Sweet 16

Jaslyn has made it around the sun another 365 days and is now two years old. So what does that mean?
This means TiYanna and I have sixteen years left to execute our plan.

It means we’ve got sixteen more years left to keep stuffing money into Jaslyn’s accounts.

It means we have sixteen years left to ask our village to support Jaslyn’s financial plan. (That isn’t totally true. We’ll definitely keep asking our village to financially support Jaslyn forever…lol)

It makes sense for me to first give a status update on each part of the plan that was laid out in the 18-year head start.

Savings account – This account will always be the worst-performing asset she possesses. However, we established this account because we wanted Jaslyn to have a relationship with a financial institution. Plus, Jaslyn was featured in a movie (Earth Mama), and we had to have a bank account to receive her earnings.
Here’s how my wife and I fund this portion of her plan. When she receives monetary gifts, 50% is always applied to her savings account. So, if she’s gifted $10, $5 gets added. This keeps us disciplined and focused, and it’s simple.

Life insurance policy – I’ve been pleased with the cash value performance in her life insurance policy. As a reminder, we’re doing something unique with Jaslyn’s life insurance policy. We are “over-funding” it. That means we’re putting in way more money than is required to keep the policy in force. Here’s an example of over-funding. A life insurance policy might require you to pay a $30/month premium for a $100,000 death benefit, but you decide to put in $130/month. The excess premium ($100) you put into the policy helps grow the cash value over time.
The thing I want you to remember is that THIS IS LIFE INSURANCE. Although this policy can build equity (the cash value), we don’t consider this an investment. But we do like that Jaslyn owns something that offers multiple benefits.

Investment account – As you may recall, from the 18 year head start article, we decided to open a Uniform Transfers to Minor Account, known as a UTMA. This would allow Jaslyn free reign when deciding what to do with “her” funds. I put her in quotes because when Jaslyn becomes the age of majority (18 in the state of California), the funds are hers by contract. My wife and I have discussed whether or not we want to remain as an overseer of the money, but we’ll have to revisit that, and ultimately, if Jaslyn feels like she needs us to maintain/manage things, we’ll continue to support her as needed.
We want to empower her to be a great steward of her investments from an early age but with some guardrails. Plus, I will constantly remind her about what I did with my UTMA when I graduated college. I blew that money so fast, and I don’t want her to do what her daddy did. I still jokingly blame my parents for not putting up more guardrails. I learned some expensive lessons in my early 20s.
As for what we invested in and overall performance, we’ve been very pleased! I initially invested in a growth-oriented mutual fund to which I contribute $50/month. With all the additional monetary gifts we’ve received, I added a REIT ETF and a Dow Jones ETF to the mix. I rarely hold any money in cash. When the money comes in, I invest it ASAP.
Lastly, this is where the other 50% goes when we receive a monetary gift. We’ll continue to commit to the 50/50 split, and hopefully, Jaslyn will adopt this process of making a commitment whenever she earns a dollar. She’ll have other responsibilities and bills, but for now, she can just stack!

Authorized user – Okay, this one is causing me issues. I’ve recommended that adding a child as an authorized user is a great way to begin your child’s credit journey, and I still recommend it. However, I have yet to be able to get a credit report (from any of the three bureaus) for Jaslyn. It may be because of her age.
Prior to giving that recommendation, I researched online which banks/credit unions would report credit activity for a minor. Based on that information, I made my selections.
There are some age restrictions that might prohibit a financial institution from reporting credit activity. But I made sure to select the bank where age wasn’t an issue. However, when I wrote a letter to the credit bureaus (I wanted to see what all three were reporting) requesting Jaslyn’s reports, I was disappointed with the outcome.
First, only one of the three bureaus called me back. And they told me they didn’t have any activity for Jaslyn. (Reminder: I added Jaslyn when she was three months old)
Second, I have yet to hear back from the other two bureaus, which still upsets me.
So, now I have to go back to the drawing board. I don’t plan to remove her as an authorized user until I see some data on her credit report. However, I will reach out directly to the bank and ask about their reporting. Once I can do some more investigating, I’ll update and share my findings.

