A Family’s Financial Turnaround

Good morning ☕️ — Just a quick note before we dive in:

We made the decision about 6-8 months ago to begin humanizing our newsletter by sharing examples of who we help and how we help them, by way of these short stories. The feedback has been overwhelmingly positive as many of you have shared how relatable and helpful some of these examples are. However, we do want you to know that while these are all based on true, real-life examples, the names, details, and even when these conversations took place, have been modified to respect and protect anonymity.

We hope you enjoy our weekly Dollars & Diagrams newsletter and as always, we are truly open to your feedback. If there are topics that you’d us to spend more time on, or anything else you’d like to share about our newsletter and how we can improve it, please do not hesitate and let us know (reply to this email).

This week I want to share Shelton (40), and Amy’s (35) story.  Both work hard, full time, in corporate positions. Shelton and Amy have two young girls, not yet in school.

When we first met, they identified some goals:

  • Vacation home; will also aim to rent when not in use
  • Fund four years of college for both girls
  • Become financially independent by age 60

I would classify their demeanor entering our financial planning engagement as humble, open-minded, and eager to embrace a plan!

As a financial planner, I could quickly discern that they had a terrific mindset. However, we identified a few opportunities for improvement:

  • An unusual high cash balance in a trading account
  • Missed opportunities for tax-loss harvesting
  • Sheldon maxed out his 401k too early in the year and forfeited a portion of his employer match
  • Did not have estate planning documents in place
  • No HELOC (home equity line of credit)
  • Using their HSA like a piggy bank
  • Had not yet established a 529 college savings plans for their daughters
  • Lacked (proper) life insurance policies
  • Contributing to a Roth IRA while making too much money (Penalty 🚨)

I could go on…

At that moment in time, I would grade them a “C” in terms of their overall financial health. Their overall intentions were good, however they needed to better execute on a few important things.

The FUN part, fast-forward six months later…

  • We moved the majority of the excess trading account cash to a low-cost diversified portfolio and setup an automatic contributions
    • We settled on a dollar amount Sheldon could trade and regardless of the outcome, it wouldn’t materially affect their family’s financial future
  • Took advantage of the missed tax-loss harvesting
  • Restructured 401k retirement plan contributions to max out in December (each year) allowing us to maximize the employer match (NOTE: Each plan is different)
  • Proper estate planning documents are signed and notarized (in effect)
  • Established a HELOC. You never know when that dream vacation property might come along and having access to cash will be essential
  • Their HSA is now invested in a low-cost diversified portfolio.  They are paying their medical expenses out of pocket, allowing the HSA to grow for decades.  They have established a strategy to log and capture all future medical expenses and proof of payment.
  • Opened 529 college savings plans for both girls
  • Shelton and Amy purchased adequate 20-year term life insurance policies to ensure their family won’t be financially devastated in the case of a premature death
  • …Oh, they’re currently on track to retire sooner than they had planned!

The Great Hope

I hope this story gives you hope and inspiration.

Shelton and Amy are proof that with the right plan, right mindset, and a little automation, you can achieve big results in a short period of time. Also peace of mind…(priceless)

If you or someone you’re close to could use help aligning their finances and establishing a financial plan, please reach out to us, we’re accepting new clients and eager to help. 


This is a hypothetical situation based on real life examples. Names and circumstances have been changed. The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual. To determine which investments or strategies may be appropriate for you, consult your advisor prior to investing. There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk. There can be no guarantee that strategies promoted will be successful.

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