How to Find Free Financial Advice
And how to use it wisely
|Written by Tom Yeung, CFA | CDFA
Investment Advisor & Fund Manager, Jurnex Financial Advisors
Just like the best things in life, high-quality financial advice can often also be free.
With the rise of online tools, it’s become easier than ever to find free financial advice to meet your needs. For those who are just starting out, free financial advice can be a great first step for your savings and investment needs. And even those with more complex finances can still benefit from learning more for themselves online.
But with so many sources for free financial advice, how do you know which pieces of advice to listen to?
Bad financial advice can cost you dearly
Despite the explosion of free financial advice, you still need to be careful of what advice you follow. That’s because bad financial advice can cost you. The difference between saving 5% of your salary and 10% of your salary could mean your retirement fund gets cut in half. That’s the difference between a comfortable retirement and one where it’s hard to make ends meet.
…But good financial advice is worth your time
Finding the right financial advice doesn’t have to be costly. In fact, there are many high-quality free resources out there for you to find. Even if it’s free financial advice, however, you still need to make sure that the advice is right for you.
So in this article, we cover the five key places you can look for quality free financial advice.
1. Online resources (like us!)
Online blogs and websites are a great way to educate yourself about finances. Here at Jurnex, it’s our mission to educate people about finances and how to manage them. That’s why we publish our ultimate guide series. Everything from wealth management to divorce.
There are other excellent blogs as well. Here is a list of the top five on our list.
- Nerdwallet: This is a fantastic resource for everything finance, from credit cards to financial advisors.
- Howard Marks: Marks’ letters pack an incredible punch and are read by people including Warren Buffett
- Jason Zweig: An excellent columnist for the Wall Street Journal
- Get Rich Slowly: A more personal account of JD Roth’s journey from debt to wealth.
- Wise Bread: A site concentrating on how to save and protect yourself financially
Qualified authors must pass a background check
When you’re reading an article online, you should do a quick check on the author’s background.
- Past work. What else has the author written? Are they a financial specialist or are they just writing an article from a personal viewpoint?
- Certifications. Do they have a designation at the end of their name? You’re looking for
- CFP: Certified Financial Planner
- CFA: Chartered Financial Analyst
- CPA: Certified Public Accountant
- Background check. Many financial writers are also registered with FINRA as an investment advisor. You can run a broker check to verify their licenses and make sure they don’t have any sanctions against them.
Good online resources fit you as a person
When you are looking for free financial advice online, make sure the advice is right for you. Often, there are many ways to answer a particular financial question. This is especially true for personal-decision issues, such as “how much should I save for retirement?”
We suggest finding websites that cater to your particular needs. Young professionals, for example, should look for companies that specialize in younger people. Older people should seek writers who understand social security and other retirement issues.
Here at Jurnex, we specialize in serving minorities, such as women and LGBT people. That’s why it’s so important to find the right online resources for you.
2. Educate yourself with financial investment books
While not 100% free (unless you visit your local library), there are some investment books that are absolutely invaluable to have. These are books that will not only help you find other free resources but also help you create the right mindset for managing finances.
What’s better than having someone give you advice? Having the confidence to do it yourself.
Even the best investors still seek out sounding boards. But being able to manage your own finances independently can give you the flexibility and freedom you need.
Here are our top five picks.
- The Intelligent Investor – Benjamin Graham.
- Rich Dad, Poor Dad – Robert Kiyosaki.
- The Little Book Of Common Sense Investing – John Bogle
- One Up On Wall Street – Peter Lynch
- The Total Money Makeover – Dave Ramsey.
Good books are timeless
Good financial advice will last the ages. The Intelligent Investor was first published in 1949 but still holds true today. These are books you can read over and over again.
On the subject of older books, two gems you should also consider are “Where Are The Customers Yachts” by Fred Schwed (1940) and “Reminiscences of a Stock Operator” by Edwin Lefèvre (1923). Both books take a good, hard look at finance, and serve as a gentle reminder that on Wall Street, many things stay the same.
Good books are aimed at you
Just like online sources, books are tailored to particular audiences. Make sure you find books that are targeted at your particular demographic. For instance, if you own your own business, you want to find books that focus on business owners. Or if you are near retirement, you want to find books that focus on maximizing Social Security.
3. Check your bank or brokerage for free resources
If you have an account with a financial institution, chances are they have many free tools and resources for you.
Banks have become a one-stop-shop for financial advice. Even companies like Bank of America, which used to primarily serve banking customers, now have an extensive brokerage business.
