As a long-time financial educator, I’m thrilled that financial literacy has become a trending topic post-pandemic. But with all the loud voices on Instagram and TikTok offering financial advice, it can be tricky to know what’s legit and what’s unqualified.
So, let’s cut through the clutter: You want these pros on your money dream team.
Money coach or financial advisor
This is your first hire. You need a money expert to help you make a financial plan to build (or maintain) financial security. A money coach is a strategist and not associated with a financial institution. A financial advisor can create your financial plan and sell you the products, like investments or loans, for your plan because they are backed by a financial institution. Make sure that your money coach or financial advisor speaks your language and is honest and realistic. They shouldn’t be promoting get-rich-quick schemes or setting unrealistic goals. Check their credentials and get a referral or two from them.
You’ll also need someone to help you protect your assets. Use an agent or company to which you’ve been referred, and interview a few. A good agent will advise you to insure major things like your life and your home, not minor items. It’s common to have two agents: one for life, critical illness and disability coverage, and one for home and auto coverage.
An accountant’s job is to legally minimize the tax you pay. They will advise you on how to manage your net-worth growth in the most tax-efficient way in collaboration with your financial advisor. That’s right — these two pros should be talking to each other and not operating in silos. There are a LOT of accountants, so get a referral and read reviews. Once you’ve connected with someone, make an appointment at least once a year to ensure your finances are structured properly.
You’ll also need access to a trusted lawyer. You won’t need their services often, but they’re critical when you buy a house, draw up a will if your situation is complex, sometimes assist with estate planning or business structures, or go to court.
I know that probably sounds like a lot of advisors, and you’re worried about paying for everyone. Yes, you will need to pay fees or commission for this dream team. But I promise you, it will be well worth it as your financial plans unfold and enable you to live the life you want.
Can’t afford a financial advisor, but you need help?
Books, podcasts, blogs, vlogs and free webinars can help you grow your financial literacy, too. But a custom plan perfectly suited to your needs? That’s where these DIY strategies fall short. If you can’t hire your dream team, go to your bank branch for basic financial advice. As a part of your service offering, you can access investment advice and sometimes even basic financial-planning services. These folks are licensed to sell proprietary products offered by the bank, which can skew the advice, but for the most part I’ve found that bank branch advice is generally on-point and balanced, albeit scaled down when you’re starting. The same goes for basic tax-filing services, online and in person, and insurance pros. They get the job done without any bells and whistles. My pro tip if you’re taking advantage of free services is to partner with the advisor who has the best reputation.
Many pros have taken to social media to promote their businesses and enhance financial literacy. I’d soak up all that goodness, but know that a post or a tweet won’t be enough to ensure that you have a fantastic retirement. Only a solid financial plan will.