Financial Planning

Before You Meet with a Financial Advisor, You Need to Know This

Before you meet with a financial advisor.Are you thinking about retirement?  Did you start a new job and want to know more about a 401K?  Or are you interested in starting 529s for college savings?  Then you might be considering meeting with a financial advisor.  But, before you meet with a financial advisor, you should be prepared and you will get much more out of it.  Here are a few questions they will ask you.  

What is your net worth ?

Your financial advisor will more than likely ask you if you know this.  I did not on my first visit and it made me feel a little foolish.  It is actually quite simple to figure out, but you may need to do a little digging to figure it out.  Simply put, you take your assets (savings) and subtract your liabilities (debts) which leaves you your net worth.

Here is an article to help you determine your net worth.

A good step for your financial future is to start tracking your net worth and updating it at least once or twice a year.  If you are are looking for a good online way to track your expenses, you would definitely check out Personal Capital.  I have been using this for over a year and it is so motivating to see your net worth grow. 

What accounts do you already have?

Have you already started a 401k with another company?  Do you have a Roth-IRA?  Already have a 529?  Your advisor will want to know of any savings that you already have.  They also can help you roll-over any previous accounts from old employers.  I had 3 different 403b accounts that my advisor helped me do a direct rollover to a traditional IRA.  This helped put my money into one account that I can now manage much more easily. 

Savings include, 401k, 403b, 457, 529, HSA, HRA, Bank Savings, Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, or other investment accounts.

What are your current expenses?

You will want to know what your expenses are each month.  This includes your mortgage, bills, money spent on shopping, entertainment, etc on average.   You will need to know your expenses to determine the amount of money you will need saved for retirement.

Here is another way to determine how much money you will need for retirement.

What will your likely expenses be in retirement? 

If you know your current expenses, you will look at these and determine what might stay or increase in retirement.  Will you continue to have a mortgage, or will you pay it off before you retire?  Will your expenses decrease because you won’t have children that you will be taking care of?  Or will they increase because you need to include a travel or hobby budget into your expenses?  Do your best to determine what they might be.  Your financial advisor should be able to help with this as well.

What do you want to do in retirement?

This is a big question.  If you are married make sure to talk with your spouse about what your dreams are.  Do you want to travel?  Do you want to buy a home on a lake?  Do you want to travel around in a RV across the nation?  Live in a different country?  Pick up new hobbies?  Volunteer?  Work at another job that you are passionate about.

Do you have any income that will continue in retirement?

This may include any rental property income, other investment accounts, or other jobs that you may continue to earn from in retirement.  Will there be a pension?  What would be your estimated social security?  This will have a direct impact on how much money you will need to pull from your investments in retirement. 

When do you want to retire?  How much do you plan to save each month?

Depending on how you answer each of these questions, will directly affect the other.  For instance, if you have longer until your retirement, you will need to save less each month.  But if you plan to continue to increase your savings each month, your retirement will come sooner.  Your advisor should be able to take into account either of these and give you a plan of savings to make your goal.

My warning to you is to not feel overwhelmed by the numbers that your advisor may give you.  Many things can change between now and your retirement date.  Your career may make advancements and you may increase your salary which could lead to a larger savings rate, or you may cut your expenses and make lifestyle changes which could also lead to an increase in your savings rate. 

All in all, a financial advisor can be a great asset and the better prepared you go into your meeting with one, the better advice you will get.  They will help guide you through all of these questions so don’t worry if you are unable to answer any of them before you go. 

Read here to determine why you should see a financial advisor.

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