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Financial Advisor

Aug 07, 2019 Managing your money isn’t easy. There are a lot of decisions you must make, and you’ll need to grapple with complicated issues like taxes, investing strategies and retirement income planning. Hiring a financial advisor can make things easier. The term "financial advisor" describes a broad group of professionals, though, so it can be tough to figure out exactly whom you want to hire. Before committing to paying someone to manage your money, you should know exactly what your options are, what services they provide and what kind of clientele they serve. If you’re looking for a financial advisor, you can find one today using SmartAsset’s Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Common law marriage status can still apply to couples in states across the U.S. Understanding what constitutes a common law marriage is important from a legal and financial perspective if you're pooling assets or sharing the responsibility for debts. Here's a breakdown of what a common law marriage is and how it could affect your finances. Read More...

Aug 19, 2019 A high-net-worth individual (HNWI) is generally someone with at least $1 million in cash or assets that can easily be converted into cash. Most financial institutions provide HNWIs with exclusive services such as access to specialized investment accounts. Some financial advisors work solely with HNWIs, although many have no account minimums for their services. Whether or not you qualify as a high-net-worth individual, a financial advisor can help you manage your investments. Read More...

Aug 01, 2019 Fixed expenses cost the same amount each month and are usually paid on a regular basis. One example of a fixed expense is rent. Variable expenses can change based on the day, week or month. Although discretionary spending is often a variable expense, variable expenses can be necessities, too. For instance, medical costs can be categorized as a variable expense. Read More...

Aug 01, 2019 Financial advisors can earn money a few different ways. They may be fee-only, and get paid exclusively by a client for their services. Other advisors are fee-based, meaning they're compensated by clients as well as  commissions earned by selling certain products or investments. But whether you choose a fee-only or fee-based advisor, the fees will likely be calculated based on the services your advisor provides and the assets they will manage on your behalf.  Learn how asset-based fees work and what you can expect to pay your financial advisor below. Read More...

Jul 31, 2019 Investors pay performance fees to investment advisors based on how the investments the advisor chooses perform. If the investments earn you money, you may have to pay a fee based on how much money you earned. Asset management fees are different. Advisors charge those fees based on a percentage of the total assets you have under management with the advisor. Not all advisors charge performance fees. If you are interested in working with one who does, it is helpful to know exactly what performance fees are and how they work before you move forward. SmartAsset’s free financial advisor… Read More...

Aug 19, 2019 Matador is a stock-trading app for rookie investors that has been available to the general public since March 2019. It’s like many other beginner investing apps (think Robinhood), but with a social interactivity twist. Users can see what their friends and other popular users are buying and selling. You may pick up stock ideas on Matador, but for help diversifying your portfolio and managing your risk, you should consider turning to a financial advisor. Read More...

Jul 26, 2019 While your financial planner may act in your best interest, who acts in the best interest of your financial planner? The Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA) is a nonprofit trade association for investment bankers, broker dealers and asset managers. If you’re an investment professional or a client, there are a few things should know about SIFMA and how they impacts the financial services industry. Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 More than 44 million Americans owe a combined $1.5 trillion in student loan debt. As a result, it's currently the second-highest consumer debt category, behind only mortgages. The good news? There are a variety of government programs offering relief for people with student loan debt, ranging from income-based repayment plans to debt forgiveness programs. And more help may be on the way: Democratic presidential candidates including Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have proposed programs that would do away with the country's mountain of student loan debt. Here's what you should know about the debt relief programs currently available to student loan debt holders... and what might be around the… Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Successful real estate agents can make good money. Real estate agent salary earnings come from commissions on property sales. And total income can vary widely depending on experience and other factors. It's important to consider salary opportunities when choosing a career (or switching to a new one) because your income can impact whether you are able to reach your financial goals, like buying a home or retiring. Read More...

Jul 17, 2019 The American Psychological Association’s 2018 survey on stress reports that the average American reported a stress level of 4.9 (on a scale of 1 to 10). Reported stress levels vary by generation, as noted in the report, but also by geographic location. Local lifestyle and environmental factors can impact the amount of stress we feel on a day-to-day basis. Places with higher employment and lower bankruptcy rates, for example, may allow people to plan a more secure future with a  financial advisor. In order to better understand which places may be associated with lower levels of stress, SmartAsset ranked the least-stressed cities in America. Read More...

Aug 12, 2019 Dealing with your finances can be very stressful. Financial therapists work to lessen that stress, or at least help their clients develop a more sustainable and healthy relationship to money. Financial therapy is a brand new field, but more people are turning to financial therapists to get help - not only to straighten out their savings and finances, but also to develop a more sophisticated awareness of how money impacts their mental state of being. Read More...

Jul 09, 2019 Setting goals for your money is the first step in designing a sound financial plan. Whether you hope to save and invest enough to  retire early or simply need to  build up an emergency fund, the right financial strategy can strengthen your efforts in reaching those goals. If you need some direction on which tactics work best, here are 10 ways to improve your odds of achieving financial success. Read More...

