you need a planner

You Need A Financial Planner

Financial planners were put on this earth for one reason, to help people get and keep their financial houses in order. But so many people avoid financial planners. Why, exactly is that? Are you one of those people who think you’re better off on your own? Perhaps. Are you the person who says you don’t make enough money; therefore, there’s no need for you to meet with one? Or maybe you’re the person who says, “I don’t want someone all up in my business.” Whatever your reason, you should seriously consider having a conversation with a financial planner because the data doesn’t lie! As a society, we are seriously failing at financial planning.

If you have some time, research this piece that the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors published in 2012. The findings are quite disturbing. In that piece, they reference an organization, the National Foundation for Credit Counseling, which conducts an annual consumer financial literacy survey. Take a look at their survey in 2013 and 2014. It should come as no surprise, but the numbers continue to be extremely disappointing year after year. And, if you’re wondering how things are going today, not much has changed. On the flip side, this should encourage any financial planner to continue to reach out to and follow up with their clients, ask those tough questions, and challenge their clients to be better financial stewards.

Financial planning shouldn’t be something that we fear, but something we should embrace. If you are someone who doesn’t have a plan, you need one. If you’re someone who already has a plan, maybe you’re overdue for a review. No matter your situation, having a financial game plan will most certainly guarantee you financial independence (however you define it) at some point in your life. And just like that adage says, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail.


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

understand bene's

Understanding Your Benefits is Important

When you get a job, your employer may have informed you that you will be receiving some additional benefits aside from a paycheck. Some of the most important benefits a company may offer come by way of insurance. For this article, I want to focus on life and disability insurance. Determining what insurance benefits you select will depend on your unique situation. Keep in mind; employers may give you numerous insurance options to choose from, while others may offer the bare minimum. Nevertheless, read through the entire benefits packet that they give you!

Most people are well aware of the importance of health insurance, but not so much when it comes to life and disability insurance. Here’s a recommendation; take some time to determine how much life and disability insurance you need. The life insurance offered through your employer is the cheapest that you will find, typically because your employer is fronting most, if not all, of the premium payments for you. You will generally find that they may offer flat rates of coverage at varying cost to you, or they may have it where you’re entitled to an amount equal to one or two times your salary. If what they are offering isn’t enough, consult an insurance agent to determine how much additional coverage you need to fill your gap. Having adequate life insurance is of the utmost importance. Suppose your household has two wage earners and one passes away, or the breadwinner of your family was no longer here. In that case, the remaining family members would most certainly appreciate having money for the final expenses and maintaining their current lifestyle. The grieving phase will be challenging enough, but adding financial troubles into the mix makes things that much tougher on your family.

When it comes to disability insurance, the same rules apply. Your employer is fronting most, if not all, of the premium payments for you. Many of us don’t see the value of having disability coverage, but here’s some food for thought. If you were seriously sick or injured and unable to work, how would you pay your bills? If you answered that question by saying you have an adequate amount of emergency funds (3-6 months worth of expenses) saved, then you may be okay. If you don’t have such an amount, then disability coverage becomes your savior. Essentially, it enables you to maintain your current lifestyle. What happens for most people is that they fail to have the all-important emergency fund, which results in them having to tap other resources like their investment or retirement accounts or credit cards. None of those sources should be utilized if at all possible. Your employer may only offer short-term disability or a combination of short and long-term disability coverage. 

Remember, read your benefits packet because this is something you need to know. Again, just like with life insurance, if what your company offers isn’t enough, consult an insurance agent to determine how much additional coverage you need to fill your gap. [Just so you know, you will never be able to get 100% disability coverage, primarily because if you could get 100% of your earnings without working, you would never go back to work.]

Having a firm grasp of your insurance offerings through work is critical. There may be gaps within your overall insurance plan, and you need to make sure they are filled. Insurance is THE foundation of a financial plan. If you are not adequately protected, you are putting your investment and retirement accounts in serious jeopardy. Think of it this way, if you were going to build a house, would you start on the second floor? Of course not!! You set the foundation, which allows you to build the remainder of the house. There have been numerous studies conducted about the staggering number of under-insured people in this country. Please don’t let this be you. If you don’t care about insurance studies, ask a family member or close friend if they or someone they know has been negatively impacted by having an inadequate amount of insurance, then you will understand.


