This morning's Wall Street Journal had an article called "Financial Planning for the Not-Yet-Rich" that I found rather relevant for my blog. Basically, the article on how traditionally, financial planners have not been particularly interested in our age group - people in their 20s and 30s just beginning their careers and families - because we don't represent very high net worths. However, recently, this has begun to change, and more financial planning firms and brokerages are focusing on the younger set and their needs.
I have conflicting thoughts on this. On the one hand, I don't particularly see a need for a paid financial planner for someone in their first few years out of college. That's not to say that an early twenty-something should be ignoring their finances, but I think you can keep things (401 (k) enrollment, emergency savings, debt reduction plans) pretty straightforward at that point because you have very little financial responsibility. On the other hand, I can see how a fee-based (meaning, they're only paid for their time not to push certain products) planner would be very useful (on a one or two time basis) to a young, recently married couple looking to buy their first home or start a family or go back to school.
The thing I actually liked best about the article was a small little inset outlining financial issues by three major early adult life stages: First Job, First Family (Marriage) and First Child. Here are the suggestions:
First Job - Contribute to your company's 401 (k) at least enough to get 100% of your employer's match. Just do it. For basic advice on how to allocate your 401 (k) assets, contact the company managing your funds.
First Family - Merge your finances, pay down consumer debt, and set up a budget on how to pay for all your expenses. Focus on saving for a home you can afford (w/ payments no more than 30% your gross monthly income).
First Child - Life insurance to cover the children's life and education, set up an estate plan, and open up a 529 to pay for college.
Sure, these tips are just scratching the surface, but I guess what the article points out is that if you're finding yourself overwhelmed by your financial options, meeting for an hour or two with a fee-based financial planner might be worthwhile. For further information on finding a planner, the article recommends the following:
National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (napfa.org), the Financial Planning Association (fpanet.org) and the Garrett Planning Network (garrettplanningnetwork.com).
To find more money saving and budgeting ideas visit Young and Broke.