Jul 18, 2019 An amortization table shows the schedule for paying off a loan, such as a mortgage. Learn how to make and use one to determine your own loan payoff schedule. You could use the amortization table for other types of loans such as student loans or personal loans, but it helps to know how to make one first. If you need more hands-on help understanding your loans and your overall financial picture, considering enlisting the help of a trusted financial advisor. Read More...

Jul 03, 2019 Valuation comes in handy if you want to determine your company’s worth or acquire another business. A company's valuation determines the value of a business, and it's worth knowing if you're about to make a transaction. There are a few different methods for valuation, depending on your industry and who is evaluating your business. Read More...

Jun 27, 2019 The law of demand is a basic economics. As the price of at item rises or falls, with all other things staying the same, the demand for it rises or falls. However, despite determining everything from the price of bananas to the average cost of a home in your neighborhood, the law of demand isn't always as rigid many would like it to be. Read More...

Aug 01, 2019 Trading commodity futures lets you bet on the price of commodities including gold and corn. But commodity futures are also a good way to diversify your portfolio by investing in more than just stocks. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Airbnb has not only changed the way a lot of people travel, but also the way that many investors take advantage of their real estate properties. Rather than picking from hotel chains and relatively pricey boutique inns, travelers might instead rent out someone’s home or a room in that home. Investors are noticing this and adjusting accordingly, finding ways to make a stay in their home or property more appealing than traditional lodging. Some are even seeking out specialized guidance from  financial advisors in order to take advantage of their location and charge competitive rental rates. SmartAsset has analyzed these and other… Read More...

Jun 25, 2019 Assets under management (AUM) refers to the market value of the assets a financial institution has discretion over. Increasing AUM is a primary goal of most brokeragesmutual funds and financial advisor firms, and many will use a high AUM as a selling point when marketing themselves to potential investors. How certain institutions define or calculate their AUM can differ slightly. So, it's important to understand these differences before you use a firm's AUM to make any decisions. Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 Having a plan for your finances is crucial, and a comprehensive financial plan may include budgeting, saving, investing, paying off debt and creating a roadmap to retirement. Working with a financial advisor can be helpful in creating your personal money plan, but DIY types might prefer to use a financial planning software instead. There are a multitude of options to choose from and each one has a different range of features. If you're a financial advisor yourself, there are also plenty of software options that you can use to help you build plans for your clients. Read More...

Jul 17, 2019 The median financial advisor pay in 2018 was $88,890 - well above the national average, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (DOL). However, pay can vary widely by state, city and level of experience. The profile of your clientele can have an effect as well. We’ll cover all you need to know about financial advisor compensation as well as job requirements and career outlook. Read More...

May 07, 2019 The cost of baby formula across popular brands can average between $1,200 and $1,500 during a baby’s first year, according to the U.S. Surgeon General. But it’s possible to save on baby formula without having to switch to generic and sacrifice the health of your child. You can also find a family-focused financial advisor who can guide you through these and other costs associated with the journey of raising a child. Read More...

May 02, 2019 An M&A advisory firm guides businesses through the complicated world of mergers and acquisitions. While financial advisors mostly work with individuals, M&A firms primarily offer advice to businesses and corporations. If you are considering making a transaction that involves the buying, selling or merger of companies, you'll probably want to work with an M&A advisory firm. Here's what you need to know going in. Read More...

Apr 25, 2019 Growing wealth for the long term is likely one of your most important financial goals. To do that effectively, you may want to work with a financial advisor who has similar values to yours. Christian financial advisors incorporate biblical principles and teachings into their investment strategy. There's also a specific certification, the certified kingdom advisor (CKA) designation, that Christian financial advisors can earn. Read More...

Apr 25, 2019 According to Census Bureau data from 2017, there are more than 71 million people in the U.S. aged 60 and older. Each year more people reach retirement age and decide to make some changes as they enter a new phase of their lives. One big shift could be relocating to other cities or states with the help of a financial advisor. For some, the goal is to avoid paying taxes on all of their retirement savings. For others, it’s the chance to spend their golden years in a new and different climate. Regardless of what’s brought them to a locale, retirees are an important part of city and state economies, so we investigated the data to see where the most retirees are moving. Read More...

Aug 06, 2019 By definition, a fiduciary is an individual organization who manages assets on behalf of another person or entity. Fiduciary financial advisors hold a relationship of trust with their clients and abide by fiduciary duty. Fiduciary duty is the ethical obligation to act solely in someone else’s best interest. In theory, this should minimize conflicts of interest and make a financial advisor more trustworthy. We go over what fiduciary duty entails, why it's important to work with a fiduciary advisor and how you can find a financial planner in your area. Read More...

Apr 16, 2019 A cafeteria plan - also known as a Section 125 plan, after the portion of the IRS code that regulates the plans - lets employees redirect part of their salaries and wages to pay for certain benefits. Section 125 plans let employees use pre-tax dollars for these benefits, which include health and life insurance. Read More...

