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Betterment, XY Planning Offer Free Services for Unpaid Government Workers

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As the government shutdown continued into its second month and federal workers missed their second consecutive paycheck, Betterment and XY Planning Network joined the ranks of companies offering free services to affected workers.

Those workers could be put back on the payroll soon, however, since President Donald Trump announced Friday that the government will reopen for three weeks while negotiations continue on border security. The House and Senate are expected to vote on a bill to reopen the government on Friday, which Trump is expected to sign.

Trump left open the possibility that he could declare a national emergency or shut down the government again if no agreement is reached with House and Senate Democrats, who have opposed his demand for more than $5 billion to fund a border wall with Mexico.

Federal workers have missed two consecutive paychecks over the month-plus shutdown and it’s not clear yet exactly how soon they will be reimbursed for lost wages when the government reopens. Their situation led Betterment on Thursday to join XY Planning Network as well as many other businesses to offer free services to affected federal workers.

Betterment’s offer is for free “brief consultations” with workers to help them manage their cash needs. The offer is for all government employees interested in speaking with a member of Betterment’s team, but employees who are not currently Betterment clients would first have to set up an account to receive advice.

The offer was announced on Twitter Thursday night and on Betterment’s website in an article written by Andrew Westlin, one of the robo-advisor’s financial planning professionals. Although the tweet mentions only furloughed workers, the offer is also available for those federal workers who are working but not getting paid.

After the shutdown deal was announced, Betterment tweeted that it would continue to offer the calls throughout the next three weeks.

On Jan. 17, the XY Planning Network announced in a press release and on Twitter that more than 60 CFPs in the network would provide free financial advice to federal employees affected by the shutdown.

“In a situation like this, a financial advisor can help an impacted worker evaluate the challenging trade-offs that come with financial decisions during income uncertainty,” said Kevin Mahoney, founder and CEO of Illumint, a Washington, D.C.-based financial planning firm and the XY Planning Network member who initiated the offer.

The network followed with a call to hundreds of advisors to join Mahoney. 

XYPN co-founder Michael Kitces said in a statement that the network’s advisors, who focus on Gen X and Gen Y clients, understand “the full impact that a missed paycheck can have for those who don’t yet have a vast emergency fund or accumulated assets to rely upon.”

Roughly 800,000 federal workers are missing now two paychecks as a result of the shutdown, which also affects countless federal contract workers who will not even get paid when the shutdown ends.


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