It is that time of year when retailers try to convince you that you need what they sell and that you can save so much more by buying from them.

On the flip side, you can’t get away from advice to set up a plan to save for your goals — no matter how many times you have tried before and failed.

For many people, this all leads to the nagging sense that they should sit down with a financial adviser and make a plan.

I think this could be the worst time for you to try to plan.

People won’t follow through with anything unless they are committed to it. If the only reason you are sitting down with a financial adviser is because you think you must change something — but you don’t really believe you are in a position to — you are probably better off not even meeting.

Don’t get me wrong. You will certainly walk away from such a meeting with some great ideas, and your adviser will explain what you need to do to meet your goals. But I’m not sure you will listen to what your adviser says, especially if you are focused on how much you still have to do to host that holiday gathering, or you are running through your shopping list, fretting over how to pay for it all.

It is OK if creating a financial plan isn’t important to you right now. We all have stuff going on in our lives, and we have only so much capacity to deal with it.

It is more important to be honest with yourself. If you spend the money to sit down with an adviser and you are not ready, you won’t be successful, and you may resent the expense. This can leave a bad taste in your mouth and make it unlikely you will try again.

However, you should not — and cannot — put off financial planning forever. It needs to be important to you, not because you want to get rich, necessarily, but because it can play a huge role in reaching your goals.

Here, then, are my recommendations:

Find an adviser who will meet you where you are, even if you are only ready to start slowly, like identifying where your money is going and ensuring your retirement savings plan is properly allocated and you are contributing.

Set the appointment for after New Year’s. The most important thing to remember is that this financial plan is for you, not the adviser. It needs to be something you agree with and believe you can accomplish, otherwise it is not worth the paper it’s printed on.

Give yourself permission to enjoy the holiday season, but commit to a deadline to develop a plan.


Eric Jorgensen, a fee-only financial planner in Silver Spring, Md., wrote this for NerdWallet.