The Star Democrat
Financial Planners 101
Anyone can call him or herself a financial planner. If you are ready to seek the services of a professional financial planner and avoid an amateur, you want one who has earned the special credentials of chartered financial consultant (ChFC) or certified financial planner (CFP).
These professionals make a comprehensive analysis of your entire financial life, help you identify your goals and then create an investment and insurance strategy to achieve those goals. Estate planning is often offered by a credentialed financial planner and includes wills, trusts, taxplanning, legacy and endof-life planning.
A financial coach is an adviser who can help you reach your financial goals by teaching you money management skills, such as how to build savings or pay down debt. A financial coach can help improve your financial literacy but cannot give you specific investment advice.
Theoretically, everyone can use the services of a financial planner at some point in their financial journey. But certainly not until one is free of credit-card debt and other unsecured debt.
A qualified counseling organization, such as the National Federation for Credit Counseling (NFCC. org; 800-366-2732), goes to your creditors on your behalf to create a payment plan you can afford.You will receive education to make sure that you do not return to debt once you’re out of it.
Mary Hunt is the founder of EverydayCheapskate.com, a frugal living blog, and the author of the book “DebtProof Living.”