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Updated on Thursday, February 18, 2016
If thinking about debt and bills and retirement accounts and emergency savings makes you want to hide under the covers all day, you’re not alone — but that doesn’t mean you actually should avoid those topics, either.
There’s a lot to plan for when it comes to finances, we’ll give you that — so how can you figure out when it might be time to throw in the towel and get a little help from a financial advisor? Consider the following scenarios.
You might need a financial advisor if … you have big life changes in the near future
You just got married or engaged. You and your spouse are hoping to buy a house in the next one to two years, and you’d like to start trying for a kid within the next year. One of you has student loans, the other doesn’t, and one of you has supplemental retirement accounts, the other doesn’t. That is a lot of financial change, all at once. In this particular case, financial planners might be able to help point you in the direction of products that should be on your radar (term or whole life insurance plans for when you do have kids, for example, or supplemental investments for both of you to pad your retirement options). Instead of taking hours to research multiple areas of your financial life to decide what’s right for you, a quick(ish) call or two with a financial planner might help set you on the right financial path a whole lot quicker (and easier).
You might need a financial advisor if … you and your significant other can’t agree on anything financially
If you’ve combined your expenses with a spouse or significant other, but can’t seem to agree on where to best invest your money, how much you should be putting in an emergency fund, which debts to pay down first or how much house or car you can afford, an impartial third party who’s familiar with money in a way that perhaps neither you or your significant are might help. Of course there’s rarely one right answer when it comes to personal finance, but having said that, it is possible to make a more educated choice, and a financial advisor might be able to help with that.
You might need a financial advisor if … you have absolutely no emergency savings, and no idea how you could start saving
There are very few situations where a person absolutely cannot afford to put anything away toward an emergency savings fund, and if you feel you fit into that category, it’s probably time to check in with a financial advisor. Emergency savings are there to help us out in times we don’t expect, and while you might hope you never actually have to touch that money, you’ll be glad to have it if you do. Don’t believe us? Just check out these stories about how emergency funds saved the day.
You might need a financial advisor if … you’re not sure how much you should be socking away toward retirement to meet your goal, or how much life insurance you should purchase
Determining those big-ticket goals (how much you’ll need to supplement your income enough to retire comfortably, or how much you’ll need to leave behind to keep your family comfortable should something happen to you) can be difficult, and if you’re not sure how to figure it out, a financial advisor can usually help. You might be surprised how much you’ll need to have in retirement accounts in order to retire comfortably, or how much life insurance you might need to purchase to cover things like a mortgage, college expenses for kids, and income replacement, but having all the information up front will help you make an informed, smart decision for both yourself and your family.
If at the end of the day you do decide to seek out some counsel from a financial advisor, don’t be afraid to ask around for recommendations from friends and family, and to have a friendly chat with a couple before deciding who you’re comfortable sharing your intimate financial details with. Be sure that the person you go with is a fee-only Certified Financial Planner (meaning they’ve completed the rigorous training and testing that allows them to gain that distinction), and ask if they are a fiduciary, meaning they’ll always disclose their fees and compensation, as well as any conflicts that might influence the products they recommend. Learn how to pick a financial planner here.