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Contrary to popular belief, you don't need to be rich to warrant the services of a financial planner. In fact, I'd argue that in order to become rich, you need a financial planner's guidance. (But becoming rich isn't necessarily the end-game of managing your finances; it should be a much more esoteric process, focused on your goals and ambitions rather than numbers in your bank account).
When I was a financial planner, I worked with clients who had $70,000 in debt and $5 to their name, and vice versa. So as far as I'm concerned, everybody can benefit from the services of a financial planner.
Last month, we discussed 15 Things to Expect from Your Financial Planner. Now that you know what to expect, it's time to find one.
Here are a few things to consider:
WHERE TO LOOK
Ask family and friends who they use
One of the best ways to find a financial planner is by referral. It's much easier to develop a relationship with a financial planner that a friend or family member already uses and trusts. (And don't worry: financial planners are bound by ethics of confidentiality, so they won't blab about your finances to anybody you know).
Check the CFP website
The Certified Financial Planner designation is a worldwide hallmark in financial planning, ensuring that the person in front of you has a comprehensive education and adheres to stringent ongoing continuing education and work experience requirements. If you can't work with a referral, then checking for a local CFP is a good option.
Ask at the bank
Most of us have long-standing relationships with a local bank. And most banks have some sort of financial advisory service available for clients as well (added benefit: this service is often free). If there isn't anybody there who can help you, your bank should be able to recommend somebody who can.
Doing it on your own
I don't tend to recommend doing your own financial planning, since the perspective, guidance, and in some cases persistence a financial planner can provide is instrumental in helping to break bad habits and form good ones. But if you must do it on your own, there are some online services that can be quite helpful. Check out Thrive or Mint as examples.
THE KEY INGREDIENT
No matter how you find your financial planner, and who they work for, the most important element to a successful relationship with a financial planner is trust. If you don't trust the person asking you personal questions about your balance sheet and life goals, then it will be very difficult for you to share the information they need to help you.
Entrusting your financial future to somebody is a leap of faith. But if you ask questions, know what to expect, and are honest (both with yourself and your financial planner), then you stand to benefit greatly from the relationship. Between the two of you, you can design a financial roadmap to get you from where you are now to where you want to go, protecting yourself against pitfalls along the way.
Setting Financial Goals You Will Achieve
15 Things to Expect from Your Financial Planner
How to Do a Semi-Annual Financial Review
Nora Dunn is The Professional Hobo: a full-time traveler and freelance writer. She is a contributing writer under the CareOne Debt Relief Services Life Balance blog. Having sold her business and belongings to travel, she has been on the road since 2007. She travels in a financially sustainable manner, taking advantage of creative volunteering positions. As a former certified Financial Planner, she is financially responsible for her actions along the way. She believes there is a fine balance between planning for tomorrow, and living for today. Compensated Blogger for CareOne Debt Relief Services. You can follow Nora on Twitter @hobonora
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Your estate is everything you own at death. Estate planning is about organizing your affairs, deciding who gets what, and setting out your wishes clearly.