Jaslyn’s balance sheet – this was a late addition to Jaslyn’s plan, which I still needed to report on. We update Jaslyn’s balance sheet every three months. This way, when she’s older, she’ll be able to see the growth of her assets over the years. We completed her first balance sheet in October 2022 (she was five months old) to capture her third-quarter performance. At that point, her net worth was a smidge under $4,000. 
Here’s a breakdown of her asset’s overall performance from Q3 2022 through Q1 2024**
Bank Account (worst performer): 119% increase
Cash Value in her life insurance policy: 171% increase
Investment account (best performer): 266% increase
I expect this trend to continue over the years. Her bank account will continue to grow because of the deposits made, but the interest she’ll earn will be minimal. Thus, it will lag in performance compared to her cash value and investment account. But during a down market, the bank account might be the best performer.
I also expect her investment account to continue to lead the way in performance over the long haul. However, because it’s the riskiest asset she owns, I’m aware that her quarterly performance might not be positive during a down market. But, as a reminder, investing gets better with time, so I’m not too worried about down markets.
**Going forward, I’ll report the year-over-year performance of her net worth on these annual updates

The #BuildWealth Movement® works tirelessly to Disrupt Generational Poverty® for everyone so their kids, kids, kids can live a life of privilege.


Mr. #BuildWealth’s Credo

I was speaking at a workshop about a year ago, and during the question-and-answer period, a gentleman sitting in the back of the room asked me this question: “What’s your thing? Like, what makes you different from every other financial planner who does these educational sessions?”

Generally, I’ve heard financial experts give canned responses to a question like that. It almost sounds like it came from some company script. That always bothered me because I hate being fake. I wouldn’t say I like giving generic responses, and those types of responses don’t move people to act. My job, as a member of someone’s money team (click here to read more about the money team), is to get them to make a decision that will improve their future financial success. So, right there on the spot, I blurted out something off the cuff, eventually becoming my credo.

Here was my response to that gentleman:

“Sir, I’m not much different from other financial experts you might have encountered. I’m a licensed professional, and I can assist my clients with various insurance, investment, retirement, and financial planning-related matters. I also do coaching or consulting because sometimes, people need to talk about what they’re doing and see if they’re going in the right direction. 

But here’s something I think about when I’m engaging with someone. There are four primary things that I’m looking to discuss with anyone I sit down with. Now, they might not need to care about all four, but if everyone addressed them, more people could and would be living more comfortably.

#1  When someone in your family (or you) goes off to glory, a crowdfunding campaign should NEVER be necessary. 

We should never rely on strangers to help us out when a loved one passes away. If we took life insurance planning more seriously, we wouldn’t need to set up a crowdfunding campaign. Plus, even if you post a campaign and have some success, more money is needed. And you only get some of the money because there’s a fee involved. Can we have an honest discussion about life insurance and make sure you have the right amount? That’s something I want to know. Whether someone likes insurance or not, it’s a vital wealth-building tool.

#2 You should be crystal clear on your investment strategy (risk, what you’re invested in, DIY vs advisor-assisted)

Too many people are clueless when it comes to their investment strategy. How do I know this? Because I’ve asked, and they’ve told me, “Jasper, I don’t know what the hell I’m doing” or “Jasper, I’ve got this account, but I couldn’t tell you what I’m invested in.” That doesn’t sit well with me. So, whether someone is a do-it-yourself investor, partners with an advisor like me, or does a combination, I need people to be clear about what they’re doing on the investment front. 

#3 Retirement is coming. Prepare accordingly

I don’t need to elaborate much on this one. I just hope that when you’re ready to retire, you’ll have enough money to last you the rest of your life. If you don’t, we should probably have a conversation.

