7 Strategies to Clean Up Your Finances in The New Year

Your Finances

The year is almost gone and whew, what a year it has been! Like most people, you’ve probably also been a busy bee – saving, spending, collecting rewards points, paying off bills, and dealing with inflation and high gas prices – problems we have not had since the late 1970s. So, with the New Year just around the corner, now is a great time to de-clutter your finances and start taking steps towards a better financial future.

In this post, we have compiled a list of 7 strategies you can implement today to clean up your paperwork and accounts and make the most of your money. 

Make Retirement Planning A Priority

When it comes to getting your finances in order, most people tend to neglect their retirement planning especially if they are in their 20s or 30s. It is crucial, however, to remember that the sooner you start saving for your golden years, the more moolah you’ll have, thanks to the miraculous phenomenon known as compound interest. 

Calculate how much money you’ll need to save for a comfortable retirement, then create a realistic plan to put away the necessary amount each month. Better yet, automate the retirement savings transfer so you won’t even have to think about it. 

Sort Through All the Paperwork

This is also an excellent time to get your financial documents organized and filed properly, so they will easy to access when you need them during the tax season. If you don’t have enough space to organize all of the paperwork, you can scan the documents like expense reports and receipts, and store them digitally. Please make sure that you create backups of those digital files, in case your computer/hard drive crashes.

Clear Out the Debt

If you have a high amount of debt or high-interest rates, create a plan to pay it all off as soon as you can. You can start with debt with the highest interest, and then start applying more each month to it until you are in the clear.

This may sound like easier said than done but with a good plan, it’s very much possible. Find a way to double down on your payments – this can mean reducing your expenses, asking for a promotion at work, or starting a side hustle or taking another, part-time job. Working is good, it’s healthy, and all the facts indicate this.

Save For A Rainy Day

The last couple of years have shown us that life is unpredictable and you never know when you might need to face a financial difficulty. Make sure you are always prepared for such a situation without having to fall behind on your mortgage/rent payments or take on more debt. Your goal should be to have at least 3 to 6 months of expenses saved up. Calculate an amount that you can set aside each month and automate that deduction. 

Check Your Credit Report

A sunny credit score is that Holy Grail that can allow you to borrow money when you need it and get it lower interest rates. Take a thorough look at your full, yearly credit report to check if it has any errors. According to Federal Trade Commission, 5% of people have major errors on their credit report that can lead to loan application rejection, and 25% of people have some sort of minor errors. 

Evaluate Your Monthly Budget

Take a good look at your spending habits of the last few months and make note of your spending habits. Have you been spending too much money for one category (say, dining out) and not enough for another (say, saving)? Where can you cut back?

If you want to save more or reduce your expenses in one area, create a realistic plan to make it happen. For example, use only cash for all of your spending needs; no checks, debit, or credit cards are allowed. And when you are planning for a vacation or a birthday party, come up with a budget for it and plan ahead, so you don’t overspend.

Evaluate Your W-4 (Employee’s Withholding Certificate)

Look at your W-4; you may want to withhold less taxes. If you generally receive a tax refund, it’s wise to consider having less tax withheld. Think about it – this money has been essentially handled by the government all year long when you could have invested it or used it to launch a business or added it to your emergency fund. 

Use the IRS Tax Withholding Calculator to see if you can claim more allowances and have more money with each paycheck to save for emergencies. However, be careful, if you fail to withhold enough money, you will owe to the IRS which is never a perspicacious idea.

3 Unusual (and Easy) Ways to Save More Money Each Month

Creative ways to save more money

It is one thing to set and write down financial goals and entirely another to make constant habitual and behavioral changes to achieve them. The majority of people struggle with the latter and eventually give up on savings.

If you’re in the same boat, it’s time to get creative and try some unusual ways to save more money each month.

3 Creative Money-Saving Tips You Must Try

Here’s how you can meet your monthly savings goals without putting in much effort.

1. Buy Grocery Items Online

Sticking to a grocery list is a task when you’re shopping in-store. The fully-packed shelves may call out, tempting you to add a few extra items to your shopping trolley in every aisle. Consequently, you end up buying several items you don’t truly need.

