Michael and Emily are newlyweds in their mid-20’s who are just getting started with their careers. For the first time in their lives, they have access to a company-sponsored retirement plan. Retirement seems so far away, and while Michael and Emily have been told by their parents that they need to start saving early, there are short-term goals like paying down student loans and saving for a house that also need to be addressed. To help Michael and Emily, their planner prepared a cash flow analysis with a list of prioritized recommendations that included strategies for paying down debt, funding an emergency reserve, and saving for a future home purchase, along with providing specific written recommendations for allocating Michael and Emily’s existing 401(k) balances and on-going contributions. Along with the written plan, the planner met with Michael and Emily for 2 hours to present and review the recommendations. Total project time – 8 hours.
Whitney and John are in their mid-30’s and are established in their careers. They have one child, a two-year old boy, and are expecting their second child, a girl, later this year. Over the last ten years, both Whitney and John have switched jobs in order to advance their respective careers. With one child and another on the way, they have begun thinking about saving for future college expenses, but they don’t know where to start. After all the job changes, Whitney and John have a handful of old 401(k)s that they admittedly don’t monitor. They also had questions about appropriate insurance coverages and getting a retirement check up to make sure they’re making progress. While it has been on their To-Do list, they have yet to draft valid estate documents. Whitney and John’s planner prepared a net worth and cash flow analysis to get a sense of where they stand financially, and to understand how money flows through their household each month. The planner provided cash flow recommendations to help them achieve short and long-term goals. An education funding analysis was prepared, with specific suggestions for appropriate savings vehicles and investments. The planner reviewed existing insurance coverages and made recommendations. A referral was provided for two local estate planning attorneys. The planner also prepared a retirement model to track Whitney and John’s progress towards financial independence. Investment recommendations were made to consolidate old 401(k)s and to create a more cohesive investment portfolio. Along with the written plan, the planner met with Whitney and John for 2 ½ hours to present and review the recommendations. Total project time – 12 hours.
Terry, age 42 and Chris, age 45 enjoy living in Ballard with their two children ages 10 and 12. Terry works at a local hospital as a physician and Chris is a teacher at a nearby elementary school. As a family, they enjoy traveling during Chris’ winter and summer breaks. With college approaching, they have realized they may need to focus more on college savings. Terry receives profit sharing from employer and retirement plan contributions but doesn’t understand all the inner workings and the true value of this benefit. Chris has a pension, knows it will be useful during retirement, but doesn’t know how it works. Terry and Chris lead busy lives and don’t have the bandwidth to determine out how all the pieces of their financial lives fit together. They want to work with a financial planner who can help them achieve their goals of retiring in their sixties, paying all of their children’s college expenses if possible, and making sure they are saving enough to maintain a comfortable lifestyle. They’ve heard about fee-for-service planners who work on an hourly basis rather than charging for Assets Under Management. They like the idea of maintaining control of their finances while having professional guidance. Once they met with their planner, they realized they were spending more than they initially thought. Their financial plan helped them see both the big picture of how to achieve their goals and also laid out detailed instructions for how to accomplish their goals. They learned where to open a 529 plan, how to allocate their retirement savings and how much they need to save. They gained a better understanding of Terry’s RSU’s and how this contributed to their overall financial picture. Total project time – 16 hours
Sharon, age 59, and Tom, age 63, are empty nesters and have reached the point of financial independence. Sharon has cut her weekly work hours down to 20 so she can provide more support for her aging parents. Tom was at the highest point of earning for his career and has decided to retire on a high note. He is part of the minority of workers who will receive a company pension and isn’t sure which pension to select, although he knows he has 8 choices from which to choose. Sharon and Tom are interested in learning how they can coordinate Tom’s pension with their future Social Security payments, as well as withdrawals from their retirement portfolio. Sharon is concerned about long-term care costs since she is seeing firsthand how her parents’ health and mobility has declined. This has also spurred Tom and Sharon to get out and see the world while their health is good. To help Sharon and Tom, their planner prepared a net worth and cash flow analysis. They reviewed two detailed retirement modules that synchronized the various retirement cash flows. This section included a Social Security maximization analysis. The planner educated Sharon and Tom on the costs of long-term care, as well as the potential impact to their retirement plan. Recommendations were prepared to create a cohesive investment portfolio that would give Sharon and Tom confidence that they won’t run out of money. Total project time – 16 hours
Taylor and Blake are in their late‐40’s and these busy parents are at the peak of their careers. They have two children in private school and want to plan for both children attending elite private colleges. Taylor works for a local tech firm, where compensation includes salary, bonus, and stock awards. Blake is an executive for a local retailer. As part of Blake’s compensation, she receives annual stock awards, and because of her position in the company, she is required to own a certain number of company shares prior to retirement. Employer Stock Purchase Plans are also available to both of them and they wonder if they should participate. Taylor and Blake need a strategy for managing their concentrated stock positions, along with Taylor’s company stock plans. Their incomes have grown since they bought their last house, and they now want to move to a more expensive home, but they want to make sure they aren’t materially affecting their planned retirement at age 60. Taylor and Blake own a rental property that they want included in the plan. To help Taylor and Blake, their planner prepared a net worth and cash flow analysis, including illustrations of how a more expensive home will affect monthly cash flow. An education funding analysis was prepared, with specific suggestions for appropriate savings vehicles and investments. The planner reviewed existing insurance coverages and made recommendations. A review of all company stock plans was completed, with actionable steps provided to the client. The planner prepared a retirement model to track Taylor and Blake’s progress towards financial independence. Investment recommendations were made, including investment ideas for excess cash flow savings. Along with the written plan, the planner met with Taylor and Blake for 2 ½ hours to present and review the recommendations. Total Project Time – 18 hours