4 Financial Planning Steps for New American Citizens

CFP Board consumer advocate Blayney talks freedom, fireworks and financial planning

Apropos of the July 4th festivities, much will be new this holiday for recently naturalized U.S. citizens.

That might include financial planning. To help, Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards consumer advocate Eleanor Blayney announced an initiative to encourage new Americans to plan for their financial futures. 

Eleanor Blayney"Taking full advantage of the rights and privileges Americans enjoy — including our unique and often complicated financial systems — requires becoming financially naturalized as well,"  Blayney (left) said in a statement on Tuesday announcing the program. "It's important for all Americans — including new Americans — to obtain credit in their name, establish a credit history and build their savings."

In the latest installment of CFP Board's "Let's Talk Planning" blog and the third feature in its "Financial Planning is for Everyone" series, Blayney offers tips for new citizens:

 Get established with a bank or credit union. Having a local, regulated institution hold your money has numerous advantages. You'll have records and a history of the flow of your money, which in turn leads to better financial management. You'll be able to safely save and build up a reserve. You'll have access to ready liquidity through a bankcard or checks.

Get educated about the costs of education. Many new Americans come with the dream of their children getting a degree from a U.S. college or university.  The benefits can be great, but so are the costs, and without careful planning and savings, an American education can become either unaffordable or lost in a mountain of debt.  It's important that new Americans begin to save regularly for higher education using tax-advantaged accounts such as 529 plans or custodial accounts, and that they become familiar with the steps to qualify for federal aid.

Take advantage of workplace benefits. One distinguishing factor of the U.S. economy is the extent to which the employer, rather than the government, provides key benefits to workers such as health care coverage, access to tax-advantaged retirement plans, and disability income coverage.  This means that your choice of employer — and understanding of the benefits provided — can make a big difference in your financial stability and long-term security.

Invest in yourself. America has always been the land of opportunity for those who work hard and are willing to invest in the future.  This includes investing in yourself — in training, education and experience.  Get involved in your neighborhood and community to become aware of the resources and support they can provide to help you achieve your personal vision.

Blayney notes that consulting with a financial planning professional can help new Americans develop strategies for building financial plans and getting a grasp on expenses to achieve their financial "American Dream."

"If there's one thing that new Americans have in abundance, it's a vision for a better future,” Blayney concluded.  “They have personal goals—many of them financial—that have been powerful motivators in their quest for citizenship. This is a necessary first step in the financial planning process."

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