Many people start the new year with ambitious goals: Pay down debt, invest more and save for an emergency fund.
But without the right help and resources, achieving those goals can feel nearly impossible. Thankfully, you don’t have to do it alone. A financial advisor can help.
Stepping into 2024 with a strategic financial plan can set you up for success. A skilled financial advisor can help you navigate the intricate web of investments, savings and budgeting to help you reach your goals.
Need expert guidance when it comes to managing your investments or planning for retirement?Bankrate’s AdvisorMatch can connect you to a CFP® professional to help you achieve your financial goals.
5 ways a financial advisor can help you reach your goals in 2024
Do you have big plans for 2024? Breaking down those ideas into actionable steps is crucial, but doing it alone can be challenging.
As you embark on your financial journey in the new year, consider partnering with a financial advisor to turn your dreams into reality.
1. Setting clear financial goals
One of the biggest benefits of working with a financial advisor is the opportunity to set clear and achievable financial goals tailored to your unique situation.
Maybe you’re planning to finally buy your dream home in 2024. A financial advisor can break down this goal into actionable steps, considering factors like your current income and existing debts. They can explain the impact of interest rates on your mortgage payment and how to build up a home repair emergency fund.
Advisors can often help connect you with other local professionals, too, such as a mortgage broker or even a real estate agent.
2. Creating an investment strategy
Navigating the world of investments can be tricky. A few innocent mistakes can have long-lasting impacts on your portfolio’s performance, and potentially put your retirement savings in jeopardy.
A financial advisor can help you cut through the noise and develop an investing strategy that fits your objectives and risk tolerance.
Consider a scenario where you aim to retire comfortably in 20 years. You’ve saved some money but you know you need to boost your contributions. You’re unsure how much to save each year to reach your target, or the right investments to choose to maximize your potential returns.
An advisor might recommend a mix of retirement accounts, such as a 401(k) and a Roth IRA, tailored to maximize tax advantages and long-term growth. They may also diversify your investment portfolio to mitigate risk, balancing stocks, bonds and other assets to align with your retirement timeline.
3. Creating an emergency fund and budget
Life is unpredictable, so having a robust emergency fund is essential for financial security. Yet many people struggle to build up a financial safety net. More than half of Americans (60 percent) say they’re behind where they should be when it comes to emergency savings, according to a recent Bankrate survey.
A financial advisor can analyze your situation and determine the right size for your emergency fund based on your lifestyle and expenses. They can help you create a budget so you can clearly identify places to cut costs so you can divert that money to your rainy day fund.
For example, if you’re a freelancer or self-employed professional with irregular income, your advisor might suggest maintaining a larger emergency fund to cover potential income gaps. They can recommend the best high-yield savings accounts for easy access, ensuring you’re financially prepared for unexpected expenses.
4. Eliminating debt
Debt is a significant roadblock for many Americans. Whether it’s student loans, credit card debt or a mortgage, a financial advisor can devise a tailored debt payoff plan to help you become debt-free in 2024.
Consider a scenario where you have multiple high-interest credit card debts. Your advisor might recommend a debt consolidation strategy, combining your debts into a single, lower-interest loan. This could simplify your finances while reducing the overall interest you’ll pay over time.
An advisor will also ensure you don’t fall prey to sketchy “debt relief” companies that are notorious for making promises they can’t keep. These companies often offer “a quick fix” for your debt problems but may engage in illegal conduct, like charging fees before obtaining any settlements, according to the Federal Trade Commission.
5. Adjusting your financial plan
Your financial landscape is dynamic, and your personal circumstances will change over time. When you’re navigating a new stage of life, getting trustworthy and unbiased advice is priceless.
A financial advisor provides ongoing support by conducting regular check-ins to assess your progress, adjust strategies and address any changes in your goals or financial situation.
If you’re expecting a major change in 2024 — like getting married or starting a business — your financial advisor can guide you through these transitions. They might adjust your investment strategy, update your insurance coverage or reallocate resources to ensure your financial plan stays on track.
How to find a financial advisor in 2024
Technically, anyone can call themselves a financial advisor. You’ll need to do some research to ensure potential candidates are fit for the job.
But how do you select the right financial advisor?
First, make sure the advisor is a fiduciary. A fee-only fiduciary is a professional that’s ethically bound to work in your best interest — not the interests of insurance companies or financial institutions. They’ll provide unbiased, personalized advice that you can trust.
Online databases from organizations like the CFP Board and XY Planning Network can help you find qualified financial advisors in your area and narrow down your search.
You should also check an advisor’s background and credentials. A good place to start is BrokerCheck from the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). Here, you can research professionals who sell securities, provide advice or both. It offers an overview of an advisor’s work history along with their firm’s history.
Finally, interview potential advisors to gauge their investment approach and experience. Make sure your communication styles align. Advisors can get compensated in several ways, so make sure you understand how a professional is paid and that the price fits your budget.
In the complex world of personal finance, a skilled financial advisor can be your ally in achieving your goals in 2024 and beyond. From setting clear objectives to crafting personalized investment strategies, their expertise can provide a roadmap for your financial success.