7 ways to get free financial advice
Financial advice can be a Catch22 – you often need it when money is tight, but financial advisors usually charge a fee for their services. And since money is tight, you may not be able to afford this.
Fortunately, there are many ways you can find low-cost or free financial advice. These are not alternatives to personal financial advice, but they may be worthwhile so you can afford advice tailored to your situation.
Best ways to get free financial advice
If you can’t afford a financial advisor just yet, there are many places you can look first for free or cheap financial advice. Here are some places to search
1. Start with your bank or credit union
Banks and credit unions sometimes offer articles to help their clients learn basic financial principles. This is a good option because you are probably familiar with the organization, its website, application, etc. Start there if you’re not sure where to look for free financial advice.
2. Online brokers
Do you have an IRA or brokerage account with an online broker? Like banks and credit unions, these companies often have articles detailing the basics of personal finance. Since they are brokers, their educational materials will likely cover investing as well. They may even go a step further and provide financial planning tools and calculators to help you build a financial plan.
3. Budgeting and financial planning applications
Using a budgeting or financial planning tool can be a useful way to take control of your finances. But many of these apps offer supplemental materials to help you learn about personal finance. This material can come in the form of articles, videos, or even workshops.
4. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB)
CFPB is a US government agency “dedicated to making sure you are treated fairly by banks, lenders and other financial institutions,” according to its website. To support its mission, it provides a range of articles, guides, and news reports on the topics of credit cards, debt collection, mortgages, and more.
5. Association for Financial Advisory and Education Planning (AFCPE)
AFCPE is an organization that provides financial guidance, advice and education. The organization has partnered with the Yellow Ribbon Network to provide free financial advice in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yellow Ribbon is an organization that provides various forms of assistance to military service members and veterans. However, you do not have to be tied to the military to use this free service.
6. Financial Planning Association (FPA)
FPA offers free financial planning to disadvantaged and at-risk communities. The association has 80 active chapters in states across the United States, and also has a list of CFPs that offer free financial planning to the underserved communities hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
7. Savvy ladies
Savvy Ladies is a network of 3,000 volunteers that provides free financial education to women. Its goal is to promote the advancement of self-reliant and financially educated women. The network provides free financial assistance as well as hosting webinars and events.
When should you pay for financial advice?
Free financial advice can be a very important resource, especially for underserved and cash-strapped communities. However, many of these organizations rely on volunteers and may not have the resources to help in all circumstances. If you need help with more advanced financial planning, it may be worth paying someone instead.
If you have complex questions related to estate planning or taxes, these questions may extend beyond the scope of a typical volunteer service. The same can be said if you are starting a business and need help organizing the finances of your business. Generally, volunteer or free services are best to help with basic daily financial planning.
Not everyone can spend hundreds of dollars to get personal assistance for a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). This is often the case for disadvantaged communities and even the middle class during economic crises. Fortunately, your bank, broker, volunteer group, or government organization may provide free resources to help you get back on the right track.
However, it may also be beneficial to pay the salaries of a financial professional in some cases. Complex questions about taxation and estate planning may justify charging — and it can pay off in the long run in these cases. It’s often a good idea to start with free resources, but be aware that there can be limits to their use.
You can also take advantage of our free Bankrate Investing Course for Beginners where we break down the different types of investment options available and how to build a smart portfolio. Or check out this budgeting course for beginners instead.