Financial advisers: 'Like exercise, starting is usually the hardest part.'

Financial advisers: 'Like exercise, starting is usually the hardest part.'

EUGENE, Ore -- Shawn Irvine drove an hour to get to United Way's financial planning event, where financial advisers offered their services free-of-charge Saturday at Willamette High School.

He said he asked several advisers questions that a lot of people have. "It can be a little scary, you know, I'm not making very much, or how can I make this work? or is it worth only putting away fifty dollars every month?"
    
Tracy Lampman volunteered her time at the event. As an adviser, she talks to a lot of people about getting to a place of financial freedom. "It's not rocket science, you know, it can be learned," Lampman said.

The key to unlocking your financial independence, Lampman said, is taking that first step and budgeting. "There's nothing exciting or sexy about budgeting, but it really is that foundation of being in control of your money."

Lampman said you should start by tracking your income and expenses for a few months so you can have a good idea of how much is coming in and out.

Also, make it a point to set some goals. Whether it be the next six months, one year, or five years, try to work towards having a plan.

Lampman added that it's great to have an emergency savings fund to provide for a few months, just in case the unexpected happens.

Lampman admitted these first steps aren't the most exciting, but there are tremendous rewards. "They really provide the foundation then to move to the next level. Which would then be making saving for retirement, or doing other kinds of investing or buying a house, those kinds of goals."

For Irvine, he said by planning now, he hoped to get that point sooner than he thought before. "It's not rocket science, you just have to do some research and get it figured out," Irvine said.

Lampman agreed: "Do a little investigation through books or websites of your own, you can learn a lot about financial planning and apply it to your life. But a lot of people really just don't spend enough time investing in it."