Apr 12, 2019 A paraplanner is a financial services professional who handles administrative, accounting and other support tasks for a financial advisor. A paraplanner is a  financial advisory office's equivalent of a paralegal. Read More...

Apr 10, 2019 While it's possible to manage your assets and grow your wealth yourself, many people seek the advice of a professional. As you seek out a financial advisor, you might encounter many certifications and acronyms describing both advisors and their firms. A registered investment advisor (RIA) firm is one option you may consider. Understanding what an RIA firm is and how they help their clients can help you decide whether it's the right path for you. Read More...

Apr 10, 2019 A chartered financial analyst (CFA) is someone who holds a professional designation from the CFA Institute, an international association of financial professionals. CFAs primarily review individual investments, market trends and other factors to help individuals shape their portfolios and achieve a target asset allocation. Many financial advisors and wealth managers are CFAs. Earning a CFA certification means passing the CFA exam. If you're interested in becoming a CFA, or you're planning on working with one and want to know what kind of education and training they undergo, here's what you… Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 Financial advisor is not a specific term that applies to a single job or role. Indeed, you'll hear financial professionals filling a number of different roles and performing a number of different tasks described as financial advisors. Generally speaking, a financial advisor provides financial advice and guidance to clients tailored to their situation and goals. This can range from building an investment portfolio to retirement planning. If working with a financial advisor is something that appeals to you, make sure you know what financial advisors do and how they can help you. Read More...

Apr 09, 2019 Fee-only financial planners earn compensation for their services only. They don't earn commissions or kick-backs for recommending certain products. This fee structure reduces potential conflicts of interest, which is why fee-only financial planners are viewed as the most reliable financial advisors. They have a fiduciary duty to act in your best interests at all times. Read More...

Apr 08, 2019 Financial security means different things to different people. To some, it may mean having enough money to cover all your bills, save for retirement and then have some left over. To others, it may mean earning a six- or seven-figure income, maintaining a robust investment portfolio and owning several real estate properties. Regardless of your interpretation of what it means to be financially secure, it’s likely on your long-term list of financial goals to achieve financial security.  Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 A marital trust is a type of irrevocable trust that allows you to transfer assets to a surviving spouse tax free. It can also shield the estate of the surviving spouse before the remaining assets pass on to your children. This article will explain how a marital trust works and how you can establish one. We can also help you find a financial advisor who will guide you through the often-complex rules of a marital trust, so your family can make the most of it. Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 Think you want to help people manage their money and meet their ultimate financial goals? If so, you may be wondering how to become a financial planner. The process for becoming a financial planner varies depending on what kind of advising or planning you want to do. As with most jobs, a successful financial planning career begins and ends with quality education. Many financial planners will even earn a certified financial planner (CFP) designation. Let us walk you through what it'll take to get into the financial planning business. Read More...

Apr 05, 2019 When choosing a financial advisor, pay attention to what certifications they've obtained. Common certifications you'll see include certified financial planner (CFP), chartered financial analyst (CFA) and certified public account (CPA). Advisors earn these designations to assure clients that they have the training, experience and ethical standards needed to provide sound financial advice. One that is less common but still important is the certified trust and financial advisor (CTFA) certification. Make sure you know exactly what this means if you come across a Read More...

Apr 02, 2019 Financial advisors are among the most important workers in the financial services industry. They help both individuals and institutions manage their money and set themselves up for a secure financial future. Not just anyone can become a financial advisor, though. It takes a lot of work, including training, exams and certifications, to prove that you know your stuff when it comes to matters of personal finance. If you want to be a financial advisor, make sure you know what you are in for and that you’re prepared for the path towards this career. If you are looking for a financial advisor who has adequately followed the path already, considering finding one with SmartAsset’s Read More...

Mar 29, 2019 Losing your job can be a punch in the gut, both emotionally and financially. You may see it coming if your company is experiencing hard times, or you may be completely blindsided. Sometimes, though, your employer will help ease your transition by offering you a severance package. Severance packages are quite common in the workplace. Employers use them both to help employees while they seek new employment and to protect themselves from public criticism and potential lawsuits. We'll take a look at what you should expect in a severance package and how to negotiate one for yourself. Read More...

Jul 22, 2019 A broker-dealer is one of the most important people or firms you’ll work with as you invest your money. Broker-dealers are the professionals who buy and sell securities for clients while building their own portfolios. Many of your investments will be made through broker-dealers, and you’ll be paying them to do it. Knowing what broker-dealers do, how you’ll be paying them for their services and any potential conflicts of interest is important. It ensures you're building your portfolio in the most efficient way possible. Read More...

Mar 28, 2019 Selling a house is a major decision that demands careful consideration. After all, securing more money from selling your home gives you more capital to invest with your financial advisor. Your location, for one, plays a major factor. Houses in some places will sell immediately, while others stay on the market for months. Home values in your area may also mean that it's easier or more difficult to sell your home for a profit. We considered those factors and more to create this list of the best cities to sell a house. Read More...

