what kind of professional can I pay to help me un-bleep my finances?
June 14, 2019 11:07 AM   Subscribe

I owe back taxes, have some credit card debt, and need to learn how to budget. I know about all the favored budgeting books and apps, but I have a really, really hard time understanding them. I would love to have a professional money-dealer-wither-person tell me what to do. But I'm only recently solvent--was low-income up until a year ago--and can't afford a fancy accountant. Does the kind of professional I'm looking for exist, and how do I find one? More details under the cut.

I need to un-bleep:
1. My taxes -- I kinda sorta didn't pay my taxes for a couple years, then filed late and started a payment plan, then didn't pay quarterly taxes for freelance income, and am now looking at a big tax bill. I know the IRS will work with me. I need help figuring out quarterly estimated taxes stuff.

2. My credit card debt -- under $10k on a high-APR card, considering transferring balance or getting a low-interest personal loan through my credit union, need help understanding both

3. My budget -- I suck at it. Am for the first time in my adult life making a reasonable living where I actually have enough income to budget. So now I'd like to figure that out.

For the first two, I would really really love it if a person who knows what they're talking about could just sit down with me, look everything over, and straight up tell me what to do. Like, "pay this much now; set up a payment plan for this; transfer this balance here; evertything will be paid off by X."

For the third point, I understand nobody can magically make me better. I'll work on it. But right now it feels like I just can't get my head above water long enough to make sense of...anything. I think it would help to have a plan with concrete goals and dates, and I need somebody who "gets it" to help me make that plan.

What's the name for the kind of money pro I need? How much do they cost? (I can probably spend a few hundred dollars, but not a thousand). Bonus if you know of one in the Portland area. Thank you!
posted by adastra to Work & Money (11 answers total) 11 users marked this as a favorite
 
You want a fee-only (not fee-based) certified financial planner. I don't know whether you can afford such a person's services in your area, but there's no harm in calling a few and getting quotes.
posted by praemunire at 11:12 AM on June 14, 2019


The Dave Ramsey program is a good place to check out as a start with perhaps a no-fee financial advisor down the road. I've known a couple your people in the same boat you're in get on track with money management.
posted by Elsie at 11:20 AM on June 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


A few hundred dollars won't get you very far with an hourly financial professional. Try low cost resources first. For taxes, it looks like CASH Oregon might be able to help or refer you. And ask them about your other issues.

For credit cards, here's unbiased recommendations for a cash transfer card.
posted by Mr.Know-it-some at 11:20 AM on June 14, 2019


1. I'd ask a tax accountant.

2. You could ask a financial planner.

3. You could ask a financial planner.

You could also burn asks on 2 and 3. I would totally transfer the balance but ymmv.
posted by Kalmya at 11:20 AM on June 14, 2019 [1 favorite]


This is not the only person you want, but I just read (well, listened to on Audible) I Will Teach You To Be Rich by Ramit Sethi. More than anything else, this book helped me not to be scared and defeated around money. It included scripts for how to talk to bankers, how to find the right financial planner/consultant, and then step-by-step instructions from how to pay off credit card debt to how to set up investments that take care of themselves. I went from totally avoiding my money stuff to actually being curious and excited about solving my problems. Good luck!
posted by andreapandrea at 11:20 AM on June 14, 2019 [5 favorites]


Tack on "enrolled agent". My accountant was an enrolled agent, to handle the work with the IRS, and she was good with the budget and planning part as well.
posted by kellyblah at 11:22 AM on June 14, 2019


Young + Scrappy helped me unfuck my budgeting. She is a fee-only fiduciary advisor and coach. She is well worth talking to.
posted by Medieval Maven at 11:22 AM on June 14, 2019 [4 favorites]


The Dave Ramsey program discriminates against same-sex couples. This article about it is from 2011, but I can't find anything indicating he's changed his policies. If someone has an update, I'd be happy to hear it.

His financial advice may be good, but he's not getting my money.
posted by FencingGal at 11:41 AM on June 14, 2019 [5 favorites]


Check with your bank. Many banks -- at least the large national ones, but maybe not the local ones or credit unions -- offer financial planning / investing services for their customers at no charge (beyond the usual fees associated with investments). Banks like having customers who manage their money, debt, and credit well, because (a) those sorts of customers provide security to the bank, as opposed to one's likely to default or go bankrupt, and (b) they want to keep your business within their bank, so if you grow your wealth they hope that means more deposits for them.

What they're not going to offer is help with your taxes; I believe it's actually illegal for them to offer that. You will need an accountant for that. A good accountant is well worth the money, particularly if you're in a beeped-up situation.
posted by gritter at 1:33 PM on June 14, 2019


Check with your bank. Many banks -- at least the large national ones, but maybe not the local ones or credit unions -- offer financial planning / investing services for their customers at no charge (beyond the usual fees associated with investments). Banks like having customers who manage their money, debt, and credit well, because (a) those sorts of customers provide security to the bank, as opposed to one's likely to default or go bankrupt, and (b) they want to keep your business within their bank, so if you grow your wealth they hope that means more deposits for them.

There are two or three points I hope to die having impressed upon the collective wisdom of Mefi, and one of them is: THE BANK IS NOT YOUR FRIEND OR YOUR ADVISOR.

Your bank is not required to take your interests into account, except in the most general way, in advising you. Your bank will use every opportunity to extract money from you in all sorts of ways you are not well-equipped to understand. Your bank, and your brokerage, are about the last places you should ever go for financial advice (unless they offer a separate true fiduciary service, and most don't).
posted by praemunire at 1:47 PM on June 14, 2019 [6 favorites]


I have a financial planner (fiduciary) in Seattle that I love. They work with people outside of Seattle. Happy to give a rec in memail.
posted by k8t at 7:01 PM on June 14, 2019


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