Don Khieu, CFP®, has a heart for helping others improve their finances. Having immigrated from Vietnam to the United States in 1975 at the age of 24, he built his life from the ground up and eventually pursued a career in financial planning, practicing for over 30 years. Today, despite being semi-retired, Don remains dedicated to helping others improve their finances. “I want to teach people financial knowledge because I’ve learned it’s crucial to living life well.”
In 2021, Don received an e-newsletter from CFP Board containing a volunteer call for FFP grantee Wings for Widows, an organization that provides financial coaching to widows following the loss of their spouse. Many years ago, Don had personally experienced firsthand the loss of a spouse from cancer, so he is beyond familiar with the grief and fog that people are often in for months after a loved one passes, and he felt compelled to volunteer. “I went through the same thing myself, so I understand how they feel and can easily empathize with their situation.”
Since signing up, Don has worked with 10 different clients. Generally working together for 4 sessions ranging from 90 minutes to 2 hours per session, Don has found that the biggest impact comes from helping the widows get a better understanding of their finances and learn how to budget. “A lot of people go through life without a budget, especially those not managing the financial situation of the family. The fear [for many widows] of not having enough income really comes from not understanding their cash flow and expenses, so we spend a lot of time going through the budgeting process. Once we’ve laid out their financial situation and begin addressing expenses that need to be reduced or even eliminated, they feel so much better because they feel like they are in control. They know what’s going on. That’s the basic step that gives them confidence that they can do this.”
One pro bono client that Don recently helped, Maria, faced a particularly heartbreaking situation. When her husband of 25 years passed away unexpectedly, Maria found herself without any substantial income, relying solely on state benefits and a life insurance policy from her husband to cover their equestrian farm’s mortgage and other life expenses. Unable to enter the workforce as she was now the sole caretaker of their disabled adult son, her finances were quickly depleted and the mortgage went into forbearance. After being matched with Don by Wings for Widows, Maria and Don began meeting to discuss her financial situation. Together, they reviewed the family’s finances and budget, and reflected together on what possible solutions could restabilize the family finances. Eventually, Maria came to the realization that she needed to sell the family’s equestrian farm. Selling the farm would not only pay off the mortgage, but also enable Maria to set aside enough money to provide care for her son for the rest of his life, even after she passes away.
Don is grateful for the opportunity to give back through organizations like Wings for Widows and hopes that more people in need will take advantage of pro bono financial planning. He says, “If more people knew about pro bono financial planning, more would reach out for help. It’s a snowball effect of impact.”
“Once they know what’s going on financially, that basic step gives them confidence that they can do this.”
Planner helps clients to…
- Review their budget and understand their cash flow.
- Reduce or eliminate expenses to help balance their budget.
- Feel confident in managing their finances going forward.