7 ways to get free financial advice

Financial advice can be a bit of a problem – you often need it when money is tight, but financial advisors usually charge fees for their services. And since money is tight, you may not be able to afford that cost.

Fortunately, there are many ways you can find cheap or even free financial advice. These are no substitutes for personalized financial advice, but they may be worth considering until you can afford advice tailored to your situation.

The best ways to get free financial advice

If you can’t afford a financial advisor yet, there are many places you can seek free or cheap financial advice first. Here are some places to look.

1. Start with your bank or credit union

Banks and credit unions sometimes provide articles to help their customers learn basic financial principles. This is a good option because you are probably already familiar with the organization and its website, app, etc. Start there if you’re not sure where to look for free financial advice.

2. Online broker

Do you have an IRA or brokerage account with an online broker? Just like banks and credit unions, these companies often have items that break down the basics of personal finance. Since they are brokers, their educational material likely covers investments as well. They might even go a step further and offer financial planning tools and calculators to help you build a financial plan.

3. App for budgeting and financial planning

Using a budgeting or financial planning tool can be a useful way to take control of your money. But many of these apps offer supplemental material to help you learn about personal finance. Such materials could come in the form of articles, videos or even workshops.

4. Consumer Financial Protection Office (CFPB)

The CFPB is a US government agency “dedicated to making sure you are treated fairly by banks, lenders and other financial institutions,” according to its website. In support of its mission, it provides a series of articles, guides and news on the topics of credit cards, debt collection, mortgages and more.

5. The Association for Financial Advisory and Planning Education (AFCPE)

AFCPE is an organization that provides financial coaching, advice and education. The organization partnered with the Yellow Ribbon Network to provide free financial advice in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Yellow Ribbon is an organization that provides various forms of assistance to military service members and veterans. However, you do not need to be associated with the military to use this free service.

6. Association for Financial Planning (FPA)

The APP offers pro bono financial planning for disadvantaged and at-risk communities. The association has 80 active offices in states across the United States. It also has a list of CFPs that provide pro bono financial planning for the disadvantaged communities most affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

7. Experienced ladies

Savvy Ladies is a network of 3,000 volunteers who provide free financial education for women. Its goal is to promote the advancement of self-reliant and financially educated women. The network provides free financial help in addition to hosting events and webinars.

When should you pay for financial advice?

Free financial advice can be a critically important resource, especially for disadvantaged communities and those in financial difficulty. However, many of these organizations rely on volunteers and may not have the resources to help under all circumstances. If you need help with more advanced financial planning, it might be worth paying someone.

If you have complex questions about estate planning or taxes, these may be beyond the scope of a typical volunteer service. The same could be said if you are starting a business and need help organizing your business finances. Generally speaking, voluntary or pro bono services are best for helping with basic daily financial planning.

Bottom line

Not everyone can afford to spend hundreds of dollars on the personalized help of a Certified Financial Planner (CFP). This is often the case with disadvantaged communities and even the middle class during economic crises. Fortunately, your bank, broker, or a group of volunteers or a government organization can provide free resources to help get you back on track.

However, in some cases it may also be beneficial to pay a financial professional. Complex tax and estate planning issues may warrant a fee and can pay off in the long run in these cases. Starting with free resources is often a good idea, but keep in mind that there may be limits to their use.

You can also take advantage of Bankrate’s free investment course for beginners where we break down the different types of investment options available and how to build a smart portfolio. Or check out this beginner budget course.

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