Ready to start saving 10% of your income? Need a Certified Financial Planner(“CFP”)?

By Ryan J. Really  Attorney -Teacher- Veteran  

There is so much to discuss about Certified Financial Planners (“CFP”) that cannot be covered in one article. Here is some background to help get you started in the “systematic savings” game. You can always switch CFPs later. Congratulations for separating yourself from the masses and taking action. The Bottom Line Up Front (BLUF) is that CFPs are well-paid professionals that can educate you and help you plan and build savings, retirement and financial security. 

As you approach/make an appointment with Certified Financial Planners understand that they work to give good financial advice and then steer you towards their “products” which they earn a (monthly) commission in most cases. Some products have a 6.5% fee/commission so if you buy/invest $100.00 in a mutual fund with a 6.5% “load” you only get $94.50 worth of mutual fund, each and every month. Just an example of one of many fees and how they EAT into your investment. There are also other ways they can earn their fee aka “fee based,” “fee only” business models, etc.  Understand their professional advice in helping you make the right personal decisions and financial products/savings account is supposed to net you more money than acting alone without their expertise. In theory as your money grows, it more than covers the costs of the CFP and his advice, and then some!  

As you take this traditional get rich slow journey and experience the time-value of money, one suggestion is to subscribe to a financial magazine like Kiplinger’s so you learn the language of “wealth management” and “personal finance”.  Not so you can do it yourself, but when you are at the table with your CFP (and money coach) twice a year adjusting or “reallocating ” your portfolio you can ask intelligent questions and make decisions.  As you peruse and actually read one or two articles each issue, the exposure to these topics will slowly help you learn this language. 

Sarcasm Tip: It was once said that CFPs today are the insurance salesmen of the 70’s and 80s. 

CFPs do sell insurance products like annuities and whole life policies. Generally, these are not for the new investors or most investors for that matter as there are other options available.  CFPs (and insurance agencies) can make a lot of money selling them so usually a “not now” should take that conversation off the table. 

Keep in mind most CFP’s don’t work your money in their accounts as they are affiliated with solid financial entities on Wall Street you may have heard of:

-Charles Schwab

-Edward Jones


-Merrill Lynch 

-Bernie Madoff aka Bernard L. Madoff Investment Securities —-BAD!  Do your research and watch out for scams and get rich quick schemes!

-Good and Bad, the list goes on.

For some folks who have a local bank or credit union and a “banker” that they like who is willing to spend the time, I suggest they start there as they offer limited financial service products that can get you started and/or refer you to a CFP. 

Personal finance radio host Dave Ramsey has his list of CFP providers at 

There are also discount investment firms out there and the new web based financial companies like Robin Hood (better Google these Merry Men…) and the like.

Do your research, ask co-workers, professionals, friends and family for a referral, and make sure you and your spouse feel good about who is handling your money. There is some risk in your selection of a CFP and the “products” they sell but most are honest and professional members of your community who can help formulate a “win-win” that leads you to a more prosperous future.   

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