I’ve always wanted to do pro bono financial planning work, but never found the right opportunity. Local FPA chapters will host walk-in clinics which were never my thing. I developed a financial literacy program during my active years in the Junior League, but I wasn’t involved in launching or teaching the courses. I have taken on clients who are below my minimum, but that doesn’t really count.
So in early April, when Josh pinged us (the female advisors at RWM) with an opportunity to work pro bono with moms impacted by the pandemic, the answer was an immediate yes!
We teamed up with financial pop star and Instagram influencer Haley Sacks, aka Mrs. Dow Jones, to find ten, New York City-based mothers who were financially impacted by the pandemic. Applications to join the course went live on Mother’s Day, and we went to work building the content for the program. We decided to combine group video classes with bi-weekly one on one meetings.
Dina Isola, Emily Johnson, and I worked individually with 3-4 moms each, serving as their personal financial planners for the summer. Anna Chaiken, our Head of Execution, ran point on logistics, course structure, and even delivering a surprise gift to each mom to celebrate the completion of the program. Our in-house video and design editors, Duncan and John, created custom colors for the coursework slides.
It was truly a team effort.
Our first group class was July 7, and we just wrapped up with a graduation ceremony this afternoon. This has been our labor of love for the past three months. I’ve been texting, emailing, and Zoom conferencing with three amazing women, each with their own set of challenges and financial goals. Despite working full time, raising their children, and all the other ‘stuff’ the comes with being a mom, they made time for themselves and their finances.
We tackled everything from budgeting, to debt management, to investing. I helped moms get out of expensive permanent life insurance products, and buy more coverage for a lower premium. We rolled over old retirement plans to IRAs and re-allocated their investments to meet their financial objectives. We organized student loan payment records with the intent of applying for the forgiveness afforded to those who work for non-profits or government agencies. We created plans to pay off credit card debt and modeled business plans for buying income property. We talked about where and how much to save for college and analyzed whether or not it made sense to refinance a mortgage.
I am so appreciative of the moms, these women who dedicated their time this summer to build a better, stronger financial base for themselves. You are all amazing women, and I admire you for putting in the hours and the work. Although this is not goodbye, and I promise not to cry, we have finished this chapter together. You are ready to put your plan into action. As Haley said in her final remarks, we are now a community.
This is only the beginning of the pro bono work our firm will do. We have laid the groundwork for something major. I can’t wait to see what the next iteration looks like. It is an honor and a privilege to work at a firm that prioritizes giving back.