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Practical Tips For Navigating Benefits and Financial Planning

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A lot of employers from credit unions to the federal government place a tremendous amount of pressure on their employees to make tough financial decisions on their own. This holds true for small business owners who may be fantastic restaurateurs, barber and beauty shop operators, construction, plumbers, tattoo artists, and independent contractors in their specific fields, yet lack the financial training and experience to make high quality personal financial decisions regarding benefits and retirement plans. These individuals are provided a wealth of information through online resources, HR specialists or benefits counselors. This information can be overwhelming in its volume and complexity, as well, the employees who are in a position to help, are simply not equipped with the tools or knowledge to know a person’s entire financial picture, and how their benefits decisions may be impacted by the bigger plan. These specialists and counselors do their job; however, they are not fiduciary financial advisors and are not bound to provide the best possible financial advice for the employees’ situation. As for small business owners, they are tasked with running and growing their businesses and have little time to conduct hours of research into retirement, savings, and other benefits plans.

TIP #1: Automate your savings

Employees and business owners must take into account a great number of factors including, retirement savings, 401k, TSP and other benefits plans, IRA’s, home ownership: which is an investment that should be considered in any financial plan, real estate investments, college savings, expenses, credit cards, medical bills, children’s hobby’s etc. Each individual is unique in their circumstances and require unique research and perspective regarding planning for the future.

Tip #2: Know Where Every Dollar Comes from and Where it is Going

Over the last 20 years, I have spent a considerable amount of time in the Coast Guard, on the government employee side, trying to figure out how to navigate all of my options, as a student with limited resources, but understanding that a plan must be in place nonetheless, as a small business owner pouring over websites to come up with the best plan for my family, and now as a financial planner. So, I have seen where the pitfalls are and have come to the conclusion that finding a fiduciary fee-only advisor who only has the client’s best interest in mind and understands their entire financial picture is the ideal solution for navigating these decisions. 

Tip #3: Automate Investing

Though the information is out there, it can be time consuming and tough to navigate. One problem that I have encountered is the vast amount of terrible advice that can be found by engaging with an HR coordinator, or through research on the internet. There is a plethora of bad and contradictory information being delivered to consumers. With financial literacy not being taught in schools and credit card companies signing up college students for their first cards, or new military members receiving large auto-loans, it is no wonder that American consumer debt is so high and consumer retirement savings so low.  

TIP #4: Get Advice and Ask Questions

The conclusion is, find a fee-only fiduciary advisor to work with and provide them with your entire picture, goals and plan. You are not looking for products to purchase, you are looking for a guide and advocate. Ask a lot of questions. The best thing that an individual can do for their future is broaden their awareness of their financial picture, where the money is coming from and where it is going. A financial professional will be able to use their time and expertise to make recommendations, educate and build-out plans that are uniquely suited to your specific needs and ensure that you are on the right path to financial success, whatever that looks like for you personally.  

Tip #5: Be Frugal

About the Author: Joshua Paulus is the Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Cobalt Wealth Management, llc. The company specializes in comprehensive financial planning, and investment advice for individuals and small business owners. More information can be found at: www.cobaltwm.com and on social:

This content is developed from sources believed to be providing accurate information and provided by Cobalt Wealth Management. It may not be used for the purpose of avoiding any federal tax penalties. Please consult legal or tax professionals for specific information regarding your individual situation. The opinions expressed and material provided are for general information and should not be considered a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security.


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