I’m a big believer in doing things yourself. I think there’s a lot to be learned from getting hands-on with things, especially with your finances. Reading about debt payoff strategies, pursuing financial education at events, and talking more about money with friends and family are great ways to learn and normalize money in your life. But sometimes, the DIY method isn’t enough.
For example, I am not a tax pro. In fact, I hate taxes. They stress me out, and I don’t understand the ins and outs of deductions. The older I’ve gotten, the more complicated my taxes have gotten. So when it comes to tax season, I not only higher an accountant to handle the paperwork, but I sit down with them to ask them my questions.
I’ll never be a tax pro, and I will probably always outsource my taxes. It’s worth the money to me! Still, sitting down with a professional and talking through my unique situation is also valuable. It helps me understand our tax system, where my money is going and why, and what I can do to be less stressed out about taxes.
Speaking with a professional is a powerful act. It’s something we advocate a lot for around here. But it can still be intimidating- what do you even ask when you’re in front of the professionals?
They’re the experts, and it can feel embarrassing to come to them with what feels like basic questions to you. Or you could feel totally overwhelmed by money and not even know where to start. That’s why we’ve put together a list of five questions to get the ball rolling on what to ask the finance professionals.
1) What accounts should I have, and how much should I have in them?
Bank accounts can vary wildly from person to person. I have over 10 different accounts! A recent college grad will have very different needs than a recently married woman. Asking finance professionals to analyze your current situation and your short term money goals will help you figure out what kind of accounts you need to have.
Depending on your goals (short, medium and long-term), a professional will also be able to tell you how much you should have in each account. Your financial picture is personal, so there’s no one size fits all number.
2) Am I on track to achieve my goals?
We might think we’re on track to achieve goals but have small habits that are inhibiting our progress. Getting the opinion of a neutral professional on your big picture finances is a fantastic way to see if you are really on the right course.
Someone on the outside has no emotional investment in your goals. They can be impartial in their review. Plus, they can give you advice on how to achieve your goals faster.
3) Am I taking all the tax deductions I can?
Our tax system is an intimidating beast. It’s got regulations on regulations, and it’s not for the faint of heart. Asking an accountant if you’re getting all the right deductions is an easy way to make sure you’re not missing out on a chance to save money. The professionals know every deduction there is, and the latest updates to tax law around them. I know that’s not the case for me!
4) How do I save for my future?
Whether it’s retirement, a down payment on a home, or paying off student loan debt, you are responsible for taking care of your financial future. Saving is a big part of that, but it’s not always easy. Retirement accounts involve investing, which is hard to understand at first.
There are a lot of options, and it’s important to find the right fit for you. A professional will take a look at your current financial situation and help you address what you want to tackle now, and what you want to save for in the future. It can be a relief to have help figuring out your life 10 years down the road.
5) What don’t I know?
Finally, asking a professional about areas that you should be better versed in is a fantastic idea. They can point you in the direction you need to go, as well as offer resources. Finance professionals are simply doing their jobs when they help you get better with money.
Finance professionals are just that- professional. They have tools, information, and networks that will help you get better with money. And that is our ultimate goal.