#4 Set up your babies for a successful financial future (your babies or your grandbabies)

Whether you have kids of your own, grandkids, nieces, nephews, or some other kid that’s not blood-related, what are you doing to set them up for a financially successful future? Think about kids who grow up in wealthy families; they tend to have more options in life because there isn’t a financial strain. Things can happen because somebody can fund it. I know that’s not a reality for everyone, but I challenge people to devote some of their money to financial planning for the babies. Too many people spend too much money on things that aren’t going to get their kids far in life. But what if every kid (shortly after birth) was set up with a bank account, an investment account, and a life insurance policy? (My daughter was already here, and I told him about the 18-year head start)

If everyone took these four things to heart and did some serious planning around each one, we’d see a lot more wealth being built and sustained by people from all walks of life in this country. All four of the things I listed are connected. I’ll stop there because hopefully I’ve share enough to help you understand what makes me different and what I’m about.”

In case you were curious, after that long explanation of my credo, that gentleman booked a meeting with me the next week. And he ended up becoming a client by the end of that first meeting.

The #BuildWealth Movement® works tirelessly to Disrupt Generational Poverty® for everyone so their kids, kids, kids can live a life of privilege.


College Planning special report

I occasionally encounter parents who have a high school-aged child or children, and they’ll say something like, “I don’t know how we’re going to pay for college.”

That statement always causes me to react in a shocking way. That will never not happen because I’m a financial planner. That response happens because I’ll never understand why people decide to wait. Like seriously. If you knew that you wanted your child to attend college (because most don’t just randomly decide that when they get to high school), what stopped you from starting the planning process shortly after they came out of the womb?

I understand that as a parent (because I am one), you have a ton of competing priorities. However, I’m not saying you have to have it all figured out from the beginning, but you have to start. I recommend starting something (financial) for your child soon after their birth. That’s why I generally remind people to read a piece I wrote called 18-year head start.

Some people reading this might feel like I’m being critical, and it’s because I am. And it’s not that I want to make you feel bad, but from my experiences as a financial planner, I’ve heard countless horror stories that have prompted me to do more. I’m constantly working to educate parents, grandparents, aunties, uncles, and anyone concerned about getting these babies off to college and ensuring they don’t graduate with hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt.

And, for those parents who have waited, know that you’ll need help getting your kid to college. Student loans will always be an option, but let’s do more to avoid those. Speaking of things to avoid, I researched the top mistakes parents make when applying for college funding. Parents made more than 30 different mistakes (from various experts), but I boiled things down to the top ten.

Top 10 mistakes parents make when applying for college funding:

  1. Not doing research to understand financial aid and merit scholarship formulas
  2. Procrastinating to start the process until your student’s senior year
  3. Assuming the cost and process of college admissions are the same as when you went to college
  4. Having your student take the lead without you being involved in the process
  5. Relying solely on your high school guidance counselor
  6. Waiting to apply for college at the deadline
  7. Saying you’re “too busy” to attend college fairs
  8. Having your student concentrate on their major instead of their career
  9. Assuming you won’t be eligible for financial aid because you earn too much money
  10. Going through the financial aid process alone because it’s more affordable

Please share this list of mistakes with a parent who has a high school-aged child or children. If we can avoid these mistakes, our babies will be much better off in the long run.

The #BuildWealth Movement® works tirelessly to Disrupt Generational Poverty® for everyone so their kids, kids, kids can live a life of privilege.

budgeting sucks

Budgeting sucks

My best clients don’t stick to a budget! 

You may wonder how they can be my best clients if they don’t stick to a budget. Here’s the secret: They can’t avoid making a budget because it is a critical step in the financial planning process. But once they’ve done it one good time, they don’t necessarily need to revisit (or stick to) it every month. That’s the difference.

Some months will be better than others, and most people with a decent income can typically cover their bills, save a little, invest some, and have a little fun here and there. That’s normally how life goes.

But millions of people still can’t do what I just described. They aren’t paying their bills on time, they aren’t saving and investing, and they may be having too much fun, living it up, and spending money they don’t have.  

