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Financial Advisors- Do you need one?

Your money and your future. Should you entrust yours to an individual or a firm? – The jury is out on this. I have spoken with about half a dozen different financial advisors, ranging from the most notable, long-standing trusted firms to the “hottest firms pushing education on the YouTube platform and honestly, I have to say, I’m just not that impressed.

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When I think of investing my money, I often think of information, risk, my family’s future and all of the sudden I’m overwhelmed. I’m terrified to live in poverty as I had to do when the recession hit. No financial advisor is going to feel that way about my money. That is the first thing I am going to share. Remember, no one will care about or take care of, your money the way you would.

The second thing I would share is that before you decide to use a financial advisor or not to utilize one, educate yourself. With the invention and boom of the internet, there is no reason not to be educated. If your thinking of investing money, then certainly you can afford access to the internet. Research everything and don’t move on until you understand what you’re looking at.

There are certainly a lot of “Guru’s” out there, and most of their ideas hold true but under individualized circumstances. Let’s take for example Mutual Funds that are pushed hard by Dave Ramsey. Dave pushes these because they absolutely do work, over time. They have a proven track record to work consistently over a long period of time. But with them comes many fees that absolutely will add up and 3% of your assets may not sound like all that expensive now as a fee, but what about 35 years from now when you’re sitting on 1.5 million dollars? That’s a $45,000 fee each year. Now, that’s on the high end of fees but you get the point. He doesn’t push specific mutual funds, only that when you get to investing you branch out and diversify into at least 4 categories of mutual funds so that you’re diversified, which is certainly great advice. But he leaves you wanting more. You have no examples of what mutual funds he’s speaking of, no ticker symbol. This is what speaking to an advisor can feel like at times, you’ll be found wanting, feeling unsure once more. Now, this is not true for every advisor, I am just speaking from all of those I have spoken with and believe me I tried different techniques, dumb investor, unsure investor, educated investor, the know exactly what I want investor and so on.

If you have the ability to educate yourself, then I would say not to use a Financial advisor, but let me tell you why. With reading just a few books, such as Dave Ramsey’s The Total Money Makeover and The Smart Investor etc. etc. you can get a general idea or direction and this is important. Once you have a direction, you can begin to push your research into that direction. You can even google how to begin for heaven’s sake. Such as knowing you will need a brokerage account, I would suggest utilizing Vanguard for this. They are the most trusted and one of the longest standing brokerage firms, the founder invested Index funds for crying out loud.

Once you have opened an account which you can do here you will have completed the first step. Next, you will need to choose if you want to open an IRA account. IRA or ROTH IRA, depends on your situation but I would say ROTH IRA if at all possible. You can only fund this tax protected account up to $5,500 a year. Everything after $5,500 you can invest it using your regular brokerage account. So once you have money in there, from there you can buy a stock or bond, mutual funds, index funds, just about every security possible. So far, I would say you don’t need a financial advisor to do this..

Before you buy any security (stock, bond, or funds) you need to research them. Let’s say for example – my favorite fund to use one that looks like or matches the S & P 500 market. Good or bad, rain or shine, it’s going to match it pretty spot on, every single day. That fund can be purchased in a few ways under Vanguard as I am using them as my example.

  1. Purchase the ETF which is an Exchange Traded Fund. It’s like a mini fund with a lot of different stocks that are traded just like a stock itself. This is under the ticker symbol of VOO. It’s purchased just like a stock, itself. You receive dividends etc. I would say to use this if you can afford the next option.
  2. Option two is to buy into the fund directly. Once you buy into the fund, which just means you have to have a minimum amount you place into the fund to begin, yes you still keep the money, you can set up automatic investing and continue to contribute $1 a month into the fund if you wish. This is a great option if you want to invest regularly and have the money go from your account on a regular basis and be invested automatically. The minimum buy-in here is $3,000 and its worth every penny at least for me. This is the ticker symbol for it VFINX.
  3. Last option stays on the same fund and the ticker symbol would be VFIAX. It’s nearly the same as option number two, but the minimum buy-in is $10,000 and the only real difference to get into this class is the fees are slightly different. The fees under VFIAX are 0.04% while under VFINX 0.14% HEY it’s less than a quarter of a percent, we can deal with it, LoL.

If you have been able to follow along thus far, then you should know that these types of index funds are numerous. There are specific index funds that are specific to industry sectors like finance, home goods, and healthcare, the list goes on. Me personally, I enjoy tracking the market. Its hard to consistently beat the market anyway over time so why not just invest in the market itself. The three above are how I do it and I invest in this fund and others I like on a regular basis.

I also buy stocks in companies I like, most of the companies I buy their single stocks in are ones that pay our a dividend payment each quarter, which is like a mini paycheck just for owning a share in their company. I do this with companies I like and see continued success, such as Apple, Amazon, Alphabet, AT&T, Verizon – Companie that are so ingrained in everyday life. Everyone on the planet it feels like, has a cell phone, no better company than Apple in my opinion, so I purchased stock, they need service for the cell phones, I personally liked AT&T and Verizon as they are the largest and most widely used. Do you see where I’m going with this?

I spoke with a “Financial Advisor” yesterday, and he seemed very disorganized and completely unsure of my questions. (Which were basic questions I assure you.) He did not make me even feel remotely at ease, even nonchalant about some of my concerns. No interest what so ever. If he was sounding like this or making me feel like this, I wonder if he would treat my money the same way? What if he was having a bad day and just got tired of dealing with the hassle of selling out of a company position because it was too much of a hassle to do that today because he was having an “off day.” I don’t know about you, but I have never had an off day when it comes to my money.

Another one I spoke to seriously just said, “send me your monthly funds and we invest it for you. Every month we will send you a statement of your account.” REALLY! I realized that was a shady company. That one was the only one that responded to me that way, the others seemed more professional in nature but still not right. The main point is, no one is going to look after your money like you.

Take the time to educate yourself. Read a few books, scour the internet on Google and Youtube, read blogs for peoples experiences. Once you start doing it, you will come to greatly enjoy it. It doesn’t have to be a chore. It can be fun, especially once you see your money starting to work for you. Personally, I am going to steer clear of “Financial Advisors.” Remember what I said – You are responsible for You.

 

 

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