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This post comes from Kelly Trageser at partner site Credit.com.
Recognizing you may need professional money help can be the first step in the right direction toward better financial health. Sometimes, getting to that first step can be tricky. How do you know if you actually need help?
We all know the basic indicator of too much credit card debt. However, recognizing additional signs could amount to financial life saving.
Let’s take a look at some important signs:
1. You have no idea where all your money goes
We all know what comes in. However, where it all goes is another story. All of us have good intentions to live within our means, but somehow the pleasure of having or trying new things gets the best of us. For some, what comes in is barely enough to cover the basics, yet we continue to live in this manner.
If you have no idea where your money goes, or are living above your means, it is a sign you may need professional money help.
2. You do not understand your insurance policies
It is critical to understand the financial benefits and constraints of the insurance policies you own. Without this knowledge, when disaster strikes, you could be ill-prepared and receive less of a benefit than you expected. Most people have not looked at their home, auto, umbrella, life, long-term disability or long-term care insurance policies since the day they bought them. They have no idea if they are still adequate and appropriate.
If this sounds familiar, it is a sign you may need professional money help.
3. You have made no arrangements if you were to die or become incapacitated
It’s staggering the number of people who have not made any arrangements — for themselves, their assets or their dependents — if they were to die or become incapacitated. Basic estate planning gives individuals the power to choose. To choose who will receive your assets, to choose who will care for your children, to choose how you will be cared for in the event you are incapacitated. Without basic estate planning documents, someone else will be making those decisions, and the decisions they make may not necessarily reflect your wishes.
If you have not made arrangements if you were to die or become incapacitated, it is a sign you may need professional money help.
4. You don’t know if you’re prepared for retirement
There are two kinds of people: those who save for retirement and those who plan for retirement. Those who save for retirement randomly pick a percentage to save in their company retirement plan. Those who plan for retirement have decided on a potential retirement age, have estimated their retirement living expenses, have mapped out their financial goals in retirement, and have decided on a year to die. Yes, a year to die. OK, it’s really your best educated guess about how long you’ll live. If you do not make this estimate, you will not know whether you have enough funds to last until age 82, 92 or 102.
If you fall into the first category, the savers, it may be a sign you need professional money help.
5. You don’t have a clear understanding of your investments
Is your investment portfolio suitable for your goals, risk tolerance and time horizon? Is it properly diversified across the asset classes? Is it organized in a way that can be properly managed?
If the answer is no, or you have no idea what I am talking about, it may be a sign you need professional money help.
Once you decide you need professional money help there are many sites that can help you choose the best professional. The fee for professional money help can range from a few hundred dollars an hour to a few thousand dollars for a comprehensive financial plan. Professional money help can be limited in scope or comprehensive. Professionals can be fee-only, fee-based, or commission-based. Additionally, there are different education levels for these professionals. It’s important that you do your research and work with a certified financial planner or other qualified financial professional who can properly help you meet your specific goals.
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