One of the best tips to save more money each month is to shop for grocery items online. You can plan your meals and avoid impulse spending on things you don’t really need. Intentional spending will also allow you to eat healthier – a definite win-win!

2. Plan Zero-Spend Days

When you can’t control your spending urges and fail miserably at saving, you eventually lose the willpower and desire to sit down and calculate how much you spend each month.


You should give your game plan a twist and decide on zero-spend days. For example, you can make a rule to NOT spend any money on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You could also plan your meals and grocery shop accordingly on Sundays to avoid spending on food for the rest of the week.

3. Focus on the Bigger Expenses

One of the most unusual ways to save more money is by focusing on big-ticket items instead of cutting down on minor expenses, like a meal out or a $5 coffee.

While small expenses do add up, you need to focus on bigger purchases to save real money. See if you can save a considerable rent amount by moving into a smaller house that’s more suited to your lifestyle. Similarly, when buying a car, go for one that requires you to pay$500 in monthly payment instead of $1000.

While these are seemingly small actions, they can certainly add up in your savings account at the end of the year. So why not give these unusual ways to save more money a try?

Good luck!

Top Reasons Why Now is the Best Time to Start Investing in Cannabis


If you’ve heard about the large gains cannabis stocks have generated since being legalized in several states, you can’t help but wonder if you too should be investing in cannabis too. Currently, medical marijuana is legal in more than 30 states, and recreational marijuana is legal in nine. When the drug becomes legal in all 50 states as well as the federal level, the demand will be more than ever. But when it comes to investing, you can’t wait until that happens — you have to get in now. Here’s why.

It’s All About Timing

If you’ve ever regretted not investing in a company when its stock was hot, you know that getting in early is key to getting rich. More and more companies in the cannabis industry have decided to go public and sell shares of their business in order to raise money for additional growth. And many investors have already bought shares of various cannabis stocks hoping for a big return. But not all stocks are created equal, and we’re already learning from some of their failures.

Nonetheless, if you want to take advantage of their mistakes and make money from the cannabis companies that are proving their place in the market, now’s the time to get started — while the price is still low.

It Could Get Big, Real Big

Predictions for how big the cannabis industry could become are astonishing. Industry experts believe that the U.S. cannabis market is poised for the most rapid transformation of any industry, reaching $22 billion by 2022.

A look at Canada’s and Germany’s markets make the U.S. market look even more promising. Canada’s marijuana sales, for example, are expected to yield a compound annual growth rate of over 55 percent. And Germany’s market is the fastest growing marijuana market in the world, expected to increase from only $9 million when it legalized medical marijuana in 2017 to $1.6 billion by 2022. What’s more, the U.S. market is expected to top both Germany and Canada, accounting for close to 75 percent of total cannabis revenue by 2022.

So does that mean that now is a good time for cannabis investors? Yes, if you do the following:

  • Do your due diligence. Cannabis companies are new to the stock market and haven’t had time to build a trustworthy reputation. Look at their leaders and past successes before investing in any fund or company.
  • Make sure the company you invest in is in compliance with both federal and local regulations. This can get confusing as states have different legal framework regarding what they’re allowed to sell.
  • Be aware of the risk factors – Every state’s market is different and changing dramatically. Buckle up for a bit of volatility at first as cannabis finds its way in the economy.
  • As the cannabis market becomes more regulated, it could have rapid evaluation shifts. Don’t get jumpy. Expect volatility at first and look at the long-term potential of the company you invest in.

Overall, it is important to remember that the reasons to invest in cannabis stocks outweigh any reason not to. Ask yourself the same questions about cannabis stocks as you’d ask about any other stock. For example, does their management team have a good track record? Are they responsible and ethical? Are they in a good position to grow? With a little due diligence, you could end up with an equitable stock portfolio thanks to the growing cannabis market. Sign up here for investor information and exclusive updates. It asks you to enter your phone number, but a little insider info – you can skip that part.

Happy investing!



6 Expenses Destroying Your Monthly Budget

The American economy is stronger than ever (thanks tax cuts!), the job market is booming (thanks less regulations!), and providing Americans with extra disposable income.