Aug 01, 2019 Those seeking a financial advisor will encounter two types of fee structures: fee-only and fee-based. The difference between the two might not be immediately apparent. Still, as you research advisors to help you plan your financial future, you should understand exactly how you’ll be paying them and what their compensation model means for you. If you want help finding an advisor, consider using SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. Read More...

Mar 19, 2019 Prenuptial agreements, commonly known as prenups, are agreements that couples sign before marriage. They specify how assets will be divided in the event of a divorce. Prenups have become more common and less taboo in current times. However, misconceptions about the purpose of a prenup still persist. Read More...

Mar 11, 2019 The old saying, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail," is a philosophy with many applications. Perhaps nowhere does it apply more, though, than to personal finance. Financial planning takes into account myriad factors including taxes, saving and investing. A financial planner is a professional who helps people to create a plan for their financial future. To find one to help you, use SmartAsset’s free financial advisor matching service. Read More...

Mar 08, 2019 Chapter 13 bankruptcy is a court-approved process that lets you create a repayment plan to cover most or all of your debt in the course of three to five years. Through this process, you can protect your home from foreclosure. To be eligible for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you need to produce regular income and meet a few other requirements. This article will explain how to qualify for Chapter 13 bankruptcy and walk you through the entire process, so you could finally live debt free. If you want more hands-on help with your Chapter 13 bankruptcy questions, check out our free financial advisor matching tool to link up with an expert in your area who can best serve your needs. Read More...

Jul 31, 2019 When you work with a financial advisor, you’ll generally pay them via an advisory fee. This is often based on a percentage of your assets under management (AUM). Other common fee types are flat fees and hourly fees. Fee-only advisors make money solely from these advisory fees. Fee-based advisors, however, earn money in a variety of other ways in addition to the standard advisory fee. Make sure you know what fees you'll pay and of any potential conflicts of interest your advisor may have. If you need help finding a financial advisor, consider using SmartAsset’s free financial advisor… Read More...

Aug 07, 2019 The Series 7 license allows professionals to sell securities in the U.S. To obtain it, they must pass a rigorous exam covering various financial topics. Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) administers the test, and most employers in the financial services industry require their employees to pass this exam. We’ll explain what the Series 7 exam covers and what it means to have a Series 7 license. If you want a find a financial advisor who has a Series 7 certification, check out our free financial advisor matching tool to get linked to up to three experts in your area who best meet your particular needs. Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 Disabled and need help? Look to Social Security disability. The monthly payments available to the disabled are provided through two Social Security Administration programs. The approval process is fairly complicated, though, and you must meet relatively strict standards to qualify. If you think that Social Security disability is something you may need, either now or in the future, make sure you know exactly what to expect and what requirements you'll need to meet. Read More...

Feb 26, 2019 Betterment and Personal Capital stand as two of the biggest robo-advisors available today. Betterment oversees more than $13.5 billion in assets under management (AUM), and Personal Capital juggles $8.5 billion in AUM. Both combine technology and human acumen to manage clients' finances. The two firms offer services like automated investment portfolios, tax-minimization strategies and financial planning tools. But the breadth of these services as well as fees vary. This article will tell you all you need to know about these two robo-advisors. It’ll also help you determine a winner in the Personal Capital vs. Betterment match-up. Read More...

Feb 13, 2019 Many people under intense public scrutiny, such as politicians, judges and high-powered business people, use blind trusts to avoid the perception of conflicts of interest when it comes to their personal financial dealings. A type of living trust, it allows individuals to store assets in a way in which the beneficiary has no control over them. This lessens the possibility that the individual's actions will impact their own net worth. Read More...

Mar 28, 2019 Do you know enough about financial management to take care of all of your investing on your own? Or do you need help from a seasoned expert? That question comes up for millions of Americans each year. If any of these describe you, you could benefit from professional financial advice: Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 Managing your finances can be difficult. Particularly when it comes to complex matters like investing and building a retirement plan, it’s nice to have a second opinion from an expert. That’s exactly what a financial advisor is: A financial planning expert who can help you meet your personal finance goals. While any advisor will have a good general working knowledge of financial planning, many advisors also specialize in certain topics, from investing to retirement income to estate planning. So when you’re looking for an advisor, it’s important to find one who can help with your particular needs. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Affordable housing markets are something of a rarity among big cities these days. This is especially true when you look at the cities with the strongest economies, like New York or San Francisco. Even many once-affordable markets are trending toward scenarios where residents are housing cost-burdened. This is a significant shift that spurs people to take a holistic look at their financial situation and evaluate whether they can remain in a increasingly pricey place. Those who are finding it difficult to afford homeownership amid rising costs may need to be extra creative with their financial advisor. Are you in an area susceptible to this… Read More...