Budgeting isn’t fun and exciting for those people and will never be. It will always make them feel restricted in some way. If you’re in this camp, here’s what I propose: Try to find a budgeting strategy that you can commit to doing. Once you commit, give it a few months until you’ve built this habit of spending awareness.

As soon as you hear the word budget, it can drastically change your mood. That’s because when you say the B-word, it makes you think about spending cuts you have to make in your life. So, if you’re in this camp (that hates budgeting), here are a few strategies that might assist you with your money management skills.

The Highlighter challenge [ This has by far produced the best results with my clients. ]

Pull up your bank account (or credit card) statements for the previous (3) months online. Print them out. Grab a highlighter and mark all the expenses that were not essential to living. In other words, you will be highlighting the “wants” in your life. Typically, when I have clients do this, it’s easy to find an extra $75-$100 spent on something they “wanted” to do. That extra money could be applied to something essential in your life or might go towards saving, investing, or paying down debt. 

50/20/30 plan 

This simplified framework will help you prioritize the various expenses in your life. It’s a “quick and dirty” way to budget. It doesn’t necessarily cover everything, but if you need an easy way to start budgeting, this might do the trick. Click here to check out my version of the 50/20/30.

Bank/Credit Union 

Many financial institutions offer an online money management tool. Have you given it a try? This is another easy option since they already track your activity each month. 

There are tons of other apps that can assist you with improving your money management skills. I don’t endorse anyone because they can all help you if you commit to using them. Plus, I’m not big on giving out free marketing to apps in which I have no equity stake.

And if using an app isn’t for you, a good old Excel spreadsheet (there are hundreds out there) will never let you down.

You may never become a fan of budgeting, but it’s crucial if you want to be a better steward of your money. And this last gem might be what the entire world needs to hear – – find the budgeting strategy that works for you and stick to it the best you can.  

The #BuildWealth Movement® works tirelessly to Disrupt Generational Poverty® for everyone so their kids, kids, kids can live a life of privilege.


Rock, Paper, Scissors

Did you know that a lot of couples don’t talk about money? Seriously, people have lived with each other for years, gone on vacations, attended numerous family functions, you name it. We do a lot of stuff with our significant others, and many of us still find it challenging to have discussions about money.

Let me tell you a story about my lovely wife, TiYanna. We dated for quite a few years before we got married, and I made it very clear that we would not be that couple that didn’t talk about money. It took us some time to get into the money talks, but like most couples, there was one outing that changed our relationship forever and forced us to talk.

If you’re like most couples, you avoid the money conversation until there’s a blowup. I’ll never forget the day it happened to us. We had gone out to dinner one night and had yet to discuss who would pay for the meal. This is probably an issue for most couples unless you’ve had “the talk” already. Some people say the man should always pay, while some women don’t mind paying. On this particular dinner outing, I didn’t necessarily want to go out to eat that night. So, in my head, I assumed TiYanna wouldn’t mind getting the bill. (Assuming things in a relationship, big mistake!)

The waitress brings the bill and lays it on the table close to me. I don’t know if it was intentional, but I believe the waitress was on that “the man is always supposed to pay” thing. I immediately slid the bill back into the middle of the table. I then asked TiYanna if she would be okay with paying since I didn’t want to go out to eat. She gave me this look that indicated she wasn’t trying to pay. I quickly came up with what I think is the best way to solve simple problems in relationships (try it out sometime.) We would play rock, paper, scissors, and the loser would pay. Usually, I like playing one time, but TiYanna always pressed to do 2-out-of-3 if she lost the first match. She lost the first match, then tied it up, and then I closed it out with a victory. Oh, I forgot to tell you, the waitress stood right there while we were in battle. 

