Most people don’t enter their adult lives with a lot of financial knowledge at the ready. If you’re lucky, you know how to balance a checkbook and if your parents were fairly proactive, you have a bank account and a basic idea of how a budget works.
The vast majority of adults have never had any kind of formal instruction in finance, which is a travesty since every adult is responsible for managing his or her own finances. This means we’re left to our own devices when it comes to properly managing credit, credit cards, debt, saving, investing, and planning for a bright financial future.
Not only that, but we must accomplish all of this in a consumer environment that promotes a “keeping up with the Joneses” mentality. It’s no wonder so many people are living paycheck-to-paycheck and being crushed under a mountain of debt.
Eventually, we all learn, but some of us at great expense. Are you ready for some good news? If you’re one of many adults for whom finance is like a foreign language, there is help.
You don’t have to go back to college to take Finance 101 (although it’s not a terrible idea). You merely have to find a reputable, reliable, and experienced financial advisor to help you understand the options available to you and make sound decisions about your financial future. Here are just a few situations in which a financial advisor should be consulted.
1. Property Purchases
Buying a primary residence, or the home you’re going to live in, is a no brainer if you can swing it. The main asset for most adults, this type of property not only helps you to stop throwing away money on rent with no return in sight, it allows you to start building equity in a tangible asset that you can one day sell at a profit if you play your cards right. Plus, mortgage calculators and lenders can help you figure out what you can afford.
Where you may need some advice from a financial advisor is if you plan to buy other real estate. Often, purchasing a vacation home or rental property is wrapped up in the dream of earning a passive income. The only problem is that passive income is less passive than you might expect.
Having renters requires you to be a landlord, unless you hire a management company, cutting into your profit. You are also taxed differently on such properties, as well as any income they generate. A financial advisor can help you to determine if this is really the best use of your funds.
This is a biggie. A financial planner is not necessarily going to be a stock broker, but this professional should be able to offer some advice about the best general avenues to explore if you want to invest wisely.
A diversified portfolio could include stocks, bonds, mutual funds, retirement accounts, and other types of investments. If you’re looking for a primer (and perhaps a referral to a suitable stock broker), see your financial planner first.
3. Setting Up Retirement Accounts
With social security on the wane, many young adults may have to rely on their own resources when they reach the age of retirement. To be blunt, your 401K may not be enough.
There are so many different types of retirement accounts to consider, from Roth IRAs to Index Universal Life (IUL) insurance policies, and each has their own features, benefits, and caveats. Your financial advisor can help you to select the best options for your retirement.
Not every couple requires a pre-nuptial agreement or advice on how to blend finances. However, considering that financial issues are among the most common causes of strife in marriage (not to mention cause for divorce), it’s a good idea to discuss them and plan for a sound financial future with a new partner.
A financial advisor is not a marriage counselor, but when couples are on the same page about savings, investments, and retirement accounts, the marriage is bound to be a lot less bumpy.
5. Becoming a Parent
Kids are expensive to raise, but even beyond that, you want them to go to college, start careers, and take care of themselves one day, financially and otherwise. This could mean setting up a fund to send them to college, at the very least, and perhaps going a step further by protecting wealth and assets for their eventual inheritance. Financial advisors can help you to plan accordingly for both.