Does This Financial Advisor Exist?
December 5, 2017 11:03 AM   Subscribe

I know about the kind of financial advisors who help you plan your retirement, figure out how to save for your kids' college, etc. How about an advisor who can look at your spending habits and suggest things for those? Does that exist?

What I'm envisioning is: someone who can take a look at my current expenses (utilities, food spending, etc.) and point out ways I could save that I didn't know about ("you're signed up with this package with your cable company - but you actually qualify for this other rate that's less expensive" or "if you switched to a biweekly payment plan instead of a monthly one it would save you X in the long run" or "it looks like your local supermarket has a meat club that's $35 bucks down and here's what you get for the month" or things like that). Or does the financial advisor who's helping you plan for retirement also help with that too?
posted by EmpressCallipygos to Work & Money (8 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I can't think of paid advisors that do this, but: (non-profit) credit counseling agencies are probably more fluent in the nitty gritty of household budgets than financial advisors.

And there are forums like Mr. Money Moustache (not that I agree with that overall strategy, but) where super-frugal people trade ideas about budgets. I read bogleheads, and I've seen people post their monthly budgets there and get feedback for how to slim it down.
posted by Dashy at 11:26 AM on December 5, 2017 [2 favorites]

I haven't used a financial advisor but have a friend who has and yes, I think they can provide a certain amount of help with spending your money wisely whatever your financial goals are. This list of what financial planners study may be helpful.

However the rest of your examples below the cut are really specific. I'm not sure a financial adviser is also a bargain hunter to that level of detail. I'm not sure that there is a profession that does that, though you might get some of what you're after from Consumer Reports.
posted by Athanassiel at 11:29 AM on December 5, 2017

Best answer: My family is in the fourth year of a four-year debt repayment program through a non-profit such as Dashy mentioned above. In the first few months we were in the program, they did provide us a counselor who literally walked through all our expenses and when bills were due and helped allocate various bills to specific paychecks, using a custom spreadsheet. They didn't do the kind of "you can save money on X" stuff that you specifically mentioned, but it was specifically meant to help people think about cash flow and plan ahead to avoid sudden shortfalls and the link. Three years later, I still use my own version of the spreadsheet to plan our cash flow and spending for about two months ahead.
posted by Orlop at 11:36 AM on December 5, 2017

Response by poster: You know, maybe it is a good idea to speak to a credit counselling agency. I'm actually managing to make above the minimum payment okay, so I can "maintain," but there may indeed be ways to make small improvements here and there and do better.

I also just had a little bit of an upswing in my income earlier this year and haven't really adjusted my debt payment plans to match - largely because I was so behind I needed to catch up - so this maybe can help.

This is an even better idea - thanks.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:54 AM on December 5, 2017

I don't know if you need an actual financial advisor for that - most are more dedicated to investments and big picture stuff than saving you 5$ here and there. You could probably get a very good list of suggestions by posting your monthly spending (not budget, and ideally an average of your records over a year or even more) on a special interest forum like the ones above or r/personalfinance, which is one of very, very few subreddits I follow. People do that there quite often and get some good feedback.

If you don't want to do that, you can still get lots of good ideas just by following the forum and seeing the advice others ask for.

If you don't already track your spending categories, I highly suggest doing that as I think that overall perspective is required before you can really know where you can trim.
posted by randomnity at 11:56 AM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

I would post about this to Facebook and hope that someone in your wider circle of friends (or perhaps someone in a city-wide Facebook group) who is very knowledgeable about saving money in your area would do a one-on-one financial consulation.
posted by danceswithlight at 12:13 PM on December 5, 2017

Best answer: If you're in NYC (which I think you might be?), the Department of Consumer Affairs has a free counseling program for budgeting and dealing with debt - call 311 and ask to get connected with a Financial Empowerment Center if you want to check it out.
posted by snaw at 12:35 PM on December 5, 2017 [1 favorite]

Try a frugal facebook group local to you, or start one. A lot of what you're looking for are pretty localized savings opportunities.

Also r/frugal over on Reddit is really good about this stuff. Good luck.
posted by chonched out at 10:54 AM on December 6, 2017

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