One subject that, unfortunately, is not taught in high school is the subject of financial planning. While subjects like geometry, world history and science are important, to be sure, unless a person goes into a specific industry where those subjects are necessary, they probably won’t ever use that knowledge. The same thing certainly can’t be said for finances.
The simple fact is that everyone, no matter who they are, will have to deal with finances and financial planning as adults.
And, as we mentioned, high school students don’t learn a thing about financial planning.
Heck, unless you study finances in college, you’ll graduate from there as well without any knowledge about financial planning. Frankly, that’s why millions of people have financial problems, because they were never truly taught how to handle things like savings, paying bills on time, what compound interest is and what it can do for your money, why it’s important to save for retirement and many other subjects that are vitally important to practically every single adult.
And that’s why, at least once in their life, every adult should speak with a professional financial planner once they’ve fully established themselves in the working world. A professional financial planner can help you to;
- Look at the big picture of your life, and show you what it all means (at least financially)
- Explain to you what a budget is and, more importantly, how to use it
- Explain how do different insurances work and help you to determine what amount you need to protect yourself and your family
- Show you how to build wealth
- Help you to make a smart tax decisions
- Show you how to start planning for retirement, and explain why it’s important to start early
If you’ve decided to seek the counsel of a professional financial advisor, the next step you have is to choose the one that’s right for you. Unless you’re recommended by a close friend or family member, you’ll want to interview at least 2 or 3 before making a final decision. Some of the qualities that you should look for in any professional financial advisor are these;
- Experience. How long have they been in the business? You should look for a firm that has at least a few years of experience.
- Do they have any special or extra qualifications?
- What is their professional designation? What you’re looking for is a person that is a Certified Financial Planner, a Chartered Financial Consultant or, at the very least, a CPA who is also a personal financial specialist.
- Specifics. Your financial planner should show you in specific detail exactly what you need to do and also what it will cost.
- Testimonials or referrals from clients can also be helpful.
Of course there are a few responsibilities that any consumer has when they’re dealing with a professional financial planner and, as with any relationship, it’s a two-way street. The more information and help that you can give to your financial advisor, the better. Indeed, there are a number of things that you can do to help them help you.
- Organize all of your financial records. Your financial planner will need to see everything in order to give you the best advice. That includes assets, liabilities, banking records, tax returns, all insurance policies and so forth. It may take some time to put all of these factors together so keep that in mind when you make your appointment.
- Be honest. There’s no sense getting your financial advisor the answer that you think he or she wants to hear. Tell them the exact truth about what you have, what you owe and, maybe more importantly, what your spending habits and philosophy about money happen to be. (Hint; the more embarrassed you are about a financial decision you’ve made, the more important it is that your financial planner knows about it.)
Unless you keep in regular contact with your financial planner (and, if you can, it’s actually a good idea) you should also have a list of questions, another list of any goals that you might have (financially or otherwise) and remember that the only bad question is a question that you don’t ask. Frankly, the more information that you have about what it will take to meet your financial goals, the better. It’s actually not a bad idea to sit down with your financial planner at least once a year, much the same as you do with your accountant.
At the end of the day, you should think of your financial planner as the teacher or professor that you never had. Let them educate you about the best way to be financially smart and listen to what they have to say. Much more than that chemistry or biology class, the advice and information that they will give you will serve you well for years. (Just remember to bring them an apple once in a while.)