You don't need to hire a financial planner—or have a lot of money—to have a financial plan.
Those who set goals and have a clear plan for their financial future spend their money more effectively and save more than those who don't, and they are more confident in their abilities.
Many people try to get there, but they often aren't very thorough and they may not devote much time to the effort. "They tend to look at their finances around tax time" and do a quick assessment then, says Stephen Brobeck, executive director of the Consumer Federation of America, a consumer-advocacy group.
In a survey released last month from the federation and the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, which awards the CFP[® certification], about 57% of participants said they do a lot or a fair bit of financial planning, from working out a budget to preparing for retirement. Only 10% said they didn't plan at all.
For many people, more planning could do more than get their financial lives in order. It could help them weather ups and downs—and maybe sleep better, too.
If you are just starting out, or if money and finances feel foreign to you, developing a financial plan can be daunting, in part because it is hard to know where to start. Feeling an urgent need to, say, start investing, many people "go right to taking action without looking at the steps along the way," says [CFP Board Ambassador] Rita Cheng, [CFP®,] a financial planner at Ameriprise Financial AMP -0.54% in Bethesda, Md. "It can be overwhelming."
Of course, a financial planner can help, especially if you can find one who will prepare a plan for you without selling you products or insisting on managing your money. You also can do a plan yourself, tackling the process one question at a time. Read more >
The Wall Street Journal
October 4, 2013