A financial advisor can assist with almost any aspect of a person’s financial life, including budgeting. Financial advisors provide an array of services, ranging from investment management to estate planning. Many people who work as financial advisors focus on specific tasks or areas, such as brokers who sell insurance or facilitate securities transactions or a financial planner who helps clients with budgeting, among other things. A financial advisor can provide answers to your questions about financial matters from budgeting to retirement.
A budget is a written description of your income and spending plans. Usually covering a month, a budget’s fundamental purpose is to ensure that you don’t run out of money before you run out of bills to pay. Having a budget also allows you to allocate money for long-term needs, such as creating an emergency fund, collecting a down payment to buy a home or saving for retirement.
A typical budgeting process starts with writing down the amounts of income you expect to receive, followed by writing down the amounts of your upcoming expenses. Summing up and comparing these totals will let you know whether you’ll break even or perhaps have to cut expenses or increase income to make ends meet. If your budget shows a surplus, you can decide how to allocate it to achieve your financial goals, which may include paying down debt, saving for a vacation and many other objectives.
Financial Advisors and Budgeting
Financial advisors come in many varieties, from investment managers to specialists in estate planning. Financial planners can help with a broad range of personal finance matters, but they often use a financial plan as a document to guide their entire strategy. And a budget is an essential part of this plan.
Here are some of the more important functions a financial advisor who specializes in financial planning can do for clients:
- Setting goals: Advisors can ask questions that encourage thinking about financial objectives that require an organized approach to allocating your resources.
- Tracking expenses: Because of their experience in making budgets with many clients, advisors can alert you to the many varieties of spending that may be consuming your income.
- Estimating future expenses: An advisor can help make you aware of the actual likely costs of future expenses, including major life changes like marriage and parenthood.
- Identifying overspending: It can be hard to spot where you are overspending without someone like an advisor on hand to point out anomalies in the way you distribute your income.
- Objectivity: When you are working on your own finances, you may be too close to the subject and miss financial obstacles and opportunities that an objective observer in the form of an advisor is able to spot.
- Efficiency: Advisors will know about many tools such as automated deposits to savings accounts and expense-tracking apps that can greatly simplify and improve the quality of your budget and outcome.
- Accountability: If your budget includes accomplishing goals such as paying down debt, an advisor can help hold you accountable and remind you why you might prefer to do that rather than spend available money on a vacation.
- Reminders to treat yourself: A budget that is too strict for you to follow is not a good budget. A better budget is one that allows room for treats. An advisor can remind you to set aside some money for unnecessary or even frivolous indulgences.
- Ongoing adjustment: Ideally, a budget is not a one-time exercise. Your budget will benefit from occasional updating to reflect changes in your income, expense and objectives. An advisor can help you remember to do that.
The Bottom Line
Many financial advisors can help you prepare and use a budget. Financial planners, in particular, tend to use budgets as the foundations of the services they provide. Financial advisors can bring important contributions including objectivity, accountability and knowledge of useful tools to the budgeting process. Most importantly, they can help you craft a budget that allows you to fund long-range financial objectives like paying off debts and saving for retirement.
Tips for Budgeting
- A talk with a financial advisor can explain how budgeting plays a role in helping you reach financial goals. Finding a financial advisor doesn’t have to be hard. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with up to three vetted financial advisors in your area, and you can interview your advisor matches at no cost to decide which one is right for you. If you’re ready to find an advisor who can help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
- After you’ve got all your income, expenses and financial objectives sorted out to create your budget, you may be wondering how you compare to other people in similar situations. SmartAsset’s Budget Calculator can answer that question. Simply enter information about your family size and spending in various categories and the calculator will show how you stack up to the benchmark amounts for your location.
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