Research and Decisions

Researching big financial decisions (and little ones) is important. You know your money, your goals, and your values best. Here are some questions that you can use as a starting point when making some of life’s big decisions.


Purchasing a car:

  • What are you needs?
  • How much can you afford?
  • How much would you like to spend?
  • How long do you plan to keep the car?
  • Will you buy or lease a car?
  • Will you finance a car or pay cash for a car?
  • If you are financing a car, where will your financing come from?
  • If you are financing a car, what is your interest rate?


Purchasing a home:

  • How much can you afford?
  • How much would you like to spend?
  • How long do you plan to live in the house?
  • Where would you like to live?
  • What is the maximum monthly payment with which you are comfortable?


Paying debt:

  • List your debts – the amount owed, the servicer/lender, and the interest rate.
  • If you can make the minimum monthly payment and have additional money to put towards your debt payments, how should you allocate this additional money?
    • Should you pay additional money to the smallest debt so that you can pay off a lender sooner?
    • Should you pay additional money to the debt with the highest interest rate so that you can pay less overall?
    • Should you split the additional money evenly over all debts to be paying more than the minimum on all of them?
  • If you are unable to make minimum payments on your debts on a regular basis, you may want to consider credit counseling.



  • What is the time frame when you are expecting the use the money that you have invested?
  • How comfortable are you with risk, knowing that investing money can come with varying levels of risk?
  • If investing in CDs, which financial institution will you choose for this investment?
  • If investing in bonds, will you invest in individual bonds or in a bond fund?
  • If investing in the stock market, which brokerage will you choose to assist you? What fees are associated with the brokerage?
  • Be aware that particularly with riskier investments (i.e. stocks and startups), there is a chance that you will lose all of the money that you invested.
  • Does an investment seem to be too good to be true? Do more research – it may not be all that it promises to be.
  • Research all fees before investing.


Engaging a financial professional:

  • Remember that persons who are hired by a company to provide financial advice are working for that company.
  • What type of assistance are you looking for?
  • Does your bank or employer have assistance available at low or no cost?
  • Inquire about fees up front.
  • Does the advice that you receive from a financial professional match your own research?
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