When it comes to financial planning — saving is key

GENESEE COUNTY — From helping to select the right investments, to planning for retirement and much more, a financial planner can help clients achieve their financial goals — no matter what they are.

Tom Townsend of Ameriprise Financial Services in Grand Blanc has been doing just that for more than 35 years, serving clients is a range of ages and helping people in a variety of ways.

When it comes to financial planning it’s never too early to start, said Townsend, but you need to find the right professional with the right training. Along with Townsend’s 30-plus years of experience, he holds a degree from Michigan State University and is a Certified Financial Planner.

Gina Wells of Advanced Capital Group in Fenton echoes that advice. “My recommendation would be to find a fiduciary you trust and with whom you can openly communicate with,” she said. “Any advisor should be working in the best interest of the client and would be covering all areas of planning so as to mitigate financial loss wherever it may occur.”

Wells has been working in the best interest of her clients for more than 25 years.

Once you meet with a planner, put all of your cards on the table. Share your debts, your current savings and retirement plans, any life insurance policies and your goals.

“At our firm, we start by taking a 360 degree look at every dollar moving through a client’s hands — chasing a rate of return letting financial institutions invest for you is one thing, but understanding how to reduce debt, mitigate tax liability, and then getting control of those dollars so you have the opportunity to finance things on your own — with money you own and control is one of the first strategies we teach,” said Wells.

While seeing a financial planner might be considered intimidating to some or something only wealthy people do Wells and Townsend say that’s not the case.

“It’s a misconception that you need a certain amount of money in order to obtain professional financial planning services. This is absolutely untrue,” said Wells. “You do not have to be wealthy in order to seek the advice of a financial advisor! Everyone deserves a solid financial plan they can depend on and all you need is the initiative to seek help.”

Townsend said nearly everyone has the ability to save and that’s the backbone of achieving any financial goal. He added that even former spenders can become savers. “You can start with anything, even as little as $100 a month,” he said. “It’s important to get into the habit of savings … it’ll end up growing.”

Wells’ advice? Start saving as soon as you start earning.

“My parents instilled in me the need for savings,” she said, adding that saving is something that should never be put off for another day. “Procrastination will catch up to you sooner than you know.”

That said, there’s no doubt the COVID-19 pandemic threw a wrench is some people’s financial plans and goals.

“We have received many calls from our existing client base to help them figure out the best way to get through this temporary loss,” said Wells. “The economic turmoil caused by COVID-19 is far and wide, those we represented had the ability to fall back on asset classes that were not losing money, and could be replaced when things turn around.”

Still, some people may have incurred debt or may have stopped contributing to their retirement account. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to get back on track when the dust settles.

“Get back to that savings path as soon as possible,” said Townsend. “Savers are always okay in the long run.”

Gina C. Wells is an Investment Advisor Representative of Retirement Wealth Advisors. Gina Wells and Advanced Capital Group and RWA are not affiliated. This information is designed to provide general information on the subjects covered and not intended to provide specific legal or tax advice. It cannot be used to avoid tax penalties or to promote, market, or recommend any tax plan or arrangement. Please note that Gina C .Wells, Advanced Capital Group, and its affiliates do not give legal or tax advice. You are encouraged to consult your tax advisor or attorney.

—Emily Caswell