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If you know a lot about money, you probably also know when you need help. Just like being a good podiatrist doesn't qualify someone to do their own tonsillectomy, knowing a lot about personal money management doesn't necessarily mean that you are also an expert at managing things like retirement accounts.

Money is a very large subject, and it is unrealistic to think that everyone knows everything there is to know about money management, credit use, and investing. Most people, no matter how much they know about money, likely will need financial help sometime in their lives. Managing your finances can be like putting together a puzzle; all the pieces need to fit in order to be rewarded with the “big picture.” If your financial picture is less than clear, make a resolution to assemble a financial team; working with one or more of these financial professionals can help put the pieces in place.

  • Tax advisor. Tax advisors provide tax advice and assistance to consumers. Tax advisors can help you to navigate tax laws, prepare complete and accurate returns, and develop a strategic tax plan. While consumers can file their own taxes, many consumers benefit from hiring a tax professional.
  • Budget and debt counselor. Budget and debt counselors help consumers develop a plan to tackle debt. They can also help you create a spending plan. Budget and debt counselors advocate smart consumerism and believe strongly in the value of saving. Consider contacting a budget and debt counselor at the first sign that your debts are becoming unmanageable.
  • Financial planner. Financial planners are professionals who offer investment advice. A financial planner may also be able to help by analyzing employee benefits, discovering insurance needs, and developing a system to manage cash flow.
  • Lawyer. Lawyers can help consumers by preparing important legal documents such as a will, living trust, and durable power of attorney. An attorney can also be very helpful if you need to consider bankruptcy. Couples facing a complicated divorce can also benefit from an attorney’s advice. Lawyers can also assist consumers when a violation of the law has occurred. For example, if you feel that a creditor has violated the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, a lawyer may be able to help.

Before working with any financial professional, be sure to check their credentials. Ask specific questions about their history and areas of expertise. Finally, be sure that you are comfortable with the advisors you choose; ideally, you will be financial partners for life.