However, this does not mean that you should start spending indiscriminately. Rather, this is a good time to start your financial planning.

One of the fundamentals of effective personal financial management is to cut down expenses that are unnecessary. Remember, a penny saved is a penny earned. Even a tiny expense adds to the monthly budget, and over a period of one year, this can be a significant amount.

If you aren’t careful, these small, sneaky expenses will derail your personal financial goals in the long run. If you are serious about your financial well-being, cutting down the following expenses will help.

Bank Fees

Banks and financial institutions have a big list of fees associated with their bank accounts. Usually hidden among the fine print or Terms and Conditions, these charges can run into thousands per year if left unchecked.

There are fees for depositing cash, withdrawing money from the ATM, using paper checks, and returned mail. Switch to bank accounts that charge a reasonable amount of fees for operating your account. You can compare different easily using online tools. Smaller banks usually have lower fees.

Unused Subscriptions

We all subscribe to a variety of services every month. There’s the gym membership (well not for everyone – certainly not for The Nutty Professor!), the cable or satellite TV subscription, video streaming subscription, car payments, movie theater monthly payments, credit card payments, bottled water payments, and so on.

Yes, everyone needs to drink water but do you have to pay extra for it?

The problem is not all these subscriptions are used regularly. They just sit there and are billed every month, adding to your budget even when you don’t use them. To make things convenient some people prefer to automate payments (that is what many of these services want you to do), and this results in losing track of unused subscriptions.

The solution is to create a list of the services you are billed for every month and cancel those that you don’t use regularly. You could be saving hundreds of dollars a year.

You are not Alan from the Hangover – you have to take care of yourself right!? No sane grown adult wants to be still living with their parents!


If your social circle is large enough, giving and receiving gifts is a norm. Weddings, baby showers, birthdays, Thanksgiving, Christmas (the birth of Christ), and numerous other occasions throughout the year increase your gifting budget significantly.

Some people like to buy expensive gifts because they want to make an impression. However, if you want to keep your budget within your limits, find ways to minimize expenditures in this regard.

For instance, you can always find good deals online on conventional gifting items. Buy them during off-peak season. If you have time, think of making personalized gifts, which not only will save money but will also create a better impression on the recipient of the gift.

Phone Bills

Cutting down on phone usage may not realistic, but you can definitely take other steps to make sure you’re not paying more than what you agreed to when you’re signed up with the carrier.

This includes choosing a carrier with the lowest plan, looking for offers, and discounts and buying an unlocked phone that you can use with any carrier of your choice.

Late Fees

There are late fees on everything from the phone bill, utility bill (and utility companies like Global Water in Arizona may even try to rip you off), to credit card payments. Whether you’re paying your credit card bills late or dealing with a late Internet fee, late payments could end up forming a big part of your monthly budget.

To avoid this situation, set reminders about due dates and automate monthly payments very carefully. You should not rely on them emailing you, expect them to actual send you something in the mail. There are multiple apps and reminder services which will help you in keeping a tab on the payment dates.

Travel Costs

Traveling is fun, but not the expenses. It is possible to save money on plane tickets and hotel bookings by looking for offers or booking on sites that offer huge discounts. Booking in advance also often gets you big savings that aren’t available if you book too close to your travel date.

Your email inbox could be full of emails offering discounts on plane tickets and hotel stays, have a look at the offers before you delete those emails if you have the time.

The expenses mentioned above are easily avoidable if you spend a little time analyzing them. Do you really need Netflix, Prime, Hulu subscriptions when you have just an hour or two to watch TV? You can watch Transformers, Fast and Furious, Jason Bourne, and so on via a used Amazon DVD, for instance, for only a few dollars as much as you like.

Take control of your expenses with these easy to follow tips.

7 Tips to Become Financially Secure in College

As a college student, cash is always hard to come by, not to mention all the expenses that you have to take care of. Not everyone has money like the spoiled Van Wilder!

Here are seven tips that will help you become financially secure in college:

Stay away from the cafeteria and fast food joints on and around campus

Cafeteria and restaurant bills can quickly pile up and while it can be a suitable place to hang out with your buddies and discuss upcoming college projects, it is better if you could pack your lunch instead of spending money on food in this manner. This will not only help you save a few bucks every week, which can turn into significant savings in the long run.

