Objective information about financial planning, investments, and retirement plans

The Plutus Awards – Finance Blogs to Read and Discover

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The finalists for the 2014 Plutus Awards which celebrates the best in personal finance blogging were recently announced.  Check out the official announcement here.  I was very honored and flattered to have this blog named as a finalist in the Best Financial Planner Blog category.

What is most gratifying is that the finalists were chosen by other finance bloggers.  I am humbled by and grateful for being selected as a finalist among all of these outstanding finance blogs.  I read many of them and plan to check out the ones that I am not familiar with.

If you are looking for a list of finance blogs to read and learn from here is list of the finalists by category:

Best New Personal Finance Blog

FITnancials
Listen, Money Matters!
Rock Star Finance
Stapler Confessions
ValerieRind.com

Best-Kept Secret Personal Finance Blog

Debt Discipline
Free From Broke
L Bee and the Money Tree
The Frugal Exerciser
Wealthy Single Mommy

Best Designed Personal Finance Blog

Be Wealthy & Smart
Budget Blonde
Christian PF
Financially Blonde
Good Financial Cents

Most Humorous Personal Finance Blog

The Empowered Dollar
Financial Uproar
Frugalwoods
Len Penzo dot Com
Punch Debt in the Face

Best Microblog

@JimYih
@MMarquit
@MoneyCrashers
@rockstarfinance
@wisebread

Best Personal Finance Podcast

Cash Car Convert
Dough Roller
Listen Money Matters
Money Plan SOS
Stacking Benjamins

Best Retirement Blog

Escaping Dodge
Financial Mentor
Mr. Money Mustache
Retire by 40
Retire Happy

Best Entrepreneurship Blog

Beat the 9 to 5
Careful Cents
Create Hype
Microblogger
My Wife Quit Her Job

Best Blog for Teens/College Students/Young Adults

Broke Millennial
Making Sense of Cents
TeensGotCents
The Broke and Beautiful Life
Young Adult Money

Best International Personal Finance Blog

Monster Piggy Bank
Reach Financial Independence
The Skint Dad Blog
The Money Principle
Miss Thrifty

Best Canadian Personal Finance Blog

Blonde on a Budget
Boomer & Echo
Canadian Budget Binder
Canadian Finance Blog
Money after Graduation

Best Religious Personal Finance Blog

Bible Money Matters
Christian PF
Indebted and in Debt
Luke1428
Out of Your Rut

Best Tax Blog

The Blunt Bean Counter
Tax Girl
JoeTaxpayer
TaxProfBlog
The Wandering Tax Pro

Best Deals and Bargains Blog

$5 Dinners
Bargain Babe
Bargain Briana
CouponMom
Hip2Save

Best Frugality Blog

Club Thrifty
Frugal Rules
I Am That Lady
Pretty Frugal Living
Stapler Confessions

Best Debt Blog

Dear Debt
Debt Roundup
Enemy of Debt
Money Plan SOS
The Frugal Farmer

Best Investing Blog

Dividend Mantra
Financial Mentor
Investor Junkie
Personal Dividends
The College Investor

Best Contributor/Freelancer for Personal Finance

Cat Alford
Jason Steele
Michelle Schroeder
Miranda Marquit
Stefanie O’Connell

Best Green/Sustainability Blog

DIY Natural
Prairie Eco-Thrifter
Sustainable Life Blog
Sustainable Personal Finance
The Frugal Farmer

Best Financial Planner Blog

Financially Blonde
Good Financial Cents
Nerd’s Eye View
Mom and Dad Money
The Chicago Financial Planner

Lifetime Achievement

FMF (Free Money Finance )
FrugalTrader (Million Dollar Journey)
Jim Wang (Bargaineering)
Lazy Man (Lazy Man And Money)
Ramit Sethi (I Will Teach You To Be Rich)

BLOG OF THE YEAR

Afford Anything
Broke Millennial
Canadian Finance Blog
The Empowered Dollar
Making Sense of Cents
Mr. Money Mustache
PT Money
Stacking Benjamins
Wealthy Single Mommy
Wise Bread

Congratulations to all of the finalists.  Note I did leave off a couple of categories that were mostly internal blogging resources.

There is plenty of excellent personal finance information contained in the list above, time to get reading.

Please check out our Book Store for books on financial planning, retirement, and related topics as well as any Amazon shopping needs you may have (or just click on the link below).  The Chicago Financial Planner is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.  If you click on my Amazon.com links and buy anything, even something other than the product advertised, I earn a small fee, yet you don’t pay any extra. 

