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lonesomepine, you asked:

<< Retiring early (55) and am wondering if I should get a certified planner. This might be a dumb question, but does a planner save you money in the long run, if you are not at all familiar with investing? Or, is it better to go through an agency like Scwabb or Fidelity and let them advise you and review your investment every six months? >>

Whether or not a CFP (Certified Financial Planner) can be of help to you, especially in the area of "saving you money", depends on just what you want that planner to do. The curriculum that CFP's goes through is really designed to turn out a CFP that is well rounded and not a particular expert in any one field. They are educated to be generalists and will work with a team of experts as required depending on just what you want done. Though CFP's are educated to be the quarterback of a team effort, it is typical for CFP's to be expert in at least one discipline (most often, life insurance related and/or investing). A good experienced CFP can very well “save you money” and that's usually the idea in using them. A lot depend on just how complex you financial situation might me or . . . will be and if you don't have the time or interest to do much of this stuff yourself, then a good experience CFP can be a very valuable as a trusted advisor.

Schwab and Fidelity have CFP's on staff. So you can use them too. Just who you use depend on just what you really want them specifically to do. So, before you decide to engage an advisor, be very clear on what you feel YOU want done so that you can simplify your selection process. Also, when you have a clear idea of what you want, it's much less likely you'll be sold a service or product you really don't need.

As you think about what you might want to not want to do, you might get a hold of a couple of financial planning books to see just what's involved. A good one to start with would be Ernst & Young's Retirement Planning Guide. You can usually find it in your local book store or library.
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