Nov 26, 2018 A chartered life underwriter, or CLU, is a financial services certification for  financial advisors who specialize in life insurance within the context of estate planning. Although many advisors have experience with estate planning, CLUs go through rigorous training to earn this designation. Below we go in-depth about what a CLU does, who should consider working with one and how much relationships with these professionals typically cost. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 You may think you have a good sense of where in the country residents are making the most money. But the counties whose well-heeled, deep-pocketed denizens are pulling in the most coin may not include the fanciest zip codes you're imagining. That's because there's more to income than just wages. In fact, a Federal Reserve survey found that wage income makes up only 61% of pretax income for the average family. From interest income saved in a high-yield saving account to investment income earned through a financial advisor and retirement income through an IRA built up over years… Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Back in 1989, the average American could expect to live until 75. Roughly 27 years later, the average life expectancy in the U.S. has crept up to nearly 79 years. But while the increased life expectancy is certainly good news, it is also a double-edged sword for Americans when it comes to financial planning. Given that they are living longer, Americans need to be more prepared than ever for retirement, whether that's in building their own savings in tax-advantaged accounts or investing with a professional financial advisor. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that the… Read More...

Nov 14, 2018 Applying for disability benefits from the Social Security Administration (SSA) is a multi-step process. One of the most crucial steps is when the SSA and a partner agency called Disability Determination Services (DDS) attempt to verify your qualifications for disability benefits. To do this, these agencies need your consent to review your medical records. That’s where Form SSA-827 comes in. Read More...

Jul 17, 2019 12b-1 fees are annual distribution fees related to mutual funds. They are an operational expense, and they're usually a part of a fund’s expense ratio. In this guide, you'll find not only an in-depth explanation of 12b-1 fees, but also ways that you may be able to keep your fees low. If you have more questions about mutual funds or the charges associated with them, consider meeting with a financial advisor in your area. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Sometimes when it comes to your finances, going at it alone can be intimidating as you try to come up with a game plan. But you want to make sure you're consulting the right expert for your needs. How does a  financial advisor, for example, differ from a wealth manager? Wealth managers are just one kind of financial advisor who work with a specific clientele: those with a high net worth. However, you don't need to be super rich just to work with a wealth manager. Minimum account sizes vary. And you may want to consider their services even if you don't have that much to invest, because they offer comprehensive management of your finances. To help you understand… Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 When it comes to  estate planning and making plans for the medical unknown, an advance directive can be extremely important. If you live in Ohio and you’re considering drafting up an advance directive for yourself, this guide will walk you through the basics of what it is, how to create it and if it’s right for you. Making plans for the end of your life is extremely important even if it’s not the rosiest task. Luckily, talking with a financial advisor can streamline the process significantly. SmartAsset’s Read More...

Nov 19, 2018 There are many ways to become a successful investor, and asset management and hedge funds are two prominent options. There are undoubtedly some similarities between these investment styles. However, each service has its own nuances that can make it more or less suited for your personal financial situation. Before you make any final decisions on your finances, consider meeting with a fiduciary financial advisor to ensure you're making the right choices. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Home prices are on the rise in America’s largest cities, and incomes are just not keeping up. Outside of the wealthiest residents, homeownership is not in the cards for many in those cities. Adding extra pressure on prospective homeowners' budgets are high debt payments, including record levels of student debt. In fact, debt is an often overlooked factor in the analysis of how much house residents can afford. A family with high household income but a lot of debt can probably not afford as much house as the initial income figures suggest. But being savvy and finding areas with high median incomes and low median house costs allows households to get the most bang for their buck in the housing market. It's ultimately an undertaking for which you may want to consult a  Read More...

Oct 17, 2018 A sophisticated investment plan can mean an early retirement or just a retirement without financial stress. And whether they are relying on the expertise of a financial advisor to manage their finances or going it alone, Americans are, indeed, investing to grow their wealth. According to IRS data, Americans reported earning $613 billion in passive income in 2016. That makes their investment gains equal to about 8% of the salary and wage income earned in the U.S. during the same period. That $613 billion, however, is not spread evenly across the country.  Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Are you asking yourself, do I need a financial advisor? The short answer is yes, you probably do. A financial advisor is a professional who can assist you with your finances in a number of ways. This expert can help with investing, financial planning, retirement planning and more. Obviously not every single person needs a financial advisor. However, if you have a certain level of investable assets and are thinking about your financial future, working with a financial advisor is key. This guide below walks you through what financial advisors do and why they’re important. Plus, it examines exactly who will be well-served by working with a financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Trick-or-treating is a high-reward, low-risk undertaking. That's why people in the U.S. are particularly spirited about grabbing their pillow cases and hitting the streets. In fact, FiveThirtyEight data shows around a quarter of Americans count Halloween among their top-five favorite holidays. And what’s not to love? For kids, it’s a time of shameless candy-binging and dressing up, and for adults, well, it’s much of the same. But depending on where you live, you could have a great trick-or-treating experience, with candy to last a year, or a negative one that leaves you with just apples and sore calves. The benefits of a great trick-or-treating town are more than just theoretical. Places with a high density of single-family homes, a low chance of rain and minimal crime will optimize your experience. That mirrors the reasoning Read More...

