It seems that with every step we take away from the days of being a carefree teen, we are faced with another financial decision. How much should we be putting away for retirement? Does our savings account have a decent interest rate? Should we write a check, pay with cash or open a credit card at our favorite department store? The financial questions that come along with being an adult are endless.
So how do we decide how much is too much and when it's time to admit that we need help? Calling in the services of a financial planner may seem like you are spending money at a time when you should be saving, but the expense might just be worth it.
"Any event that can increase/decrease your financial means and/or responsibilities warrants the advice of a financial planner." says Paul Robak, financial planner at Walters Financial Group*. "The greater the potential impact from the event, the greater the need to seek professional advice and service. Events such as marriage, birth/adoption of a child, inheritance, debt management, pre-retirement asset planning and social security optimization are just a few of those such events."
If you have a good handle on your finances, are following a budget and managing any debt you may have without significant problems, there is no reason to change your path. Unless you are expecting any major upcoming changes, it's safe to say you can continue managing your own finances as long as you keep yourself up-to-date on any economic changes that can affect your financial situation.
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Robak says, "A quality financial planner is abreast of current tax, insurance and investment standards and can apply that knowledge to each client's situation." A financial planner can save you a great deal of time and stress. "Gaining such knowledge takes many years and an ongoing daily commitment," continues Robak, "the client can leverage her financial planner for that experience when making decisions."
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When looking for a financial planner, getting a referral from someone you know and trust is ideal, but we don't always have that luxury. "Seek a planner that is committed to the profession (check for designations earned, industry awards, community involvement, etc.). Next, find a planner that makes you feel comfortable and communicates with you openly to ensure your needs are understood and best served," recommends Robak.
If your planner is spending all of their time trying to convince you to invest in their own company or open accounts with their place of business, you may want to reconsider your choice. Having your best interest in mind should be the number one priority of any financial planner you choose.
Your first visit with a financial planner should involve a detailed conversation regarding your financial needs and goals and plenty of feedback from your planner on the steps you need to take to head in the right direction. Robak adds, "expect ongoing contact from your planner, as codes/laws change over time. These follow-up meetings allow for plan modification as needed to accomplish your goals in the ever-changing financial markets."
Ultimately, weighing the short-term cost versus the long-term benefits will help you make the choice that is best for you and your bank account.
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