The secret to getting free (but good) financial advice.

In a post-Lehman Brothers world, it’s become increasingly complicated to understand how to grow personal wealth. What makes an institution trustworthy and which ones should you avoid? How can you gauge the appropriateness of a financial instrument for your portfolio? Naturally these are questions that would easily be answered by a financial advisor, but if you’ve ever looked one up you’ll know their services don’t come cheap. Depending on the level of attention you need, Stone Steps Financial states you could spend anywhere between $400 and several thousand dollars. This expense simply isn’t practical for most people, but getting sound financial advice shouldn’t be a luxury. MarketWatch outlines the following as ways to score free but useful wealth management tips.

  • Use online software. This is a great place to start if you want to figure out basic information like your net worth, manage your investments, or even start planning for retirement. These sites use powerful algorithms coupled with real-time financial data to determine advantageous courses of action for you.
  • Leverage your retirement plan or brokerage site. Your employer may include additional financial tools in your benefits package. Don’t let that valuable information go to waste. MarketWatch also recommends looking through the portfolio management resources supplied by online brokerages, if you use one.
  • Attend sessions. If you’d prefer an in-person consultation, be sure to take advantage of the free sessions many financial institutions offer. One example MarketWatch suggests is Financial Planning Days, which gives people the chance to sit down with a financial advisor at no cost.
  • See what’s available in your community. Check if there’s an organization in your city or town that assists with tasks like budgeting or filing taxes. These programs are often catered toward specific groups, such as veterans or low-income individuals, so make sure you find one that is matched to your situation.
  • Harness the wisdom of the internet. When in doubt search engines are handy for answering general questions about your finances. Just verify that you’re using credible sources like government websites or legitimate agencies before you make any serious decisions.

Of course, it’s important to remember that because this information is free it isn’t perfectly tailored to your individual needs. However, the above are all fantastic tools for planning your portfolio and understanding what your money can do for you.

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Also published on Medium.