Financial Advice – Have it Your Way

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I spent most of today at a seminar conducted by Marie Swift, a marketing and communications guru for financial

Current "blue crescent" logo (July 1...

advisors.  Marie, assisted by her son, did a great job of educating us and stimulating the thought process.  One key takeaway is that content directed to clients and prospects should be all about them, not us the advisor.  This is also true when it comes to the delivery of financial advice.

You are the consumer of professional financial advice, why shouldn’t you have it your way?  I don’t like guacamole and our local Mexican restaurant is glad to put mine on the side so I can give to wife or son.

All too often, investors complain that they can’t or don’t receive the services they need from their financial advisor.

I’ve written often on this blog, US News, and elsewhere that everyone should have a Fee-Only Advisor who takes a comprehensive view of their situation.  That is my service model and it is the right one for my ongoing clients.  That doesn’t mean that it is the right model for your needs and your situation.

With the advent of several online advice sites there are many delivery models that you can consider.  A good place to start is to take stock of where you might need financial help.

  • Are you looking for someone to analyze your overall situation, tell you what you are doing well, and offer actionable suggestions for areas that need improvement?
  • Are you looking for someone to manage your investments using asset allocation and low cost index mutual funds/ETFs?
  • Are you seeking comprehensive ongoing wealth management advice?
  • Do you have just a few issues and would like to work with someone on an “as needed” basis?
  • Do you want to sit down face-to-face with an advisor several times per year to review your investments and overall situation?
  • Are you comfortable doing your own investing and financial planning, but would like to be able to run ideas by a professional on occasion?
  • Are you comfortable working with an advisor remotely?
  • Are you looking for a low cost online solution?
  • Are you concerned about how your advisor is compensated?  About any potential conflicts of interest that may come with their compensation structure?
  • How and how often would you like to be contacted by your advisor?

These questions and many others should be considered when looking for financial advice and the method of delivery for this advice.

Please feel free to contact me with any general questions you may have or if you are interested in learning more about the services I offer.

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What do Financial Advisors Talk About? Should You Care?

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debate

I am sitting in the Orlando airport waiting for my flight back home to Chicago. We just finished our fifth annual NAPFA Mix Group winter meeting. This is our third time in Florida and the first time here with decent weather. A Mix Group is a fancy name for a study group.

All eight of us are either solo or run very small financial advisory practices. All of us are members of NAPFA the largest professional organization of fee-only financial advisors in the country.

As both financial advisors and small business owners we have all found it vital to have a sounding board of our peers who are dealing with many of the same issues. The winter meeting is mostly devoted to our businesses. We reviewed our financials from the prior year with the group and also discussed our 2012 goals. In the course of these reviews we provide suggestions about each advisor’s business. Besides the direct input about my practice issues, much of the advice we gave to other members was applicable to me as well. I took many notes on points raised in these discussions.

For example we all told one member that she needed to make a tough personnel decision and that she should not be shy about implementing client fee increases that truly reflect the value she provides to her clients (a suggestion from a prior meeting). As was a surprise to nobody, she mentioned that there has been no negative feedback from the clients whose fees have already been increased.

Additionally we reviewed several sessions from the TD Ameritrade conference that a couple of the members had attended just prior to our meeting in Orlando. We also discussed several specific client and business issues raised by members relative to situations they were dealing with in their practices. At our Phoenix meeting last year we had a local estate planning and asset protection attorney do a presentation on issues we should be considering for our clients in these areas.

We do another face-to-face meeting, generally in Chicago in the summer or early fall where we tend to discuss a broader range of issues including investment ideas and strategies, practice tools such as financial planning and client management software, and often discuss client specific issues a member might be having. We schedule a group conference call bi-monthly and all during the year we call each other to help resolve a wide range of questions or issues ranging from client situations to investments, estate planning, or what have you. In short we serve as each other’s board of directors and collaborators.

As a client or potential client of a financial advisor why should any of this matter to you? I can’t speak for other advisors, but I often share with clients the fact that I have this support system of seven other experienced professionals with whom I can discuss any number of issues that might arise on their behalf. In addition to these folks, the entire membership of NAPFA advisors across the country is generally willing and ready to share their expertise to help a fellow member. I have been on both sides of that help frequently since joining in 2003.

NAPFA has over 20 of these Mix Groups and the feedback from advisors who participate has been excellent. Besides the NAPFA Mix Groups there are many advisors who participate in other study groups. Additionally most of us attend conferences during the year that focus on education on various topics such as investing, retirement planning, estate planning, and other areas. From my experience the best exchanges occur at these conferences via conversations between advisors in the halls and over dinner. Much learning takes place informally.

Ask your advisor if they participate in a study group or attend conferences. Ask about what they take away from these gatherings.

Differentiate between educational sessions and the trips that many financial sales types win as perks for peddling the most financial products. If your advisor goes on many of these outings ask yourself who is really paying for the trip.

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