If you think packing your lunch is uncool then you should think about thinks from a different perspective. Either hang out with different people, think about how uncool it is to go further into debt, fight off that peer pressure, and so on. America is trillions in debt and its social security and health care institutions are terrible, that is uncool!

Discount coupons

Internet deal sites have made it so much easier to find and use discount coupons. So why not use them? As a student, you will also find a lot of special coupons that are specifically available to you. Make the most of it while you can. Every penny counts.

You can find coupons and deals in your local newspapers, online deal sites, and social media accounts and pages. You will be amazed at the amount of dollars you will save by spending just a few minutes before buying anything.

Have a budget

You don’t need an extremely difficult and complicated budget plan in order to succeed in your financial planning. But you do need a working budget that will help you keep your accounts in check. You will then understand where all your money is going, where you can save a few bucks, which categories are eating all your savings, and how you can plan for future expenditures. These are all critical decisions, and noting down your daily expenses at the end of the day will help you achieve this.

Managing your time

Most students are so focused on studying and saving money, that they tend to forget how to manage and save time. Time is perhaps the most valuable item that you can spend because it is limited and once spent, you can never get it back! If you watch that goofy science fiction movie In Time, you will know all about that!

You can begin by allotting time for each task and project, and getting your schedule under control. There are several apps available that you can use for this purpose. Or just write it out on a piece of paper, go old school!

Side projects

If you are following a schedule for your educational career, and have managed to manage your time, you should have some free time on your hands now. Instead of wasting these free hours hanging out with your friends, you should instead look out for some extra gigs. Look out for side projects that will help you make some extra cash, and also help you pick up some useful skills on the side.

Freelancing is a poignant way to begin. You can become a part time writer, photographer, designer, or social media manager. There are a lot of websites that offer genuine jobs. You just have to find your strength and passion.

Sell old stuff/Launch a startup

Old furniture that you no longer use and gaming consoles that you got tired of, there are  a lot of stuff that is lying around in your dormitory, room, apartment, and so on picking up dust. You can make some extra cash by selling these via classified or auction sites.

Some of the biggest startups were launched in student dormitories. Facebook is a very popular and common example. If you have an idea, do not hesitate to try it out. Who knows? Maybe it will turn profitable. Keep working on it and ask some astute friends and professors for help. Don’t get crazy though like Leo Spitz did in Transformers 2 though!

Be positive

This last tip is not going to save you money, or even help you make some money directly, however it is one of the most sagacious and most useful tips you will receive. It is easy to lose motivation and confidence, but a positive attitude will help you overcome the hardest of challenges in your student life, and inspire you to keep moving forward.

When the going gets tough, it is time to get going. Hold on because hope is always there and success is waiting for you just round the corner. Do not abandon what you started just because some doubts are popping into your head. No one said it was going to be easy! You can and will overcome these challenges!

6 Ways to Lower Your Student Loan Payments

Student loans are supposed to be easier to pay off, or so the students believe when they first apply for the loan(s). Post college life can be tough (especially with high taxes and regulations which limit growth), and once reality begins to sink in, borrowers soon realize they bit off more than they could chew.

The delinquency rate of student loan is currently at 11.2 percent in the US while there are countless others who are finding it really difficult to pay off what they owe. It is certainly worse when you spend $75,000 on a college degree that matters very little. Some degrees do not warrant jobs that pay that much so why take that type of risk? Something to think about!

Do high school guidance counselors even mention this? They should!

Here are six ways you can lower your student loan installment:

Income-Driven Repayment Plans

IDR (Income Driven Repayment) is a popular option for federal students with loans. There are four different plans available in the market that you can use to manage and lower your installment:

  • ICR (Income-Contingent Repayment)
  • REPAYE (Revised Pay as You Earn)
  • PAYE (Pay as You Earn)
  • IBR (Income-Based Repayment)

Under ICR, your student loan payment will be reduced by 10-20 percent depending on a case to case basis.