You can use these tools to your advantage when looking for free financial advice. Many banks will even offer budgeting systems and analysis tools you can use.
Often, local credit unions will also offer extensive free financial advice. Many branches often have advisors on hand who can help answer questions. While their primary business may be in wealth management, simply walking into your bank branch and asking them a question can be a great source of free financial advice.
Your online broker
Almost all major online brokerages now publish tools to teach you how to invest. Charles Schwab, TD Ameritrade, and Fidelity are the three best brokerages for providing free financial advice and resources to their customers.
If you go this route, it helps to understand where you want to start. Here are three questions you should ask yourself to best make use of these online resources.
You want to make sure that your expenses are kept in check. You want to be saving enough money to make sure you are on track for your goals, such as buying a house, having children, and retiring. Free budgeting tools from online brokerages can help you make sure you are saving enough money.
Once yours saving start to grow, you need to know how to put your money to work. The power of compound interest means that each dollar can double in value every 10 years. But good investing means you need to consider how to diversify and invest for the long-run. Many of these online tools can help.
A third and often forgotten part of financial advice is about insurance and planning. For most people, this involves signing up for life and disability insurance. Health insurance is often already provided through work, but other forms of insurance must often be bought separately.
In addition, you need to make sure you have a living will and will in place. This is in case anything were to happen to you, people would know how to give you medical care if you become incapacitated, or how to pass on your assets in case you pass away. This is especially important if you have dependents, such as children. You need to make sure they are provided for if anything happens to you.
4. Use free online tools
These days, many online companies offer free services for managing money and financial advice. These include everything from budgeting to investing. Here are the top five standouts
Mint.com, acquired by Intuit in 2009, provides excellent budgeting tools. You can link your accounts directly to the website, and mint will do the rest for you. It will help you keep track of the kind of spending you’re doing and send you alerts if you reach any preset budget in a given month.
Retirement Calculator: Nerdwallet.com
Nerd wallet has a number of free online tools. One of our favorites is their retirement calculator, which can help you plan how much you need to save to reach your retirement goals.
Low-Cost Investing: Betterment
While not entirely free, Betterment has a fantastic set of online tools that are free once you sign up for their basic services. They concentrate on investing, and how to reduce your portfolio risk.
General Investing: Sigfig
Sigfig has become one of the leading tools for portfolio analysis and investing. With their online tools, you can analyze portfolios and see how they would have performed in different scenarios
Investing for Women: Ellevest
Founded in 2014, Ellevest has become one of the best resources for women looking to invest. Their $0 minimum is an excellent way to start getting involved in investing for the long run. While they do charge a fee for holding onto assets, there online tools and support network can be well worth it for women looking to learn more.
5. Meet with a financial advisor
While there are many free financial advice resources online, if you prefer human interaction, it often makes sense to try a free consultation with an in-person financial advisor. Many financial advisors will offer prospective clients a free consultation to determine fit. (Note: contact us if you’re interested in a free consultation)
The goal of the free consultation is generally to help find out whether hiring a financial advisor makes sense for your needs. You’ll get many general questions answered, and you may find that working with a financial advisor is right for you
The right financial advisors are worth their fees
Just like good doctors or accountants, good financial advisors are worth their fees. The amount you can save in taxes, investment fees, and insurance could be well worthwhile. The trick is to use your free consultation session to see whether there’s a good fit between you and the advisor.
If you are concerned about how much a financial advisor can cost, there’s a solution for that too: Just ask!
Registered investment advisors are mandated by FINRA and the SEC to publish costs and fees publicly.
The best financial advisors will be completely worth their fees. If you’re not sure how to choose a financial advisor, check out our article here.
So there you have it. Five ways to find free financial advice. As long as you constantly evaluate the quality of free financial advice, doing things yourself can be worthwhile.
Where to find more resources
If you’re looking to revamp your financial life, there’s no better time than now. All it takes is a phone call.
That’s because we’ve built relationships with clients in the old fashioned way. Getting to know you as a person first and foremost. It’s only after we understand you completely can we point you on the right path to financial independence. Because that’s the right way to do it.
About Jurnex Financial Advisors
At Jurnex Financial Advisors, we have the securities backing of Charles Schwab. Yet we retain our operational independence from any third party. This means you can have the confidence your money is safe with one of America’s best brokerages and still receive knowledge and advice from an independent firm focused on YOU.
Want to learn more?