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

best time to invest

When is the Best Time to Invest

Having served as a financial service professional my entire career and I am repeatedly asked two questions: “When is a good time to invest?” and “Where’s a good place to put my money?”

I struggled tremendously with my response when I was a novice, but now that I’m a seasoned pro, it’s straightforward. I would always get tripped up on trying to sound smart or talk long enough to assure the person I knew what I was talking about. As I’ve matured, responding is so much easier. My answer to the first question, NOW! Today is a great day to invest (in something), and tomorrow will be too!

Now, both of your questions have been answered, so you can move forward and start investing. But wait, just giving you a simple answer isn’t enough. I know you will have some follow-up questions, and now comes the pivotal point in this exchange.

You’ve got two options:

1. Schedule a time with the professional and dig a little deeper about what you’re trying to accomplish with the money you want to invest. PLEASE keep this in mind…this meeting might cost you money. A financial service professional also has a family, bills, goals, etc. They are running a business. Just ask yourself, would you be okay working every month and not getting paid? If someone is offering free assistance, it will generally be limited in scope because whatever you are discussing could have been found/read on the internet. Thus, you need to decide if it’s worth you paying someone to help you get it done. If you are concerned after someone quotes you a price, make sure to shop around a bit (but not too long) to see what else the market is offering. Keep in mind, if you are paying someone, chances are you are serious and will follow through on things since you’ve put some “skin” in the game. Generally, people don’t truly value free advice; thus, they rarely take action after receiving it. You know yourself, so the decision is up to you.

2. Use one of the many do-it-yourself platforms that various financial institutions offer. With this option, you will be required to do your research and decide what you want to invest in. All of the platforms are extremely user-friendly, so you shouldn’t have any issues if you are tech-savvy.

You are now equipped with a few options to help you start (or reviewing) your investment plan. Once you have made a decision on which option, you have to act promptly. PLEASE do your best to avoid the awful disease called “paralysis by analysis.” The stock market doesn’t care how long it’s going to take for you to make a decision; you just need to do it. I would seriously hate for you to miss out on an opportunity because you’re still “thinking” about what to do.


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

taking inventory

Taking Inventory

Getting your financial house in order is a goal that most people set for themselves. Of course, not everyone will get things in order at the same stage in life. Like anything else, most people will do things when they are ready, not when some financial professional tells them to do so. Or they will decide to take action as a response to a life event. Here are a few examples.

Let’s say you have a friend (who has young children and a spouse) that passes away unexpectedly. After witnessing that, you decide to get serious about having adequate life insurance to protect your family. Or you have a co-worker who is getting well into their golden years but still HAS to work because they didn’t save/invest appropriately for retirement. Only then do you decide to start taking retirement planning seriously.

No matter your excuse or fear around financial planning, you must take it step by step. You have to crawl before you can walk, and you must walk before you can run.

Completing a personal balance sheet is the “crawl” step that everyone should take. This document, which you can find pretty much anywhere on the Internet, is easy to complete. It’s going to require you to list everything you own (assets) and everything you owe (liabilities). With some basic math (assets – liabilities), you will be able to determine your net worth.

Taking this “inventory” enables you to focus on where you need to start related to your financial plan. Plus, as you continue to move forward with your financial plan, this can serve as your barometer of financial fitness. The goal is to continue to grow your assets while decreasing your liabilities.

Some experts will recommend that you update your balance sheet once a year. However, if you are the type that needs more frequent feedback, perhaps you should consider updating your balance sheet quarterly or twice a year.


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

spare change

The Spare Change Experiment

I would like to share a story about why it doesn’t make much sense to keep all of your money in a bank account. Disclaimer: Having a bank account is essential. As a rule of thumb, having 3-6 months of savings (6-12 months is even better) in a bank or credit union is appropriate, but anything over that doesn’t make much sense.

