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Three things to know about UW-Whitewater's free financial planning for veterans

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Jonah Beleckis
Monday, August 21, 2017

WHITEWATERWhen veterans return to civilian life, small financial problems sometimes can snowball into larger ones, says UW-Whitewater professor Lauren Smith.

The reasons are not entirely clear. But Smith said one scenario is that veterans return with “visible and invisible” disabilities that hinder their ability to address financial problems when they begin.

“We know that veterans are more likely to have serious financial problems than other people in similar groups,” Smith said.

“We also know that when veterans have financial problems, they can accrue more quickly and with more severe impact than for other groups, too.”

Smith, director of adult learning at UW-W, is organizing free financial planning sessions next month for veterans and their families.

Thanks to a $13,000 grant from the Foundation for Financial Planning, Smith said the university is offering three dates for a group orientation, where attendees can then schedule one-on-one meetings with financial planners to address their concerns.

The free services are worth about $300. After the group orientation, each person is allotted two individual meetings with a financial adviser, Smith said.

Here are three things to know about the financial planning:

1. The sessions are open to any veteran or family member, regardless of where they live, Smith said.

Although the orientation is in Whitewater, Smith said, about 16 volunteer financial planners are available to meet with people in locations across the state, including Janesville, Fort Atkinson, Madison, Milwaukee and Appleton.

2. The advisers are volunteering their help and have agreed not to sell clients anything extra or solicit them after the sessions end, Smith said.

Smith emphasized the services are a "gift” to veterans and their families and are offered with no strings attached.

The planners have been trained on how to serve veterans specifically, and some are veterans themselves.

3. One benefit of the individual sessions is that it does not matter if a client is struggling to make ends meet or if he wants to discuss buying a home for his family, Smith said. All topics are allowed.

The orientations will cover basic information about financial literacy. Smith said people will come with many financial goals that they can discuss in the one-on-one meetings.

Registration before the group orientation may be done online or by contacting Smith at smithlb@uww.edu.

The orientation meeting options are 7 to 8:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 19; 7 to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 27; or 3 to 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5.

Individual sessions will be offered from September to December.



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