question: I am 56 and work at a state university so I will have a state retirement plan. I previously worked full time and contributed to Social Security for 20 years. I still work part time and contribute to social security. I am planning to retire in 6 years time, I will be 62 years old, recently I started working in a big bank, but I am not satisfied with their service. I have a child starting college this year and I need to know if I should hire a financial advisor and how they can help me pay for college. (Also looking for a financial advisor? This tool can help you find an advisor who might meet your needs.)
Reply: Juggling retirement and college tuition can often be stressful. Hiring a financial advisor is certainly worth considering – especially since many will offer free consultations to see if they can help you and if they are a good fit. That said, hiring the right people is essential, and you may not need to. Here’s what you need to know.
First, let’s explore what a financial advisor can do for you, and how to find the right one. In addition to investing and retirement guidance, many of them can help explore how much and how you can afford to pay for college. (Remember: If you’re not quite ready to finance your own retirement, you’ll want to limit how much you pay for college; your kids can get student loans.)
Have a question about your financial advisor or want to hire a new advisor? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.
“Because you’re waiting until college starts to plan, your options are limited. You’re going to want to work out your budget, determine how much to take from your savings each year, and figure out if you’re eligible for any education tax credit and decide whether to borrow money for college and, if so, how much,” says certified financial planner Ann Garcia, author of How to Pay for College. These are all things a consultant can help with if you go that route. (Looking for a financial advisor? This tool can help you find an advisor who might meet your needs.)
Advisors can also look at how best to grow and support your existing retirement savings — while balancing your desire to pay for college. What’s more, “they may be able to help uncover things or opportunities that you may not be aware of, such as 403(b) plans and the impact of public service retirement on your Social Security benefits, such as the Windfall Earnings Elimination Provision (WEP) ), If it applies to you,” adds Joshua Flatley, certified financial planner at X Vector. (WEP changes how Social Security benefits are calculated, reducing retirement or disability benefits if they receive a pension.)
In addition, a good financial advisor will look at the impact of your retirement plan, state pension, and Social Security on your taxes and “use strategies to minimize your lifetime tax payments and adjust your retirement plan to generate Taxes required “retirement income,” says Ivan Havrylyan, a certified financial planner with Orbit Financial Planning.
So how do you find the right consultant? First, you want to make sure you’re working with an advisor who has experience helping families pay for college — as well as extensive experience in retirement planning, says Jason Siperstein, a certified financial planner with Eliot Rose Wealth Management. Some consultants list their area of expertise or focus on their website, but if you don’t see that spelled out for you, you can also ask about their experience with certain issues. You can also request references and talk to actual people they’ve helped on specific topics.
Here are 15 questions you should ask any consultant you might want to hire, and how to vet the person. Consider checking the National Association of Personal Financial Planners (NAPFA), Garrett Planning Network, and XY Planning Network networks for advisors with credible designations. (Looking for a financial advisor? This tool can help you find an advisor who might meet your needs.)
What’s more, while many advisors work on an asset management model, charging you a percentage of your assets to manage the investments for you, in your case you may want to consider another type of advisor. In fact, consider an advice-only financial planner who will charge you a fixed hourly rate or a fixed program rate to advise you on paying for college and preparing for retirement in 6 years. “An advice-only planner will never seek to manage your portfolio, they will focus on planning and actionable advice rather than selling you a product or investment management service,” Certified Financial Planner at Ten Talents Financial Planning Teacher Kaleb Paddock said.
If you’re interested in saving more money, you might be able to avoid advisors altogether. Investor.gov offers free financial planning tools, edX offers free self-organized college courses, Ramsey Solutions offers $129 courses and 14-day free trial, money management apps and community forums, nonprofit Khan Academy offers 9 Free personal finance lessons.
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