Oct 04, 2018 Around 30% of workers nationwide do not have access to an employer-sponsored retirement plan, according to Bureau of Labor Statistics data. For these workers, independent retirement accounts like Roth IRAs or SEP IRAs are crucial investment vehicles for building their nest eggs. These accounts also provide tax-advantaged opportunities for workers with employer-sponsored plans to sock away additional money for retirement, which can come in handy as Americans live longer and the cost of healthcare rises. Given the increasing importance of saving for retirement, SmartAsset decided to dig into IRS data to find the places where residents are using independent retirement accounts the most. Read More...

Oct 04, 2018 Famously, Apple started out of a garage with little up-front cash. But your typical startup requires more than just a some empty space and a brilliant idea. To create a successful company, you need some money to pay for office space, employees and everyday bills from utilities to legal fees. This can dampen entrepreneurs' ability to bring their business ideas to life especially if they don't have much capital in their savings account. Imagine trying to start a new company in San Francisco with its exorbitant cost of living. Below we look at a slew of factors to rank the cities with the lowest and highest startup costs in the country. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Who doesn’t want to retire early. Getting to retire in your 50s or early 60s can mean being able to do some of the things you’ve always dreamed of while you still have some youthful energy. But retiring early requires a ton of planning and preparation. One great strategy for retiring early, that many financial advisors would recommend, is to retire somewhere affordable. Retiring somewhere tax-friendly with a low cost of living can stretch your earnings enough that you can retire a few years early. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Just 24% of taxpayers reported a charitable gift on their tax returns in 2015, according to a study from "The Chronicle of Philanthropy." That’s down from a decade earlier when that figure routinely reached 30%. And though fewer people may be giving out of the good of their hearts and working with a  financial advisor to use these contributions to reduce their tax liabilities, Americans in certain places are punching above their weight in generosity. Read More...

Jul 17, 2019 Money management is important for anyone, especially those who make a decent salary but aren't financial experts. If you don’t manage your money correctly, you could find that all of your hard work during your career may not result in the blissful retirement you'd hoped for when you reach your golden years. Read More...

Sep 18, 2018 When people picture the home of their dreams, they imagine the white picket fence, the yard and the home with plenty of rooms for both pets and children. But homes like this tend to be either expensive or located in places far from employment opportunities. Plus, even if you do find a home that fits your criteria you want to make sure you're putting your savings into an asset that will appreciate. And without doing a ton of research, it's hard to know if you’re buying into an area with rising home values or not. Below, we look at these and other factors to rank the best places to buy a home big enough to raise a family. Read More...

Jul 25, 2019 If you’ve ever filed your tax returns on your own, you know that it can be a complicated process, especially if you're itemizing deductions. That's why many people turn to tax preparers or financial advisors to help them navigate the morass of forms and exemptions. But not all tax professionals are created equal. Depending on the specific certification, the tax preparer you work with may have restrictions on who he or she can represent. One type of tax professional who doesn’t have to worry about these restrictions is an enrolled agent (EA). Enrolled agent status is the highest credential you can… Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Different regions have particular strengths. Silicon Valley is a tech hub of course, the Midwest is known for its agriculture and the Gulf Coast has long had a lucrative oil industry. But if you want to have employment in a thriving part of the local economy, it's a good idea to know what each area’s specialty will be tomorrow. By having an idea about what kind of businesses are growing the fastest, you’ll be more informed about how secure employment in a field that will help you generate wealth that you can build with your financial advisor. Below we look at Census Bureau data to find the fastest-growing business type in every state. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Investing in your education is one of the best decisions you can make. A better education can lead to a better job. In turn, that leads to higher earnings, which can eventually lead to growing your wealth with a  financial advisor. But depending on where you live you may not get as much of a chance to educate yourself. Some states and their residents invest more in local education from funding high-quality middle and high schools to paying teachers competitive wages. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 The key to a financially secure retirement is the planning. Whether with the steadying hand of a financial advisor to guide you to your golden years, or strategizing on your own, planning your retirement does take time and can be difficult. Some seniors, knowing they have not saved enough to retire in their current locale, plan to move to lower cost of living areas. Some seniors on the other hand have prepared themselves to live in more expensive states and can afford the… Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 It can almost be impossible to avoid stressing out. You have a mortgage to pay, you’re concerned your investments with your financial advisor aren’t getting the returns you need for your retirement or you just can’t stick to your budget. But while all of these factors exist in every city to some degree, it is also true that living in a less stressful environment can help you deal with other anxiety-inducing parts of life. So in order to highlight those rare zen-fostering zones, we have ranked the least… Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 With rents on the rise in many of America’s trendiest cities it has become increasingly popular for residents looking to earn some side money to invest in the short-term rental market. Indeed, the returns these rental properties can offer are robust. But as more investors take their share of the rental market pie and offer it to incoming tourists, it leaves fewer options for local, long-term renters and causes rental prices to squeeze further upwards. In response, some cities like New York have started looking into regulating the short-term rental market, with their crosshairs focused primarily on Airbnb. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 Like any good financial advisor will tell you, investing is about more than just average return. The best investors weigh risk with reward. For example, consider home values. The Census Bureau estimates that the median home in the U.S. increased in value by $10,500 from 2015 to 2016. But that's just the average increase. Some homeowners made more, some made less and some even lost money on their mortgages. Knowing exactly how your home’s value will change in the future is impossible, but with a little research you can get a better idea of the risks that come with investing in any city's housing… Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 How you start your career is an important determinant for future financial success. Young professionals who are able to find a high-paying career earlier are able to build more savings, get promoted earlier and have more long-term, financial flexibility. Where you start is also important. Some cities have affordable housing that allows young professionals to invest in the housing market or lets them rent while investing their savings with a financial advisor. Other cities offer a wide range of job opportunities, meaning young adults are not stuck in dead-end jobs they don’t enjoy. Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 Betterment is a robo-advisor that allows investors to create and manage their investment portfolios online. Whether you're building wealth for retirement or other financial reasons, Betterment functions as your digital investing solution. With more than $10 billion in assets under management, the company offers a range of online services, including two investing accounts, tax-loss harvesting features and competitive management fees. But should you use it? Is Betterment safe? Below, we take a closer look at Betterment's products and services to show you why it's a safe choice. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 According to Bureau of Labor Statistics data, the price of college tuition increased by 63% from 2006 to 2016. Over that same time period, the median household income in the United States increased by only 19%. This makes college more expensive than ever for the average family. However, there are efficient ways that you can save for your children's education. One example is through  529 plans. These are tax-advantaged savings plans designed to help people save money for schooling. Every state has its own plan or set of plans, but they are all a little different and vary in popularity. For example, some are actively managed, utilizing a Read More...

