Money Talks, So Should You

Finding financial advice: Part I

Steve Higgins
by Steve Higgins, Dimespring Contributor

How do I find financial advice?

Know your needs

If you need financial advice, but spend more time researching your next cellphone purchase, it’s time to get your priorities straight. Nothing is more important than setting the right course for your financial future.

Where do you start?

That’s easy – get clear about your own needs and goals.

Do you need help with retirement planning, tax strategies, investment decisions – or all of the above? Next, understand the different types of advisers – what they do, how they charge, what their credentials mean, and whose interests they serve.

READ: Finding financial advice: Part II

Think about your financial picture and your life goals. Do you need help with specific issues, such as paying for children’s college or making sure you have proper insurance coverage? Or are you ready for a long-term relationship with an adviser who will guide you into retirement?

To find out, ask yourself the following questions:

What is my situation in life?

Are you just setting out on a career path, or are you approaching middle age? Have you finished your education or are you considering a return to school? Are you an entrepreneur or a corporate employee? Do you have children? Have you maxed out your 401(k) contributions? Do you have other savings or investments?

READ: Finding financial advice: Part III

What are my goals in life? Do you yearn to build your own business, or do you hope to climb the corporate ladder? Do you hope to retire early? Will you retire to the beach or stay in your hometown? Do you want to put in a lot of time at work or spend more time with your family? Are your parents likely to need your help as they age? Do you or your family members have health issues to consider?

What stage of life am I in?

If you are just starting out and haven’t built up significant assets yet, you may just need to turn to a no-cost adviser from your 401(k) plan provider. If you have a nest egg, it may be time to find an independent financial planner to help set your course.

Now you’re ready to take the next step – finding the right advisor for you.

Steve Higgins became a freelance writer in 2007 after a 25-year career as a business reporter and editor for daily newspapers in Georgia, Florida, Arizona and Connecticut. To learn more about Steve, please visit

Related video

Jill Schlesinger of MoneyWatch explains how to find the right type of adviser for you.