Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Calling in the Big Guns...

As my husband and I prepare to have a baby, I stay awake thinking about our finances. I'm not stressed out about it per se - we've got our emergency fund squared away to supplement my lack of income while I'm on maternity leave, we've got a medical fund set up to cover the out-of-pocket costs of labor and delivery (have I mentioned how glad I am to have health insurance?), and we've even got a baby fund to pay for items in the nursery, medical care, those really cute baby leggings...

But starting a family means a ton of extra cash per kid per year. And I don't think my husband and I are stopping at 1 (talk to me after delivery and see if I change my mind). Are my financial ducks in a row enough to pay for daycare? A car? College (gulp)? Not to mention the day to day stuff that really adds up over the course of time. Okay, now I'm stressing myself out.

When stuff gets a little bigger than me, I want to call in the experts. My husband and I have been looking into getting a financial planner, but where do you start? Here are some tips from the Wall Street Journal of what to look for:

*Make sure they are a CFP (certified financial planner) - CFPs have to take classes and get licensed. Also, some financial planning firms are just sales agencies in sheep's clothing. Which leads me to....

*Make sure your planner receives a flat rate for pay instead of commission. If their livelihood depends on selling more products or services to you, they may be doing that to make more money instead of doing what's in your best interest.

Do your issues with money run a little deeper? Do you get emotional about money? Do you and your partner fight a lot about your finances? Maybe you need a financial therapist. A wha? Yes, a financial therapist deals with the emotions and the roots of your relationship to money. 4 signs you may need to think about enlisting the help of a financial therapist, according to Women's Health Magazine:

1) You don't like spending money on necessities, like going to the doctor when you're sick or fixing the dragging bumper on your car.

2) You avoid coming home to your partner to avoid a fight about money.

3) You max out credit cards to get through the month and frequently overdraw your accounts.

4) You're constantly asking to borrow money from family or friends.

These 4 behaviors are signs you might be trying to deny your money demons... get some help before you get yourself into even more serious trouble.

Don't forget about other financial experts, like accountants and retirement planners!

Does anyone enlist the help of financial experts? Do you feel it's worth it?

3 comments:

  1. I'm not a big fan of financial planners for people who are good at sticking to a budget. If you can make a budget and stick to it, you can do 90% of what a financial planner does for you. On the other hand, if you have trouble sticking to a budget, hiring a planner can help. There are pretty detailed statistics available about the cost of raising a child that can get you an idea of how much to allocate.

    Accountants are a different story. Tax law is fiendishly complex, and if you have any kind of complicated finances (more than just house, stocks, and charitable donations), an accountant will probably save you money. If you just have a normal situation, TurboTax is probably sufficient.

    For retirement planning, I just computed the amount of money I'd need to save in a worst-case scenario using bankrate.com's calculators, then set that as my 401k deduction, and I no longer have to worry about retirement. As I get closer to retirement and need to worry about tax efficiency, I'll probably get a good accountant, but for now, it wouldn't be worth it.

    As far as a financial therapist: that's you :).

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  2. Thanks BrewerDave - I think your comments make a lot of sense. Sometimes, I just don't have enough faith in my long-term financial planning abilities, but you made me feel better! :)

    And I'm honored to be your financial therapist - don't worry about lying down on a couch or anything though.

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  3. We ALWAYS have an accountant do our taxes. They help find deductions for work, charity, school, etc.

    My parents have a financial planner. But we don't yet. Their planner has helped them a lot.

    One of the many things that give me a panic attack about Children (Child?) is the money! Esp. daycare costs. Yikes! Sounds like you're doing it right setting money aside now.

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