That waitress couldn’t stop laughing at us. She couldn’t believe two adults were playing this childish game to solve a minor dispute. However, that incident changed our relationship forever. After that night, it sparked a larger conversation that we had to have about going out to eat. We weren’t married yet, but I knew at that time I would marry TiYanna. I didn’t want this to be an issue for the rest of our lives. So, immediately after TiYanna lost that game of rock paper scissors, she immediately said, “Joint account!”

The #BuildWealth Movement® works tirelessly to Disrupt Generational Poverty® for everyone so their kids, kids, kids can live a life of privilege.


How the Smith’s roll

In every episode of our podcast, Love In The Black, TiYanna (my wife) and I discuss how we tackle the finances in our family. We are very transparent about our conversations in hopes that other couples might try out some of the things that work for us. A lot of married couples don’t talk about money, which is one of the leading causes of divorce.

What if more couples were as open and honest about their financial issues as us? (Note: we’ve only been married for a little over two years, so I’ll probably need to update you when we hit a marriage milestone like the 5-year or 10-year mark.)

I’m a financial planner, and having spent so long dealing with couples and their money issues, I refused to be the next victim, the next statistic, the next cautionary tale, and TiYanna felt the same. So, early in our dating life, I shared with TiYanna something that I did consistently, that I hoped one day she would do. I update my balance sheet every three months. I explained to her that this was how I measured my financial success. Whether I had a good quarter, a bad quarter, or somewhere in between, I would look at my numbers.

When she asked me why I update my balance sheet regularly, I told her I treat myself like a publicly traded company. A publicly traded company has to do an earnings report, plus a call, and share what happened with their business with the entire world. As a result of earnings reports, a company’s stock price will go up and down based on how the world feels about that report and its future. So, if it’s good enough for a publicly traded company, it was good enough for me as an individual.

I appreciate TiYanna’s willingness to participate. She admitted that she was a little nervous about doing this with me, but I told her that I didn’t necessarily want to see her numbers. I wanted her to do her balance sheet so she could begin to track her progress. Then, when she felt comfortable sharing, she could. Honestly, this was part of my wifey vetting process. I needed to know if this would be an issue in the future. I didn’t think it would be a deal breaker, but I’ve encountered too many people who have gotten divorced because of a financial incident.

I wanted to be transparent with my future partner, but others didn’t feel the need to do so. I’m not saying it’ll always end in divorce, but I didn’t want to chance it. Kudos to TiYanna for her willingness and courage. I know this is not typical in most households, but the Smiths aren’t the typical family. I mean, Mr. #BuildWealth can’t have a situation where he’s not having a financial conversation with his boo thang.

I want to encourage all couples to have the discussion, and you don’t need me or some other financial planner, advisor, coach, or counselor to do the work. You just have to set a time and get it done! And if you’re uncomfortable with having the talk, I’d recommend having an adult beverage if that’s your jam. Or, do it over dinner, smoothies, or coffee. Make it comfortable enough for both parties to be open and honest. That’s the key.

The #BuildWealth Movement® works tirelessly to Disrupt Generational Poverty® for everyone so their kids, kids, kids can live a life of privilege.


Granny’s investing experiment

A few years ago, I attended a volunteer event where I spoke about the importance of having a financial plan. After my talk, a woman approached me and said she wanted to try out an experiment with her grandkids.

We set up a meeting about two weeks after that talk, and she was clear about how this experiment would go. She said, “Over the next 5 to 10 years, I want to give each of my grandchildren $2,000 every Christmas.” She had four grandchildren in total.

With this gift, she wanted each grandbaby to invest the money in the stock market. She said she wasn’t comfortable educating them about investing and would prefer they work with a professional close to their age. So, that’s where I came in.

Here’s a little background info on Granny. She was in her late seventies and doing well financially. Right before she shared this idea for the grandbabies, she came out and told me that she had more than enough money in retirement and would be good unless she lived past 110 years old. Despite her success financially, her biggest concern was leaving a lasting legacy for the grandbabies.

