Date: October 4, 2021

5 Times a DIY Strategy to Financial Planning Doesn’t Work

If you have the time and expertise, you might be able to do your own financial planning. However, most people lack both, which is one of the many reasons to use a financial advisor for guidance. Taking on a task you’re not properly suited for can end in costly, avoidable mistakes.

Unfortunately, it takes many DIYers a few big mistakes to finally ask for help. We see this a lot at Heritage Capital, when prospective clients come to us, asking us to fix what’s already been done. Some mistakes can’t be fixed.

The good news though is that, depending on your situation, hiring a financial advisor (or making a switch if you’re not comfortable with the person you’re currently working with) can start to improve your prospects right away.

If you’re confident you can handle your financial planning on your own, consider the following 5 scenarios.


1. You Don’t Have the Time, Knowledge or Interest to Stay on Top of Everything

Investing can be exciting … when times are good! When any kind of volatility occurs, it can be another story.

There is usually an initial rush of excitement when one begins any new endeavor. But after some time passes, you may come to realize that you’ve taken on more than you bargained for. This is often the case when it comes to financial planning. It doesn’t take long for some investors to realize just how much is involved. Tax laws change. Estate planning regulations differ depending on where you live. Investment trends may not be as “hot” as someone on the radio predicted. There are also the not-so-exciting tasks of financial planning, such as budgeting, retirement planning, Social Security and insurance needs.

Unless you have a lot of extra time and a great amount of self-motivation and self-discipline, you might quickly conclude that you’d rather depend on someone who does financial planning for a living. Keeping up with current financial developments is no small matter.

In truth, good financial advisors pay for themselves many times over. It’s not just investment advice they provide, as important as that is. A financial advisor can save you from wasting money, avoid costly mistakes, help grow your wealth and develop strategies for you to realize your life goals. Whether it’s helping you develop an efficient, diversified investment portfolio, reducing your tax burden, using insurance in sophisticated ways, or building your retirement nest egg, the right financial advisor will provide value throughout your lifetime.


Let’s talk! Schedule a no-obligation conversation with the Heritage Capital team to see how we can help.


2. You Started Late and Have Less Time for Your Money to Grow

If you feel it’s too late to work with a financial advisor, think again. The fact is, late-starters can benefit from professional advice even more as they try to catch-up for lost time. You may assume a more aggressive investment approach is an easy way to super-charge your savings, but having less time before retirement, means you have less time to recover from investment mistakes. When you get a late start to retirement planning, it’s important that every move you make is an educated and informed one so you avoid costly missteps that can threaten your future.


3. Your Financial Life is Complex

A complicated financial life demands much thought and attention if it is to be handled effectively. Complex problems often require complex solutions, the kinds of solutions that you may not be aware of on your own. Moreover, one of the reasons to use a financial advisor when your situation is complex is to make sure nothing falls through the cracks.

By trying to manage your finances on your own, you can rob yourself of opportunities and leave money on the table.


4. You’ve Gone Through a Transition

While your finances are an exceedingly important part of your life, they are but one of the demands on your time and attention. When life becomes complicated, it may be hard to focus on money matters. A financial advisor can supply that focus, even when you can’t.

For example, losing a spouse is one of the most difficult changes a person can experience in their life, emotionally and financially. Making financial decisions that are based on emotions are one of the biggest mistakes we see people make. While it may seem like a good idea at the time, a seemingly simple decision can have lifelong effects. How do you handle an inheritance, life insurance payouts, the transition from two incomes to one?

Navigating divorce can also be a confusing, complicated and emotional time, and adjusting your plans based on your new situation can be extremely difficult on your own. Many divorcees miss out on Social Security benefits that they’re entitled to and forget about retirement accounts their ex-spouse had.

Many life changes, good and bad, such as growing a family, losing a loved one or changing jobs, have a financial component. Navigating these situations can be hard to do when you are distracted by other matters. As human beings, we all have the instinct to throw money at short-term problems in an effort to alleviate them as quickly as possible. A financial advisor can help you deploy your resources strategically to navigate life’s complexities without ignoring your long-term goals.


5. You Fear the Market

The stock market is dominated by two emotions – fear and greed. Some investors know how to control those emotions, but in our experience at Heritage Capital, they are the vast minority.

Fear of the market, if left unchecked, will almost certainly limit your long-term returns, and that can cripple your ability to accumulate wealth. While it may feel good to avoid risk in your portfolio, you might not be paying enough attention to the threat of inflation. Over time, inflation can rob your money of its buying power. If you are too fearful to invest in assets that outperform inflation because you find them too risky, you may see your lifestyle erode and your retirement plans foiled.

A financial advisor can help you overcome your fears about investing while still respecting your risk-averse attitude. A financial advisor should look beyond the current state of the market and focus on long-term wealth accumulation.

Another common mistake we see is knee-jerk emotional responses to volatile markets. A financial advisor can help you look upon those conditions as opportunities to rebalance how you’ve allocated your assets, ultimately keeping you on course when your emotional instinct is to sell, locking in substantial losses. If your current financial advisor doesn’t feel this way, consider switching financial advisors. It’s your financial future that’s ultimately at risk!



There are many excuses for trying to manage your money on your own. But there are also many good reasons not to do so.

If you’re currently taking a DIY approach to your financial planning, or you’re not satisfied with your current portfolio’s performance, contact me directly so we can discuss what you hope to achieve in the short- and long-term. The chances are good that you’ll look back at your decision to seek professional advice as one of the best things you ever did.



Paul Schatz, President, Heritage Capital