May 15, 2019 If you’re looking to minimize your tax liability and capitalize on tax deductions, a tax consultant could help you do just that. Tax consultants, also known as tax advisors, are professionals with expertise in tax law, tax returns and financial planning. Though they can fill a number of roles, these advisors ultimately help their clients make well-informed financial decisions when it comes to tax-related issues. Cost can vary, so make sure you know exactly what services you’ll get and how much you’ll pay before you commit to working with a tax consultant. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 In 2016 the IRS reported that it collected nearly $18.3 billion in estate taxes, from more than 5,200 estates. That is an average tax of $3.5 million per taxable estate. While the estate tax is a punishing one-off payment, the wealthy can also see their annual tax burden pile up due to income and property taxes. The size of the tax burden varies wildly by state however, making it advantageous for the wealthy to live in one state over another. For example, some states have higher income taxes or higher estate taxes. Wealthy Americans without access to expert financial advice, such as from a  financial advisor, can find themselves paying sizable… Read More...

Jul 24, 2019 If you're starting to think about getting ready for retirement or you're approaching a major life transition, it might be the right time to hire a financial advisor. A financial advisor can help you with everything from creating a financial plan to managing and building your wealth. Of course, finding a financial advisor is easier said than done. Not all financial advisors are alike, so you'll want to be sure to do your homework to ensure you end up working with someone who is trustworthy and suits your needs. As you’re weighing your options, these are the 10 questions to ask a financial advisor to decide if this is the person you want to manage your money. Read More...

Aug 01, 2019 As you strive to reach your financial goals and prepare for retirement, you may consider turning to a financial advisor. But you may be wondering: How much does a financial advisor cost? Generally, financial advisors charge a flat fee of $1,500 to $2,500 for the one-time creation of a full financial plan, or 1% to 2% of assets under management for ongoing portfolio management. However, fee rates and compensation structures differ from advisor to advisor. That can make it challenging to figure out how much you’re paying and if you’re getting a fair deal when you're trying to find a financial advisor. Here’s what you need to know to make sure you fully understand financial advisor fees before you… Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 The majority of Americans find meeting their retirement goals a challenge. After all, the financial world is complicated. Many Americans miss the opportunity to save, which means they miss the chance to invest - whether that's alone or with the expert guidance of a financial advisor. Without the gains from investing, it is almost impossible to save enough for retirement. Census Bureau data shows that retirement-aged Americans across the country struggle to find affordable housing. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 It’s a pretty good time to be a worker in America. For the most part, jobs are available and unemployment is on the decline. But availability of jobs alone does not mean a city is a good place to start a career. The cities with the best career opportunities combine high pay, strong support networks and affordable homes. This leaves workers with the opportunity to not only have a fulfilling career but also a chance to hit financial milestones like owning a home or investing with a financial advisor. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 With tuition increasing at a steady pace and student loan debt reaching record highs, many parents struggle finding ways to lower the price of higher education. But a 529 college savings plan can help. These tax-friendly savings vehicles offer a range of perks. Below, we explore 529 plan benefits in detail. But first, we’ll explain exactly what they are. Read More...

