Financial counseling widely available

Services assist low and high income individuals

BY IVY MOORE
Special to The Sumter Item
Posted 7/15/18

It's easy to define "savvy." The adjective basically means you are good at dealing with practical matters. "Senior" or "senior citizen," however, is a bit vague - and the definition has changed …

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Financial counseling widely available

Services assist low and high income individuals

Posted

It's easy to define "savvy." The adjective basically means you are good at dealing with practical matters. "Senior" or "senior citizen," however, is a bit vague - and the definition has changed through the decades as people live longer.

To the AARP - formerly the American Association of Retired Persons - you can be a member at 50, and you don't even have to be retired. Fifty is also the age you become eligible to join the Shepherd's Center of Sumter. Sumter Senior Services requires that you be at least 60. Other organizations serving seniors have differing age requirements.

Whatever the age, many seniors, no matter their income, can benefit from financial counseling. Sumter United Ministries provides counseling and budgeting services to individuals who contact them seeking assistance with financial crisis situations. Contact SUM at (803) 775-0757.

Seniors who want to improve their savviness in financial matters have several options in the area.

Shepherd's Center Executive Director Jeanette Roveri Smith said that while the center does not offer financial counseling, Amanda Miller, a financial adviser with Edward Jones, regularly teaches a class in money management during the center's Adventures in Learning program. While she has several focus areas, two are retirement income and retirement savings strategies.

In her Shepherd's Center classes, Miller provides pertinent information and also allows time in each session for questions and discussion.

In order to participate in its classes, the center requires affordable annual membership dues and a class fee. Call (803) 773-1944 for more information.

There are numerous financial service businesses in the area; extensive listings can be found online or in the phone book. Friends and family might also offer recommendations.

Most banks also offer financial counseling to their customers; check with your bank to see what services it has available.

SAFE Federal Credit Union's financial counselor for its members is Donna Holmes. SAFE's services, offered at no cost to members, include providing "preventive counseling that features basic guidance and suggestions concerning budgeting (and) remedial counseling for members experiencing difficulty meeting financial obligations," according to SAFE's website.

Holmes, who has been with SAFE since 2002, said she often helps members with their "budgets, working to improve credit scores, building credit and determining whether they can begin investing.

"We look at incoming and outgoing money, spenders versus savers. I work with members on all levels, from the lowest to highest income."

Holmes assists members in setting goals to increase financial resources, whether through SAFE's investment programs or referrals. She also travels to SAFE branches in other areas to provide individual services, as well as seminars in other venues.

"It's never too late to start investing," she said, "but of course, the sooner you start, the better, if you want to make more."

For those who wish to invest large sums, Holmes said she often refers them to SAFE's Financial Services Representative Jose Rigor.

For questions about SAFE Federal Credit Union membership, call (803) 469-8600. To speak with Holmes, call that number and then her extension, 2211.

Many financial benefits are provided through AARP. The current AARP Bulletin features the annual round-up of money-saving ideas. Memberships begin at $12 a year. Visit www.aarp.org or call (855) 993-1893 for more information.

NOTE: This list is not totally comprehensive, but most organizations serving seniors can provide referrals for money management entities.