During a previous job, I was an avid commuter. Every weekday I would take the train to and from work. On several occasions, I would notice that there was always spare change on the ground while passing through the turnstiles at the station. Pennies were the most plentiful, but I found $1 coins and even paper money even on a few occasions. If I had to pay for an additional fare or replace my train ticket, I would typically find spare change near the machine. What started as a simple observation turned into an obsession. Each day as I passed through the train stations, my eyes were transfixed on the ground, scanning for any signs of free money. My addiction took an even bigger turn because, after a week of doing this, I set up an excel spreadsheet to track my earnings. This adventure went on for nearly two whole years!

So what exactly is the point of my experiment? During the first year, I collected nearly $30 (this total excluded the paper money found) off the ground at the train stations. I’m sure you may have been thinking this while reading this article; yes, I carried hand sanitizer in my bag. That year, my bank only paid me $15 in interest from my savings account. The previous year my bank only paid $13 in interest from that same savings account.

Now the recommendation isn’t to become some spare change scavenger while you’re out in public. Still, from one (seemingly silly) experiment, I accumulated more money than what my financial institution was paying in interest for the past two years. This makes a very compelling argument for those people who are afraid of investing. Investing your money in the stock market or some other investment vehicle allows your money to work a little bit harder for you. Yes, the stock market can be a frightening place (when you don’t understand it), but if you look at any historical data about the stock market, you will see some magical things that have happened over the long haul. And yes, if you analyze the stock market in specific time frames, it would scare the boogie man. However, investing is an excellent thing that everyone should do, and the longer time horizon you have for investing, the better.

Lastly, I heard many people express that there isn’t any risk when your money is in the bank. However, keeping all of your money in the bank makes you highly susceptible to purchasing power (inflation) risk. Just so you don’t forget, when it comes to financial products, whether it’s banking or investing in the stock market, risk is ALWAYS involved.


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

rtmnt crisis

The Retirement Savings Crisis

The National Institute on Retirement Security produces research studies, and their primary focus is, you guessed it, retirement. They published a study in June 2013 entitled “The Retirement Savings Crisis: Is It Worse Than We Think?” It was startling to read through the key findings of the report. If you get a chance, take a look at the report, and even if you’re not in the financial services business, the data is alarming. They produced another study in December 2013 about Race and Retirement, and that study was even more frightening. Honestly, year after year, the updates on the data they produce doesn’t get much better.

The first key finding from that report stated that 38 million working households have NO retirement account assets at all. The sad thing, that number includes workers who are offered a retirement plan through their employer but who refuse to put any money into the plan. It’s understandable that some companies do not offer a retirement plan. Thus the individual is responsible for setting something up on their own. If your employer offers you a retirement plan and you’re not putting any money into it, you need to have a serious discussion with yourself or someone about why. If you don’t know how to get started or have the slightest idea about what you’re doing, your benefits department will be more than happy to assist you. They’re providing you the 401k or some other retirement plan, and they will gladly walk you each step of the way. If not them, then the plan sponsor (the company hired to offer the retirement plan) can provide you that assistance. Please make that phone call, send an email, find a co-worker who understands the retirement plan, do something.

For those people who are not offered a retirement plan through their employer, then you must seek out someone on your own to help get you squared away. There isn’t a shortage of financial services professionals in this country. And if you don’t want a professional’s help, there are a plethora of do-it-yourself options available. Either way, there is absolutely no good reason as to why you shouldn’t have some of your money in a retirement account. If you are still unsure why this is of the utmost importance, ask yourself one question. After all your working years, wouldn’t you like to have something to show for all those hours you worked??

Retirement planning applies to every working individual in this country. If you’re just starting in your career, then time is on your side. It doesn’t take a ton of time for you to do this, but it does involve committing. So many people say that they don’t have time to do this planning, which is bologna. There is more than enough time within a year (8766 hours) for you to work on your retirement plan. Not taking your retirement plan serious is just not cool. There are similar studies done and year after year, and the data never seems to improve. We can most certainly do better only by asking ourselves one simple question.

How much time did you spend this year or last year planning for your retirement?


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

219

The Rule of 219

Retirement planning applies to every working individual in this country. If you’re just starting in your career, time is on your side. If you’re halfway through, then you should be regularly doing a retirement checkup. If you’re winding down, hopefully, you are adequately prepared to enjoy your golden years.

If you don’t think retirement is important, look at some of the research reports from the National Institute on Retirement Security. If you don’t have time to read each report, peruse the executive summary, and you will get a good flavor of just how horrible this country is doing on the retirement front. That information will blow your mind!