What this grandmother was doing was disrupting generational poverty. Many people don’t start investing early in life and, therefore, don’t have a great relationship with investments as they age. She didn’t want that for her grandbabies. She figured if she provided them with investing education and funded it along the way, there would be no way her grandbabies wouldn’t have sizeable portfolios in 10-15 years.

So here’s how things went. Granny initially hired me to do four educational sessions, with the first starting in early December before they were to receive the first $2,000. We would then do quarterly check-ins. We would reassess after year one to see if we would continue for another year.

After that first meeting, each grandbaby had to explain to me what investment they would select and why. The next three sessions involved us analyzing and discussing how that investment performed over the previous quarter.

After that first year, this grandmother’s four grandbabies had grown leaps and bounds regarding their understanding of the wild world of investments. While most hesitated to decide on what investment they would select with that first gift, it was easy for them to quickly determine what they would do for the next Christmas gift.

We made such great progress in year one that we would only have two meetings, 6-months apart, for year two. This was going to be the real test. How would the grandbabies fare without meeting with me so often? They did just fine.

All the usual fears people have around investing were removed from this group. All the analysis paralysis people get when deciding on an investment was gone. All the uncertainty and discomfort people feel when investing was no longer present because we had extensive conversations about risk. I did for this group what I do for all my clients. I make investing simple and easy.

In the end, Granny got what she wanted. She solidified her legacy by helping her grandbabies learn how to invest and showed why having ongoing conversations about investing is important. Wealthy people always talk about investing, so she figured, why not them?

The #BuildWealth Movement® works tirelessly to Disrupt Generational Poverty® for everyone so their kids, kids, kids can live a life of privilege.

Happy 1st Birthday, Jaslyn!

Baby in the Black

The balance sheet is a very important financial tool I recommend everyone use. It’s a great way to measure your financial progress at a moment in time. It captures what you own (assets) and what you owe (liabilities) and produces your net worth.

Before meeting my wife, I updated my balance sheet every quarter. I started doing it because I used to obsess over reading these articles about the world’s wealthiest people. They would always report that such and such was worth x amount of billions or millions of dollars. So, I began computing my net worth to see how I progressed.

While we were dating, I figured letting her know about this balance sheet thing I was doing every three months made sense. This way, once we got married, it wouldn’t be uncomfortable for us to discuss our financial status. Fast forward a few years, and my wife and I have continued to update our balance sheets every quarter.

Then, we decided to have a kid. And this kid turned out to be a little girl. This little girl would be setup for financial greatness shortly after she was born. If you still need to read my piece called 18-year head start, you should check it out.

As of this writing, my daughter is a little over one year old and has a considerable amount of assets. Of course, she has no liabilities and probably won’t have them for at least another two decades. So, let me say that again. My daughter will grow her asset base for twenty years and has no debt. Could you please do this for your kid(s)?

Then it hit me! My daughter will have thousands of dollars in assets and no debt until she can purchase her first home. And her assets will have grown so that even when she takes out a mortgage for her home, she may still have a positive net worth. That’s crazy, right???? I thought so, too! And when I started thinking about this, I got excited.

I wanted to memorialize this since she’s young so I can look back when she’s older to see how things turn out. My wife added the cherry on top when she said this…”We are raising a baby that might always be in the Black.”

The #BuildWealth Movement® works tirelessly to Disrupt Generational Poverty® for everyone so their kids, kids, kids can live a life of privilege.


17 years and counting

My daughter Jaslyn was only a few months old when I wrote 18-year head start. (If you haven’t read it, please go check it out) Now, that little girl has made her first trip around the sun. My wife and I have stayed committed to making sure our daughter has the best financial head start possible. Over the past year, I’ve done numerous talks about the 18-year head start article and how I would continue to share how her financial plan progresses.

So, let’s start from the top with the updates.

Savings Account – – this account was set up because we wanted Jaslyn to have some liquid cash. But, honestly, she doesn’t need liquidity because she has no bills. It’s been the worst overall performer (and probably always will be) because rates on basic savings accounts are low. But that’s okay. This account isn’t designated for growth, so we’re not concerned with its performance.

