Have you ever been brushing your teeth or walking your dog when all of a sudden you have a flashback to something embarrassing you did in the past that literally stops you in your tracks? I wish I could say this does not happen to me very often. But, as someone who used to proudly wear a chain wallet to dances and owned shirts that said things like Caliente, Cowboy!, and Where It’s At, I know a little something about regrets. Not only do I regret many of the things I spent my money on like my early 00s wardrobe, but I also regret all of the years I spent feeling trapped by my money rather than liberated by it.
If you’ve ever been in debt, you know what it feels like to be beholden to someone else. Most people experience discomfort, anxiety, or much worse when they think of the money they owe to another person or institution. It was the same for me. Even though I grew up with a financial advisor for a mother and was always taught to save my money, avoid debt and plan for the future – I still found myself in significant credit card debt and in default on my student loans when I got my first job out of college. It didn’t take me long to realize that no matter what upbringing you’re a part of, if you don’t have someone advising you and advocating for you in your ongoing decision making, you can end up seriously hurting yourself financially over time.
As I fought to dig myself out of credit card debt, pay down my student loans, and turn my spending habits around, I discovered that I wanted to help other people do the same thing. Now that I have been in this business for nearly 10 years, 4 of those as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, I see firsthand the impact that it can have on someone’s life to work with a financial planner. Outside of your friends and family, there is arguably no one more vital to your success than your CFP® professional. We act as your coach, your accountability partner and your advocate to put you on track to meet your goals and keep pace with you until you reach them.
Many people in their 20s and 30s think that they cannot afford a financial advisor. While there are absolutely cases when that is true, oftentimes it is more a matter of misplaced priorities than not having enough money to afford the partnership. People will pay $100-$150/month for a cell phone but not for a relationship that can change the course of their entire future. I encourage young professionals to look at the cost of engaging a relationship with your financial planner as an investment rather than an expense. An investment implies that you are buying in, that you’re committed, and that you see the value in what your advisor is doing for you.
In making your final decision, I believe you should be using someone who has earned the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation if you’re going to work with any type of advisor in this capacity. As CFP® certificants, we act as a fiduciary meaning we put your interests ahead of our own – always. It also means that while we are equipped to help you with investing your money, we understand that your values and your goals go far beyond the amount of investments you may or may not have had time to accumulate. People do not set goals, save money, or pay down debt for arbitrary reasons. They do it in search of freedom, financial independence and fulfillment.
If you are seeking a relationship with someone who can help you plan for the fact that you could very well still be paying off your own student loans while trying to put your kids through college, that you will probably not have a pension like your parent or grandparent had, and that the responsibility for getting from a work to survive to a work optional lifestyle is almost entirely on you, then you are looking for a financial planner. Do not put this off til tomorrow if it is financially feasible for you to do it today. You never hear financially independent people saying “I wish I’d started later!” and there is truly no time like the present. Start doing your research, find the planner that makes you feel seen, heard and acknowledged and then jump in feet first to one of the most exciting and rewarding relationships of your lifetime. You won’t regret it.