Most of the time, we’re all for educating yourself about your own finances instead of hiring someone else to take care of them for you. Whether that’s through podcasts, online courses, careful research, or getting advice online, it usually works. But sometimes you need to call in a professional.
Financial advisors don’t often come cheap, but there are a few times when it’s worth the expense. Here are five times you should hire an advisor to avoid the headache of dealing with it yourself.
Note: The resources for finding financial professionals listed below are for the U.S. only. If you live in another country, though, there are plenty of similar resources available for where you live.
When You Want to Start Investing
When I say “start investing” here, I mean on a larger scale. Using Acorns or Clink to invest small amounts of change doesn’t require a financial advisor. But if you receive a large windfall, decide to start investing a significant portion of your income, or are planning to invest for retirement, you’ll want some professional advice. You can certainly spend time learning and doing it yourself, but you’ll have to weigh the time spent versus the cost of an advisor.
A good financial advisor will help you get the most out of your investments. They’ll tell you the types of investments to make, how much risk you should take, and your expected return. This is especially useful if you have specific goals for your investments, like retirement or buying a new house.
Of course, using a roboadvisor is always an option, too. But while they’re customizable and can help you with specific portfolios, they can’t respond to your specific goals. If you want to make sure to get the absolute most out of your investments, talking to a professional is the way to go.
Finding a financial advisor that will work with someone who has less than $500,000 to invest isn’t always easy. But The Garrett Planning Network can help you find one. Their affiliated advisors have no minimums, and only charge hourly fees, instead of percentages. LearnVest is also a great option if you’re okay with having email-only access to your advisor.
When Your Taxes Are Complicated
You might be saying, “Taxes are always complicated!” And I wholeheartedly agree. But there are times when things get especially arcane. Filing your taxes as a freelancer with multiple clients, for example, can be quite complex. A change in your life situation (a new job, getting married, a death in the family) can also make for a tax nightmare. Self-employment, significant investments, owning multiple properties, and trying to figure out issues with dependents can also make for more complicated taxes.
Hiring an accountant or a tax preparer can be very expensive, especially if your tax situation is complicated. But in many cases, the few hundred dollars you’ll spend hiring one will be more than worth it. When you count up the number of hours you’ll spend preparing your own taxes and add the potential for error and an audit, I think you’ll find that hiring a professional is preferable.
To find a tax professional, you can use the IRS directory or run a local search. You can also check the National Association of Enrolled Agents, which may be cheaper than hiring a certified public accountant.
When You’re Preparing Your Will
Like most other financial activities, you can prepare your own will online. But if you have significant assets or you’re worried about what will happen to them after you die, hiring a professional is the way to go. There are a number of different things you’ll want to know about, like wills, trusts, power of attorney, and other related issues. A professional will be able to tell you all about these things.
If you die without a will, your assets will be put in probate, and may be distributed by a court. How exactly the court will distribute everything depends on your state laws and the court’s judgement. So making sure your will is legally binding, clear, and exactly how you want it is crucial for ensuring your assets get distributed how you want them.
Estate planning might not sound like a fun process — you’ll have to admit your own mortality to get started — but it’s a really good idea for you and your relatives, whether they’re named in your will or not. The National Association of Accredited Estate Planners is a good place to start looking for someone to help you out with this important process. EstatePlanning.com also has a nice search page you can use.
When You’re in a Lot of Debt
Fighting your way out of debt without advice from a financial professional is certainly possible. In fact, we’ve given you a lot of tips on how to do it. But if your debt is starting to feel extreme, you owe a lot of money to many different creditors, or collections agencies are starting to harass you, it might be time to call in a professional.
Debt professionals can help you settle or consolidate your debts, create debt repayment plans, declare bankruptcy, and assist in many other ways that will help you manage and erase your debt. Of course, there are tons of things you can do to start the process. Budgeting, improving your credit score, and expense tracking can all be done without the help of a professional. But if those aren’t going to cut it, it’s time to hire someone.
Debt.com is a good place to start looking for a debt professional. They’ll put you in touch with Better Business Bureau-accredited organizations that can help. The National Foundation for Credit Counseling can also put you in touch with a professional, and you can schedule an appointment directly from their site.
When You Just Don’t Want to Manage Your Finances
While many people will say there’s no excuse for not dealing with your money, some people just hate it. And that’s fine. But if you aren’t taking steps to secure your financial future, you need to make sure someone is. A financial advisor can help out with this by recommending management strategies, helping you set goals, and occasionally reminding you that you need to do something.
Of course, you’ll have to pay for this, and that trade-off may or may not be worth it. Many advisors won’t work with you unless you have $50,000 or even $100,000 in invested assets. You’ll probably have to pay a percentage of your assets every year. So the cost could be quite large. But if managing your finances is the last thing you want to do, it might be worth it.
You can use the resources listed in the first section above to find a financial advisor for helping you manage your finances. You can also find a financial planner using the search tool on the Certified Financial Planner website. A planner will be more focused on helping you set and meet goals, which will give you good reason to better manage your finances.
Seek Help When You Need It
We’re big on educating yourself and making good financial decisions without the help of a professional. But some situations call for professional help. Whether you have complicated taxes, are planning your estate, or just don’t want to deal with your money, a financial professional can help you out.
Have you hired a financial professional? Which type? Or do you prefer to handle your own finances? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
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