My brand new husband and I are muddling through figuring out our money and I thought that seeing a financial adviser would be a great idea. I started looking for fee-only financial advisers in Los Angeles and I found that by and large, these folks are for rich people. One even said they won’t talk to you if you make less than $200,000 per year.
Now, our financial situations are messy. I work two jobs, a “real” job at a grocery store and a freelance writing gig, which has all kinds of interesting tax… things. We’re trying to keep a balanced budget, save money, pay bills on time, and work out taxes. And we have an aging cat.
So, I feel like professional help is in order, but who do I get it from? Should I try to find a financial adviser for poorer folks? Or is there a better option somewhere? -ZZ
My husband is a certified financial planner, so I hope this is helpful…
It really depends on what kind of “planning” you want. If you don’t have two nickels to rub together (which might be where you’re at) what you really want is a debt counselor — someone who will help you figure out how to trim your expenses, where you can save, etc.
If things are tight but a little more manageable, you could go to any number of companies — Met Life, Northwestern Mutual, Ameriprise, etc — and the folks they’ll put you in touch with there likely work on commission. What that means is that yes, they are trying to sell you products, but products that make sense for your financial future — life insurance, disability insurance, etc. Anyone at any of those places has an ethical obligation to not oversell you, and to explain what those products to for your financial future (just an aside as a plug for disability insurance: get it. Nothing will sink you so fast as a long term medical condition. It’s absolutely as vital as health insurance). These people are likely not going to be thinking about your immediate decisions — how much per month to spend on the cat, for example, but really thinking more long term about your financial health. As things get less tight, you can work with that same person to figure out college savings (if you need that), retirement savings, investments, etc.
What the fee-for-service financial planners do is basically the same thing, but they’re working with people who have more money to “plan” with. If you’ve got $200,000 sitting in the bank, how can you best maximize that investment for retirement, college, career change, inheritance, etc.
I hope this was helpful. It is really important that you get a “good vibe” from whoever you work with, as they are really supposed to be there for you. And don’t hesitate to ask questions either — they can’t help you if they don’t know you’re confused.