“I really need some hand-holding.” I’m a beginner and need help with budgeting and investing. What’s my first step? – Market observation | Jewelry Dukan

Here’s how to find a financial advisor if you’re new to money

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Question: I absolutely need a financial advisor. I’m a beginner so I need someone to take my hand and help me understand what to do and why, in terms of budget and investments. What should my first step be? I really need some hand holding. (Are you also looking for a financial advisor? Use this tool to find a financial advisor that fits your needs.)

Answers: First of all, kudos for realizing you need help with your finances. “We’re all beginners at some point and it’s great that you’re asking for help,” says certified financial planner Jay Zigmont, founder of Childfree Wealth. They say that you definitely need a financial advisor—and that may be true—but no matter what path you take, you should also work on educating yourself about personal finance through books, websites, and more.

If you go the advisor route, Zigmont says, it sounds like you need an advisor who just gives advice, “which means you’re paying them for their time to help you learn,” Zigmont says. Consulting-only planners work on either an hourly or project basis, and their rates can vary from $200 to $500 per hour, or $1,000 to $7,500 per plan. They don’t manage wealth for you, but help you understand the many facets of your finances and where to focus your efforts.

Danielle Miura, Certified Financial Planner at Spark Financials, says it’s important to find an advisor who is willing to be your partner in your journey and who understands your fears and values. Miura says, “Any licensed financial advisor can give you advice on your budget and investments, but are they qualified to teach you?”

Having a problem with your financial advisor or looking to hire a new one? Email picks@marketwatch.com.

A good first step when looking for a planner is to think about what you want from a consultant. “Understand what you are looking for and what you need. Need someone to teach you budgeting or just help you set up the right budgeting tool? Do you need an advisor as your monthly accountability partner for your budget, or can you stick to it yourself? By figuring out what you need and communicating this to the consultants interviewing you, it will better help you find a consultant who will provide the services you need and you will have a clearer expectation of what your consultant will do.” , says certified financial planner Kyle Hill of Hill-Top Financial Planning.

Are you also looking for a financial advisor? You can use this tool to work with a financial advisor who may fit your needs.

The good news is that you have many options. “Start looking for consultants, remembering you can work with someone remotely if you feel comfortable doing so. Being in a virtual relationship opens up a lot more possibilities and you’re more likely to find someone who’s a perfect match for you,” says Justin Pritchard of Approach Financial. Paid consultants can be found in the XY Planning Network, Garrett Planning Network, and NAPFA directories. “It’s also wise to look at their regulatory and disciplinary background,” adds Pritchard.

One of the most important things you can do during the counseling session is ask questions (this guide will help you understand what to ask). “Don’t be afraid to ask questions and say I don’t understand. If they don’t take the time to help you understand something or say it’s too complicated, then you need to find someone else. Find a counselor who has a teacher’s heart. Your job isn’t to become an expert, but to become knowledgeable enough to understand why you’re doing what you’re doing,” says Hill.

Finally, have some conversations and talk to several advisors before making any decisions. “Ask for details about their fees, services, what to expect and anything else you think – you’ll learn a lot during the process,” says Pritchard.

Are you also looking for a financial advisor? You can use this tool to work with a financial advisor who may fit your needs.

And advisor or not, you should start saving money from every paycheck right away, if you can. “Start with 1% of your income going straight into a savings account with every paycheck,” says certified financial planner Ken Robinson of Practical Financial Planning. “Once you get used to it, try increasing it by 1% and repeating the process until you’re saving as much as you can, with a goal of saving 12% to 15% of your gross income,” says Robinson.

Having a problem with your financial advisor or looking to hire a new one? Email picks@marketwatch.com.

The consultant questions have been edited for brevity and clarity.

The advice, recommendations or reviews in this article are those of MarketWatch Picks and have not been verified or endorsed by our trading partners.

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