July 31, 2019
Money may be a conversational taboo in your family or social circles. When you hire a financial planner, however, you'll want to leave those inhibitions at the door. Just like your spouse, you should go into any meeting or conversation with a financial adviser or financial planner with complete openness and honesty.
If you are paying a financial professional for help, they can only do a good job if they know all of the relevant details from your financial life. Here are some of the topics and details you should be ready to bare when sitting down with your financial planner to get the best personal results.
1. Share recent pay stubs for income planning
When I was dating, annual income was a third date conversation. What can I say? I'm a money nerd! If you prefer to keep your income a bit more private, that's understandable. But you can't keep this key financial fact a secret from your financial adviser. Your monthly and annual income is a key facet of your financial outlook.
While just telling your adviser that you make however many thousand per year is helpful, a full paycheck breakdown offers much more insight into your money. Details like your tax withholdings, retirement account contributions, and insurance payments can all help shape your financial plan.
2. Bust out that budget
If you don't know where your money goes every month, it's time to build a budget. Using free apps like Mint or Google Sheets, you can lay out a monthly spending plan with estimates and limits for each spending category. Don't think of a budget as something that restricts your spending. You pick the total for each part of your budget.
The only hard and fast rule is that your total has to be less than your income. If you can spend less than you earn while saving and investing the rest, you're doing the most important parts of managing your money already. With a quality budget in hand and a professional review, you might find that you can save and invest even more.
3. Be open and honest about your debt
While a six-figure balance in your travel reward account is braggable, a six-figure pile of debt may make you want to cringe. But even if you find your credit card, student loan, or other debt balances embarrassing, it's vital to be open about this aspect of your money with a financial planner.
Because debt payments can eat up a lot of your income, you should already be planning for this in your monthly budget. But again, a review by a seasoned professional could help you identify ways to save money, get out of debt faster, and get on track to meet other major financial milestones and goals.
4. List off major financial milestones
Speaking of financial milestones, what major goals do you have in your life that require a large financial outlay? Think of things like buying a home, paying for a wedding, sending kids to college, and retirement when putting together your list.
There is no right or wrong when it comes to your financial and personal goals. Maybe you are into cars. Perhaps you have always dreamt of a year-long trip around the world. It doesn't matter if you want to live a simple life or have big dreams with vacation homes and luxury travel. If your financial adviser doesn't know about those goals, they can't help you achieve them.
5. How you feel after a bad stock market day
The financial markets have good days and bad days. If riding a financial roller coaster leaves you as queasy as an actual roller coaster, that has a major influence on your investment style and how you should structure your accounts and assets.
Every investor has a different risk tolerance. Financial planners are trained to help you find the right fit, whether you want an ultra-aggressive portfolio or a much more conservative one. They can also help you better understand why the market ebbs and flows and how changes in the market change your outlook.
6. All the insurance
Life insurance, disability insurance, homeowners insurance, health insurance, auto insurance, and other types of insurance are a necessary part of living in the United States today. If you don't have massive savings that allow you to self-insure for life's curveballs, it is a smart idea to get the right policies in place for your needs.
Financial planners are insurance experts who can help you understand if you are underinsured, overinsured, or just overpaying. Go over every single insurance policy you have with your financial planner to make sure you are on the right track.
7. Don't be bashful about your personal goals
When people buy a new car or spend money to impress friends, neighbors, relatives, coworkers, or anyone else, it's usually a bad decision. Instead of worrying about what everyone else has, does, and spends their money on, do your best to only worry about yourself. After putting the Joneses aside, your own personal goals come into better focus.
By avoiding wasting money on what other people want, you have more leftover to spend it on the things you want to do yourself. Whether that's going to Egypt to see the pyramids, kicking back on a beach in Hawaii, or just enjoying your golden years at home free of financial worry, a financial planner may be able to help you get there. When you are fully forthcoming about all of your money details, you are bound to get the best results.