Frequently Asked Questions

common questions

Q: How can I find a financial planner in a specific area?
A: Click here to find the right financial planner for you.

Q: How can I request a speaker for an upcoming event?
A: Click here for more details on requesting a speaker.

Q: What questions should I ask when choosing a financial planner?
A: It's important to make sure the planner you choose is a good match for you, so ask lots of questions. Here's a sampling for you to incorporate into your initial conversation.

Q: How do planners charge?
A: Click here to find out how planners charge.

Q: What should I bring to the meeting?
A: Click here to find out what information to bring to your first meeting.

Q: Does FPA MN offer pro bono service?
A: Yes, we offer pro bono services to those who meet specific gross income limitations. See more details on our pro bono services here.

most asked questions

Q: I received an agreement to continue my working engagement with a financial planner after my first consultation. How do I understand the contract I'm signing? Is there someone who should review the document?
A: Most professionals have engagement agreements that both parties sign in order to protect both parties in the event of any disagreement or misunderstanding. Beware of statements that give... Read more.

Q: What would be the best possible funds to invest in pertaining to my 401(k)? Ranging from highest to lowest return.
A: Designing an investment portfolio depends on several factors including your age and risk tolerance. Most 401(k) plans are built to only have a select number of mutual funds to choose from. Your 401(k) provider should... Read more.

Q: My husband and I are trying to start a savings plan for retirement and investing. Are there any tips to start saving for the future?
A: The best way is to make it systematic. Many people will use tools such as an automatic debit from their paycheck or checking account once per month or pay period. It can go automatically into a mutual fund or savings account. Some companies offer... Read more.

Q: We have two children and make monthly contributions to 529 plans for each child. Is it more advantageous to continue to make monthly contributions to 529 plans or re-direct these monthly contributions to Roth IRAs? If our children need to apply for college loans, will the money saved in the 529 plans penalize them?
A: Contributing to an investment program is more important than the selection of the particular program. 529 Savings Plans are generally the property of the account holder (e.g., parent, grandparent, etc.). Federal financial aids are considered low impact assets in this regard. On the other hand, Roth IRAs... Read more.

Q: My wife and I are having trouble sticking to a budget. We occasionally spend more than we should. Can a financial planner help us stick to a budget? Is it possible to have a financial planner pay our bills, help us save money and keep us on track? What would the costs typically be for this type of service if available?
A: The question really speaks to motivation and alignment between you and your spouse on spending. Is it that you spend before paying your bills and then are short, or do you pay your bills and don't feel you have enough remaining? Is this problem primarily with one of you or do you "take turns?" If you both agree... Read more.

Q: I'm a recently divorced mother paying a mortgage, my daughter's tuition and bills, and my bills. Unfortunately, my credit card debt increased when I lost my job and now all my bills are late, if I can pay anything at all. I tried pay day loans, but that did not work. I am scared I will be sued for outstanding payments. Is debt consolidation a good idea, or should I try to pay everything off as best as I can?
A: Your situation is among the most difficult because there are no easy answers. Based on your note, I'm assuming you are still unemployed and that you are receiving some type of unemployment insurance coverage. My first suggestion is... Read more.

Q: Can I claim my mother's in-home caregiver on my income tax return? I pay thousands of dollars for her care as she cannot be alone while I am away from home. Unfortunately, she makes more than $3,400 per year. She gets about $1,600/month from Social Security and from her teacher's pension. But, her cost of caregiving is sometimes upwards of $2,000 per week!
A: Based on the information that you provided, you are correct that your mother does not qualify as a dependent for income tax purposes, due to her income exceeding the personal exemption amount. If she did meet all of the tests... Read more.

Q: I recently lost both of my parents within 18 months of each other. My father left my mother as a beneficiary on his 401(k) plan. My mother moved the funds from his plan to an IRA, and I am the beneficiary. My mom passed away in February 2007 and I do not know what to do with this account. Am I able to draw some funds from it and leave the rest the same? How much will I be taxed and will this be taxed as if it were my salary or as an inherited tax?
A: First of all, my condolences on your loss. It's always difficult to lose a parent, let alone both. You can take distributions from the inherited IRA in three ways... Read more.

Q: I'm a 51 years old, married and self-employed in good health with two adult children and two teenagers. I currently have a disability insurance policy, but I'm considering purchasing a long term care policy. I do not believe my budget will allow for both. Is there a general guideline or "rule of thumb" for determining the optimum time to drop a disability policy in favor of a long term care policy?
A: You are facing a quandary that many people face. Your current income protection weighs much more importantly than the possibility of long term care, at least in my view. You may consider mitigating the cost of a long term care policy by reducing the benefits so that you are only partially protected. For example... Read more.