Friends don’t let friends retire broke

The title of this post is the slogan of my financial adviser. I’ve had a financial adviser for close to ten years now, and for me it’s a good thing. I won’t go so far as to say everyone needs a financial adviser, though. Like most things, that really depends. But what you can’t afford to do is not plan for your financial future at all. Even if you can’t currently afford to save, you really should have a plan to get to where you can.

With that in mind, you have two options in planning for your financial future. You can work with a financial adviser, or you can do it yourself. Doing it yourself is possible, if you’re willing to do the legwork and homework. I tried it for about a year while my first financial adviser forgot I was still a client. I went to MotleyFool.com like my brother recommended and read up on their approach. And I tried it for awhile using fake money.

What I found is that I lack both the patience and cool-headed-ness necessary to be my own financial adviser. I manage my money pretty well, but I don’t do so well at researching stocks and funds (which is unusual for me–I’m a professional researcher), and I do terribly at thinking long-term in my investing. If something starts to do poorly I start to panic.

So in my case a financial adviser is necessary. And I found him. Or rather he found me. Paul was going door to door, as required by the company he works for, and spoke with my wife. Knowing that I’m interested in such things she recommended he call sometime when I was home. He called, but it was a bad time and I put him off. It was bad timing the next two or three times as well. But he persisted and that alone, if nothing else, convinced me he might be a good replacement for my previous adviser, who I hadn’t heard from in over a year. Anyone willing to try that many times for a chance to talk with me would probably not let me sit so long without contact once a customer.

And Paul has been great. His company’s investing style matches my own. He knows his stuff, and has been conscientious about not racking up unnecessary fees. He took time to find out what my life goals are and, without being judgmental, devised a strategy to help us get there. He encouraged us to save as much as we could, while leaving money for financial difficulties.

During my extended unemployment is where he has shown the most. I’ve not been able to save anything during this time, obviously. I can’t be making him much money. But he’s been there, regularly checking in to keep tabs on our situation, help us find the best way to draw on our savings when necessary, and to offer suggestions and encouragement. He’s even offered to put in a recommendation for me if I decided to apply with his company–which I have seriously considered, seeing as I love their approach, products, and personnel so much.

I can’t wait to get back into the black income-wise and start saving again. But in the mean time, I rest a little more comfortably knowing that I’ve got Paul on my side. Any money he’s made off me he’s earned in spades.

As I’ve said, not everyone needs a financial adviser. But unless you have the discipline and the know-how, you may want to consider it.

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