A One-Time Financial Checkup

Most advisers in the Garrett Planning Network charge $150 to $300 per hour, or $600 to $1,500 for a one-time financial review.

My husband plans to retire in about four years. We’d like to see a financial planner for a one-time checkup to make sure we’re on the right track. How do we find someone who will do this, and how much will it cost? --D.F.G., South Windsor, Conn.

Try the Garrett Planning Network, which has more than 300 fee-only financial advisers throughout the country who charge by the hour. Member advisers taking on new clients must offer one-time financial checkups as one of their services. Most of the advisers charge $150 to $300 per hour, or $600 to $1,500 for a one-time review.

Many members of the Alliance of Cambridge Advisors also offer one-time checkups, as do some members of NAPFA, a national association of more than 2,400 fee-only financial advisers.

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The scope of services can vary. Margot Dorn, a certified financial planner in San Diego, charges $210 per hour for retirement planning, cash-flow analysis, investment advice, and insurance and estate-planning reviews. Basic planning, she says, takes one to three hours; detailed retirement projections and investment allocation can take longer.

You may also have access to advice through your 401(k) plan or brokerage firm. Vanguard will connect you by phone to a financial planner who will assess your progress toward your retirement goal, discuss asset allocation and show how much you can safely spend in retirement (the fee is $250 for clients with $50,000 to $500,000 in investments at Vanguard).

Kimberly Lankford
Contributing Editor, Kiplinger's Personal Finance

As the "Ask Kim" columnist for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, Lankford receives hundreds of personal finance questions from readers every month. She is the author of Rescue Your Financial Life (McGraw-Hill, 2003), The Insurance Maze: How You Can Save Money on Insurance -- and Still Get the Coverage You Need (Kaplan, 2006), Kiplinger's Ask Kim for Money Smart Solutions (Kaplan, 2007) and The Kiplinger/BBB Personal Finance Guide for Military Families. She is frequently featured as a financial expert on television and radio, including NBC's Today Show, CNN, CNBC and National Public Radio.