Is your money doing enough for you right now? Could you be growing your money in different ways, with different choices? It’s tough to tell – especially if you aren’t well-versed in all things finance. While many people keep their hard-earned money in a basic checking or savings account, that isn’t always the right move. Sometimes, investing in stocks, buying assets, and even choosing a different savings account is a better financial choice.
However, financial advice doesn’t come cheap. Speaking with a financial advisor typically costs between $100 and $300 per hour, or comes at a flat fee of $1,000 to $3,000. But there is another way to get expert advice on a budget.
If you’re in need of financial advice but can’t spend much, there are other options. There are a few ways you can get financial advice for cheap – or even for free. Try these five ways to find out more about your finances without spending hundreds or thousands of dollars.
1. Use Your Financial Institutions’ Free Tools
Here’s a little-known secret about common financial institutions: they offer free financial advice. In fact, some even offer entire suites of education tools, budgeting help, investment recommendations, and financial planning tools.
Financial institutions want customers to put more of their money into their products. After all, if they’re able to help you invest or save your money with them, they’ll make a profit. That’s why many different financial institutions offer their customers advising tools and features.
Don’t let these free financial advice opportunities go to waste. You could learn about all kinds of different options, find new ways to grow your money, or even get help budgeting for different goals.
Here are a few places you can look for free customer tools offering financial advice:
Your Bank or Credit Union
Each bank or credit union offers something different, but you may find that your bank offers free financial advice or education tools. For example, Ally Bank offers financial advice, investing tips, and more via articles, and customers can take advantage of unique tools like savings goals, boosters, and personalized recommendations. Simple offers a built-in budgeting tool for customers, along with goal setting, spending tracking, and personalized analytics.
Your 401(k) Provider or Workplace Retirement Plan
Financial institutions that offer retirement savings accounts also tend to offer financial advice and tools geared towards these specific financial needs. For example, Vanguard offers retirement planning tools for customers who invest their retirement savings. Charles Schwab offers workshops on investing, retirement planning, and more, along with calculators and other advice-driven tools.
If you’re saving for retirement through your employer’s retirement plan, you may also be able to take advantage of special financial advice at work. According to NerdWallet, two-thirds of companies that offer a contribution plan also offer tools that are designed to help employees prepare their money for retirement. These can include advice on investing, financial well-being programs, and even budgeting suggestions.
Your Online Investment Broker
Have you already invested your money with a certain brokerage? You may be able to get free financial advice and educational resources through your brokerage. Many online investment brokerages offer tools like online courses, videos and lectures, and even helpful predictions or calculators to help you assess risk and potential growth.
2. Try a Community-Based Financial Services Program
Beyond traditional financial institutions, there are other finance-based organizations that offer financial advice. You just need to look within your local community to find them.
Community-based programs are available throughout the U.S. for those in need of different kinds of financial advice. These programs can offer advice in specific areas of finance, like budgeting, saving for real estate purchases, or starting a business. Some programs may offer targeted advice for certain groups, such as low-income individuals or the LGBT community.
Here are a few examples of these types of community-based programs:
- The San Francisco LGBT Center, which offers free budgeting and home buying classes.
- EARN, which helps advise low-income residents on financial goals.
- NFCC, which offers financial advice and counseling for those dealing with debt.
- VITA, which helps with tax-related financial issues.
In most cases, community-based financial services programs offer free advice. They are typically pro bono – but this means that you may need to meet certain qualifications, circumstances, or requirements in order to take advantage of their financial advising services. Check with programs in your area to see what’s available for you.
3. Work With a Robo-Advisor
If you aren’t opposed to spending a little to get sound financial advice, you can turn to a new type of advisor: a robo-advisor. Robo-advisors are online advisors that can assess your financial situation, manage your portfolio, and offer guidance for new investments to help you meet your goals.
Of course, robo-advisors aren’t people. They’re software that offers personalized advice based on an algorithm. While this might seem a little uncertain, it’s a great way to get advice that’s based on your unique financial situation and your goals. In addition to managing and overseeing your investments, a robo-advisor can balance your portfolio, keep an eye on losses and sell off stocks, and even help with retirement planning.
The cost for a robo-advisor is also minimal. These types of online advisors usually charge a fee in the form of a percentage of your managed investments. Look into your online investments, and see what it would cost to have a robo-advisor manage your money and offer regular financial advice based on performance.
4. Read Books and Listen to Podcasts
It’s no secret that the best financial advice comes from experts who have a wealth of knowledge. Fortunately, plenty of financial advisors and experts share their years of knowledge and experience in writing and interviews. Some write their own books, helping others understand important financial concepts or avoid potential pitfalls. Others will do interviews on podcasts – or even host their own podcasts – and offer regular financial advice to listeners with questions.
For example, podcasts like “Stacking Benjamins”, “BiggerPockets”, “Radical Personal Finance”, and “Millennial Money” offer a wealth of financial advice. Each episode of podcasts like these delves into topics like general finance, real estate investing, in-depth personal finance, and everyday money advice. And they’re all hosted by financial experts.
There are also many financial books you can read to get more in-depth information about different financial topics. Options like the following can bring professionals’ expert advice right into your home:
- Personal Finance for Dummies by Eric Tyson
- The Index Card: Why Personal Finance Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated by Helaine Olen and Harold Pollack
- The Behavior Gap: Simple Ways to Stop Doing Dumb Things With Money by Carl Richards
- The Little Book of Common Sense Investing by John C. Bogle
There’s truly a book for every financial question. Whether you’re new to investing, want to plan for retirement, or need guidance on budgeting and reducing spending, there’s a book on the subject.
If you’re turning to podcasts and books for financial advice, just make sure you’re getting your information from experts. You can vet the writers or podcasters online by searching their names to learn more about their financial credentials and expertise.
5. Search for Free Advice Online
There’s one surefire way to find free financial advice: searching the internet’s vast resources.
Online, you’ll find a wealth of websites and information dedicated to all kinds of financial questions. From blogs to forums to internet groups to social media pages, many knowledgeable financial advisors are now offering their advice for free to people online. And that means you can search for answers to your questions, guidance about financial moves, and even general advice that suits saving or investing.
You just need to start searching if you want to find all of this financial information. If you want expert advice, you can look to financial institutions’ websites or finance-based sites that offer in-depth content. You can look for virtual magazines or news outlets.
You can even search for social media groups if you’d like some support along with your advice. Facebook groups like Your Money and Your Life or Dave Ramsey Budgeting can help you put the information you learn into practice.
Ultimately, if you search online for financial advice, you’ll find plenty of information. You can start your journey towards better financial management online, and you can incorporate other advice and methods of advising along the way. And it won’t cost you much at all.