The basics of personal finance are pretty easy and straightforward, once you navigate all the acronyms, all the terms, all the concepts, and sort it all out. Until you do that, all the concepts swirling around money are actually quite complicated and it’s easy for things to call through the cracks if you don’t have the benefit of a third person point of view. That’s why I think everyone should go for one of those free money advice meetings with a certified financial planner of some kind.
At worst, you figure out that you know more than the average Joe about your personal finances, that you’re all set minus a few more percentage points into your 401(k), and maybe you get a free lunch out of it. At best, you find out you’re entirely clueless, totally behind, and you need to sign up for their services just to make sure you can retire by the time you’re a hundred.
Why am I advocating that you talk to a CFP? When I opened up the floor for everyone to give their advice on these advisers , because I had an underwhelming experience, a lot of people said that I wasn’t the target audience for a CFP. That was partly because I’m all set from the basics perspective (three years of personal finance blogging and tons of people telling me I’m wrong didn’t hurt) and I’m not at a point in my life when planning exceeds the basics (yet). When I met for my sampling of free money advice, I was already free money advice’d out! Of course, that was a bad thing for the CFP because he couldn’t sign me as a new client.
However, I think that if you don’t know if you’re getting the basics right, consider talking to a CFP because you might learn that you’re missing something in your personal finance planning. It’s difficult to know what you don’t know, as the saying goes. I am not advocating that you “use” a CFP for the sake of filling the details for free because you won’t learn anything if you go into the meeting with that attitude. Go in with a clear mind as to what you may get out of it and you never know, you might build a strong relationship with a CFP that can help with all sorts of money planning into the future (not just a “fill in the blanks” one-time meeting).