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Savvy Senior

How to get financial and retirement advice on a budget

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Jim Miller is responsible for this content, which is not edited by the Wilson County News or wilsoncountynews.com.
Jim Miller
The Savvy Senior
January 4, 2012 | 2,499 views | Post a comment

Dear Savvy Senior,

Can you recommend any resources that provide affordable one-shot financial advice for folks on a budget? I’m about six years from retirement and would like a quick financial checkup and get a few questions answered, but I don’t want to pay an ongoing financial advisor to manage my money.

Seeking Advice

Dear Seeking,

There are actually a number of services you can turn to for occasional financial and investment advice without tying yourself down or spending a fortune. Here are several to check out.

Fee-Only Advisors

If you only want a one-time financial checkup, have a few financial questions you need answered, or are looking for some occasional investment advice, a fee-only financial advisor with a certified financial planner (or CFP) certification is one of your best options. The CFP certification serves as the gold standard for personal financial planning, and fee-only advisors charge on an hourly basis, versus advisors who earn a commission by selling you financial products.

A great place to find fee-only advisors is at the Garrett Planning Network, which offers the services of 300 independent advisers nationwide. At garrettplanningnetwork.com (or call 866-260-8400) you can locate an advisor in your area, hire one, and get an hour or two of advice, either over the phone or in person. There’s no minimum income or net worth requirements you’ll need to meet to get help. And you can use this service for a one-time engagement, as well as for periodic or ongoing financial advice. The cost for a Garrett advisor ranges between $180 and $300 per hour.

You can also find fee-only advisors through the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors website, which lists 1,400 accredited advisers at napfa.org.

Other Services

Another convenient service you should know about is My Financial Advice (myfinancialadvice.com), which provides hourly advice via phone or e-mail. You select the topics you want help with, like retirement planning, investing, insurance, employee benefits, debt management, and more, and then choose a financial planner who is standing by to answer your question. This is great for one-shot questions and second opinions. The cost for this service averages $150 per hour, but simple questions can be answered for less.

If you’re looking for help with your 401(k), 403(b), 457 plan, federal Thrift Savings Plan, or SEP IRA, a company called Smart 401k (smart401k.com, 877-627-8401) is worth a look. They provide personalized investment advice either over the phone or online based on the funds available in your retirement plan. The cost is $200 per year.

And for do-it-yourself investors, Financial Engines (financialengines.com, 888-443-8577) is an online company that offers investment advice for retirement accounts, including guidance on employee stock options for $150 a year. Or you can get comprehensive investment advice that includes non-retirement accounts for $300 per year.

Free Services

If you’re an AARP member, you can now get a free financial consultation through a new partnership program between AARP and the financial services firm Charles Schwab (www.schwab.com/aarp, 877-310-7746). This program provides a complimentary, no-obligation financial consultation with a Schwab financial advisor either over the phone or in person at one of their 300 branches nationwide.

Another resource that offers free financial advice is Jump-Start Your Retirement Plan Days. This is a completely free public service program provided by the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) and Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine. On Thursday, Jan. 12, and Tuesday, Jan. 17, you can call toll-free 888-919-2345 anytime between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. Eastern Standard Time, and a NAPFA advisor will be standing by to answer your financial and retirement questions. Or, if you prefer, you can you can participate in an online discussion on these same dates through Kiplinger’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/KiplingePersonalFinance.

Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC “Today” show and author of The Savvy Senior book. Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit http://SavvySenior.org.
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