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The Johnson Family’s Story

The Johnson Family’s Story

550 596 FFP
Johnson Family Photo

The Johnson Family's Story

Garfield Johnson, a proud military servicemember, and his wife Tia, were thrilled to be welcoming their second child into the family. Unfortunately, when Garfield had a sudden medical issue that required him to permanently leave military service, the quick transition to civilian life threw the family for a loop. Facing a lot of uncertainty about their future, Garfield and Tia wanted to ensure that they would be able to provide for their growing family. After seeking help from Operation Homefront, a nonprofit that supports military and veterans, they were referred to FFP grantee San Diego Financial Literacy Center (SDFLC).

When Tia called to learn about SDFLC’s different programs, including their Financial Opportunity Clinics and their Boost for Our Heroes award, a $3,000 grant given quarterly to a military member or family, she realized that this could be the helping hand that her family needed. She immediately registered her family for both the award and the next Financial Opportunity Clinic. The relief was immediate. During the initial phone call with SDFLC staff, she completed a credit & budget analysis, which helped organize the family’s debt, income, and expenses. Garfield and Tia’s family was later awarded the Boost for Our Heroes award, which helped bring their finances back from the brink and ensured that they could provide the necessities for their newborn. Garfield and Tia said, “When we were approved, we felt so much joy because we could purchase what we needed to care for our newborn son. Financially, it was such a blessing.”

The couple’s immediate financial crisis had passed and they were continuing to follow their new budget. Garfield had also begun to receive military disability payments, and both he and his wife had found jobs, so their income was steady. However, Garfield and Tia knew they wanted to be smart with their money, become even more financially secure, and plan for the family’s future. Working with SDFLC, Garfield and Tia were paired with a pro bono financial planner, Paul.

After their first meeting, it was clear to Paul that the couple was eager to learn how to make the right money moves. Paul said, “They are the model examples of what our program is seeking to do. They came to me and said, ‘This is what we want. This is our vision. We don’t want money to be wasted.’ It’s the humility and recognition that ‘you don’t know what you don’t know.’ Tia and Garfield recognized and appreciated the opportunity that they have and blessings they’ve been given, and wanted to take advantage of them.” Together, they went over the different retirement account options that would work well for both Garfield and Tia’s income bracket and financial goals, like the Roth 401K. Garfield and Tia already had a solid emergency fund in place, so they also discussed other investment options to consider.

Today, Garfield and Tia are so grateful for their experience with SDFLC and Paul. Garfield says, “Our experience was nothing but positive. Paul outlined so many different ways of investing and how money works. I implemented a lot of what Paul taught us and a few months later, we could see the difference financially.” Following the financial plan they created with Paul also empowered Garfield and Tia to start planning a cross-country move, which helped them move toward another long-contemplated goal!

Published on December 3, 2021

“Our experience was nothing but positive. I implemented a lot of what Paul taught us and a few months later, we could see the difference financially.”


Planner helped client to…

  • Assess the best retirement account option for their financial situation and goals
  • Learn about different investment options to save even more for the family’s future
  • Create a financial plan that eventually gave them the ability to move cross-country