OK, financial advisors: Hold the hate mail (and hate e-mails). I'm going to say right off the bat that paying for good-quality financial advice is very often money well spent. And I mean it. If an advisor can set up a sensible asset-allocation plan, select some reasonably priced investments, and do his or her part to keep the investor with the program through varying market conditions, that advisor has more than earned his or her keep. The merits of employing a financial advisor are particularly pronounced for those who have complicated financial situations and/or little time to devote to their investments.
At the same time, I'll stand by my assertion that not everyone needs a financial planner. While most personal-finance books, magazines, and Web sites focus on the "how tos" of creating your financial plan, here are some of the key reasons why you might consider flying solo.