Sailing Alone: Why You Need a Financial Planner

by Kevin on September 5, 2011

Navigating the choppy waters of investing, saving for retirement, paying down debt, buying a home, and saving for your kid’s college education is difficult. There is too much fine print, too many catches, and too many people simply wanting to make a buck off of your money.

The waters are choppy, and sometimes the storms roll through. Would you rather be in a sailboat or a Coast Guard vessel when things get tough?

The Sailboat: Going Solo

If you are in a sailboat out in the middle of the ocean during a very bad storm, you are at high risk. The boat could capsize, your sail might rip, you can be thrown overboard, or you might be driven aground and stranded on an isolated island. At the very least you can count on your plans being thrown off course during the storm.

The same is true of your financial navigation. Going it alone in a small sailboat in the middle of a storm is akin to trying to navigate through all the financial products and decisions you need to make without any assistance. It can be smooth sailing for a while, but eventually a storm surprises you and you find yourself in trouble.

Do you feel comfortable answering all of these financial questions:

  • How much do I need to save for retirement each year to retire on time?
  • What retirement accounts should I invest my funds in?
  • How do I balance my retirement savings with other goals like saving for my kids’ education?
  • Do I have enough life insurance?

And that’s just scratching the surface. Things seem to get more and more complicated as you get older and have kids, your retirement, and taking care of your parents all come into the picture at the same time.

The Coast Guard Cutter: Going with Purpose

The alternative to the sailboat is the Coast Guard Cutter. It’s big, it cuts through the water, the wind, and the rain. The Cutter is secure enough that it goes out to pick up crews of stranded and capsized boats in almost any storm. The Cutter isn’t perfectly safe, but it is much more likely to ride out the storm than your sailboat.

A qualified financial planner is like a strong safe trip in a bad storm. A planner that is on your side and not out to earn commissions will provide an unbiased view. He can put together a financial plan that you can run with for many years, having answered all of the above questions (plus any others you come up with). Having someone you can rely on that you know is a financial expert can not only provide a great plan, but a lot of peace of mind that you are making the best decisions. A planner will also help steer you away from bad choices you might make on your own as you are experimenting with managing your finances. If you’ve already made bad choices, they can help you turn the ship around and head in the right direction with decisions on which credit card to pay off first or how to consolidate all your debts.

So which would you rather ride in: the sailboat or the cutter?

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