It was two months after I graduated from college and I was unemployed and feeling lost. I had been through the typical quarter-after-college crisis and definitely didn't feel like I was good with my money.
Aside from occasionally checking my banking app to make sure I wasn't checking my checking account, I knew next to nothing about personal finance. I had never made a budget; I didn't know the difference between a 401 (k) and an IRA. I couldn't even tell you what a "good" credit score was (or how you can even check your credit score).
Thanks to the interruptions in studies and the generosity of my parents, I was lucky enough to study free of debt. I had saved a little more money through jobs and internships during my studies and hoped to use this money to leave my parents' house as soon as I got a job. I knew that I definitely needed outside help to put my financial schedule together.
My own online research has proven unsuccessful – all I found was conflicting advice and unrealistic financial success stories. I wanted advice that was personal to me, so I turned to a professional.
Why I chose a certified financial planner
A certified financial planner (CFP) helps customers use their money wisely and set long-term and short-term financial goals. I found my certified financial planner Jared through my parents, but a quick Google search can offer many options to those who are hunting.
Jared is a paid planner. Like other paid planners, he doesn't earn commission and is a trustee, which means he has to act in the best interests of his customers. I had limited resources and wanted to work with someone who gave me honest recommendations (and didn't put unnecessary products on me).
Our first meeting
First, Jared helped me understand my personal financial situation. What did I waste money on? Did I have enough money to invest? His patient and optimistic attitude immediately relieved my initial fear of money.
Here are some of the basic things Jared and I discussed in our meetings:
1. I have drawn up a budget and learned the average amount that I should categorize (such as rent, food, etc.).
2. He encouraged me to open a Roth IRA. I didn't have a job at the time, so a 401 (k) was out of the question. When I got a job, he recommended that I contribute enough to meet my employer's match.
3. I have invested any remaining money that I had. Jared helped me find the right stocks to invest in based on my savings goals and risk tolerance.
Finally, we discussed long-term plans. I had big dreams of buying a house and retiring comfortably (the American dream!) And Jared devised a sensible strategy to get there. I like the certainty that I have a plan to achieve these distant goals. Something as sublime as buying a home seemed a little easier to achieve than I had a list of steps to take.
At the end of my two meetings with my CFP, I had a budget, an investment plan, and a long-term schedule. In short, I had a better understanding of my financial situation and felt empowered to make decisions with my money.
Why it was absolutely worthwhile to go to a financial planner
I paid a total of $ 300 for my CFP, including two face-to-face sessions. In addition to a complete financial plan, Jared was also available by phone or email if I had any questions.
When I received my tax refund more than nine months after we met, I emailed him for a recommendation on how to handle the money. He replied promptly and gave me some great recommendations – in the end I invested it.
The costs for a GFP were absolutely worth it. Money can be a delicate and personal area in a person's life, and hiring a professional can help make an objective assessment of your money.
After graduating from college, you easily feel lost. It can be critical to have someone to shake your hand to become financially independent. I feel like I now have the tools to make smart money decisions without calling my parents.
You don't have to make six-figure amounts to hire a CFP (I certainly didn't make that much). If you are looking for ways to save more or establish better spending habits, a financial planner is definitely for you.
I've saved back the $ 300 and more I've spent and plan to visit Jared again in a few years to make sure I'm on the right track to achieve my long-term goals.