Jul 31, 2019 Whether you're investing in mutual funds or simply looking to transform your wealth with a financial plan, you may be considering working with a financial advisor. Investment advisors and financial planners are two of the most common types of financial advisors that clients work with. These advisors ultimately offer guidance on different financial topics, but one thing they have in common is your money. If you're thinking about working with one of these advisors, it's important that you understand what each can do. Read More...

Oct 18, 2018 After years of investing in your children’s college education, you’re ready to reach into your 529 college savings plan and send your kid off to the best years of his or her life. But while making 529 plan withdrawals is as simple as clicking a few buttons, the consequences are complex. Missteps could trigger tax penalties. So you should consider a few points before you tap into your savings. Below, we’ll walk you through the process of making 529 plan withdrawals the right way. You’ve worked hard for your savings. Now it’s time for your 529 plan to work for you and your children.  Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 The average full-time working woman earns 82% of what the average full-time working man earns, according to BLS data. The good news is that the gender pay gap is shrinking. The bad news is that the narrowing of the gap comes too late for women who started and ended their careers when the pay gap was worse. That wide difference in earnings has hurt women’s ability to meet their financial goals. Read More...

Aug 21, 2019 It's exciting to know you're going to be bringing a new member into the family. Decorating the baby's nursery, buying children's books and finding that perfect stroller are all important. But, what's more important is whether you're ready for the financial costs that come with having a baby. Both pregnancy and birth require a lot of medical attention. In other words, you won't be charged for the birth alone. The pregnancy itself is filled with costs that accompany the numerous doctor's visits, tests and procedures you may have. Therefore, you'll want to make sure you have enough financial cushion before you decide to have a child. Read More...

Jun 18, 2018 Whether you are working with a  financial advisor or managing a portfolio on your own, making the right investments can make all the difference in your future financial security. Make too many risky investments and you might lose out on your retirement income, don’t take on enough risk and you may not accumulate enough funds to retire comfortably. Read More...

Sep 12, 2018 If you're getting started in investing, an investment broker can be a great asset as your connection to the market. Investment brokers serve as go-betweens for buyers and sellers on the stock market. They enable their clients to purchase stocks, bonds and other securities from the exchanges.  Read More...

May 23, 2018 Investing is never easy, and trying to figure everything out on your own can be incredibly stressful. That's why many people hire a professional financial advisor who understands the market and can make smart investment choices for you. But the tough part is finding someone you actually trust, that understands your long term financial goals. SmartAsset has built a way to address this problem, making it easier than ever to find the right financial advisor who understands the market and can help you achieve your financial goals. Of course, it's easy to be skeptical about finding a financial advisor online, so here's everything personal investors need to know about our SmartAdvisor matching program. How does SmartAsset find the right advisor? When you visit the SmartAsset site, you're invited to answer a series of questions. The questionnaire only takes a few minutes, and helps… Read More...

Oct 18, 2018 Even if you don't know what ERISA means, you've likely seen it the word when doing research into how to plan for retirement. Fear not, though, because it’s pretty simple. ERISA is a law designed to help protect you and your money as you look towards your golden years. Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 Even if you understand every tax law and investment strategy out there, it’s always helpful to get support from an expert. Luckily, there are plenty of financial professionals eager to offer their counsel. In fact, the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) defines 183 professional designations on its website. Some titles are more generic while others require specific experience and educational qualifications. Financial advisors and financial planners are two of the most popular titles. Read More...

Jul 09, 2019 If you need help getting your finances in order or learning the basics of budgeting, you might consider seeking the help of a financial coach. A financial coach is different from other financial professionals. They spend more time helping their clients understand the fundamentals of finances, rather than recommending investments and managing portfolios like financial advisors. Read on to learn more about financial coaches, what they do and how to become one. Read More...

Oct 18, 2018 Financial goals are like New Year’s resolutions: easier said than done. Building a financial plan can help bridge the gap between what you want to accomplish and what becomes a reality. A financial plan outlines the steps you should take to achieve your goals, reaffirming that your desired future is attainable. Unfortunately, most of us lack the time and know-how to develop a financial plan. That’s where financial professionals come in, offering advice and recommendations on everything from budgeting to retirement savings and investing. Read More...

Jul 22, 2019 In the world of business and finance, disclosures are the reporting of information that companies - public corporations, financial advisor firms, brokerages - might prefer to keep private. Governmental and regulatory agencies require disclosures in order to promote transparency and fairness. For example, investment advisors registered with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) must provide current and prospective clients with disclosures related to any conflicts of interest or disciplinary actions. For help finding a financial advisor who is ethically bound to put your interests first, use SmartAsset's financial advisor matching tool. Read More...

Jul 23, 2019 Money affects basically every aspect of our lives. However, learning to properly manage your money isn’t always easy to do. So how can you learn about personal finance while also getting advice that applies to your specific financial situation? One strategy is to work with a financial advisor. A financial advisor can help you create and execute a financial plan no matter where you are in your life.  This can get expensive though. Luckily, if you can’t afford a financial advisor, there are free tools, calculators and software that can act almost like having a free financial advisor. Read More...

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