November is Financial Literacy Month – a time to really take charge of your money.
This is also a good time for me to clarify what it is I do. People are often confused or intimidated when they hear I am a financial advisor. Some say, “I don’t have enough money to need an advisor” or “I don’t have any extra money to pay for that.” My favourite is, “You’re the one making all the money off of my finances, not me.” If you have had any of these thoughts, please keep reading this article as I clear up the misconceptions and set the record straight on Financial Advisors and how they can help you, NOT hurt you.
Win The Fight Against Debt
Although the official title is Financial Advisor, I call myself the Financial Fighter. That’s because I fight for my clients who are frustrated with high interest credit cards, loans, and lines of credit. We all know how easy it is to get these cards. The hard part is eliminating the balance – especially when the interest rate is sky high. Debt is probably the biggest hurdle to overcome to obtain financial security. It has been proven to negatively affect relationships, work, and health (both mental and physical). A financial advisor can assist you in lowering or consolidating your debt into a manageable situation. When you are too overwhelmed to handle debt collector calls and notices, it is time to call in an expert.
Beat The Tax Man
As the saying goes, there are two things that are certain in life: death and taxes. We all must pay taxes, whether it’s through our paycheck, our purchases, or our tax returns. A financial advisor can reduce that tax pain by showing you different ways to keep your hard-earned money in your pocket and out of the government coffers. For example, every pay period, tax is withdrawn from your cheque, but most people are unaware of their rights to reduce the amount of taxes taken off their pay. My best advice to all my clients is not to wait until January and February to pay attention to taxes from the previous year; that’s the time to lay down a blueprint for the year ahead. This is one area where a financial advisor can help you, by looking at your overall finances to see where you can get tax benefits.
Make Your Money Work For You
This is the month to confront your fears about finances, especially about investing. The common myth is that investing is for the rich. People get frightened by media reports of volatile markets that lead to foolish decisions of selling low and buying high. Another myth that keeps people from maximizing their cash flow is that saving money in a bank account will work in your favour. The only one who wins in that arrangement is the bank. If you’re skeptical about investing, talk about your fears with a financial advisor. They can break down money terms into everyday language so you can understand how to invest, and the benefits to you.
Take The Fear Out Of Insurance
There are many ridiculous thoughts around insurance, the biggest being that it’s not important right now because we have time. Instead, people often have cable, monthly nails and hair maintenance, and other non-essential expenses that they pay without hesitation. But will your cable company be at your funeral? Remember that aside from taxes, the other guarantee in life is death. So why wouldn’t you prepare financially for that inevitability? Insurance gets a bad name because no one wants to think about death - but imagine the alternative: your family going into debt to give you a proper burial or to pay living expenses you used to cover. My role as a financial advisor is to show you the right insurance product that will put you and your family at ease.
Secure Your Financial Future
Everyone is worried about how they will live once they stop working. Whenever you land a new job, one of the most intriguing benefits is the company pension plan and whether they match your contributions. But in most cases, pensions are not trying to make money. What they are trying to do is NOT lose money. So, there is little to no growth. However, an advisor can help you put together a retirement investment portfolio that will help you sleep at night knowing your future is secure. Our next biggest investment concern is usually our home. Do you have your mortgage with a bank? Then you might be watching the rates, chasing the lowest ones from the big banks. But there are other options out there, offering lower rates, better terms, and greater flexibility. Your financial advisor can open a whole new world of options and save you money in the long run.
It’s clear that a good financial advisor can make a major difference. But one of the most common questions people have about advisors is how we get paid. The common presumption I’ve heard: that I make money off of them. In a sense, that is true, the more clients I have, the more money I make. However, I get paid by the institutions that I use to form a financial plan for my clients, and that’s true for most financial advisors. So, you can rest assured the right financial advisor will be fully invested in your financial success, not their own pockets.
So, take this month to get your financial house in order and sit down with a professional to make sure you head into 2020 with your money working for you, instead of you working for your money.
Ian Webster's nearly two decades of recognized experience at several well-known financial organizations has given him the inside track on the upsell of products such as mortgages and mutual funds and allowed him to help clients with everything from lowering their taxes to developing profitable investment portfolios. His expertise has been featured in The Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, Toronto Sun, and Time. He has also been a featured financial speaker at many high-profile networking functions. Find Ian online at www.financialfighter.com and on Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, and Instagram.