Your 20s are a wonderful financial time period. For many, it means graduating from waitressing in college to a succession of better-paying, full-time jobs.
Your 20s are also a time when poor spending, credit cards, and student debt repayments loom insidious. Unfortunately, 53% of college students feel the least prepared to manage their money, and poor financial literacy tends to continue into a person’s mid to late 20s, affecting their wealth, long-term goals, and standard of living.
While it’s your responsibility to learn the fundamentals of personal finance management, consultants are absolutely critical to help you develop healthy financial habits early and reach your goals.
So What Do Financial Consultants Do?
There are thousands of financial planning companies across the US, and they’re staffed with a host of finance experts, like financial consultants. These consultants are sometimes called financial planners or advisors. This person will sit with you to discuss your financial situation and goals. From there, they’ll answer your finance-related questions, assess your financial health, and develop a plan to help you reach those goals.
This may involve selling you specific products like a life insurance policy, setting you on a retirement savings plan, or simply encouraging you to put more money to paying off your debt.
Here are the five top reasons you should find a consultant you trust while in your 20s.
1. Help Eliminate Debt
Your consultant can review your debts and interest rates and propose a plan to help you pay off your loans quickly. According to debt.org, average credit cardholders have at least four cards, with people ages 18-23 having an average of $9,593 in debt and people between 24 and 39 having $78,396 in debt. These amounts combine retail and credit cards, housing-related debt, such as mortgage loans, personal loans, and student loans. This is a dizzying amount of debt with interest rates varying across the different debt types.
A consultant can advise you on tackling your debt in a responsible and sustainable way so you can do more with your money in the long run and have less of it tied up in paying interest on old loans. Your consultant can help create an individualized plan depending on your income, projected income, and the loan interest rates. Once a plan is in place, you can more confidently budget your money to pay off debts.
2. Answer Complex Financial Questions
Financial consultants have a deeper, broader knowledge of money management than the average person. This is especially true when it comes to complicated money matters like investments and taxes.
When it comes to understanding your company’s 401(k) allotments, the various types of investments, or concepts like compounding interest, consultants can break things down in simple terms. They can also show you how financial principles and concepts can actively affect your own money and financial future and how they can affect your personal goals.
Unless you’re friends with a finance major, a certified financial consultant can answer some of your most difficult questions and give you an in-depth look into how financial systems operate and how they can work in your favor.
3. Start Investing
43% of millennials aren’t investing their income in stocks, real estate, bonds etc. Investing doesn’t sound like a big deal, especially among people who have a high projected lifetime income. However, investing from a young age means having more time to generate financial returns on those investments.
21% of millennials have invested $500 or less in their lifetime. On the flip side, continuous financial investments in well-performing stocks can give someone in their 20s the advantage of compounding interest—meaning they’ll get more financial value from their investments the earlier and longer they invest.
Almost 50% of people in their 20s and early 30s say they don’t invest because they can’t afford it. Your financial consultant can be a helpful guide to starting small and smart so you can get comfortable with setting aside money that will likely grow over time. A consultant can help you understand the investment landscape and craft a plan that works for you and your goals.
4. Get A Head Start on Retirement
It’s never too early to start saving for retirement. For many 20 year-olds, retirement is over 40 years away and it feels too early to think about it. But if you’re working in the gig economy or aren’t putting much aside to your 401K, a financial consultant can help you set up an individual retirement account or IRA.
They can help you decide on IRA options and determine how much you can start saving today, and how much you’ll have saved upon retirement. Because of the principle of compounding interest, you can save a small amount in your 20s, and the interest earned on your investment is re-invested and earns interest. You end up earning interest on the interest gained and your account has the potential to experience snowball growth over time. $50 a month set aside for retirement from age 25 will earn you more upon retirement than the same amount invested at 40.
5. Develop Healthy Financial Habits
Your peers probably aren’t saving and investing the way you’re planning to. Instead, they’re probably spending it on eating out, traveling, alcohol, and clothes. If you struggle to avoid similar money traps, a financial consultant can help you develop a personal budget you can stick to.
Especially if you have consumer or student loan debt, it’s important to have a plan for your money, learn to live on less, and tackle debt quickly. While you still need to be disciplined to reach your financial goals, a consultant can help you develop those healthy habits early. Learning to live on less is a difficult transition if you’re accustomed to enjoying your discretionary income, but budgeting and saving are enormously powerful tools no matter your goals, so get some help making that important shift.
At The End Of The Day...
Having a consultant early in your career will help you steward your money well and set you up for short- and long-term financial success. But, as with all things, do your research! Check out what licenses your potential consultant has, whether or not they’re a fiduciary, and what your friends and family have to say about the financial planning company you’re looking into. Ask about their fees and make sure you’re comfortable with them.
At the end of the day, no company or consultant is created equal so find one that has your best interest at heart and who you mesh well with—this consultant may be a long-term partner in your life!