If you choose an IDR, there is a possibility that your payment might be $0. When determining the new installment, the state you are living in and its cost of living is also considered.

Student Loan Refinancing

If you are stuck with a private student loan then the only alternative that is left to you is refinancing. This will allow you to lower your payments.

Your existing student loan will be discontinued and replaced with a new student loan by a private refinancing lender. Your repayment schedule will be extended and monthly installments will be lowered. This is a fabulous alternative for those who are facing Parent Plus Loans or Grad which is two different types of loans. Access to IDR and other benefits will have to be foregone when choosing this option, so it is advised that you weigh in your options carefully before making the switch.

Repayment Assistance Programs

LRAP (Loan Repayment Assistance Program) is free for students looking to lower their burden. You are looking at non-profit organizations, government agencies, state owned organizations that help students get back on their feet. Depending on the state you are living in, your occupation, and other factors, you will get help.

If you want more job opportunities move to low tax states such as Florida or Texas and remain far away from California and New York which are losing jobs and businesses to the former two states and many other low tax states. This can help you pay off your loans quicker and easier.

Forbearance or Deferment

Forbearance or deferment is an option that will simply pause your loan installments. If you are burdened with a federal student loan, then deferment is a better option. You will have to satisfy one of the following criteria:

  • Unemployment
  • Disability
  • Return to military (the navy is very safe as well) or college
  • Financial hardship

Your loan amount will be subsidized and will not accrue interest during the time your loan is in forbearance. It is critical that you understand the terms and conditions. You do not want to end up with a bigger loan amount than what you initially started out with.

Graduated Repayment Plan

Under the graduated repayment plan, your initial installments will be set to a lower amount. The installment will then increase periodically every 2 or so years depending on the terms set in the agreement. This will allow you time to grow in your respective field and as your income increases, so will your installment giving you time and space to think and grow. This plan is only ideal if you believe you would be able to pay off your loan amount in the next 10 years.

Extended Repayment Plan

Normally, a student loan repayment schedule is 10 years. However, if you are finding it difficult to repay your loan in that duration, there is an option to extend your repayment plan. Doing this will not only offer you more time, but also lower your monthly installments.

This is where the extended repayment plan comes into the picture. Under this formula, you can extend your repayment plan by up to 25 years which should be more than enough time for you to repay your loan amount. You can press the button for graduated or fixed payments depending on your income and future prospects. The minimum amount your student loan must be though is $30,000 before you can apply for this option.

One thing to remember is that when you choose this plan, your interest amount will rise significantly. The sooner you repay your loan, the better off you are and this goes for all loans period! The longer your repayment schedule is, the more money you are going to pay since the interest never takes a break.

If you spend $75,000 on school with 6% interest, you are really spending $79,500 on school. Just something to think about. Choose the right degree and spend the right amount! You do not want to end up like one of those Occupy Wall Street fools thinking they are entitled to something when they are not entitled to anything!

Here are 9 States that will Save You Thousands if You Relocate

Is your state taxing you too much? If you live in California and New York, it is most likely a yes then, and certainly if you work in the private sector in either of those punishing states.

Here are nine states that will save you thousands of dollars in cost of living expenses if you are thinking of relocating. For each state, you will see an index list which means a normalized average cost of a given class of goods or services. 100 is the normalized average cost, or national average, and the lower the score the better. You can have a score higher than 100. For instance, if a state is 20% more expensive than the score of 100, that state would have a score of 120.

This information was derived from Wikipedia, USA Today, CheatSheet, and Investopedia.

Let’s begin!


This southern state is the most affordable state in the US which is 14 percent cheaper than the national average. Here are some facts:

  • Cost of living: 86
  • Housing index: 68.4
  • Grocery index: 94.1
  • Utilities index: 89.6
  • Health index: 89.9
  • Transportation index: 93.1
  • Miscellaneous: 93.2

The homes are 30 percent cheaper than the national average and we all know how expensive owning a house can be. The median value of a house is around $112,000 while the median rent is around $1,050. Transportation is 6.9 percent cheaper while groceries are 5.4 percent cheaper.

