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Where to Get the Best Financial Guidance

When looking for the best financial guidance, it can be tricky to navigate through all the available resources. Here are some great ones to get you started.

Whether you're young or young at heart, it's never too early, or too late, to get your financial house in order. If you're not particularly educated about the intricacies of financial management, taking those first money-management steps can be daunting. Where should you go for accurate financial guidance you can trust? Here are some great sources to get you started.

A Reputable Financial Planner

You may not have a background in finance, but financial planners do. They make their living by helping people grow and preserve their wealth. Just as you should make sure your source for financial guidance is reputable, you should make certain your financial planner is properly licensed and has incentives to work in your best interests. In addition, although the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) designation is not required and is not necessarily a direct indication of the quality of advice you’ll receive (many great advisors do not hold the designation), hiring a CFP may give you some instant gratification in knowing that the advisor has a basic level of competency.

Directly From the Issuer of Your Retirement Plan

One of the most common ways to increase your net worth is to maximize contributions to your 401(K) or other retirement plan. Financial guidance regarding these plans is commonly available from your employer and from the website of the firm overseeing your company's plan.

Reputable Nonprofit Agencies

You can receive free or low-cost financial guidance and counseling regarding credit and debt, bankruptcies, mortgages, student loan debt and much more from organizations such as the National Foundation for Credit Counseling (NFCC). Founded in 1951, NFCC is the nation's largest nonprofit financial guidance organization. NFCC comprises member agencies across the United States. All are accredited and employ counselors who have completed NFCC's comprehensive training programs. To get started, you can visit the NFCC website and request information about counselors in your area.

Credible Websites

It's wise to conduct your own independent research online, as long as you gather your data from reputable sources. Investopedia is one example of a well-regarded source of reliable information about all things related to finance. It bills itself as "the largest financial education website in the world." The site is packed with detailed and actionable financial guidance strategies, including

  • Limiting credit-card purchases and paying the full balance each month to avoid interest fees
  • Creating a monthly budget and tracking your spending so you can identify problem areas 
  • Establishing an emergency-savings fund
  • Learning how income taxes affect your take-home pay

Your Local University or Community College

Many universities and community colleges offer extension, or adult-education, courses on an array of finance topics. One benefit of attending a course in person is that you're able to ask questions specific to your situation. Whether you're trying to improve your credit score, learn how to qualify for a mortgage or new car loan, or decide where to invest your money for the greatest return, you'll learn helpful tools from a skilled instructor.

Even if your financial reality is far from ideal, the fact that you're researching ways to improve it is a step in the right direction. If you are in a great place financially, you can grow your nest egg significantly by pursuing reliable financial guidance. When you make your money work for you, you may not have to work so hard.

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