Meeting with a financial advisor now can foster good money habits for life. Paula Pant of Afford Anything shares five reasons why Grownups should start financial planning early.
You’re just starting out. You’ve got your first full-time job, you’re living with roommates (or maybe even your parents), and chances are you’re not exactly rolling in the dough just yet.
At this early stage of your life, the idea of meeting with a financial advisor might seem silly. After all, financial planners are only for rich people, right?
Actually, no. There are lots of reasons why this is an ideal time to sit down with a financial planner—especially if you aim to become one of those “rich people” some day. (Actually, scratch that. You should sit down with a planner even if you have modest goals.)
Here are five of the best reasons to add a financial planner to your team.
- A Financial Advisor Can Help You Set Smart Goals
When you were in school, your biggest money goals included paying for a few beers on the weekend and ordering pizza during late-night study breaks. Buying textbooks at the start of the semester was your definition of a massive splurge.
Now you’re dealing with student loan repayments, car payments, and rent—and those expenses probably take up the majority of your take-home pay. Since most (if not all) of your money is going towards necessities, it’s easy to get caught up in short-term goals and forget you need a plan for the future, too.
In the not-too-distant future, you may (or may not) need to shell out for a wedding, honeymoon, downpayment on a home, hospital bills, and day care. Ouch! Those are hefty expenses.
If that’s not your style, you might want to spend some money on buying a round-the-world airline ticket, getting the motorcycle or sail boat of your dreams, or launching your own business. But here’s a little-known secret: Even adventurous living requires planning.
A financial planner can help you develop a plan for living your best life, even if you don’t have a ton of discretionary income. These goals may not be right around the corner, but they’re close enough that you need to start saving.
- A Financial Advisor Can Help Keep Your Spending in Check
Sometimes we need an impartial outsider to help us see where we’re going wrong and where we have room for improvement. Reviewing your spending plan with a financial planner—or creating one, if you don’t have one yet—can help you identify spending leaks that need plugging. If you’re not sure how your money disappears by the end of the month, this is crucial.
If you’ve tried a handful of exercise programs and eating plans, but you still can’t get those six-pack abs, you might hire a personal trainer or a nutritionist, at least for a few sessions. Likewise, if you’re trying to keep your bank balances in order but you can’t quite hit the mark, try meeting with a financial planner.
- A Financial Advisor Can Help Align Your Spending with Your Goals
It can be hard to balance bills (and, let’s face it, the occasional splurge) with financial goals that will take years to achieve. That extra latte at Starbucks every morning may not feel like a huge indulgence, but when you realize it’s taking away a chunk of money you could be putting toward your next car, it’s easier to resist the temptation to splurge. Or, it could be that a new car isn’t as much a priority as you originally thought, so you may realize you could be saving—or spending—towards something else that really matters to you.
A financial planner can help you get perspective on how your spending habits affect your big goals.
- A Financial Advisor Can Help You Learn how to Maximize Your Money
Saving money, I’m sorry to say, is the first step, not the last. Once you’ve set aside some funds, you need to make sure your money is working as hard as it can for you.
Many adults overlook opportunities like flexible spending accounts and employer-sponsored 401ks when they’re starting out, which could be a costly mistake. These tools may help you build wealth and begin your financial life on firm footing. A financial planner can make sure these types of accounts get on your radar, and that you know how to make use of them properly.
- A Financial Advisor May Help You Have More Money Later
If you wait until you’re collecting six-figure paychecks before you talk to a financial planner, you may have already missed out on the additional money that you could have started amassing years ago. You also may feel like you’re starting from scratch when it comes to developing strong financial habits that can carry you through the rest of your life.
Everyone makes financial mistakes; think of these as the “tuition” of your financial education. Working with a financial planner can reduce the tuition you pay in the School of Hard Knocks. And the earlier you get started, the more you’ll be able to experience your novice years during a time when your mistakes are relatively small and easy to recover. Learn to manage money wisely now, and you’ll be much better at managing more money later.
You wouldn’t say that a fitness trainer is only for people who are in shape. In fact, the reverse is true: Trainers help you get into shape.
You wouldn’t claim that a doctor or therapist is only for healthy people. On the contrary, doctors and therapists help you regain your health.
Similarly, don’t fall into the trap of thinking that a financial planner is only for the moneyed class. The reality is that hiring a financial planner may help you grow your net worth—even if you’re starting from scratch. But more importantly, a financial planner can help you identify your goals and figure out how to make sure your financial habits are on track to help you meet those goals.
Paula Pant quit her 9-to-5 job, traveled to 33 countries, launched a business she runs from her laptop, and uses the profits to invest in real estate. She shares details about these adventures and more on her website, Afford Anything.