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Five signs it is time to find a financial planner

Deborah Levenson is vice president of financial planning at Braver Wealth Management LLC. She will be hosting a live Boston.com chat on Tuesday, Jan. 29 at noon.
January is a great time of year to put your financial life in order. It is often a busy time for financial planners, as many consumers reach out for help in getting organized and planning for the future. Here are five signs that you may need to seek professional help with your financial life:

1. You are counting the days until you can retire.
Can you really afford to retire and then live for another 30-40 years? Often it is difficult to know whether you are truly “safe” or just feeling optimistic.

A financial planner can help clarify where you stand by running realistic long-term financial projections. This will help you to clearly see whether you are on track to live the type of retirement lifestyle you are seeking or not. A planner can evaluate the impact of your working longer, if necessary, and can identify specific steps you can take between now and your target retirement date to improve your odds of retiring safely and securely.

2. Your life is changing.
If you recently were married or divorced, lost a loved one or brought a child into the world, then now is the time to pay attention to your finances. Decisions around buying life insurance to protect a new child, creating a post-divorce budget, or determining how to invest a recent inheritance are all areas where a good planner can provide real clarity and helpful next steps.

3. You can’t sleep at night due to worry about your investments.
The financial meltdown in 2008 left many investors unsettled. Even though the markets have come back strongly since then, many individuals have remained on the sidelines in cash. Working with a planner to understand your true risk tolerance and to design a prudent plan for getting back on track with your investing can help you reach your long-term goals.

4. You risk divorce if you can’t get on the same page as your spouse.
Couples often have trouble seeing eye to eye on decisions around spending versus saving -- experiencing short-term pleasure (i.e. an exotic vacation) or delaying gratification for long-term rewards (i.e. living more simply now to facilitate a more comfortable retirement). Finding a diplomatic planner who can listen to you both and then facilitate your collaboration around current and future financial decisions can definitely improve the quality of your relationship and home life.

5. You are taking financial advice from your hairstylist.
Watch out for hot tips and “can’t lose” investment propositions. Investing always involves some level of risk and different people should approach investing from different perspectives. Be careful about acting on any financial advice offered by someone who does not know your full picture. They probably mean well, but do they really understand your tax situation, your current cash flow needs and your long-term goals?

Working with a financial planner allows you to build a smart long-term saving, spending and investment plan that is customized to your specific situation and can be modified over time as your life circumstances change.

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