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The saying “you get what you pay for” doesn’t always apply. When it comes to financial advice, you can find a wealth of valuable information for free or at a low cost. Here's how to find financial advice at every budget.
Free financial advice
Make the most of your existing financial provider
If you have an account with a financial institution, chances are it has free tools for customers — make sure you’re taking advantage of the features. Here's where to check:
Your bank or credit union. The amount of financial advice offered varies widely, so if this aspect is important, prioritize it when shopping for new accounts. Among NerdWallet’s picks for best banks and credit unions, Capital One is a standout for its money management tools.
Your employer or 401(k) provider. Have a workplace retirement plan? Make sure you’re taking advantage of all and any additional perks offered through it — including free financial advice. And don't forget to check in with your employer, too. Seven in 10 companies are creating or enacting financial well-being programs, according to a 2022 survey by Alight Solutions covering 110 employers and more than 4 million workers. The survey also found that over 50% of employers are now offering budgeting, debt management and financial planning tools to employees.
Your online broker. Many brokerages have educational resources to help you learn how to invest. Some providers even offer resources like investing curriculum on their websites, with everything from videos to quizzes and learning labs.
» View our list of the best brokers for beginners
Tap other free financial resources
There are many resources you may be able to turn to for free financial advice, depending on your financial or life circumstances. Some examples:
Credit counseling agencies offer help with issues ranging from bankruptcy to student loan debt to a review of your overall budget and finances. Some services are free.
The Foundation for Financial Planning offers pro bono financial planning services for people who are financially vulnerable, including wounded veterans, domestic violence survivors and cancer patients. Other organizations that offer free or discounted financial advice include the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Financial Planning Association and the Financial Counseling Association of America.
Some in-person investment advisors offer a free consultation for prospective clients. Of course, you won't get all your financial questions addressed in one meeting. The consultation generally focuses on your goals and what it would be like to work together. Make the most of that first consultation by arriving prepared with questions to assess whether the advisor can address your current and future financial goals. (Here are 10 questions to ask a financial advisor if you need inspiration.) Remember that you are under no obligation to begin working with the advisor after the meeting.
» Think you may want to work with an advisor in the future? Learn how to choose a financial advisor.
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Cheap financial advice
Of course, free financial advice won’t always cover your needs. Depending on the complexity of your situation, working with a financial advisor or another low-cost service might be the right call.
Use online advice services
If you need help getting started with investing, a robo-advisor may be a good solution. These online automated services use computer algorithms to manage your investments. While the service typically comes at a cost, fees can be as low as 0.25% of your account balance and are generally deducted directly from your investment account. There are even a few free financial advisors, like SoFi Automated Investing.
» Need help investing? Learn about robo-advisors
There are also several online financial planning services that offer complete, holistic financial planning in addition to investment management. These companies typically charge either a flat fee or a percentage of your account balance, and the cost includes managing your portfolio and access to financial advisors who can help you create a plan to reach your financial goals.
» I want to work with a local advisor: Find a financial advisor near you
An online financial planning service will generally be more expensive than a robo-advisor, but considerably less expensive than working with a traditional in-person financial advisor. If you're sold on working with an in-person advisor, a financial coach may be a cheaper option, though they may not be able to give you specific investment advice.
» Sound like a fit? Here are the best financial advisors
Try an app
If you’re looking for budgeting advice online, there are a variety of apps that will do the job right from your phone. Here are a few of the financial services apps can offer:
Help you create and stick to a budget by providing a snapshot of where your money is going.
Find ways to cut back on expenses.
View and understand your credit score.
Keep an eye on your investment accounts.
Suggest better accounts and credit cards to help you get a higher interest rate or earn more benefits.