Without proper retirement planning, that virtually means you have only a few options

  1. you need to receive an inheritance
  2. you need to win the lottery
  3. you will or plan on working forever
  4. you pass away the day after you decide to retire

Most people will probably frown at options 3 & 4, and many of us won’t have the luxury of option 1. Option 2, good luck because the odds are not in your favor. People don’t have much saved for retirement because they never set a goal. Plus, we have no clue how much money we are going to need in retirement.

There are so many variables that you simply can’t plan for, but as a starting point, search “retirement calculator” in your internet browser and play around with the numbers. At least that’s a start. But just to put things in perspective, let’s do some simple math concerning the amount of money we’re all going to need in retirement. The rule of 219 is not widely discussed, but here’s how you get the number. The rule assumes:

  • you and a spouse/partner/significant other (2 people)
  • eat 3 meals/day at $5/meal
  • you do this for (20) years
  • there are 365 days in a year

Thus 2 x 3 x 5 x 20 x 365 = $219,000. Obviously, every meal you eat won’t be $5, you may not have a spouse in retirement, and you may live longer than 20 years in retirement. This rule makes a ton of assumptions; however, it is easy to understand—the alternative, trying to determine your retirement number by conducting a time value of money calculation. Simplicity is the goal of this rule.


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

up and down

The Ups And Downs of the Market

Are you afraid of the stock market? If so, hopefully, there is a good reason as to why you are scared. If your reason isn’t one from experience in dealing with the market directly, then that’s a significant problem. Many people have professed that the stock market is a terrifying place simply because the market could be up or down on any given day, which is defined as market volatility. Because of the constant change that plagues the market, many opt to keep money safe, typically in banking-related products or a shoebox at the house. If you are trying to make money work for you over the long-term, then the stock market is where a portion of your money needs to be.

The fear of the stock market, like anything else, stems from a lack of understanding. The first thing you need to understand is that there are two types of market cycles; bear markets and bull markets.

Bear markets: (pessimistic outlook) the stock market is declining, and we tend to see investments losing value. Investors who get into the market during this period tend to ride the investment down and then sell out after significant losses, locking in their losses.

Bull market: (optimistic outlook) the stock market is trending upward, and we see investment gains. Investors see more significant returns, which prompts them to take a more aggressive approach than they’re comfortable doing. People often get into an investment after the biggest gains have been made, and the actual return to the investor may be much smaller than the investment reports.

Typically, investors will shift between being bearish/bullish on the stock market based on factors such as global economic concerns, national economic data, and corporate financial performance.

Knowing the market cycles is helpful, but now you’re probably thinking about one or both questions; When is a good time to get in the market? When is a good time to get out? This would be classified as “market timing”; you’re trying to buy when stocks are at their lowest and sell when they’re at their peak. Historically speaking, the stock market’s best performances (in any given year) come on a handful of days. No investment professional has a crystal ball allowing them to see into the future, so your best bet is to avoid market timing at all costs. Of course, you may run into investment people who claim they can time the market but keep in mind, it’s not sustainable over the long-term.

Here are a few tricks to the investing game that will help you deal with the volatility of the stock market:

  1. Get invested and stay invested. Don’t let short-term market fluctuations drive your long-term strategy. As a reminder, you should invest in the long-term and not try to “time” the market.
  2. Consider asset allocation; this is an investment strategy that involves spreading your money across the major investment types, like stocks (equities), bonds (fixed income), cash, and equivalents.
  3. Utilize dollar-cost averaging; this strategy involves investing the same amount of money into your investment, regardless of the market is up or down. This allows you to buy more shares when prices are lower and fewer when prices are high. Over time, this results in you lowering the average cost of your shares.
  4. Re-evaluate your attitude toward risk; it’s important to do this as you go through the various stages in your life.

Hopefully, this will help rid you of some of that fear about the stock market. Also, there are PLENTY of financial services professionals who can help you determine the best investment approach for your situation. And if you opt not to work with a professional, there are countless resources for the do-it-yourself investor.

I wish you all the best, my fellow investor!


