First, it’s important to understand the difference between a financial planner and an investment adviser. An investment adviser helps you decide what to invest in, whereas a financial planner takes a holistic approach, advising you on your entire financial picture. (Some financial planners are also investment advisers, but this is not always the case.) You may not need professional investment advice until your assets reach a certain level, but long before that time arrives, you are likely to have questions about credit card debt, saving for retirement, or how much house you can really afford to buy. A financial planner will be able to develop a comprehensive financial plan for you that will address all these questions, and move you toward your goals.
When it comes to dealing with our money, we all have questions, regardless of our age or net worth. In many ways, having a financial planner is similar to having a good personal physician who knows your medical history and can advise you knowledgeably whenever a medical issue comes up. Will there be issues that you can research and resolve on your own? Of course. But access to an expert to help and guide you when you need it will give you confidence and peace of mind.
How a financial planner can help you is less about your chronological age and more about your circumstances or the life transitions you’re experiencing. For example, in your 30s, here are some situations where a financial planner can help you make sound decisions about your money.
- Lingering student loans. What else can you do pay down your student debt?
- Dating someone with a financial past. Can you protect yourself while dating someone whose finances are a mess?
- Considering getting married. Should you insist on a prenup?
- Newly married. How do you build a solid foundation and good habits when it comes to your joint finances?
- Buying a home. How much house can you really afford?
- A new baby. Do you have the right kind of insurance (and enough of it) to protect your family?
- Divorce. Should you keep the house
- Post-divorce. Moving to a new home: Should you buy or rent?
- Losing a job. Should you withdraw money from your 401(K) to cover your living expenses while you search for a new job?Because a financial planner looks at your financial picture holistically, whenever life throws you a curve ball, he or she can reassess your situation and help you course-correct. It’s very easy to ignore financial issues when your life is in flux, but the choices you make at these times can have long-term consequences on your financial wellbeing. Get help and make the best possible decisions.