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Sep 24 2012 12:00AM

Question

I make around $25,000 a year. It’s not much, but I’d like to start saving for a house and retirement. Does this small amount of annual income warrant the services of a financial planner? 

Answer

Congratulations on taking the first step in accomplishing the goals you have of purchasing a home and being able to retire when and how you want to.

One very important task would be to begin learning the language of personal finance and identifying what issues and opportunities you face now as well as anticipate what your needs may be in the years ahead. You could start with the most basic questions: Why a house? And, what does “retirement” mean to me?  Learning some basics will allow you to zero in on the most important things you need answers for now.  

How and where to save money are important questions along with what financial risks are you currently facing that may lead you to explore your needs for health insurance, disability insurance, property and casualty insurance, life insurance, emergency funds, tax saving strategies, retirement saving plans, debt management strategies and other dimensions of good financial planning.  You should also learn what your choices are for engaging the services of a financial planner, including what services are offered, how the planner is compensated, what background and experiences do they have, etc.  Both of these tasks will require some time, but it will undoubtedly be time well spent in terms of gaining efficiencies and avoiding mistakes in your near- and long-term future. 

In terms of warranting the services of a financial planner, I have a belief that anyone and everyone can benefit from financial planning. Being committed to that belief, I have personally built a business model where I can work with anyone that is serious about saving for their goals.  There are a number of ways that financial planners can charge for their services, all of which should be fully transparent and disclosed to you. For a smaller client, some planners may charge an hourly fee or a commission, but it is hard to give you more details without knowing more about your situation. You simply need to find a financial planner that fits your situation so you should shop around and get comfortable that you have found someone you can work with. Many planners will do an initial interview free of charge so you are able to determine that “fit”.


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