8 smart things people with financial advisers do with their money that give them a leg up

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Not everyone needs a financial adviser, but the benefits of working with a professional are hard to overlook.

Whether you're just starting out in your career, expanding your family, building wealth, saving for future goals, scheming to retire early, or simply in need of some strategies to better manage your money on the daily, a fee-only financial planner can be an invaluable resource.

Fee-only financial planners typically charge clients in one of three ways: a flat retainer fee, an hourly fee, or an asset under management (AUM) fee. It's a common misconception that you have to be wealthy or well-established in your career to hire a financial planner. Depending on what you're seeking help with and how much access you want to your financial planner, you can pay as little as $100 to $300 an hour for a meeting.

Research shows that people who work with financial advisers are more likely to report happiness, confidence, and stability in their financial and personal lives.

Here are a few ways they're probably better with their money, too:

1. They know how to make the most of a raise

A raise or promotion is always reason to celebrate with a nice dinner or a self-indulgent gift. But it's also an opportunity to re-evaluate your cash flow and ramp up savings for specific goals.

People who work with financial planners, first and foremost, have their goals mapped out. They know what they are saving for, whether it be a down payment, big vacation, their kid's college tuition, or a comfortable retirement. When a raise comes along, they know exactly where to direct the extra cash.

2. They have an emergency fund

People who meet with a financial adviser quickly discover that an emergency fund is the foundation of any sound financial plan. As a certified financial planner in training, I've learned that it's our No. 1 priority to encourage clients to have a cash reserve for emergency expenses - or at least work toward building it - before aggressively saving for retirement or investing.

3. They follow impartial advice

Our friends and family can be great sounding boards, but their advice is rarely objective - especially when it comes to our money.

A fee-only financial planner is required to act in your best interest, but they have no horse in the race. Clients who seek professional help are able to establish actionable goals for how to spend, save, and invest their money on their own terms.

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4. They don't tinker with their investments

It's easy to get caught up in the panic and speculation of a recession, but people who see a financial adviser know they're better off staying in the market during a downturn (and eventual rebound) than acting out of fear and tinkering with their investments or selling everything off.

The stock market is one of the greatest tools we have for building wealth, and financial planners work with clients to ensure they're getting the most out of it.

5. They balance spending vs. saving

Finding the gumption to start saving for retirement at 25 can be challenging - no one wants to feel like they're sacrificing the joys of today for the promise of tomorrow. Financial planners help clients strike a balance between taking care of priorities today and setting up a rich future.

A survey from Northwestern Mutual found that 61% of people who work with financial advisers have "clarity on balancing spending now vs. saving for later," compared to 50% of people who don't work with a professional.

6. They have a plan

It should come as no shock, but a good financial planner helps client devise a plan for their money. Not only do they walk away with a snapshot of their current finances, but they have a clear list of financial goals and the steps they should be taking to reach them.

The Northwestern Mutual survey also found that 81% of people who work with financial advisers have specific goals set for the next five to 10 years and 73% have a plan in place for weathering economic ups and downs. That's compared to 67% and 30% of people, respectively, who go it alone.

7. They're properly insured

Financial planners are trained to help you deal with all aspects of your financial situation, including insurance. Fee-only planners aren't compensated when clients buy or invest in certain products, so their main objective is protecting their clients' financial well-being.

In an initial meeting with a client, planners will ask to review all insurance policies - life insurance, health insurance, renters insurance, auto insurance, etc. - to make certain they're not over- or under-insured.

8. They save on taxes

Tax planning is a huge headache for most people. It's often easier to just pay what you owe and leave it at that.

A good financial planner, however, will review a client's tax return to identify ways they can (legally) minimize taxes now and in the future, whether it be contributing more to a 401(k) or IRA or investing efficiently.

Want help with your money? SmartAsset's free tool can help find a qualified professional near you »

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