As much as we’d like to say and believe otherwise, there are limits to our skill sets and the amount of time in the day. Whether wealthy or not, it’s tempting to DIY anything and everything, relying on YouTube and search engines to piecemeal a solution together, whether that’s planning a vacation, searching for the best insurance rates, cobbling together a legal agreement, or doing one’s taxes.
But for all the money you think you saved doing these tasks yourself, you could be setting yourself up for more trouble down the line. Here are five professionals you should keep on speed dial and why they’ll ultimately save you time, money, and headaches.
If there’s one government agency you never want knocking on your door, it’s the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Unless you’re filing a 1040 EZ, have a real accountant specializing in tax returns (i.e. not someone setting up shop in a Walmart) review your tax return before you file. There are many reputable accountants qualified to file your return and speak with the IRS on your behalf should something look odd later on down the line and you are audited. (FYI, audits are not the same as a full investigation.)
An accountant has taken the time to learn the new tax laws, credits and deductions, and oftentimes will find additional ways to either lower your tax burden or increase your tax return. Check rates in your area and you may be surprised at how affordable an accountant’s services are. If you are running a business, an accountant is indispensable for maintaining scheduled reporting to the IRS and ensuring you won’t get caught on the wrong side of the law.
Car insurance, home insurance, boat insurance, rental insurance… if you own it, you can likely insure it. It seems every year the rates just get higher and higher, so you spend hours on end inputting personal data into various insurance agency sites looking for better rates. Once you’ve finally chosen one, the rate has often expired and gone up again.
Skip the frustration and partner with an insurance broker. Brokers make their money on commissions from selling you a policy, so it’s in their best interest to find you the best policy on cars, homes, boats, or whatever you need at the best price to get you to sign on the digital line. Brokers partner with multiple agencies such as State Farm, Nationwide, All State, etc. so they can search every company at once to get the lowest price quote to you within hours, if not minutes. You’ll be able to contact them as soon as that renewal notice comes in, too, so you have fresh quotes available whenever you desire.
With the onslaught of web-based vacation planning sites like Travelocity, Kayak and Expedia, it’s tempting to avoid using a travel agent and just piece your travel plans together yourself.
The common belief is that using a travel agent requires paying more money than you would if you’d booked the trip yourself. A travel adviser may charge fees, but usually state as much upfront. The fee is typically meant as a deterrent to those who are simply looking for the cheapest rate without an intent to buy.
For serious clients, the adviser often waives the fee if you book a trip through him or her. A large percentage of the adviser’s revenue comes from commissions received from hotels and other vendors the adviser is partnered with.
For example, Virtuoso.com is a leading luxury travel advising site. Once you’ve chosen a destination or hotel on their website, Virtuoso partners you with an adviser that will oversee customizing a trip to your tastes and desires. That includes finding flights, boutique hotels with great nearby restaurants and activities and more. The adviser is paid via commission from the hotel and/or vendors you’re using, not by you directly (unless the adviser spent lots of time planning your vacation only for you to back out- there may be cancellation fees or a surcharge for that).
Travel advisers partner with a variety of hotels and vendors to provide you with a customized trip, often with additional perks and amenities, such as late check in/check out, resort credits or dining options, room upgrades and more. These perks can take a good trip and make it great. Travel advisers can save the day during travel emergencies, too, as they can find emergency accommodations and re-book flights or other transport when they get cancelled or delayed.
Anytime someone hands you a contract or asks you to provide one, get a lawyer involved. If you’re in business or considering starting one, discuss it with a lawyer. Legal jargon is confusing and usually doesn’t mean what we laymen think it means. When starting a business for example, depending on what type (i.e. LLC, S-corp, etc.), there are a specific set of documents that must be filed with specific clauses espousing specific phrases to ensure your business is legal.
The same goes for an agreement between two parties, whether it is between two people, two businesses, or a business and a person. Have those agreements reviewed by a lawyer to ensure the clauses are legally enforceable and that every possible situation that could arise is covered by the agreement.
No search engine is going to provide the right information to ensure you won’t be sued or screwed over. The proliferation of sites like Legalzoom.com are providing affordable alternatives to expensive hourly rates found at traditional law firms, so take advantage of them for savings and peace of mind.
Wearing clothing that would otherwise fit except for length or a needed taper here and there makes you look unkempt and unprofessional. Hem long sleeves and pant legs, and if that isn’t your forte, head to a local tailor/seamstress and have him or her take care of it for you. They can also take care of that broken zipper and let out or take in the garment a size or more if needed. Pricing varies by vendor, with major alterations obviously costing more and taking longer than minor alterations like hemlines.
Fixing minor flaws in your clothing will save you money (since you’re keeping clothes you already own instead of buying new clothes) and take the outfit from frumpy to fabulous.