Young family investing: where to start?
My husband and I are in our early 30's and know that we need help investing but don't know where to start! I guess my main fear is getting on with a finacial professional who is more interested in making commissions than looking out for our best interest. How do we go about choosing a finacial planner that is not married to one set of funds but can advise us objectively in all areas? How do we determine what are reasonable fees? What vehicles should we consider to put our money in? We have about $400/mo that we'd like to start investing. Plus $100/mo to put towards our baby's education fund (need to start that, too.)
To give some background, we have about 10K in an IRA, (just sitting in the bank making some pitiful rate.) I am a SAHM and DH works for a small business (with no 401k avail.) We generally keep 4-5K in savings. Should we put that to work and just keep a HELOC for emergencies?
As for debt, we have an 80/20 mortgage (at 5.25% and 9%) and one car payment (at 5.75% which will be paid off in 6 months freeing up $500/mo.) When we have a big expense we use the zero-interest-on-transfered-balance-credit-card game (and make damn sure to pay it off on time.) Our credit is spotless.
We also have about 10K in home improvements on the horizon. Besides the zero interest credit card and HELOC are there other options worth considering to finance this?
I know I am posing SO many questions with not much info to work with. Thanks for reading; your advice is appreciated.