Yusuf Abugideiri, CFP®, believes in the power of showing up and giving back. Shortly after signing on in 2018 to volunteer with Foundation for Financial Planning (FFP) grantee, Family Reach, through the Financial Planning for Cancer Program, he was matched with the Longo Family. Mike Longo, husband of Leslie and father to three beautiful young children, faced a diagnosis of non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, and during Mike’s treatment, the Longos’ bills “went through the roof.” In desperation, they accrued credit card debt to pay the mortgage on the home they’d recently bought and renovated.
“Working with the Longos made me appreciate the role I play as an objective advisor, dedicated to instilling confidence in a family faced with many difficult and sometimes overwhelming financial decisions,” Yusuf explained. What surprised him the most, however, was the positive impact that the pro bono engagements had on him personally. “Doing pro bono work gives you perspective on what really matters … it’s a gift.”
When he was approached by Family Reach about volunteering with a second family, he initially questioned the time commitment. “[My team and I] were so busy, but when I read the profile of the pro bono client – a dad whose child had serious cancer – it spoke to me. I’m a young dad myself and the thought of a child fighting for his life made all my problems seem inconsequential. I had to answer the call.”
While the father was able to continue working at a university throughout his child’s treatment, there were urgent financial issues that Yusuf helped the family address. In addition to credit card and medical bills that had piled up over the course of treatment, both parents had student loans that would be eligible for loan forgiveness – as long as they paid the agreed upon monthly payment.
Yusuf reviewed the family’s financial situation with the father and helped him figure out how to manage the household cash flow in order to meet required financial obligations. He also reviewed and organized their credit card and medical debts in order to make progress paying them off. Most importantly, Yusuf painted a clear picture of the family’s finances and their path forward, which allowed the father to see their situation as something that he could realistically manage and overcome. “He told me, ‘You helped make the situation finite – you helped me see the whole picture and therefore feel like I can take it on’,” Yusuf said.
Yusuf’s advice to other planners is two-fold: “First, get involved. Do it. If any part of your mind or your heart is calling you to give of your time or your talent or your treasure to a cause like this, follow that calling. It is worth it in every sense of the phrase. Secondly, one of the biggest benefits we provide these families is space, listening to what they’re going through, treating them like people, and then going from there. That’s why we in the financial planning profession are a perfect fit for this type of service. It doesn’t require much of us, just to show up. The biggest way you’re going to be involved is with your heart, and all that takes is showing up.”
“Doing pro bono work gives you perspective on what really matters … it’s a gift.”
Helped client to…
- Create a cash flow plan to ensure critical financial obligations were met.
- Organize bills and debt payments in order to make progress towards paying debts off.
- See his financial situation as finite and manageable, and realize that financial stability was achievable.