanks to the leverage of a low-interest-rate mortgage, I have enough cash to weather the storm without having to sell my investments when the market is low.

In the happy event that the market doesn’t crater in the next five years, I’ll pay this place off. If bad things do happen, I’ve got a cheap cash horde and a small easily affordable monthly payment. I’m also carrying a car note, but only because I got zero percent financing. Debt to asset ratio is about 9 percent.

Charles Aldarondo of Phoenix: I plan on carrying debt into retirement if the low-interest environment we are in still exists. Having debt for assets that are cash-flow positive wouldn’t be a concern either for me.

Another item to consider is if I have a paid off home and it is a sizable amount of my net worth, my asset allocation is too heavily tied to one item and location. What happens if the neighborhood goes south and the property drops 50 percent? I just lost a large chunk of my net worth that I cannot get back. Now if I had a mortgage, I could do a short sale and all that I lose is the down payment and principal payments (as long as the state I am in does not let the bank come after me for the difference). It’s bad, but not as bad.

I hope this helps you get some ideas on why the advice from “Get Rich Slowly” may not be the best blanket decision that debt is bad into retirement.


Write Brooks at The Washington Post, 1301 K St. NW, Washington, D.C., 20071, or On Twitter  @Perfiguy . Personal responses may not be possible, and comments or questions may be used in a future column, with the writer’s name, unless otherwise requested. To read more, go to


This article was written by Rodney Brooks from The Washington Post and was legally licensed by AdvisorStream through the NewsCred publisher network.

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