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From creating a clear set of goals to putting you on track to build wealth, financial planning has several benefits. And yet, according to a recent Gallup poll, only 30% of U.S. households have a long-term financial plan, and only 24% have hired a professional financial planner.

This low number could be due to a common misconception that hiring a financial planner is something only wealthy people with numerous assets do. The reality is, you can work with a financial planner no matter your age and where you are on your financial journey. In fact, the sooner you work with a professional on your financial journey, the sooner you can get on track to achieve your goals. The best part is, you can likely turn to your local bank for help in creating your financial plan whenever you’re ready to do so.

What exactly is financial planning?

Creating a financial plan can mean a lot of different things, but essentially, you can think of it as creating a roadmap for yourself and your family so that you can achieve your long-term financial goals. Your goals will vary depending on your personal aspirations, but most adults’ endgame is to save for retirement. Along the way, you may also want to buy a home, start a business, or build college funds for the kids in your life.

When building your financial plan, you’ll decide on these goals and create a savings plan to reach them. This could involve creating a budget plan, deciding how to allocate your income each month, revisiting your company’s 401k matching policy, opening savings accounts, or investing.

When should I consider working with a financial planner?

Unless you work in finance, all that’s involved with financial planning likely sounds overwhelming and time-consuming. While you could do research and make educated guesses on your own, working with a financial planner at your local bank can be worth the investment. After all, a financial planner is an expert who can answer all of your questions and offer you customized advice based on your needs.

You may be asking yourself when is a good time to consider hiring a financial planner, and the answer is anytime! Whether you’re fresh out of college or midway through your career, whether you feel good about your financial standing or have many questions, seeking expert advice can help you stay on track or make any critical adjustments to your plan.

While there is no wrong time to meet with a financial planner, a perfect time would be around any significant life events such as getting married, buying a house, having a baby, employment changes, etc. Another good time for a check-in would be if you receive an inheritance or another large sum of money, having to pay for a major expense or any other impactful financial changes.

What do I need to know about working with a financial planner?

If you’ve never worked with a financial planner before, you may be a little intimidated, but there is no need to worry. Financial planners are here to help and can offer you advice no matter where you are on your financial journey.

The first step would be to reach out to your local bank, which may offer financial advice and wealth management services. They’ll have a variety of experts that they could pair you with depending on your needs. At your first meeting, your planner will likely want to get to your know you and your family and ask you about your financial goals and the current state of your finances and assets. It’s important to be honest about your current situation so they can offer you the best advice.

Based on your conversations, they’ll organize and define your goals and work with you on a plan to achieve them. This part will take time — don’t expect to have everything in order after your first meeting. Instead, remember that financial planning is typically an ongoing process and will evolve and change as your priorities do. This is why it’s critical to find a financial planner that you connect with and trust. You will likely want to meet with them again in the future.

Finally, note that some financial planners may charge a flat fee or an hourly fee. Do ask about the costs upfront to find an option that works best for you.

Conclusion

Financial planning isn’t just for the wealthy; it’s something everyone should consider investing in no matter where they are on their financial journeys. Professional planners are passionate about helping everyone reach their goals, regardless of their economic history or background.

Where can you find such a financial planner? Start with Union Savings Bank – an initial meeting can help you understand what will work for you.

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