Dear Savvy Senior,
Can you recommend any resources that provide affordable one-shot financial advice for folks on a budget? I'm about six years from retirement and would like a quick financial checkup and get a few questions answered, but I don't want to pay an ongoing financial adviser to manage my money.
There are actually a number of services you can turn to for occasional financial and investment advice without tying yourself down or spending a fortune. Here are several to check out.
If you only want a one-time financial checkup, have a few financial questions you need answered or are looking for some occasional investment advice, a fee-only financial adviser with a certified financial planner certification is one of your best options. The CFP certification serves as the gold standard for personal financial planning, and fee-only advisers charge on an hourly basis, versus advisers who earn a commission by selling you financial products.
A great place to find fee-only advisers is at the Garrett Planning Network, which offers the services of 300 independent advisers nationwide. At garrettplanningnetwork.com, or call (866) 260-8400, you can locate an adviser in your area, hire one and get an hour or two of advice either through the phone or in person. There's no minimum income or net worth requirements you'll need to meet to get help. And you can use this service for a one-time engagement, as well as for periodic or ongoing financial advice. The cost for a Garrett adviser ranges between $180 and $300 per hour.
You also can find fee-only advisers through the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors website, which lists 1,400 accredited advisers at napfa.org.
Another convenient service you should know about is myfinancialadvice.com, which provides hourly advice via phone or email. You select the topics you want help with, such as retirement planning, investing, insurance, employee benefits, debt management and more, and then choose a financial planner who is standing by to answer your question. This is great for one-shot questions and second opinions. The cost for this service averages $150 per hour, but simple questions can be answered for less.
If you're looking for help with your 401(k), 403(b), 457 plan, federal Thrift Savings Plan or SEP IRA, a company called Smart 401k is worth a look. They provide personalized investment advice either through the phone or online based on the funds available in your retirement plan. The cost is $200 per year.
And for do-it-yourself investors, Financial Engines is an online company that offers investment advice for retirement accounts, including guidance on employee stock options for $150 a year. Or you can get comprehensive investment advice that includes nonretirement accounts for $300 per year.
If you're an AARP member, you now can get a free financial consultation through a new partnership program between AARP and the financial services firm Charles Schwab. This program provides a complimentary, no obligation financial consultation with a Schwab financial adviser either through the phone or in person at one of their 300 branches nationwide.
Another resource that offers free financial advice is Jump-Start Your Retirement Plan Days. This is a completely free public service program provided by NAPFA and Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine. On Jan. 12 and Jan. 17, you can call toll free at (888) 919-2345 anytime between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m., and a NAPFA adviser will be standing by to answer your financial and retirement questions.
Send your senior questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of "The Savvy Senior" book.