Why Everyone Needs A Financial Planner Part 2, What you need to gather and the juicy details of my first anxiety inducing session.  The Art of Better

Why Everyone Needs A Financial Planner Part 2

So, once you’ve decided to go ahead and find a certified financial planner [CFP]. Awesome! As promised, I am going to walk you through what I needed to get started and my first anxiety-inducing session. If you haven’t yet read Why Everyone Needs a Financial Planner Part 1, read that first and come back!

The first step after making the decision to jump in was to gather, gather, gather. Don’t underestimate the amount of time this could take. Seriously. Here are some of the documents and pieces of information I had to dig up:

  • bank account statements
  • credit card statements
  • investment account statements
  • 401k / retirement account statements
  • stock option documentation
  • estate planning documents [living trust/will/etc]
  • last year’s taxes

I use, love & highly recommend LearnVest for financial planning. This post, along with all of my other financial planner posts in this series, is in no way sponsored or by them. LearnVest offers an absolutely free online platform that helps manage all accounts and goals, both short-term and long-term. Where the fees come in is for real live certified financial planner guidance via phone and email.

This particular piece of having a real live CFP is invaluable. I have known all the theory, in-depth, behind getting and staying out of debt, building wealth, etc… but knowing something and putting it into practice are two very different things.

Let’s talk about my first session. Prior to our conversation, I sent in all the above materials to my CFP and he created a snapshot of my finances, timeline of debt payoff and a detailed plan to meet my personal & retirement goals. During our talk, we devised a monthly budget that included all bills and a little flex-spending amount. About twenty minutes into the discussion I started to get dizzy and, by the time we finished, I thought I might have a panic attack. The queasy feeling in my stomach stayed with me for days and my mind replayed a loop, over and over and over:

My anxiety screamed. I’m screwed. How on earth am I going to make this budget work? We can’t save anything at all for a house, we just can’t afford it. We can’t afford summer camp. Or good food. Or birthdays. Or ever going out to a restaurant. Or even a movie. Plus we can forget ever flying home to Pennsylvania to see our family again. I will never again be able to get my nails done. How are we going to afford school clothing? It’s going to take years until we have an actual emergency fund that will offer any meaningful cushion. On and on and on and on. . .

See- even though I knew what I should have been saving, spending, investing and so on, I kept myself intentionally out of the reality of my finances by not really delving into them. I operated with a fuzzy idea of where I was so I didn’t have to deal with it. It took a certified financial planner to, oh so gently, kick me in the ass and make me deal with what my future would look like unless I put some work into it. After a few days, that finally sunk in.

Stay tuned to read Why Everyone Needs a Financial Planner Part 3, where I discuss the pains joys of budgeting so my financial planner didn’t reach through the phone and strangle me.

What about you? Have you ever gone into a money freakout? What prompted it? What did you learn from it?