Personal Finance

This nonprofit will give you $1,000 if you take a few personal finance classes

Key Points
  • TCI Foundation, a Tucson, Arizona-based nonprofit, offers a series of free personal finance courses to millennials of moderate means.
  • Participants must also complete a final exam and commit to two years of advice from a fee-only financial planner – also for free – to qualify for a $1,000 Roth IRA contribution.
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A nonprofit organization is giving millennials of modest means a kick start into adulthood. The plan is to teach them the tenets of personal finance and also to give them $1,000 toward their retirement.

Say hello to the 3rd Decade, a free educational program offered by the TCI Foundation and founded by Bob Swift, a financial advisor at TCI Wealth Advisors, a fee-only firm in Tucson, Arizona.

Millennials who are working full time and have a household income of between $35,000 and $100,000 are the target audience for this service, he said.

Since it began in 2016, nearly 300 enrollees have graduated from the program, which is taught in Tucson, Phoenix and Flagstaff. So far, another 143 applicants have signed up for courses through the fall of 2018 and into January 2019.

Swift is also working on an online version of the program for millennials outside of Arizona.

“Our industry hasn’t shown the proper interest in those young people, those with moderate income, nurses, teachers and the traditional employees at a lot of firms,” Swift said.

Here’s how 3rd Decade works.

Reach and teach

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Swift founded 3rd Decade after realizing there was a shortage of unbiased financial education available to young employees.

“The opportunities of real solid help are pretty slim or come from someone selling something to you,” he said.

“This is really the graduate financial course people should have had some time in their junior and senior year in college, right before they hit the working world,” Swift said.

Back to school

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Over the course of three months, participants learn about insurance, planning for retirement, investing and budgeting basics.

Once they’ve successfully completed the classwork, students take a 35-question exam and sign up for two years of free financial advice with a fee-only financial advisor.

Fee-only financial advisors don’t receive commissions from the sales of insurance and investment products. Instead, they’re compensated on an hourly basis or they charge a fee based on the assets they manage.

Individuals who pass the exam and sign up for financial counseling receive a $1,000 contribution from TCI Foundation to a Roth individual retirement account, which is kept at an institution of the participant’s choice.

“We don’t monitor as to whether they close the account and run off with the money,” Swift said. “If they don’t keep the money in the Roth IRA, then we haven’t done our job.”

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