Reliable sources of corrective financial advice in South Carolina?
December 5, 2013 6:45 AM Subscribe
My in-laws in South Carolina, who don't have a stellar history with money, are facing some challenges that are really restricting their circumstances. They're not against cleaning up their act in terms of budgeting and being smarter about money, but don't really have a head for it. What's the best way to help from a distance?
posted by Shepherd to Work & Money (6 answers total)
My wife and I live in Quebec; she's currently down in South Carolina on a visit and we've had a few private phone calls about how they don't seem to be handling money especially well. Her dad is quite ill, her mom is on disability, and they're currently living rent-free thanks to my sister-in-law and her husband, but not making super great choices in terms of how they're spending what little they have. Lots of "treat yourself!" impulses, paying with cheques and credit cards instead of cash, etc.
As far as I can tell, they're living hand-to-mouth from pension/disability cheques. Again, not having to pay for lodging is very helpful, and there isn't a feeling of imminent crisis, but a lot of warning signs.
They're in a space where they're open to the idea that they need to make some changes, but lack the kind of "money sense" to make those changes without help. More help than my wife can provide by showing them our budget spreadsheet and trying to explain how it works while she's down there for a couple of days, anyway.
One of the issues is that until a few years ago, house finances were really handled by my wife's dad, but he's been taking less and less of a role as his illness has progressed, and her mom has never really been in a position where she's had to call the financial shots before.
My wife wants to sit down with her mom before she comes home this weekend and have a little talk (we've noticed these things, it's a little worrisome, we've discussed this before and you've said you could use some help with financial stuff, so here's a plan, what do you think?). But we kind of need a plan to propose or it'll just be more vague talk that results in good intentions and very little action. This doesn't have to be person hired, scheduled, and locked in, but at least being able to say "we want to help you out with X type of person that will perform Y sort of task for you" would be super helpful.
I feel they're a little too proud to use free government counseling (and may not be in dire enough straits to qualify for it), but open to a kind of "this professional will help you get your budget plan in order" sort of approach. So we feel like the best move might be if we could help them out by hiring and paying for some sort of credit/budget advisor to sit down with them -- kind of a "budget coach" idea -- for a while.
But I know little to nothing about this. Trying to search about it results in a lot of stuff that feels like it's for people who are in far more dire straits than them, and a lot of it seems super shady and parasitic (we'll consolidate all your credit card payments for a low monthly fee!). I don't know what kind of service to look for, and the idea that we will probably be vetting and hiring somebody at a distance is very daunting. I'm looking for advice and recommendations on approaches to this.