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Already off your financial resolutions? Set goals to get back on track.

Jennifer Pagliara, CFP®, CTFA, Executive Vice President and Financial Planner
Jennifer Pagliara, CFP®, CTFA
Executive Vice President and Financial Planner

Is one of your 2020 New Year’s resolutions to get your finances in order? According to a study by YouGov, 49% of Americans are hoping to save more this year, a resolution second only to exercising more.

With the rising cost of housing and increasing college debt, many news stories draw attention to the millennial generation’s spending habits. Resolving to save more is a great start. The bad news? Most people give up on their resolutions by mid-February.

Maybe you need to get out of debt, or your goal is to save more. Maybe you’re unhappy with your current financial advisor. The bottom line is you need to find someone who you trust to help reach your goals. Given the high failure rate for resolutions, setting goals and having someone to hold you accountable is key to succeeding.

If you’ve gotten sidetracked by post-Christmas sales and other needless spending, I’m here to help. Read this list of questions as you look for an advisor and start setting your own financial goals.

  • What is your goal? Start by knowing what you are looking for. Do you want a program to help you get out of debt? Do you have money you want to invest but don’t know what to do with it? Or are you ready to start saving for your child’s future education?
  • Make sure the goal is realistic. For example, if you are currently saving 10% of your salary, is it reasonable for you to commit to saving 30% of your salary? Understand how you are spending and what you are willing to compromise.
  • What credentials does the advisor have? Does it matter to you if he or she has education past the legal requirements to be a financial advisor?
  • Are you going to get shuffled around? A comment I hear a lot is that clients get passed from one advisor to the next as their original advisor gets promoted or moves cities.
  • How much contact will you have with the advisor? Having clearly defined expectations on how many times you will meet within the year is important.
  • How much is it going to cost you? Fees are usually one of the main factors in choosing an advisor or platform. Does your advisor charge an ongoing management, hourly fee or commission? Is there a fee for a financial plan in addition to everything else you are paying? How much does it cost to trade? Don’t be afraid to get a detailed list of what costs are involved.

These are definitely not all the questions that you should ask, but they can help you start narrowing down who you want to work with and what you want to achieve. It never hurts to ask!

Goal-setting is powerful because it forces us to identify an overarching purpose to guide behavior. Goals provide focus and motivation and allow us to measure our results. Objectives involving money are usually not quick fixes and require years of diligence and patience. Having an advisor to keep you on track should help you overcome those “mid-February blues” when it seems impossible to reach your goals.

Jennifer Pagliara, CFP, is an executive vice president and financial adviser at CapWealth and a proud member of the Millennial Generation. Her column speaks to her peers and anyone else that wants to get ahead financially. This article was originally published in The Tennessean on Feb. 3, 2020.

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