How to access two days of free financial advice

Need retirement planning advice but aren't sure who you can trust?

Each year, Kiplinger Personal Finance magazine teams up with the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors to provide several days of free advice to anyone who calls or writes into the free advice sections of the  partner web sites. This month, the free advice days will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Eastern) on Thursday, Jan. 12, and Tuesday, Jan. 17th.

What can you ask and who will be answering?

There are no restrictions on the questions as long as they have some relevance to retirement planning. In past years, consumers have asked about how to prioritize retirement with other goals, such as college savings; how to evaluate whether they're on track; and how to allocate 401(k) assets between different types of investments.

Theoretically, you can ask as many questions as you like and get detailed answers. But to get a good answer, you've got to be prepared with detailed information about your situation. For instance, if you want to ask about a good asset allocation strategy for your 401(k), be sure to explain what your investment choices are; whether you have outside investments; and how you feel about risk. This is particularly important for those who write-in through the "web-chat" function. Consumers who ask complex questions without the detail required to answer accurately may get a generic response, like "you should seek the advice of a financial planner."

The advice is provided by members of NAPFA, a trade group that represents fee-only financial planners, as well as Kiplinger editors, who sometimes provide links to recent stories that help answer questions that come up via web-chat.

Since the program was launched 11 years ago, NAPFA estimates that the free financial planning days have allowed their members to give one-on-one counseling to some 37,000 individuals.

There are two ways to access the free advice: You can calll the toll free number at 888-919-2345 or go to the web sites of one of the sponsors -- Kiplinger's or NAPFA. Those who choose to "like" the Kiplinger Facebook fan page can also get notified of future free financial advice days.

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