The best laid plans of mice and men…

It is a difficult thing to admit that you may need help. I know this for certain. I am incredibly stubborn and often wait till it is too late to be graceful about the request. Instead, I am spent, frazzled, and way past the point of no return. It would only have taken a moment to reach out to someone who knew more than I about the situation, and it would have made life so much easier. A small gesture that would have benefited me in a big way, but I spent too long thinking I could figure it all out on my own and suffered for my stubborn obstinacy.

I wonder if at times this is how people feel about reaching out to a financial advisor to help them plan for retirement? Giving another person privy to your personal finances is a tough undertaking for some. I think back to the stories my sister and I tell people about how most of the time we were given cash to pay for things that had the distinct smell of dirt. Not small things either, BIG things like tuition, car insurance, the bail outs and life preservers provided throughout our lives from our Daddy.

I have on many occasions told the story that Donna Lynn and I believe whole heartedly that my father as well as his brothers kept their cash in mason jars. Buried away, possibly stored in a basement, cellar or old tobacco pack house somewhere, but never a bank. Who cared if the money did not grow interest? They felt secure in the fact that if cash was needed immediately, they would never have to locate an ATM or take the time to go to the bank during the hours they are open. Nope, have a shovel handy and you can get what you need, when you need it.

Sometimes however, the plans you think are full proof can unexpectedly turn upside down. Take for example my Uncle Dillon. In 1960 he placed 17 crisp hundred dollar bills in various encyclopedias that always, always, always stayed on the bookshelf in his room. He tucked the money away for safe keeping and felt confident that it would be secure until needed. Imagine the shock and horror he must have experienced upon going to retrieve said money, only to find the shelf empty, and the books GONE!

Yep, gone. Stolen? Not a chance. My grandparent’s house was a proverbial Fort Knox. Someone would have to be dumb and not too concerned with staying alive to try stealing from the Macemore Boys. No, it was a simple case of my grandmother insisting that my Uncle Danny, the one who went to college, take the set of encyclopedias back with him to East Carolina University. Which made perfect sense, because why in the world would you keep them at home when he could use them for his studies?

My poor grandmother had no idea that those books were hiding the equivalent of almost $14,000 in them! (I based that number on annual inflation rate over the period of $1,700 from 1960 to 2017 of about 3.76%) Guess who got a call in the middle of the night inquiring about those encyclopedias? You guessed it, Uncle Danny.

The drive from Grannie Annie’s house to ECU takes a little over 5 hours. My Uncle Dillon, and Uncle Terry set out that very night and drove straight there, only to turn around and drive straight home. Maybe that is when the idea of putting money in jars and burying them in the cellar happened, who knows. It sparked my wild imagination as a child though. Unfortunately, each time I was brave enough to go down into that dark cellar, all I ever found was canned goods and grape juice that Grannie had made from the muscadines that grew out back. It is a true story however. One of many I cherish and will one day publish.

However I digress. The root of the story is this, how do you know when it is time to trust your money to someone else? When do you stop being the person who gives yourself financial advice, and realize that maybe you are not the expert you once thought you were? When, do you take that first step of asking for help?

When is time to ask for help?

Finding someone you can trust is step one. Ask your friends and family if they have anyone they would recommend to you. If someone says glowing things about their financial advisor, that is a good sign he or she are pleased with the relationship they have with their wealth planner. As mentioned before, trusting someone to tell you what to do with your money is a difficult decision. If you receive a strong referral for someone, it might be worth setting up a time to have a conversation with the advisor recommended.

Once you have scheduled a consultation with an advisor, make sure they are a right fit. Do they share your mindset and are genuinely interested in your way of holistic planning? Do you feel they are going to advise you with genuine concern for your best interest? Bottom line, don’t feel pressured into taking any advice if it does not feel right. There is nothing worse than being with someone that makes you uncomfortable. It’s like having a new pair of shoes on that are too tight, or rubs you the wrong way. To relieve the discomfort you need to take them off. Always keep in mind these are your decisions, concerning your future, give yourself the permission to search for someone else and find a better fit.

5 Ways to know if a Financial Advisor put your goals first.

Deciding when the best time to seek “help” is also imperative. Financial planners can help you remain disciplined about your financial strategies. They will make the moves for you or badger you until you make them yourself. Procrastination can cause all sorts of money problems or unrealized potential, so it pays to have someone riding you to stay on track.

We are not suggesting that you ignore personal finance and turn over all your concerns to an adviser. However, even if you know the basics, it is a comfort to know that you have someone keeping watch over your money. As you get older, busier and (it is hoped) more wealthy, your financial goals – and options – get more complicated. A financial helper can save you time.

Educate yourself on the type of advisor you need. In many cases a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) is desired for the additional knowledge they have. They are licensed and regulated, plus take mandatory classes on different aspects of financial planning. Familiarize yourself on cost. The fees that investors pay to financial advisors for their advice and services come in two basic forms: transaction fees and ongoing fees. While advisors may differ in what fees they charge, they are required to disclose them fully.

How Financial Advisors Are Compensated

With enough diligence, you will find someone that is the perfect fit. An advisor that you are at ease with and has a good grasp of your financial goals. Together you can establish a strategy that can help you work toward your path to retirement. We all would like to think we could do it all, and not have to ask anyone for help along the way. However, as they say, “the best laid plans of mice and men often go astray” which means to me, no matter how full proof you believe your plan is, don’t ever put your money in an encyclopedia.

– Kimberly aka Penny Wise