Independent, Fee-Only Financial Advisor

Independent, Fee-Only Financial Advisor

Thursday, July 28, 2016

What to bring to your first meeting with a financial advisor

Working with a new advisor can be daunting. In the first meeting, both parties have a lot to learn about each other. The advisor should make information about themselves and their abilities available to you through a website or mailing before the meeting. What they learn about you, however, depends entirely on what you decide to tell them.

What you need too bring will depend partly on what you hope to accomplish, but in general, the more information you give your advisor, the more specific and useful the advice you receive will be. Gather these important things and take the time to think about what you need:

  • Your spouse. While both partners do not need to earn the same amount, or even participate equally in household finances, it is very important that you and your spouse understand how the other thinks about money.

  • Account for all of your assets. Ideally, you will have statements for bank accounts, investment accounts and retirement accounts. In addition, know the value of your home and any other significant property you own.

  • Tally up your debts. The important information about debt is the balance, interest rate and payment terms. At a minimum, write down the balance, interest rate, monthly payment and expected maturity date. Make sure to include everything you owe - credit cards, student loans, car loans and mortgages.

  • Know your income and how reliable it is. Bring a pay stub if you have one that shows your gross pay and any withholdings. If you work a regular job, this is easy, if you work on a freelance, part time or contract basis, you'll have to do a little more work estimating what your income will be in the future.

  • Know your specific goals. If you plan on buying a vehicle, home or college education in the near future, write down how much you expect that to cost.

  • A notebook. Your advisor should send you a record of any actual recommendations they make for you. You should still take notes and have somewhere to keep your questions written down.

  • Your story. Your advisor needs to work with you. They need to understand who you are in order to tailor their advice to you. Be prepared to talk about how you view the money you have and what you want it to do for you. While you don't have to bring in every transaction statement, a clear idea of where your money goes every month is critical.

In addition to these standard things, your specific situation or goals may demand more specific information.

  • Tax returns. If you have complicated taxes, are meeting with a CPA, or are looking for ways to lower your taxes, bring a tax return. It will be useful for your advisor to see if you've missed any good deductions.

  • Real estate information. If you are looking to buy a new home or move, bring information about what your new home might cost. Details about the area will be useful in helping determine what you can afford and how much your lifestyle and finances will be impacted by the move.

  • Children or parents. If you are helping manage your parent's affairs, or looking to pass on wealth to your children, bring them. An advisor can help you determine what is appropriate information to share and provide factual information for the relationship.
Remember that an advisor cannot help you with things that they do not know about. The more information an advisor works with, the better your advice will be.

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Quick Savings Tips!

We all know that saving more is good and important. Saving more is the key to meeting our financial goals and having security in the future. The problem is getting started saving. Even the best-designed budget is worthless if you can't stick to it. Try these little tricks to make saving a bit easier!

  • Automate it. This is especially easy if you can get your employer on board. If you have a retirement plan at work, raise your contribution to it by 1% every now and then. If you need to build up savings elsewhere (like an online savings account or investment account) see if they will pay part of your paycheck directly to that account so that you don't have to be involved in the process at all! Otherwise, just set up a regular transfer from your checking to your savings account.
  • Take a holiday! No, don't book plane tickets just yet, take a spending holiday. Try one day a week, or one weekend a month, where you don't spend any money at all. This takes a bit of planning if you don't always keep your fridge stocked with food, but shouldn't be hard to do. Remember to pack some leftovers for lunch and have an idea for cooking dinner and your needs are taken care of. If you are tempted to go shopping or are invited out, you only have to put it one pause for a day. If you can control a spending impulse for a day, you can make better decisions about spending in other situations too!
  • Get your priorities straight. Think deeply about what you want your money to do for you and what you value enough to spend money on. It is not healthy to think of a particular spending habit as a "vice" or a "splurge" if eating out or buying vintage clothes is something you value enough to spend on, budget for it and understand that prioritizing that will mean sacrifice in other areas. When confronted with something to spend money on, ask yourself how much you really value it.
  • Comparison shop - for everything. Comparison shopping is not just looking for a cheaper cereal in the grocery store or looking at two websites for prices on a gadget. Comparison shopping can extend to anything you spend money on. Consider real alternatives to expensive outings or meals. If you want to try out a new restaurant, instead of spending on a full meal for yourself, gather a few friends and make it clear you want to sample the menu and keep the price low. If you are planning a date night, look at the cost of the activities you have planned and come up with a cheaper alternative to one of them.
  • Be realistic. Don't plan on a drastic cut in your spending if you don't actually think you can do it. Keep yourself appraised of your spending on a regular (I recommend weekly) basis and if something is not working out, you may need to change things up.
Saving money requires saying NO to a lot of spending. This can be hard if we want to keep up with our friends or maintain a certain lifestyle. Ultimately you will need to figure out what you value, and understand the true value of future financial success that comes with good habits now.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

February, March 2016 Newsletter

Catch up with our office!  Jackie wrote the latest newsletter for New Perspectives.  See what she's been up to:  "Notes from the TD Ameritrade Conference."