Apart from this, Mississippi is exempt from military, federal, and in-state pension burdens. People pay the least amount of property taxes. All retirement related income, including 401k and IRA earnings, is exempt.

On top of this, there are probably more murders in one weekend in Chicago than the entire state of Mississippi for the entire year.


The rent is slightly cheaper in Indiana at $1,000 while the median cost of a house in the state is $139,000. Transportation in the country is 8.4 percent cheaper while groceries are 7.6 percent cheaper.

Here is a look at the index:

  • Cost of living: 87.9
  • Housing index: 75.8
  • Grocery index: 92.4
  • Utilities index: 91.1
  • Health index: 94.9
  • Transportation index: 91.6
  • Miscellaneous: 92.9


The third spot goes to Michigan. It is particularly cheap when it comes to groceries at 10.4 percent lower than the average, however, housing is also comparatively cheap here. The median listed price is about $147,000 while the rent is $1,000. Michigan is also exempt from military, federal, and in-state pension burdens. Here is the index:

  • Cost of living: 88.2
  • Housing index: 77.1
  • Grocery index: 89.6
  • Utilities index: 95.5
  • Health index: 93.3
  • Transportation index: 97.6
  • Miscellaneous: 91

Just be careful about some parts of Detroit you go into. You may want to avoid them. The fantastic movies Four Brothers and 8 Mile have warned us about this.


Arkansas is particularly cheap in the area of transportation and health bills. The median housing price is $150,000 while the rent is $1,000. Groceries are 7.3 percent cheaper while transportation is 10.9 percent. Here is the index:

  • Cost of living: 88.5
  • Housing index: 77.7
  • Grocery index: 92.7
  • Utilities index: 97.1
  • Health index: 87.8
  • Transportation index: 89.1
  • Miscellaneous: 92.8


Consumers are paying up to 23 percent less for their houses here than the national average with the median home value being at $114,800 and average rent being $995.

Transportation when compared to the national average is 11.9 percent cheaper and groceries are seven percent. Experts on the other hand believe that the cost is going to increase in the near future (problem because this is an energy rich state). Here is the index:

  • Cost of living: 88.6
  • Housing index: 76.7
  • Grocery index: 93
  • Utilities index: 94.9
  • Health index: 93.6
  • Transportation index: 88.1
  • Miscellaneous: 94.1

As just mentioned, Oklahoma is going wild in oil shale which is bringing high paying and more jobs to this outstanding state. This means less money going to the Middle East and more money remains in America to do the same: allow us to have access to the energy we need. Unlike California and New York which have some of highest numbers of unemployment and people on welfare, Oklahoma does not shirk its responsibility by keeping its energy offline.


While the prices of houses are on the rise, Idaho is still one of the cheapest states to live in with several categories that are less than 10 percent of the national average. Groceries are 14.6 percent cheaper while transportation is 6.1 percent. The median home value is $249,000. Here is the index:

  • Cost of living: 89.6
  • Housing index: 77.8
  • Grocery index: 85.4
  • Utilities index: 89.0
  • Health index: 101.9
  • Transportation index: 106.1
  • Miscellaneous: 94.8

Idaho is loaded with fresh crisp air as well. If you love the outdoors, it is hard to beat this state.


Tennessee, also known as the Volunteer State, has the lowest housing index in the country at 77.5. Transportation facilities and health care is also less costly compared to the national average. Groceries are 7.3 percent cheaper while transportation is 10.1 percent.

The median listing for house is $175,000 while the rent is $1,195. Local and state tax is about 7.6 percent which is the sixth lowest in the country. There is no income tax but only interest income and tax dividend.

  • Cost of living: 89.8
  • Housing index: 77.5
  • Grocery index: 92.7
  • Utilities index: 91.8
  • Health index: 90
  • Transportation index: 89.9
  • Miscellaneous: 97.5


Kansas is another state where the median cost is about 10 percent below the national average making it a favorable destination for people looking to settle there. Media rent is about $1,050 while the houses are priced at $124,400. Groceries are 6.4 percent cheaper while transportation is 7.5 percent. Here is the index:

  • Cost of living: 90.4
  • Housing index: 77.4
  • Grocery index: 93.6
  • Utilities index: 97.3
  • Health index: 97.1
  • Transportation index: 92.5
  • Miscellaneous: 96.1

Yes, these states may not be as glamorous as living in San Francisco, LA, or New York but you will also not have to worry as much about seeing homeless people defecate in public which is what happens in San Francisco all the time. If you want to be accosted by a homeless person and smell urine all the time all the while spending massive amounts of money on living costs and taxes, San Francisco is your place.

