Norwegian Forest Cat asks:
I’m a late-stage Ph.D. student, and as a result of a lack of funds I haven’t been saving/investing at all beyond a small cushion in a plain old savings account during my early adulthood. I am about to hit the job market though, and I really want to get myself on track financially in the near future so I have my ducks in a row when I need to find health insurance, pay off loans, start investing/saving for retirement, prepare for the eventual death of my car, etc. My SO is a finance nut (as a hobby, not a job), so he has his own suggestions (which are USAA and Vanguard-heavy based on his own experience), but I think a visit to a financial planner would be a really wise one, especially when I have some indication of how said future job will compensate me. But, there are a million certified financial planners out there–how do you get started? And do I need to meet with one in the first place? I’m pretty overwhelmed with options and acronyms but am eager to learn and be involved with it, so just handing over the money to my SO or some bank is not going to cut it. :)
This is a great set of thoughts. So… like we said in the last Ask the Grumpies, there are a lot of really bad financial planners out there whose incentives are aligned with separating you from your money, not helping you to make more money. The buzz words that your SO is throwing out are the right ones (does he also say things like, “low cost index funds” etc.?). You definitely don’t want to just hand your money over to your SO, but it sounds like ze is making good decisions and would be a handy person around to help you take control of your own finances.
For you I’m going to recommend J.D. Roth’s book, Your Money: The Missing Manual. He does a good job talking about the basics in a way that allows someone intelligent like you to understand what the different options are and what the pros and cons of these options are. You can start talking about the things you read about with your SO, which will also help lead you to greater intimacy. It is really good to be on the same page financially if you ever decide you want to combine finances or lives in a more permanent fashion.
I don’t think you need to meet with a financial planner, but if you do think you do, as with the last Ask the Grumpies post, I’m going to recommend Walter Updegrave’s suggestions on how to go about finding a good one.
If you find YMtMM helpful, then you can find some more personal finance book recommendation from this link here. The post is about debt advice, but most of the books cover other things too. In addition to the books in that link, you may find the Bogleheads Guide to Investing to be helpful for getting started with your investing.
What recommendations does the Grumpy Nation have for Norwegian Forest Cat?