Calling in the Experts: When to Seek Professional Money Help

By Mike Peterson
In November 21, 2013

You don’t have to be a millionaire to need professional financial help.  Just about everybody can benefit from some professional guidance when it comes to things like saving, investing, and planning for the future.  But if you’ve never worked with a financial professional, the whole idea can seem a little overwhelming.  What kinds of things can you get help with?  And when is the right time to seek help? 

No worries.  I’ve compiled a list of six reasons you might want to talk to a financial professional:

1.  You’re preparing for a major life change.  Major life changes come with their own unique financial questions and considerations.  For example, if you’re planning on getting married in the near future, you might want to talk to a professional about the best way to combine your finances (and the best way to take care of your combined debts, if any).  Having kids soon?  Take the time to talk to someone about re-structuring your budget (kids are very expensive!), setting up college funds, and doubling down on your emergency fund, just in case.

It’s also a good idea to consult a professional if you or your spouse is considering a major career change.  A professional can help you get a clear and complete understanding of that change might affect your family’s finances.

2. You’re unsure about your retirement readiness.  This is a big one.  It’s never too early to start thinking about retirement – and even people who do think about retirement rarely think about it enough.  For example, you might have some kind of “retirement savings” – but have you ever sat down and really thought about when you plan to retire?  Have you run the numbers and calculated exactly how much you’ll need to retire comfortably?  How long will your retirement funds last?  A good financial professional can help you get a clearer picture of your retirement goals.

3.  You’re struggling to become financially responsible.  You know that you’re supposed to save money, create a budget, and avoid throwing your hard-earned cash away on stuff you can’t afford.  But despite your efforts, you still find yourself living pretty much paycheck to paycheck and occasionally using credit cards to make ends meet.  You have no savings, and you have no real idea where your extra cash goes. 

Does this sound like you?  If so, a financial professional might be able to help you figure out where your finances are getting off track – and they might also be able to help you with things like creating a budget, paying down your debt, tracking your expenses, and using tools like automatic deposits or transfers to help you “pay yourself first.”

4. You’re kind of clueless about your insurance policies.  If you’re like most people, you probably don’t have a deep understanding of your insurance policies.  You know you have insurance, and you probably know some basics, like how much your policies are worth and what your deductibles are.  But do you know how your insurance will help you if you get sick or injured and are unable to work for six months?  Do you really understand the ins and outs of your homeowners’ policy?  Do you understand what’s covered under your “umbrella policy”?

Insurance can be confusing – and a lot of the paperwork is written in jargon-y, technical language that can be difficult for folks outside the industry to decipher.  A financial professional can help you make sense of the policies you have and make recommendations for improving or expanding your coverage.

5.  You’re interested in investing, but you don’t know where to start.  You know that “investing” is something that financially savvy folks do, and you’ve heard the financial gurus on TV talking about things like “diversified portfolios” and so on – but that’s just about the extent of your knowledge.  You’d like to learn more about investing, but you aren’t even sure how to begin.  A financial professional can help you get started by talking to you about your goals and helping you identify the types of investments that might be a good fit for you.

6.  You need to talk to someone about estate planning.  Estate planning – or a writing a will — at its most basic level should include instructions about how to disburse your property and financial assets after you die.  If you’ve got young kids, your will should indicate who you want to take care of them if you are unable to do so.  I know, it’s not exactly a fun thing to think about – but it’s necessary.  Remember that if you don’t have a will, someone else will be making all of these decisions for you. 

So, as you can see, there are lots of reasons that average, middle-income folks might need to reach out to the pros to get help with financial decisions and planning.  If any of these scenarios sound familiar, it’s probably a good time to start looking for a good financial professional.

Good luck and happy financial planning!

Mike is the author of “Reality Millionaire: Proven Tips to Retire Rich” and he has been published in a variety of local and national publications including Entrepreneur Magazine, Deseret Morning News, LDS Living Magazine, and Physicians Money Digest. He holds a B.S. in business administration from the University of Phoenix.