A Fee-Only Financial Planner is basically an expert financial consultant who doesn’t sell anything but advice. Your planner will take a cold, hard look at your current situation, work with you to define the goals you want to reach in life, and then build a plan to help you achieve those goals. Your personal plan will guide you in saving, investing, and using your money as a vehicle to reach your desired goals.
Most people don’t need a financial planner for managing their day-to-day finances; they know how to write the rent check or pay the credit card bill. But there are times in life where hiring an objective expert can be of tremendous help:
• You’re getting married and/or having kids
It can be stressful to blend two financial lives. Add kids to the mix, and you may find yourself pulling out your hair trying to figure it all out. A financial planner can help you address issues of insurance, assets, money management, college savings accounts and more.
• You’re planning for retirement
Investments are a big part of retirement saving. A financial planner can help you decide how to invest, along with the best ways to withdraw funds upon retirement. Proper planning ensures you’ll pay the least amount of taxes as possible and that your funds will last as long as you need them to.
• You’re facing a financial crisis
Nobody wants to be in this position. But whether the crisis is caused by job loss, illness, legal problems or any other misfortune, a planner who isn’t trying to sell you anything can be a great asset in helping you make sound financial decisions.
• You’re buying or selling a home
Any sort of home-sale transaction can be scary. Consulting a planner for advice can provide you with recommendations and information on everything from your loan, household expenses beyond the loan, and the tax implications of becoming a homeowner. Knowing what you can really afford when shopping for a home can be more important than knowing how much of a loan you can qualify for.
• You’ve received a financial windfall
If you’ve come into some unexpected money, a financial planner can manage your larger nest egg and help you figure out the best ways to invest. Whether it’s an inheritance, a large pension payout, insurance settlement, or even lottery winnings, a financial planner can help you plan for how to use some of it, as well as save and invest the rest.
• You’ve lost a spouse
The death of a loved one is often followed by hurried financial decisions. A financial planner will be able to look at the situation with a calm and critical eye, and offer you advice that will benefit you in the long run. Talking to a financial planner early on can help you avoid the chaos entirely by making sure all the proper paperwork is done in advance, sparing the ones left behind a great deal of headache and heartache.
This list isn’t comprehensive by any means, but these are frequently reasons why someone will seek out a financial planner. Keep in mind, a plan is just a static document, a guidebook, and life changes all the time. Once a plan is created, a good planner will ask you to come back in, generally on an annual basis at least, so they can see if your progress is on course and to make necessary alterations. Even without major changes like those noted above, all plans will “drift” as time goes on. It’s important to revisit yours periodically to make sure you stay on track.