San Francisco is also in the midst of a properties crimes epidemic. LA and NYC are violent, expensive, and chaotic. Perhaps nice places to visit once in a while but not to live. You may see someone get mugged or shot though. If that is the environment you want to live in while being mistreated by the tax policies in those cities, it is your decision.

How to Choose Most Suitable Personal Finance Advisor for Yourself?

One of the tenets of personal finance is investing your money and at one point, you will have to go to a personal finance advisor for that. After all you cannot buy stock yourself. You do not have a series 7 or 63 license do you!? And you may not even want one but that is another topic.

Many people do not want handle other peoples’ money for many reasons. It takes a special kind of mentality to have that type of confidence and wherewithal.

However, the market is full of people who call themselves a personal finance coach, finance planner, or advisor. This makes selection of a personal finance advisor even more critical.

Here are five things you need to consider before you hire a personal finance advisor and it should not be a business or anyone who is trying to get you to invest regardless if the investment is stellar or not just to register another transaction fee. Think about that! OK, here we go:

  • Education – Education plays a key role in understanding the complex world of finance. And a personal finance advisor who is educated in the same field and possesses relevant certification from Securities and Exchange Commission is the most suitable person to handle your financial planning. Competent personal finance planners or advisors will already have their website and should be publishing blogs and articles. That should be a good starting point for your search. If they do not have a website or not any online presence, that should raise a red flag for you.
  • Credentials or Certifications – Apart from self-proclaimed financial planners, any financial planner worth his salt will have a certification to boast of. For instance, a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) certification is awarded to only those candidates who have undergone extensive study materials, have taken 6 hour long test and have 3 years of experience under their belt. Moreover, the CFP has to renew his certification every three years. A CPA, EA, AFC, and CFA would have undertaken similar training. If you wish to work with the best, look out for these certifications and your search is almost over.
  • Fees – This is one of biggest factors that will determine whom you will hire. Typically, a personal finance advisor can charge you in two ways – flat fee that is charged hourly or per session. The other is commission based. Financial advisors who charge you flat fee are always recommended. That is not the case with financial advisors who work on commission basis. The premise is simple, a financial advisor is likely to give a biased advice if he is getting paid through commission. This might give rise to conflict of interest. For instance, a particular mutual fund might be most suitable for your risk appetite, however, if the advisor is getting more commission from some other mutual fund company, he will recommend that. If your assets are in the higher bracket, you can go for another compensation model wherein the advisor gets a percentage of total assets under management.
    • If you plan on doing a lot of training or one trade a week for example, a business that has a large transaction fee may not be your best bet. If you want to invest for the long term, then a company that helps you choose that asset and has a large transaction cost may be OK for you.
  • Level of Care – In the financial advisory world, you will typically come across personal finance advisors in Registered Advisory Firms and in banks and financial institutions. Both sell financial products. While advisory firms are fiduciaries, advisors at banks and financial institutions will act by suitability standard. A fiduciary will always look for its client’s best interest while the one that goes by a suitability standard will find the most suited (not the best) solution for you. With that being said, the fee factor also comes into play. So not only you now have to decide between advisory firm and a bank, you also need to factor in how the advisor will get paid.
  • Relation that Matters – This element is very subjective. Do you prefer your financial advisor to check-in with you every now and then or you want it to be an annual affair? Again, several factors come into play here. If you are busy and would not like to disturbed every few months for long meetings, than the latter would be appropriate for you. Consider your comfort level with the advisor too. You have to have rapport with them!

Like any other professional, financial advisors too are made different. You will have to take into consideration several factors before you decide which is the best suited financial advisor you need or want to hire. No one is perfect and no system is perfect. That is also something you have to consider.