Q & A with Financial Planning Expert Roger Wohlner Beginning Financial Building Blocks
Beginning a Career
Q: I’m just starting out in my career. I put money monthly into a 401(k), but what else should I be doing?
Roger Wohlner: Funding your 401(k) is a great start. You should also look to build up an emergency fund so that you won’t need to tap into your 401(k) or other investments down the road for those major expenses that tend to pop up when you least expect them.
Choosing the Right Advisor
Q: How do I know if an investment advisor is a good choice?
RW: Hopefully, you will not find my answer too biased. I am a fee-only advisor, and I feel this should be the choice of most people seeking the help of an advisor. Fee-only advisors are not paid based upon the sale of investment products but rather for the advice they render.
Helping Retirement-age Parents Make Savings Decisions
Q: I’m concerned about my parents’ retirement fund. They’re close to retirement, but I don’t think they have enough saved. I don’t want to be on the hook for them. I love them, but how can I help them out with so little time left to save?
RW: Good question, and one that is all too common today. The first thing to do is to sit down with them or have them sit down with a financial planner who can take an objective look at their situation. You and they might not like the answer, but at least you will have a realistic view of their situation, and you can use this as a basis to take action.
Handling Finances as a Newlywed
Q: I’m a newlywed. Should I be combining everything with my husband or keeping things separate?
RW: This is a great question. Arguments can be made both ways. Whether you combine accounts or not, you should think jointly in terms of your financial goals and where you are heading as a couple, financially. The worst thing you can do is to not be aware of what your spouse is doing financially and vice versa.
Saving for Future Children
Q: We’re in our 20s. We’re both employed, but I know I’ll be home taking care of kids one day. How much do we have to save in gross terms? Or how much should we save?
RW: Assuming that college is a goal, let’s say a lot. Currently, Northwestern University is about $55,000 per year, and Illinois State is in the mid $20,000s. I assume a 7.5 percent inflation rate in college planning. That said, save what you can (for both college and retirement) within your budget. Try to increase these amounts each year if you can.
Roger Wohlner, CFP® is a fee-only financial advisor at Asset Strategy Consultants. Roger provides advice to individual clients, retirement plan sponsors and participants, foundations, and endowments.