If you’ve thought in any way about your financial future, then you might be thinking about how to make a long-term strategy to attain your goals — and stick to it.

A financial adviser — the umbrella term generally utilized to refer to financial planners, though it includes other financial specialists as well — could be just the individual to help. But before you scoff at the thought, know that working with a financial advisor is not quite as cost-prohibitive as it once was. It might be time you hired one.

Financial preparation services are more accessible than ever due to fee-based payment versions.

“So many people feel that they don’t have enough money for a financial advisor,” said Angela Moore, owner of Modern Money Advisor in Miami. “The business has promoted this panic by mostly focusing on high-net-worth customers who, generally speaking, have at least $1 million in funds to invest.” As payment for their services, financial advisors will charge these kinds of customers around 1 percent of assets under control, or total portfolio value, annually. So a $1 million portfolio, might require a yearly fee of $10,000. That is usually along with hourly work.

The good news, according to Moore, is that there is a growing number of financial consultants who provide fee-based instead of asset-based payment versions, which can take the kind of a monthly retainer, hourly rate, or flat rate, depending upon the service. This opens the opportunity for people of varying backgrounds and income levels to seek professional financial advice they could afford.

“The financial field has expanded a great deal,” said Britton Gregory, certified financial planner and principal of Seaborn Financial in Austin, Texas. Over the past several decades, he explained, there’s been an increase in financial planning networks that focus on non-traditional markets — in other words, “people who do not have gobs of assets sitting around in investments,” Gregory said.

In reality, many financial advisors nowadays offer cheap consultations that can help clients get pointed in the right direction, even if they don’t have the assets or income for more comprehensive portfolio management. For example, Gregory offers “office hours” during which prospective customers can book a 90-minute video conference to go over their questions and develop action items. The service costs $450.

There is not anything to sneeze at. But for someone who cannot afford to pay several thousand dollars to get a thorough budget, it might be worth gaining some professional insight.

Not certain if you’re ready to ditch the DIY path and work with an expert? Listed below are five signs it is time.

  1. You’re young and not sure where to start.

According to Bradley Nelson, president of Lyon Park Advisors in Rossville, Indiana, a fantastic budget makes the most difference when adopted early in life. That is because it is a lot easier to start investing 20% of your earnings when you are young and need to retire in 40 years than to begin saving 50% of your income if you’re older and want to retire in 15 years.

Young people with their first “real job” and salary stand to benefit most from good fiscal planning, Nelson said. “Investments scale surprisingly well. There is not much a person needs to do differently using a $100,000 portfolio compared to a $10,000,000 portfolio.”

However, young adults that do not yet have much money to their name — and might even be working on paying off debt — should be sure to work with the right sort of planner. “They might need to seek a planner who operates on fixed retainer rather than on a percentage of resources,” Nelson noted.

  1. You experienced a major life event such as graduation, marriage, or having kids.

Whenever a significant life event occurs, there is a fiscal impact. For instance, getting married means merging finances with your partner. Having a child means you have to plan for their future education costs.

“I think that searching for professional financial aid should be based on life events and personal comfort level rather than any particular level of assets or income,” said Mike Zung, the owner of Java Wealth Planning in Lee’s Summit, Missouri. He said that even someone who has just graduated from college and landed their first job would benefit from personalized help with debt management, budgeting tactics, and basic advice on their company’s 401(k) plan.

“Typically speaking, life events just keep coming from there. Marriage, buying a house, starting a family, changing jobs, kids going to college — these have financial implications and could benefit from impartial financial planning,” Zung explained.

  1. You simply cannot find the opportunity to manage your money all on your own.

Another reason to utilize a financial adviser is that you do not have time (or know-how) to critically examine your fiscal life and set a plan in place.

“I’m working with some of the cleverest people in the world, but unless they make time to look at their finances, things can be overlooked,” said Kayse Kress, a certified financial planner merging her company using Physician Wealth Services, a financial planning firm based in Las Vegas that specializes in assisting medical professionals.

  1. Financial issues keep you up at night.

If you are staying awake every night, worrying about difficulties like money flow, saving for a goal, covering loan obligations or a change to your family situation, it is time to get out to an expert financial planner,” stated Louise H. Bryant, a certified financial planner and owner of the company Financial Spyglass.

“We are not born with this knowledge. While all people are capable of figuring it out, working with a financial adviser can get you on the ideal track speediest,” Bryant said.

  1. You’ve got at least $500,000 in assets and also need a comprehensive plan.

Finally, in case you have quite a bit of money saved and you want continuing help managing and growing your wealth, a more traditional financial planner might be a great fit. “For those who have $500,000 in resources, you should have little problem finding a financial planner who will counsel you for a percentage of [assets under management],” explained Gregory.

The best way to choose the Right financial adviser

Certainly, there are a lot of options available with regards to hiring professional financial help. Nevertheless, when it comes to finding the right person, how do you start?

  • Figure out what you can afford, then find the best match via a financial planning network.

Whether you would like to get a basic plan in place or hire somebody to offer ongoing advice, working with a financial planner may be a wise move. However, the cost to employ a professional has a fairly wide selection, based upon the financial advisor.

It’s common to pay anywhere from $500 to $2,500 for a full financial plan from a traditional financial planner, and 1 to 2 percent of assets under management for ongoing portfolio management. Hourly prices for ad hoc consulting (for instance, estate or tax planning) or special projects can typically vary anywhere from $100 to $400.

To find a financial advisor that meets your needs and budget, it can be helpful to take advantage of financial planning networks.

  • Make Certain the Financial adviser is a fiduciary.

You also want to be certain that the person you work with has your best interests in mind. “Hiring the incorrect professional might be a costly mistake,” said Nelson, noting that at minimum, the financial advisor ought to be a Realtor who’s legally required to put the client’s interests first.

It is for that reason that you should start looking for somebody who is fee-only, meaning that they don’t make money from commissions or by simply selling goods. You may also want to look for financial advisors with professional designations, such as a qualified financial planner.

  • Or visit an accredited financial advisor.

If you are not so much interested in putting together a comprehensive financial plan as getting some basic personal finance information, you may benefit from working with a licensed financial advisor instead. AFCs are certified by the nonprofit Association for Financial Counseling and Planning Education and will be able to help you navigate confusing financial problems like budgeting, paying off debt, and saving for your retirement. They’re not allowed to give you specific investment advice, but they can help you with gaining financial literacy.

AFCs frequently focus on working with mid – and low carb customers, so you may find this alternative to be more affordable than hiring a financial planner. You can visit the AFCPE site to look for a counselor near you.

  • Consider a robot-advisor.

If you aim to find budget-friendly, no-frills portfolio management, a Robo-advisor might be the best option for you. These automatic investment management solutions, which employ algorithms that choose your investments according to a few private variables and manage them with little human oversight, charge around only 0.25-0.5 percent of your portfolio value annually. Popular Robo-advisors include Betterment, Wealthfront, and Personal Capital.

No matter which type of financial advisor you choose, the point is that professional financial aid is significantly more accessible — and more important — than you may think. “Everybody needs to have a financial plan that articulates their financial goals and describes in detail the way to meet them,” said Nelson. If you cannot prepare yourself, it’s probably a good idea to hire an expert to do it for you.

For one, it takes quite a bit of time to stay up to date on the latest developments in areas like taxes and investing. Additionally, it requires discipline to adhere to a plan. 

So don’t write off financial planning as a privilege reserved only for the wealthy. There are plenty of financial advisors out there who specialize in dealing with customers who don’t have a whole lot of cash — yet. The goal is that by working with one, you’ll place a strategy in place now that ultimately gets you to another level.

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