NOTE: Names and images have been changed for confidentiality.
The following stories do not guarantee of similar results. Each individual's situation is too unique to know in advance what exact benefits might be obtained through financial planning services.
Caleb & Kaylee - Employee Stock at a Booming Tech Company
When Caleb’s company held an IPO, they gave him large grants of Restricted Stock Units (RSU’s) and the opportunity to participate in a Employee Stock Purchase Plan (ESPP) as well.
Caleb and his wife Kaylee realized that all this extra money could really help them retire early or achieve a more ideal lifestyle in the long-run. Through helping them clarify their lifestyle goals now and paying special attention to tax planning, we were able to find ways to indirectly shelter much of the employee stock wealth from taxes and illustrate how they could balance spending some of it for current enjoyment and putting the rest away for the future.
Brian & Brooke - Saved from Bad Life Insurance
For almost 10 years, Brian and Brooke had been following the advice of a financial advisor they had come in contact with. Unfortunately, the advice they got was to throw as much money as they could into whole life insurance policies.
Eventually, they wanted to get an unbiased, second opinion on their situation. Some analysis and calculations revealed that even after 10 years, the cash value of their whole life policies were still less than how much they had paid in premiums. In addition to that, they had more life insurance coverage than they really needed. By restructuring their financial plan, Brian and Brooke are saving over $500 per month in insurance premiums and can now put that money toward smart investment contributions for retirement and their children's college funds.
Jason - The College Graduate
When Jason got two competing job offers upon graduating, he had no idea how to compare the employee benefits packages. That's when he realized that corporate finance and personal finance were two totally different things. They don't teach you about 401(k) plans in business school!
Once I compared the two offers for him, it was clear that despite one of the jobs offering a higher salary, the job with the lower salary was a much better opportunity when looking at the total compensation package. I taught Jason all about his 401(k) plan, vesting schedule, stock options, and helped him pick the best health insurance plan for his situation.
Through identifying the job with the "true" best offer and optimizing his benefits, Jason saved thousands of dollars in his first year on the job and feels more confident about how to handle his employee benefits decisions.
Tristan - The Student Loan Puzzle
When Tristan graduated from college, he had a lot more student loan debt than he had hoped. In fact, he had tens of thousands of dollars in both federal and private student loans! His head was spinning with the alphabet soup of repayment plan options available - IBR, PAYE, REPAYE, ICR...then there was the conundrum of whether to do a loan consolidation or refinance. What he did know is that he had received his first bill and there was no way he'd be able to afford the payments at his income level.
I took full inventory of Tristan's student loans and listened carefully to understand what his goals were for paying them off. We thoughtfully selected the repayment plan for his federal loans that would save him the most money and found a lender with the best deal for a refinance of his private loans. Tristan's total monthly payments were cut in half, and in the first 3 years alone, he will save over $6,000 in interest!
Kyle & Claire - The Young Family with Competing Priorities
Kyle and Claire's young family was growing up fast. With so many competing priorities, it was getting difficult to know how to balance their investment contributions to so many different goals and investment accounts. How much to Kyle's 401(k) for retirement? How much for their future service mission? How much for each child's college education, and what kind of account should they use? Most of all, were they saving enough, and did they have the right investments?
In our meeting we analyzed their investment portfolio and current savings rate. My calculations showed that minor adjustments to their asset allocation would give them less risk with a slightly higher expected investment return. Also, we found that a mix between using 529 plans and Roth IRAs would be the best way for them to fund their children's future college tuition.
Kyle and Claire not only gained more peace of mind that they were on track, but are set to save a bunch of taxes and gain thousands more dollars with the few changes they were instructed to make.
Sam - The Debt Conqueror
Sam had tried several times to work up the discipline to finally get out of debt. Each time, it felt like she made some progress just to slip behind again.
Together, we designed a detailed debt payoff plan. In classic style, she'd . We also found a balance transfer card that would give her a 0% interest period, saving her hundreds of dollars.
But a plan is nothing without the execution! Sam knew she needed that, so we met each month for an accountability meeting and I trained her on how to overcome the psychological weaknesses that make us behave poorly with spending. Sam was out of $10,000 of debt within a year!
Andrew & Jasmine - The Newlywed First-time Homebuyers
Newlyweds Andrew and Jasmine were eager to get into their own home. Having only been renters, they wanted to buy a home as soon as possible to "stop throwing money away to a landlord." But as soon as they started looking into it, they came up with an endless list of questions. What was affordable for them? How much of a down payment did they need? Where could they find the best interest rate and get their credit score to where it needed to be? They knew a home loan officer couldn't be objective with them, so they got in touch with me.
First we calculated what they could qualify for now. Then, using a rent vs. buy analysis, we found that it was actually much cheaper for them to rent right now, much to their surprise. Based on their savings rate, we found that a saving up for a 10% down payment over 2 years was a good balance between saving up money for a home purchase but not waiting too long to do so.
Now, Andrew and Jasmine are confidently on track to purchase the perfect starter home that's affordable and achievable, with their eye on a specific type of mortgage loan they know is right for them.
Tyler & Maria - The Investment Property Dilemma
After several years of raising a family, Maria was ready for a change. Now that the kids were a little older, they were ready for Maria to head back to college to re-enter the workforce. They sold the investment property they had owned for the cash to pay for tuition over the next few years.
It didn't take them long to realize, though, that they could now face a huge tax bill - $15k or more. It was nice to have tens of thousands of dollars in cash at the bank from the sale of the home, but now they were worried if they was anything they could do to lower or avoid paying so much in taxes.
I drew up some ideas of tax planning moves they could make to keep as much of their money as possible instead of paying it out to the IRS. Incredibly, we were able to eliminate their taxes almost completely by systematically stashing the money in retirement accounts, and still left them enough cash left over to help get Maria through college!