Jaslyn has received some cash gifts and earned a little bit of income. My wife and I agreed that whenever Jaslyn receives a cash gift, we have to decide if all of it goes into savings or if we carve out a little bit and throw it in her investment account.

Life Insurance policy – – this was set up because my wife and I wanted to lock in Jaslyn’s future insurability. So, we checked that off the list. As a reminder, we decided on a variable universal life (VUL) insurance policy because of the potential for the policy to build substantial cash value. (Check out Permanent Life Insurance 101 to learn more about VUL’s)

Here’s how we structured her policy:

  • The policy (to put it in force) only needed a minimum level of premium. However, we’re paying a higher premium; the remainder goes directly to helping grow the cash value. We pay the premium on an annual basis.
  • We selected an aggressive mix of mutual funds; we expect to build a ton of cash value, so we needed to pick investments that would give her the best opportunity to grow the cash value over the long haul.
  • We selected a variable death benefit. So, within the first year of her policy, the death benefit has already increased.

Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) account – – this account was set up to serve as Jaslyn’s growth bucket. We currently have a mix of ETFs and growth mutual funds within this account. We will stay away from individual stocks for now, but we may consider adding some dividend-paying stocks or REITs in the future. 2022 wasn’t a great year for the stock market, so performance on this account wasn’t that great. However, the account balance grew because of contributions we made (primarily from cash gifts) into the account.

We initially opened the account with cash gifts to fund this account. My wife and I did nothing but collect those funds and allocate a small portion to start investing for Jaslyn. Then, we set up a small monthly recurring deposit into the account. This way, no matter what the market does each month, we constantly purchase more shares.

Authorized User – – we felt compelled to start Jaslyn’s credit history early. However, this is the only part of the plan I can’t give a full update on. I learned that to get a minor’s credit report, you must send a ton of documentation directly to each credit bureau. I didn’t make the time to do this. But I haven’t a doubt in my mind that baby girl’s credit report is stellar. We added her to a credit card we rarely use. We keep the card active, so we know all that positive reporting is trickling down to her.

I hope what TiYanna and I are doing for Jaslyn becomes the norm. There’s no reason why parents (or grandparents) can’t duplicate this plan.

We are not special. We are just two parents who are intentional about ensuring that our baby girl has a future of limitless opportunities.

The #BuildWealth Movement® works tirelessly to Disrupt Generational Poverty® for everyone so their kids, kids, kids can live a life of privilege.


18-year head start

For the longest time, I’ve been giving parents and grandparents advice on how to give their child(ren) or grandchild(ren) a great financial head start in life. After May 12, 2022, I’m no longer just giving this advice. Instead, I’m living by it. My wife and I welcomed our daughter Jaslyn into the world and immediately agreed that we would take full advantage of the 18-year head start. We weren’t going to be those parents who waited to begin setting up their child’s financial success program.

During my time in the financial services industry, I’ve heard countless stories from parents and grandparents about what they wish they would’ve done when that child or grandchild was younger. It’s always this feeling of regret that I could see in their faces and hear in their voices that scared me. And I couldn’t understand why these cycles continued to happen generation after generation.

It makes me think about all the people who struggle to save and invest as recent college graduates or adults in their early 30s because they have student loans they’re dealing with. Just think, you leave school and get a job, but you’re already digging yourself out of a hole. For the majority of people, this “hole digging” continues because before you’re really bringing in some serious income, you might have decided to purchase a home (30 more years of debt), get a new car (another 3-5 years of debt), and maybe cash flow isn’t flowing that great because you also decided to start a family. Well, just imagine what life would have been like had you graduated college with zero debt. So yeah, all that money going to your aunt Sallie could’ve been funding your investment account, retirement account, and savings account from the very first day after graduation.

