Reading stocks report of the newspaper
With boatloads of data and other financial information available on the Internet, it has never been easier to do your own investing. And there's nothing quite as gratifying and empowering as doing exactly what you want to do with your own hard-earned cash.

What's more, with traditional pension plans going the way of the dinosaur, all of us are expected to take control of and manage our retirement savings—whether it's through an employer-sponsored 401(k), IRA or other special account. Making sure we have enough to live comfortably in our old age falls squarely on our own shoulders. So, first things first when it comes to financial planning. Use the retirement worksheet in the tools section to determine how much you'll need to retire comfortably.

Being your own financial planner means you make all the overall decisions as well as get involved in the nitty-gritty of choosing specific investments. This Money Group guide is designed to help you and your group members prepare on both fronts. However, there are times, like in the scenarios below, when it makes sense to ask for help from a professional financial planner. For instance:
  • When you're too busy. Smart investing takes time and hard work. If you're often swamped, the most responsible thing you can do is wave the white flag and hire someone to help.
  • When you're in transition. Starting a family, going through a divorce, losing a spouse, getting a big promotion, receiving an inheritance or taking on responsibility for an aging parent are all big life transitions that can affect your finances and trigger the need for good, solid planning help.
  • When you're suffering from inertia. When it comes to actually choosing investments, making the calls and doing the paperwork—you freeze. A planner can help jump-start that process for you.
  • When you're starting your own business. A planner can help with some of the more complicated financial aspects of your new role as a business owner, such as what type of insurance you'll need, what kind of self-employed retirement plan you should use and how long you can manage on a minimal salary.
10 questions to help you decide what's right for you