14 Pearls of Wisdom Our Financial Planners Tell Their Friends


financial planner advice best tipsWouldn’t it be great to have a Certified Financial Planner™ for a best friend?

Just think of all the advice you could get about how you might stay on track financially—and how to make your money work harder for you.

Since most people don’t have that kind of access, allow us to make a few introductions: We picked the brains of six CFP®s from LearnVest Planning Services to find out what advice they’d share with the people they love most—from smart ways to help stick to savings goals to how to navigate finances with a significant other.

1. Use Gift Cards for Guilt-Free Spending

For small costs that can quickly add up over time—like that daily Starbucks habit or iTunes purchases—consider buying yourself a gift card and load it with a set, budgeted amount at the start of each month. Then go ahead and enjoy those lattes, scones or apps until your card runs out.

“This makes it easy to keep track of small, daily expenditures,” says Natalie Taylor, CFP®. “Plus, it feels more special and guilt-free when you’re paying with a gift card.”

2. Ease Into Merging Your Money

If you’re just starting to share in financial decisions with a significant other, Stephany Kirkpatrick, CFP®, suggests keeping a “slush fund” bank account into which you each set aside money every month to use for one or two joint expenses.

“You can use this to pay for date nights, a vacation or a bigger purchase you want to make together,” Kirkpatrick suggests. “It helps take away the burden of wondering who is going to pay for certain things—and it’s a great way to get your feet wet when it comes to joint finances.”

After a few months, you can graduate to contributing enough to the account to cover larger household bills if you live together, and before you both know it, the concept of combining your finances probably won’t be as overwhelming.

RELATED: 6 Ways to Combine Finances With Your Partner

  • Wise

    How can paying with a gift card be “guilt-free”? You’re still spending your own money.

    • http://www.ianmayman.com/ Ian

      Because you’re not buying the wrong gift or an inappropriate gift.

    • LuluRadz

      Because you’re loading a set amount, say $20 per month, onto the card to control costs. Think of it like a pre-paid card, rather than gift card. When the $20 is used up, it’s used up … this way a ‘gift card’ to yourself allows you to control your monthly set costs.

      • Doesn’t make sense to me

        I supposed might work for certain kind of person but I agree with the person above its still my own money. The only way I’d feel guilt free is if it was a gift from someone else. I know my budget and I stick to it that makes more sense to me than adding more work by remembering to use and reload gift cards with my own money. I keep one gift card and my boyfriend will reload it with $10 bucks every now and then but I wouldn’t keep that card if I was reloading it with my own money.

        • Hmmm

          Well in my budget, if I had, say, a Starbucks habit, I might have $30 budgeted for Starbucks every month. It’s silly not to, if I know I’m going to go there. But the gift card is a way of making sure that I don’t go and buy that extra-super-duper-special coffee every day and go over my budgeted amount. Of course it’s my money. But it’s not more of it than I planned on.

          • Lacey

            This is exactly what I do. I load $30 onto my Starbucks card every month and it has literally saved me $100 per month!! (Yes.. I would spend $100-$150 a month on Starbucks easily).

  • Maria Lynn Cole

    I have been considering the gift card option for a long time now. I do not generally eat at chain places but I am going to go the prepaid visa route. I think I am going to buy my gift cards from the grocery store I also buy gas and receive gas points at. That way the money I do allow myself to spend on Shopping, Eating Out and Gas is at least earning me a small percentage off on my gasoline. Also I will buy my gift cards with my credit card so I’m at least getting my reward points. ( will make the statements easier to read.)