Financial Advice: Where to get it for Free

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free-financial-adviceFinancial advice doesn’t have to cost you a fortune. In fact, much of it is free if you know where to look.

Be aware of the free options before you fork out hundreds or thousands of dollars for advice on budgeting, property, investment, superannuation or estate planning, but remember that in many cases you get what you pay for.

A financial planner might charge an hourly rate of $220, an accountant anything from $200 and a solicitor $250 an hour or more, so you’ll want their words to be worthwhile.

Here are some sources of advice that won’t cost you a cent.

Financial Counsellors

If you have money problems, you can speak to a financial counsellor for free. Financial Counselling Australia says these qualified professionals work within community organisations and provide “non-judgmental information, support and advocacy”. Telephone 1800 007 007.

The Internet

Most financial services companies’ websites are packed with free information to help you make money decisions.

“Everything you need to know these days is on the internet, but there’s also a lot of bad information on the internet so it pays to be quite diligent,” says Mortgage Choice spokeswoman Jessica Darnbrough.

Valuable sites include moneysmart.gov.au and comparison websites such as mozo.com.au packed with financial guides and calculators.

Property

Mortgage brokers do not charge their clients for advice about getting a home loan, saving for a deposit, property investment steps to take, rental yields and suburb information, or even how to make yourself look good on paper for a lender.

“When applying for a loan you need the best possible credit history to get the biggest discount open to you,” Darnbrough says.

Financial Planners

An initial meeting with a financial planner won’t cost you anything, may contain some free general tips and should give you an idea of how you can benefit from more detailed paid advice.

AMP financial planner Mark Borg says anyone trying to make complex financial decisions without professional help may be compromised by their personal experiences and not be open-minded.

“The first problem with going it alone is you don’t know what you don’t now,” says Borg, principal of MBA Financial Strategists.

Sometimes some “cold-hearted” professional advice is what you need, he says.

Family and Friends

The best source of free advice can be those closest to you, but always remember that their situation is different to yours so copying them completely probably won’t work.

Family and friends can give you recommendations about experts they have dealt with, or share lessons they have learned from their own financial experiences.

Money should not be a taboo subject.

Seminars

Free financial seminars offered by financial planners, real estate agents, mortgage brokers, law firms, super funds and government bodies such as Centrelink and Defence Housing Australia.

“You just have to open your eyes to the community announcements,” Darnbrough says.

But beware of property spruikers trying to flog a product. Just like the internet, you’ll have to sort out the useful information from the slick marketing spiels.

If there’s one thing you do this week it’s…

Start a savings plan.

To Do

Check out the best savings accounts on the market at comparison site Mozo.

Work out how much money you can afford to put away and not touch each week.

Set a savings goal for the next 12 months and check your progress each month.

The Savings

UBank USaver $50 a week + interest rate 4.02 per cent = $2661 in 12 months (if you also have a transaction account with the bank)

Save $100 a week in the same account = $5322 after 12 months.

Stay Informed. It’s simple, free & convenient!
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