Is it investing? (no) Is it buying a product? (no) It is talking with someone who says they are a financial planner? (no) All these questions put the cart in front of the horse.
If you go to Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. – Financial Planning Process website you will see that the common perception people have about financial planning isn’t until Step 5!
That means there are 4 other steps before you even get to the common questions you have.
If you want to do financial planning right … then look for someone who does it the right way.
You can learn about how to do it right at Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards’ website “Learn About Financial Planning.” This website also helps you find a local certified planner. Note though, that some certified planners also work on commission (often called fee-BASED). You can get an idea of what to expect from them by asking these questions.
Alternatively, you may go through the same process using fee-ONLY by visiting National Association of Personal Financial Planners. There you can find a local adviser (most of which are also certified). You may also click on the How To Guide link. The Tips and Tools tab and Helpful Links tabs may be handy too. NAPFA also has a tool to use to question advisers before you choose one.
So you see … BEFORE you fall into the trap of putting your money into something, you have just a little homework to do so you don’t fall into a sales trap. Naturally, if you are just beginning or trying to learn how to undo a mistake, it will take a while to understand the process.
But, over time, light bulbs will go on and you will see the light … have patience and concentrate first on choosing an adviser that fits you (not that you fit). You see … when YOU start asking the questions then it is YOU that is hiring them to work FOR YOU.