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

dyk LI

Did You Know This About Life Insurance

Life insurance is a dynamic financial vehicle, but most people only refer to it as death insurance. Yes, if you have a policy and you’ve been paying your premiums and pass away, a sum of money will be paid out. Who or what gets that sum of money is totally up to you.

Many of you reading this might not have known this, but people use life insurance while they’re alive. Did you know that life insurance can be used to fund a child’s education? Did you know that people utilize life insurance to supplement their retirement income? Did you know that if you borrowed against (taking a loan) your life insurance policy, that in some cases, you don’t have to pay the loan back? Life insurance is a phenomenal tool but it gets such a bad reputation; however, there are so many ways that people can use life insurance while they’re alive. It’s one of the most flexible products that exist, but most people don’t take the time to educate themselves properly.

If you didn’t know about those awesome things that life insurance can do (and that was only an appetizer), perhaps you should schedule an appointment with an insurance agent and let them explain it to you.


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

how can a planner help

How Can A Financial Planner Help Me?

Having a conversation about financial matters is a struggle for most people. We all understand that it’s imperative to have your financial house in order; however, most people typically don’t. The fear that you face around this issue will never subside until you decide to take action. You either need to do-it-yourself (which most won’t commit to doing) or enlist the aid of a financial planner.

Financial planners don’t get a ton of fanfare, but they should. The issue stems from the fact that people don’t understand the value that a financial planner can provide. People don’t know that a financial planner may be the solution to all of their money woes. People don’t understand that a financial planner needs to be cherished just like your barber or hairstylist. Wait, like your barber or hairstylist? Yes!! When you need your hair done for an event or before you go on a trip, you will move mountains to get that appointment. Or if your person doesn’t do appointments, you will wait as long as it takes. Why?? Because looking good is non-negotiable!! However, when it comes to financial matters, you’re okay with NOT taking immediate action and continuing a life of financial misery. There isn’t a sense of urgency in interacting with a financial planner, nor is there typically a quick (there are exceptions) outcome received. Thus, people tend to shy away from meeting with a financial planner or constantly reschedule their appointment.

Now that we’ve addressed the psychology behind why people avoid financial planners, let’s move on and look at what you need to consider when you are ready to find your go to person. For starters, whoever you decide on, you need to like them. It doesn’t make much sense to do business with someone that you don’t like. Next, it’s recommended that you should interview 2-3 candidates before making your decision. Before finishing that first meeting (which is typically the free consultation that most will offer), you should know precisely how they get paid and what they can do for you.

Here’s a menu (of sorts) that you should consider when walking into that first meeting. A financial planner usually works in one of 3 ways:

Transactional-based business (Needs Analysis):

Think of this level as the basic package. You need a solution, and this planner can sell it to you. The planner will capture the necessary information as it applies to your need, conduct an analysis, and conclude by recommending a solution(s). It doesn’t require much follow up after the transaction is complete. The planner will be in touch at a minimum annually to review or be in touch periodically for service-related matters. The planner earns a commission on the solution that is sold.

Managed Money (Wealth Management):

This can be considered the “I’m in it with my client” level. You are entrusting the planner to manage a certain amount of money for you. The services at this level may involve the following as it relates to your money: 1) how your portfolio is allocated amongst the different asset classes 2) managing risk within the portfolio 3) enhancing (growing) your portfolio and 4) tax planning. You will probably meet with your planner quarterly to review your account. The planner will charge a quarterly fee based on the solution chosen and the account size. A fee-based relationship requires the planner to act in the client’s best interest because their compensation is tied directly to performance. Good performance, better pay, poor performance, less pay.

Comprehensive Financial Planning:

This level is like the deluxe service at the car wash. The planner will assist you with an in-depth analysis of some or all of the following areas: Net Worth and Cash Flow, Investment Planning & Allocation, Risk Management, Retirement Planning, Income Tax Planning, and Estate Planning. At this level, you will meet as necessary to help ensure that you understand your financial plan. At a minimum, you will conduct an annual review of your plan. Compensation at this level is two-fold. First, there will be an agreed-upon fee for the financial planning service. Second, the planner’s commission or fees will be earned if you decide to purchase any solution(s) to implement your financial plan. Some people choose to have the planner produce their financial plan, pay the fee, and opt to implement a solution(s) with another planner.


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