I also thought about Jaslyn’s future and how she might not want to go the traditional college route and instead become an entrepreneur. I think about all the stories about entrepreneurs and their struggles with funding their businesses. Some could never get the money they needed to launch their business. They couldn’t get a loan from the bank or credit union, they didn’t know any angel investors, and nobody in their family had enough in the bank to write them a check. Meanwhile, we hear other stories about entrepreneurs who have a village or community that may house numerous angel investors or an immediate family member who had no issues writing them a $250,000 check.  

So, how were my wife and I going to decide on how to take advantage of Jaslyn’s 18-year head start? First, we sat down and had a conversation. Second, we agreed on what we would do for her. And lastly, we executed the plan. I know I’m making this seem like it was easy because it actually was. It was easy because while my wife and I were dating, we talked about money. After we got married, we talked about money. After Jaslyn was born, we talked about money. See, it’s not a struggle for my wife and me to talk about money because it’s a normal part of our lives.

Now it’s time for me to share the four things we did for Jaslyn and why:

  • Savings account – – this is the easiest thing to do, and it’s safe (from a risk perspective). Plus, if she starts earning money at an early age (like modeling, doing commercials, or movies), they can cut those checks with her name on them.
  • Life Insurance policy – – we agreed that a variable universal life insurance policy would serve her best and allow for long-term slow growth (riskier than the savings account). Such a policy will produce substantial cash value, which is an asset that Jaslyn could use in the future for various purposes when she reaches 18. Also, getting her covered at such a young age locks in her future insurability. This is important because we haven’t the slightest clue what her health status might look like at 18 and beyond. So we can rest easy and know that if our daughter’s health changes and she (as an adult) is declared uninsurable, at least she has some coverage in place. Lastly, if Jaslyn predeceases us, there’s money to handle all of her final expenses. We (like ALL parents) would be crushed if this happens, but by having her covered, the financial planning my wife and I do wouldn’t get disrupted. I know this is why most people look at me strangely when I say people should get life insurance on kids, but we’ve got to get past this and take care of business.
  • Uniform Transfers to Minors Act (UTMA) account  – – we set up a UTMA investment account, which will serve as the riskiest asset Jaslyn will own. We started her off with a growth mutual fund (the initial deposit to own the fund is $250) and are doing a modest $50/month ongoing contribution. As things progress, we plan to add some ETFs and individual stocks to her portfolio. This specific account type has its pros/cons, just like with any other investment solution, but the challenge for my wife and me was deciding to do this account versus a 529 plan. We had an extensive discussion about the merits of both account types, and after doing a simple T-chart, the UTMA won the battle.
  • Added as an authorized user – – this is the thing people rarely consider doing. Why do we wait until 18 years old to build our credit? Well, when you turn 18, that’s when you can legally apply on your own to get a credit card. But nobody ever told you that you could have been building your credit history as soon as you received your social security number. So, that’s what we did for Jaslyn. I have a credit card that offers me cash back, which I use to make a recurring payment (my cell phone bill) each month. I know for sure I will never not pay off the full balance for my cell phone each month. And so, Jaslyn will have years of credit history before ever having to apply for her own card. But, the neat thing that’s going to happen is when she applies to get that first card, she will have way more access to credit (a higher limit) than most 18-year-olds start with. 

I hope this article starts a movement. Like seriously! There’s no good reason why a parent (or grandparent) couldn’t ensure that all four things I previously mentioned are put into place right away. Some people may feel that Jaslyn’s plan might be a bit extreme but tell me one parent that doesn’t want to “go hard in the paint” for their kid to ensure they have options in life. Some may think that it’s too hard to do (from a financial standpoint), but I’d challenge that because I know people spend hundreds of dollars on baby stuff that never gets used. Those funds could be applied elsewhere.

Others may want to offer various other solutions, and I’m okay with that. But, whether somebody follows my plan exactly or something close to it, my daughter will grow up and know for sure that her parents didn’t blow her 18-year head start.

The #BuildWealth Movement® works tirelessly to Disrupt Generational Poverty® for everyone so their kids, kids, kids can live a life of privilege.