Q&A: Finding fee-only financial planners

Dear Liz: Every so often your column mentions an organization that lists financial planners that are fee-only. I cannot find this information on your site. Please keep mentioning this in your column.

Answer: You can get referrals to fee-only planners who charge by the hour at www.garrettplanningnetwork.com. If you’re looking for fee-only planners who charge a retainer or a percentage of assets, you’ll find those at

Friday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: Senior checking accounts. Also in the news: The best Earth Day sales and freebies, five reasons why a nearly perfect credit score isn’t enough, and how to file taxes for a deceased love one.

What Is a Senior Checking Account?
The pros and cons.

Best Earth Day Sales, Deals and Freebies
Thank the planet for the discounts.

5 reasons why a nearly perfect credit score’s not enough
The rules are complicated.

How to File Final Taxes for a Deceased Loved One
Death, taxes, and after-death taxes.

Thursday’s need-to-know money news

file_161555_0_tax refundToday’s top story: Using your tax refund to secure your future. Also in the news: Frequent overdrafters lose hundreds in fees, what to do before age 40 to retire comfortably, and how viewing your budget as a circle instead of a list can provide more flexibility.

5 Ways to Use Your Tax Refund to Secure Your Future
Protecting what you have, while still having a little fun.

Heaviest Overdrafters Pay a Week’s Wages in Fees, Study Finds
Creating a vicious circle.

10 Things to Do Before Age 40 to Retire Comfortably
Tick tock.

View Your Budget as a Circle Instead of a List to Be More Flexible
Giving yourself a little breathing room.

Wednesday’s need-to-know money news

PayRentPiggyBank.157131716_stdToday’s top story: How paying rent can affect your credit. Also in the news: How to protect yourself from cybercrime while banking with your phone, why you shouldn’t consider something “yours” until it’s completely paid off, and financial strategies for creative types without steady incomes.

How Paying Rent Can Affect Your Credit
Rent-reporting services can boost your credit.

4 ways to dodge cybercrime when banking, shopping on mobile phones
Convenience can come with a hefty price.

Avoid Saying You “Own” Something Until It’s Paid Off
It isn’t yours until the last payment is made.

The #1 Reason Artists Struggle With Money, and 3 Simple Strategies to Turn Things Around
Advice for creative types.

10 Ways to Trick Yourself Into Saving

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailSaving money isn’t that hard. What’s hard is keeping money saved.

It’s too easy to cut expenses in one area only to spend more somewhere else. Sticking cash into savings won’t help if it comes right back out again.

In my latest for NerdWallet, how to trick yourself into savings that actually last.

Tuesday’s need-to-know money news

Student-LoansToday’s top story: Avoiding financial pitfalls in your 20’s. Also in the news: The hidden costs of selling your home, what to do when you haven’t saved for your kid’s college tuition, and the clock is ticking on a popular Social Security strategy.

How to Avoid 5 Financial Pitfalls in Your 20s
Welcome to the real world!

4 Hidden Costs of Selling Your Home
Prepare yourself for fees.

You Didn’t Put Money Away for Your Kid’s College Fund. Now What?
Time to start playing catchup.

Time is running out for this Social Security strategy
The clock’s running out on file-and-suspend.

Monday’s need-to-know money news

Zemanta Related Posts ThumbnailToday’s top story: How small choices can have a big impact on your finances. Also in the news: 9 things that can trigger an IRS audit, how to organize your financial documents, and 10 tax breaks for homeowners.

Small Choices Have a Big Impact on Your Finances
Why some become rich and others stay broke.

9 Things That Could Trigger an IRS Audit
How to avoid a second look.

How to Organize Your Financial Documents
Tackling that huge pile of paper on your desk.

10 homeowner tax breaks you should be taking advantage of
Don’t leave money on the table.

Q&A: Fixing a wounded credit score

Dear Liz: My wife and I co-signed on our daughter’s mortgage, then the home went into foreclosure. My wife and I have no debt and a net worth that exceeds $1 million. We purchased our cars with cash and the single credit card we have with a $35,000 limit is paid off in full each month. Since the foreclosure, our FICO score has been in the “fair” range. We have no plans to take out a loan for anything and plan to continue our “cash and carry” lifestyle. However, the low FICO is a little disconcerting. It appears the only cure is time (measured in years). We welcome any additional guidance.

Answer: You can’t fix your wounded FICO scores overnight, but you could speed up your credit score rehabilitation by adding one or two more credit accounts to your mix. At least one of those accounts should be an installment loan, since scoring formulas want evidence you can handle different types of credit. If you don’t want an auto or personal loan, then consider a “credit builder” loan that puts your payments into a certificate of deposit that you claim when all the payments have been made. Credit builder loans are offered by credit unions and some online lenders.

Is it worth the effort, even though you don’t plan to borrow? In most states (although not California), credit scores heavily influence what you pay for auto and homeowners’ insurance. People who don’t have the best scores can pay hundreds of dollars more each year for coverage. Credit scores also may be used to determine deposits for utilities and wireless service. If you need to rent an apartment, your credit scores matter as well.

If none of those are a concern, you can continue to take the slow road to rebuilding your credit, since the foreclosure will fall off your credit reports after seven years. If you want to speed things along, though, another credit account or two should help.

Q&A: Options for paying a big IRS bill

Dear Liz: I sold one mutual fund to invest in another fund with the same company. The tax statement shows this as a capital gain so large that I cannot afford to pay it all in one payment to the IRS. This is a disaster. Is there anything I can do?

Answer: Absolutely. File your tax return on time, since the failure-to-file penalty is much higher than the failure-to-pay penalty. Pay as much as you can when you file the return, and then consider your options.

If you can come up with the remainder within 120 days, then do so. There’s no need to arrange a formal payment plan, but you will owe interest and penalties on the balance until it’s repaid.

If you can’t pay within 120 days, you can ask for an installment agreement. You’ll find an application in most tax software or you can find Form 9465 on the Internal Revenue Service website. You also can try calling the IRS at (800) 829-1040, but prepare for a long time listening to hold music. Budget cuts have left the agency severely short-handed and wait times are considerable.

You also should consider borrowing the money from another source, such as a low-cost personal loan. Another option is to charge what you owe to a low-rate credit card. You’ll pay a small fee for the privilege, but ultimately it may be cheaper than paying interest and penalties to the IRS.

Q&A: How much does a fee-only financial planner cost?

Dear Liz: You frequently suggest consulting a fee-only financial planner, such as those who are members of the Garrett Planning Network, which seems like great advice. Can you provide any guidance on how much one should expect to pay for the services of this type of planner? We are a couple living in Los Angeles looking for a pre-retirement evaluation. That would probably include evaluation of existing investments, insurance needs, Social Security, long-term care, etc. How should we evaluate a quote of $3,000 for a full review estimated at 10 hours or $300 an hour?

Answer: The cost for a comprehensive financial plan varies depending on where you live and the planner’s experience level, among other factors. Nationally, the range is typically from $150 to $300 an hour, so $3,000 for 10 hours in Los Angeles is at the high (but not unreasonable) end of the scale, assuming the planner has several years’ experience.

Another way to get a feel for going rates is by interviewing a couple of other fee-only planners in your area. If the cost you’re quoted is dramatically lower, though, make sure the planner isn’t accepting commissions as well. Some planners are “fee based,” which means they accept both fees from clients and commissions on the products they recommend. You can ask for the planner’s Form ADV, a form filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Part II of this form contains information about how the planner is compensated.