The 4 Most Useful Pieces of Money Advice No One Ever Wants to Hear, According to a Financial Planner
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Nobody likes being told what to do, especially when it's not something you want to hear. Financial planners deal with this reality all too often. Their job consists of advising their clients about things that may seem tedious or bleak but could save their client's tail, or at the very least cushion them from future bumps.
Financial planner Adam K. Wright of Wright Associates Investment Advisers can easily recite the common remarks he gets from clients when he gives them money advice.
"Engaging in difficult conversations is part of our job. And I say that because one of the reasons we exist is because [it's like] having a partner; that's ultimately what a financial planner does here is they partner with their clients to help them improve their lives and just create better outcomes. And one of them is to say things that you wouldn't say to your friends, but it gives you a professional relationship," Wright said.
Wright shared the top four things he tells his clients that he knows they don't want to hear.
1. 'You need a budget,' or 'You can't afford that'
Having money means having financial freedom. Having a budget, or limiting your spending, feels like the opposite of freedom. But it's a necessary part of wealth building because it's the first step to keeping you on track to meet your financial goals.
"No one likes to track expenses or feel constrained. Most of the time they see friends buying new cars or new houses or new gadgets and want that, too. Yet, critically, a foundational element to financial planning, and converting income into wealth, is knowing where your money goes," Wright told Insider.
If having a budget feels like a restriction, Wright recommended changing the approach. Instead of limiting your spending, save 20% of your income and consider it paying yourself first.
2. 'You need life insurance'
What's another monthly bill you can't enjoy? Life insurance. But if you're married, have kids, or have any dependents, you'll need life insurance.
"Most don't trust the idea of insurance and view it as something that is sold and not bought. Yet insurance is a critical planning element and something a surviving spouse with kids will wish they received should you meet an untimely death. And, yes, even stay-at-home parents need life insurance. After all, childcare is wicked expensive," Wright told Insider.
Making this small decision can potentially save your loved ones from being stuck with expenses they can't afford. Term life insurance, which is far less expensive that permanent life insurance, can cover your family in the event of your sudden death. Permanent life insurance, on the other hand, can be a useful wealth-building tool.
3. 'You need a job you're good at, not just something you love'
Sometimes the jobs that we want aren't always the ones that will pay or the ones we're good at. It's something to consider when pondering your career choices or job opportunities, said Wright. It's not to say you can't pursue your dreams, but focus on a steady income first.
"The world pays for talent. And while being an engineer that sits at a desk 10 hours a day may seem dull, it's what you'll make the most doing. With those earnings, you can then save and invest to gain choices as you accumulate wealth. I say that if you focus on what will get you paid and you use those payments to build yourself financial freedom, you can eventually spend more time doing what you want. Career trajectory has major money implications and it's best to get good at things people will pay you for," Wright said.
Having your dream job or doing what you love is still possible. If you have a steady income, you can pursue your goal by building a side hustle. If along the way you can scale your side business, then you can turn your hobby into a full-time gig. If it's a particular job you want, you can allocate your extra time towards learning the skills you need to qualify for the job.
4. 'You need to diversify your portfolio'
Having a diversified portfolio essentially means not putting all your eggs in one basket. Instead of investing all your extra cash in a single company or two, put it into a broad-based exchange-traded fund or index fund; that way you have exposure to the whole market and are more insulated from dramatic ups and downs.
"We all want our portfolios to be humming along, producing great returns all the time. No one wants to own a poor recent performer. Yet, this is a dangerous desire, since if it were true, it would probably also mean you're ripe for a big drop," Wright said. "Good investing is making sure some of your portfolio is working all the time. This is diversification done right. And it helps you survive the widest range of possible outcomes."
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