At Financial Symmetry we are in constant pursuit of our mission to enhance today and enrich tomorrow for our clients and communities through empowerment, education, and guidance toward financial prosperity. We partnered with 3rd Decade®, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, a little more than one year ago and are excited about its development.
3rd Decade teaches essential concepts such as budgeting, saving, and retirement planning, to those with a moderate income aged 18-35 in the United States. After completing classes, graduates of the curriculum are offered a professional financial relationship and a matching jumpstart contribution to their Roth IRA account of $250.
3rd Decade is unique in a vital way: every participant receives two years of free financial mentoring. This mentorship makes the difference, turning education into tangible achievement. Volunteer Financial Mentors help participants practice budgeting and develop new habits that promote saving instead of spending. These coaches also offer large doses of compassionate financial therapy. Money is a taboo topic shrouded in secrecy and shame in some families. Some participants are so overwhelmed with fear and guilt that they can’t make prudent decisions.
We are proud to report on the volunteer service provided by two of our employees, Christian Polanco and Garrick King. Christian and Garrick were model Financial Mentors, generously committing nearly 20 hours of their time and financial planning skills to 6 households (7 individuals) of the 3rd Decade program. The participants were an average age of 28 with an average income of $50,791 and an average starting net worth of $36,975. Christian and Garrick provided the motivated participants with personalized financial guidance that they would not have otherwise had access to receiving. With the knowledge gained from the program course content, participants worked with our volunteer employees to identify their personal financial goals and develop a customized plan to achieve their goals.
“On a personal level, the meeting with my financial advisor was really valuable; I shared some vulnerable things and he really made me feel like the place I’m at is completely okay and valid and encouraged me to give myself more credit than I have been.” ~3rd Decade Participant, 2021
“Laying all of your information at once can be overwhelming, however, having the truth and seeing what actions (although possibly small) can make the biggest impact. Really making space to see a crystal clear perspective was truly priceless and gave us the information necessary to make a difference.” ~3rd Decade Participant, 2021
“Working with 3rd Decade over the past year has been very rewarding. I’ve learned that for young professionals, saving for retirement can seem daunting or not of urgent concern. Through the 3rd Decade program, I’ve had the opportunity to show participants the impact that contributing what they can and starting early has on their retirement success. It’s moving to see the reaction on a client’s face when they realize just how much potential they have to achieve their financial goals by just implementing some healthy financial habits. I look forward to continuing to support 3rd Decade’s mission and serving my community.” – Christian Polanco, CFP®
Christian and Garrick will continue to work with their original 7 participants through the 2-year advisor commitment. They will be conducting their first progress meetings with the original group this summer. In those meetings, they will review the initial financial plan, discover any life events that have impacted their plan, and work together in setting the course for the upcoming twelve months’ action items. These meetings will allow our employees to see the impact they have helped create. Going beyond their original commitment, Christian and Garrick have agreed to partner with an additional 7 households (up to 14 participants, based on 1-2 person households), starting new 2-year relationships this summer.
Joe’Mar Hooper, 3rd Decade Executive Director, expressed, “We are grateful for Christian and Garrick’s generosity, professionalism, and dedication to seeing the financial lives of young folks changed. We value the relationship built with Financial Symmetry, which has helped propel access to our program.”
Beginning in 2021, 3rd Decade started plans for nationwide expansion of the program by partnering with a select group of firms. Providing practical and financial support, Dimensional Fund Advisors helped identify firms that held fiduciary standards similar to the financial philosophy and core values of 3rd Decade. Financial Symmetry was identified as a firm in North Carolina to work with the program and has been an integral supporter of 3rd Decade’s nationwide expansion.
The relationship with 3rd Decade has enhanced our corporate culture, sparking interest in additional employees to volunteer their time and talent. We are excited to announce that Emma Turner and Niamh Douglas will start impacting participants’ financial lives this fall. We look forward to further developing our relationship with 3rd Decade, as we help change financial futures forever, starting now!
3rd Decade is currently enrolling for 2023 cohorts. To qualify, applicants must be between the ages of 18 to 35 with an individual adjusted gross income of less than $75,000 (or dual-income less than $120,000) and have the ability to save, manage debt, and start a financial plan. If you or someone you know is eligible and would benefit from this transformational experience, please apply online.