Frequently Asked Questions

Who do you serve?

Our target population is any individual or household who may struggle to afford professional services. This can include a person emerging from homelessness to a middle-income family struggling with debt, job loss or crisis. We also gladly serve clients who do not wish to work with a financial advisor who is primarily selling financial products. Individuals and households experiencing financial strain and individuals employed as a minister, missionary or in a related religious service field are specifically included in our target population.

Where do you serve?

We primarily serve the Appalachian mountain regions of

North Carolina
South Carolina

To facilitate meetings with individuals, we have developed local partnerships that provide us with facilities in which to conduct meetings and hold seminars.

However, we gladly serve clients from other states/regions. This includes missionaries from around the world.

What services do you provide?

Our services primarily consist of one-on-one consultations with individuals to provide financial planning, financial counseling, financial coaching, and assistance with tax issues and tax return preparation. In addition, we offer financial education seminars.

How do you meet with people?

Throughout our target region, we have developed strategic partnerships with churches and community organizations that provide us with meeting space. These organizations also help us get the word out by hosting free financial clinic events and seminars available to the community at no cost.

Is there a fee for your services?

Services are provided regardless of the ability to pay. Individual clients may be charged a small fee or receive pro bono services depending on their household income and demonstrated ability to afford a fee. We do not charge any fees to our strategic partners for hosting our services.

How are you supported financially?

We receive some contributions from our strategic partners. We also depend on contributions from concerned individuals, such as the person reading this (that would be you!). We also apply for grants from foundations. Staff may hold part-time employment on the side, so long as it does not interfere with client relationships or create a conflict of interest.

Are you licensed to sell securities, investments or other financial products?

No, the organization is not a broker dealer, and our staff and volunteers do not hold any licenses to sell securities or insurance. Sales of financial products cannot be conducted within a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization.

Isn’t what you do already being done by Dave Ramsey, Crown Financial or other programs?

No. The vast majority of these programs are based on material prepared for a general audience for use in a group setting. Participants have very little or no opportunity to have specific questions answered or to have assistance specific to their circumstances outside the program. The majority of existing group programs, including Financial Peace University, have been developed by individuals who hold no recognizable credentials, and as a group program, they cannot be held accountable. Group programs are also largely facilitated by lay people with little or no training and usually without any credentials.

Zacchaeus Financial Counseling strongly believes in and values:

Accountability – Anytime a person gives financial, insurance, legal or tax advice, their advice should be correct, whether in a group setting, DVD program or one-on-one. If it is incorrect, they need to be held accountable. Accountability only exists in a one-on-one relationship between the professional adviser and client. There is no accountability in group settings or DVD programs. In other words, where there is no accountability, there is no incentive to be correct.

Credentials – Before receiving financial, insurance, legal or tax advice, individuals have a reasonable expectation that the professional knows what he or she is talking about. The best way to confirm this is by a professional’s credentials. Without credentials, you really have no idea what the professional knows or doesn’t know or the standard by which he or she gives advice. Credentials also often provide a means for making complaints against professionals, holding professionals accountable and resolving disputes.

Individualized Help – Financial, insurance, legal and tax advice must always be specific for the individual and his or her circumstances. General advice is always written to reach the broadest audience, and that usually means it can’t go very deep. People always have questions not answered in the book or DVD, and they need to have access to individualized help. Otherwise, not much has been accomplished other than to make the host feel good about “doing something.”

Also, consideration should be given to whether the group-based program resonates with our target audience and if it is affordable. The vast majority of existing programs heavily focus on building wealth and charge participation fees. Any program focused on wealth is not going to resonate with a significant population. Promising God will bless you if you give or focusing on becoming a millionaire are appeals to avarice and are disingenuous. Any program that charges fixed fees is not going to be flexible for individuals who need help but cannot afford it and is unavailable to them. Any program focused on “Biblical principles” for handling money is also not likely to resonate with our target audience. “Biblical principles” is often just a tag line but in reality is highly subjective.

What is financial literacy?

Much like learning how to read, financial literacy is the process of educating individuals in matters of personal finance. Financial literacy and financial education are content-driven and focus is on content delivery (i.e., motivational speakers, glossy materials, etc.).

What is financial planning?

Financial planning is a process, not a product. It is the long-term development of a plan for a person’s financial future, including setting goals. Planning gives the person’s financial matters a sense of purpose and helps him or her safely navigate the financial barriers that inevitably arise in every stage of life. Financial planning is highly strategic in the context of content. Learning something through financial literacy (content) is only useful as it becomes strategy (financial planning).

What is financial counseling?

Counseling is the process of assisting or guiding a person through resolving problems or difficulties. Unlike financial planning, focus is typically placed on a particularly troublesome area. For example, financial planning may develop strategic financial goals, however, the individual may need help retraining specific habits. Financial counseling focuses its attention in those areas.

What is financial coaching?

Financial coaching focuses on implementing strategy. A coach helps to bring out a person’s best and helps him or her achieve goals otherwise not reachable on their own. Financial coaching is action oriented and provides a long-term resource to individuals who need an advocate or accountability.

What is financial therapy?

Financial therapy is an emerging sub-set of financial planning focused on overcoming severe financial stress or a financial disorder. Included in this sub-set is addressing unsustainable and destructive money habits and behaviors. Financial therapy is often paired with the services of another professional, such as a spiritual care provider, physician or mental health counselor.

What is financial strain?

Financial strain occurs when an individual’s finances are stretched thin or the individual experiences pressure from possessing inadequate resources to meet needs or desires. Strain can occur on a temporary or infrequent basis or over prolonged periods of time. The individual may be forced to make choices in allocating money to needs and desires. Financial strain can threaten an individual’s identity, self-esteem, relationships, job performance, attitude and outlook on life. Persistent financial strain can lead to financial stress. The American Psychological Association’s 2014 Stress in America Survey found that 3 of 4 adults experienced varying degrees of financial strain within the last month.

What is financial stress?

Stress is a reaction to a stimulus that disturbs an individual’s physical or mental equilibrium. The stimulus is an omnipresent part of life, something which the individual cannot escape. Stress caused by financial matters occurs when (a) an individual is constantly unable to meet financial obligations, (b) the uncertainty of income continues indefinitely, (c) an individual’s employment is frequently unstable, and/or (d) the individual’s earnings are continually inadequate to meet regular needs and desires. Thus, financial stress is an individual’s physical or mental response to an ongoing inability to achieve or maintain financial independence, which is compounded by the individual’s inability to escape the situation. The American Psychological Association’s 2014 Stress in America Survey found that 1 of 4 adults experience financial stress, meaning they cannot escape financial strain from day to day.

Why a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization?

A 501(c)(3) non-profit organization is not authorized to engage in investment advisory services or sales of insurance and other financial products. Although this means we must rely on public support to provide needed services, it also means we give undivided attention to our mission. Besides that, there are six primary steps in the financial planning process, and only one of them involves sales.