December 15, 2015

What a Year!

Credit: Serge Bertasius Photography at
This time last year, my wife and I were trying to decide whether to move or not. This time last year, I was just beginning to actually think about being a dad. This time last year, I was a senior financial planner still learning the ropes.

Now, my wife and I’ve sold our first home and bought our second home. Now, I’m not quite “Superdad,” but I can change diapers faster than a locomotive and I’m able to soothe my teething son in a single bound (well most of the time…). Now, I’m a wealth advisor, and finally doing what I’ve always wanted to do, yet I still learn something new almost every day!

2015 has been a year of change, and for the most part, a year of blessings. There have been a lot of peaks, but there have also been some valleys. Overall, I consider myself pretty lucky. What a year!

During the course of this mania, I learned several financial and life lessons first hand:
  • The emotions, stress, and time consumption associated with a real estate transaction is insane. It’s a second job! However much you budget for a move, you’re going to be low. There’s a financial advisor joke out there that goes something to the effect of “What do you call downsizing? Half the house for just about as much money!” I used to laugh, but now I don’t. We weren’t downsizing. We were upsizing to our first house big enough for a family with a yard, and moving ended up costing us significantly more than we expected. All I can say is buy less than you think you can handle and maybe have more than one inspector or buy a home warranty!
  • Baby furniture, car seats, strollers, clothes, formula, diapers, toys, and doctor visits can really add up! Remember that old game show Supermarket Sweep? Those people grabbing the expensive turkeys were crazy! Give me a cart on the baby formula and diaper aisle next to the greeting cards and I bet I’d be pretty hard to beat! Adding another mouth to feed does not financially benefit many households (despite the tax deduction), but being a parent is more miraculously wonderful and fulfilling than I ever imagined! In happier financial news, the “going out” expenses and vacation expenses do seem to naturally tick down, partially compensating for the costs associated with the mountains of diapers!
  • Earlier in 2015 I was promoted from a senior financial planner to a wealth advisor. That meant that the firm I work for was ready to take off my training wheels and entrust me with working with clients on my own. That is a trust from my employer, and the clients I serve, that I do not take lightly. I continue to encounter new situations, I continue adding experiences, and I continue to learn new techniques and strategies to help people grow and preserve their nest eggs, save a little on taxes, give a little more to their favorite charities, and achieve personal goals. This year I got to be the anchored beacon to clients experiencing their first market correction in almost six years, I got to help a number of people who were in emotional and financial pain from suddenly being laid off, and I got to help a number of widows and children walk through the grieving process and the financial distribution and redeployment process of bequeathed and inherited assets. Money should not be anyone’s life, but money is part of everyone’s life. My job is not always easy and it’s not always fun, but being able to help people when they need it most is what motivates me to do what I do.
In 2016, my wife and I are going to go on the offensive against our mortgage and pay a little more than we have to so we can be debt-free a little sooner. In 2016, my wife and I are going to contribute a little more to our 401(k)s and continue to make our annual Roth IRA contributions so we can build up a reasonable retirement nest egg as soon as we can. In 2016, we’re going to save week after week and finish furnishing our new home. Those are our financial goals. What are your financial resolutions?
If you’re one of my loyal readers, you probably noticed that I didn’t post quite as much as I have in previous years. If you wondered why, now you know (move, baby, job responsibilities, etc.). Still, 28 posts in 2015 isn’t too bad, and I promise you, I have just as much energy and excitement about 2MuchCents as I ever have. Life happens, but I’m going to try to average at least two posts every month. And as always, if you have a question or an issue that you think I could help you with, please reach out to me. I’ll make time for you!
2016 posts will include why you should unplug from work, some things you need to consider if you or a loved one are considering a move to a retirement center, how to live in harmony if you and your spouse have very different incomes, some suggestions on what you need to teach children about money, a look at some financial mistakes we all make, and how to make sure you don’t face any tax penalties by hitting a “safe harbor.” I hope you’ll check them out!
Merry Christmas to all, and to all, a good 2016!

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