I really started getting interested in my financial health about 2 years ago. It was an aspect of my life that I paid little attention to or learned about beyond “honey, always pay your credit cards in full”. I share my financial journey for several reasons: maybe you can relate, maybe you want to start focusing on your finances but don’t know where to start, or maybe you want to share your stories. Well, I’m here to hopefully help and definitely listen.
There are so many aspects of life that I would readily consult professionals or more experienced individuals on: cooking, exercise, work… but not personal finance. Why is that?
Lately, I feel like I haven’t making any progress lately. I’ve done what I could by analyzing and changing my money-spending habits. What next? I never considered working with a financial adviser before because it seemed crazy to let someone else dictate my personal finance. But what if that’s just what I need to get to the next level?
I decided to set up a meeting with a financial adviser. Her name’s Brittney Castro, the CEO and co-founder of Financially Wise Woman. I learned about her because she was a guest on a personal finance podcast I listen to frequently, So Money with Farnoosh Torabi. I was curious to how she could help me.
Note: Initial meetings with a financial advisers should be free because you are trying to figure out whether it is a right fit for both parties.
Before our initial meeting, I thought about what I wanted out of a financial adviser. I have a little bit of student loan debt left, feel as though I’m not saving as much as I should, am going on a new adventure that will completely change my financial strategy, should come up with a financial strategy… so I guess I’m looking for Brittney to be my financial fairy godmother??
The initial meeting was 30 minutes long. I gave Brittney more background information on the changes in my personal life. She discussed the services that she offered, which included an in-depth review of my financial situation and creating a financial strategy.
Financial strategy. I never had one. My strategy is to not spend impulsively and unnecessarily, pay credit card bills full at the end of each cycle, and… not spend impulsively and unnecessarily. I hesitated at the price of her service, but I told myself that this is an investment in my well-being.
I didn’t shop around for financial advisers, but I do feel like Brittney is a good match based on my feelings. I usually ask a lot of questions, and I threw a lot at her. What recommendations does she have on debt? What other things have I not considered in my ad-hoc financial strategy? How do I increase my revenue stream? She took my questions like a champ.
During this meeting, we did some data collecting of what accounts I have as well as financial goals. This way, Brittney and her team could customize a financial strategy specific for me.
In an effort to be more helpful and not only speak in general terms, here’s a quick breakdown of my current financial situation:
- 5 credit cards that I pay in full each month. I mainly use 2 cards, Chase Sapphire and Costco Citi, for the benefits and rewards.
- Less than $3,000 left of student loan debt, which I’m hoping to pay off by mid-2019.
- 401(k) where I am contributing at 12% and my company matches up to 6%.
- Other accounts: checking, high yield savings, traditional IRA, and Roth IRA.
- Health insurance through my company.
- Travel money
- Emergency savings – minimum 3 months
- A third bucket – currently unnamed
- Maxing out retirement vehicles
Some things that I learned and thought about during our meeting:
- If you are getting full company match in 401(k), then any contributions you make to your traditional IRA is not deductible. In my head, I created this rule of thumb: get company 401(k) match, then contribute and max out Roth IRA. Traditional IRA can wait till you’re no eligible for Roth IRA.
- I rarely look through my 401(k) and Roth accounts, so that’s an area where I can get more in touch with. I also do not remember what the heck is taken out of my pay check, so let’s figure that out as well.
- I can be a little more aggressive because I am younger and have more flexibility and time.
I have some homework to do before our next meeting. So far, I’m feeling okay about having a financial advisor because we have only gone through the data mining stages, which are like the equivalent of small talk. Some things I want to discuss with her in our future meetings:
- How to increase revenue and/or revenue streams
- How to budget and stick to it
- Some financial mantras, or even life mantras
Getting Started on Your Financial Journey
Here are 3 simple things you can do to get started:
- Write down all your assets, accounts and balances – credit cards, savings, checkings, 401(k), IRAs, investments, car, house, mortgage, student loans, etc.
- Identify your short-term and long-term goals. Make sure that it is measurable. For example: I would like to have a 3-month minimum emergency savings bucket.
- Be obsessively detailed and track your spending for a minimum of 1 week. Afterwards, go through and identify areas where you can improve on.
Where are you guys on your personal finance journey? Let me know in the comments below – I would love to hear!