The saying “you get what you pay for” doesn’t always apply. When it comes to financial advice, you can find a wealth of valuable information for free or at a low cost. Here’s how to find financial advice at every budget.
Free financial advice
1. Your bank or credit union
If you have an account with a financial institution like a bank or credit union, chances are it has free tools for customers. Make sure you’re taking advantage of the features if you’re looking for free financial guidance. One note: The amount of financial advice offered varies widely, so if this aspect is important, prioritize it when shopping for new accounts.
2. Your employer or 401(k) provider
Have a workplace retirement plan? Make sure you’re taking advantage of all additional perks offered through it — including free financial advice. And don’t forget to check in with your employer, too. Seven in 10 companies are creating or enacting financial well-being programs, according to a 2022 survey by Alight Solutions covering 110 employers and more than 4 million workers . The survey also found that over 50% of employers are now offering budgeting, debt management and financial planning tools to employees.
3. Your online broker
Similar to banks, many brokerages have educational resources to help you learn how to invest. Some providers even offer resources like investing curriculum on their websites, with everything from videos to quizzes and learning labs.
4. Pro-bono financial planning services
The Foundation for Financial Planning offers pro bono financial planning services for people who are financially vulnerable, including wounded veterans, domestic violence survivors and cancer patients. Other organizations that may offer free or discounted financial advice include Advisors Give Back, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Financial Planning Association and the Financial Counseling Association of America.
5. Financial advisor consultations
Some in-person investment advisors offer a free consultation for prospective clients. Of course, you won’t get all your financial questions addressed in one meeting. The consultation generally focuses on your goals and what it would be like to work together. Make the most of that first consultation by arriving prepared with questions to assess whether the advisor can address your current and future financial goals. (Here are 10 questions to ask a financial advisor if you need inspiration.) Remember that you are under no obligation to begin working with the advisor after the meeting.
» Think you may want to work with an advisor in the future? Learn how to choose a financial advisor.
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Cheap financial advice
Of course, free financial advice won’t always cover your needs. Depending on the complexity of your situation, working with a financial advisor or another low-cost service might be the right call.
1. Online advice services
If you need help getting started with investing, a robo-advisor may be a good solution. These online automated services use computer algorithms to manage your investments. While the service typically comes at a cost, fees can be as low as 0.25% of your account balance and are generally deducted directly from your investment account. There are even a few free financial advisors, like SoFi Automated Investing.
There are also several online financial planning services that offer complete, holistic financial planning in addition to investment management. These companies typically charge either a flat fee or a percentage of your account balance, and the cost includes managing your portfolio and access to financial advisors who can help you create a plan to reach your financial goals.
An online financial planning service will generally be more expensive than a robo-advisor, but considerably less expensive than working with a traditional in-person financial advisor. If you’re sold on working with an in-person advisor, a financial coach may be a cheaper option, though they may not be able to give you specific investment advice.
2. Free or cheap financial apps
If you’re looking for budgeting advice online, there are a variety of apps that will do the job right from your phone. Here are a few of the financial services apps can offer:
Help you create and stick to a budget by providing a snapshot of where your money is going.
Find ways to cut back on expenses.
View and understand your credit score.
Keep an eye on your investment accounts.
Suggest better accounts and credit cards to help you get a higher interest rate or earn more benefits.