Paging the Professionals!
When to Call in a Personal Finance Expert
Unless such topics as money management, debt deletion, investment decisions, or income taxes are your business or personal interest, you may be a touch foggy on some of these financial subjects. If you’re in need of clarity, it may be time to call in the experts.
Sometimes the help we need is so close we can’t see it. In fact, the financial institution where you have your checking and savings accounts may staff professionals who can guide you on all sorts of economic decisions. These credit union or bank employees offer valuable direction, including explaining savings and investment options and reviewing your retirement plan, usually at no cost.
From establishing financial goals to budgeting and debt repayment arrangements, a certified credit counselor may be your best bet for money management assistance. These objective, well-trained experts work for nonprofit agencies, and in some cases their partnering organizations. If you need fundamental information and services, a credit counselor is a smart – and free – choice.
Even basic tax management and preparation can be intimidating – so get support when you need it. For especially thorny issues, a Certified Public Accountant may be in order, since their training is the most in-depth. However, because of their high fees, an Enrolled Agent, who typically charges less, can be an alternative. Agents can prepare returns, help with tax planning, represent you at audits, and even negotiate with the IRS on your behalf. Just need forms prepared and filed? Consider hiring a tax preparer, who is often very reasonably priced (though limited in function).
Also, don’t hesitate to contact the IRS. Their customer service representatives can solve many tax mysteries, and even point you in the direction of free tax assistance, if you qualify. Call (800) 829-1040
Want to develop and meet long-term financial goals? Consider a Certified Financial Planner. These experts, who have completed a comprehensive two-year course and passed a rigorous board exam, offer guidance on investments, employee benefits, taxes, insurance, and retirement and estate planning. Some are paid through sales commissions and portfolio management, while others charge an hourly fee. (Again, find out if your financial institution has financial planners on staff!)
Learning about personal finance matters on your own is important too. Specialized advice and assistance is terrific, but it is always a good idea to understand at least a bit about these topics before seeking help. Therefore the final professional on the list is a librarian. This fabulous authority won’t charge a dime and can direct you to educational resources that are sure to broaden your financial knowledge – and perhaps even make you the expert.