OK, we've got good news and some bad news.
First, the bad. According to a 2001 Retirement Confidence Survey, only 39% of workers have tried to estimate, in detail, their financial needs for retirement. According to a 1999 report from the Securities and Exchange Commission, "Two out of three households in America -- an estimated 65 million households -- will probably fail to realize one or more of their major life goals because they've failed to develop a comprehensive financial plan."
The good news is you don't have to be part of these depressing statistics. Consider tapping the services of an experienced advisor to help you get your financial house in order. Financial advisors are not just for the rich.
A financial advisor can guide you through retirement planning, investing strategies, tax issues, dealing with employee stock options, and more. This is valuable throughout your life, but especially when you near major life events, such as paying for college, retiring, buying a house, getting married, having a baby, or (yikes) being laid off.
When changing jobs, you need to consider how to deal with your retirement accounts. All of us should evaluate whether we have adequate disability insurance. Long-term care insurance is also worth investigating. Financial advisors can help you determine whether you're better off leasing or buying your next car, if you should refinance your mortgage, how to avoid estate taxes, ways to maximize your ability to care for elderly parents, and so on.
You can certainly learn a lot about these topics on your own, in books or online. But if you still have questions regarding how various rules and guidelines apply to your specific situation, you might consider consulting a pro.
There are good and less-good financial advisors. Watch out for those who put their financial self-interest before yours, perhaps trying to sell you products you don't need or skimming a percent off your assets without helping to increase your wealth.
Learn more about financial advisors and how to choose one in this series of Fool articles. You may also visit the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors website to locate an advisor near you.
Another option is to check out our TMF Money Advisor service, which features customized, independent advice from objective financial pros. Test-drive it now, free for 30 days. Perhaps now is the time to let an impartial expert address your specific, personal situation and help ensure that you're saving enough, and well enough, to meet all your needs. Oh, and right now if you sign up for Money Advisor you'll also get a free copy of The Motley Fool Money Guide -- yours to keep just for trying the service.