Guest Interview ft. Douglas A. Boneparth, CFP®

Social media can provide some magical networking & collaboration opportunities.

I’m very pleased to give an introduction to my first interview at Generation YRA featuring Douglas A. Boneparth, CFP®. I was able to get introduced to Douglas through a Twitter chat (specifically Chelsea Krost’s #MillennialTalk!), where I discovered that he was a CFP® located in New York City specifically focused on working with Millennial clients.

There’s this inclination that Millennials are skeptical when it comes to any form of financial advisement and education. I’m trying to change that here in my corner of the internet, but if you’ve read my first post you’ve learned that I am in no way certified in financial planning or advisement. I’m just a strong encourager of Millennials (and all that come to visit here) to find ways to strengthen their financial game plans to secure their present & future. When someone in such a prestigious role is dedicated to working with our generation (Douglas is a Millennial himself!), there’s less of a barrier when it comes to having open conversations about financial matters.

I reached out and sent an email to Douglas, and was elated to have the chance to set up a phone call with him. In our one phone conversation, I was inspired by his passion and dedication as a CFP®. I encourage you to head on over to his site and check out his bio right here. I’m excited to show you a run down of interview questions & answers with Douglas to give you insight as to what a CFP® does, and his advice on certain aspects of finance facing the Millennial generation today.

Check it out!


Let’s dive right on in, tell us about being a CFP® (Certified Financial Planner). Explain your role, and how you decided this is the career you wanted to pursue?

Today more than ever, CFP® professionals are an essential resource. From budgeting, to planning for retirement, to saving for education, to managing your taxes and your insurance coverage; “finances” doesn’t mean just one thing for most Americans — and “financial planning” means much more than just investing. Bringing all the pieces of your financial life together is a challenging task. Although many professionals may call themselves “financial planners,” CFP® professionals have completed extensive training and experience requirements and are held to rigorous ethical standards. They understand all the complexities of the changing financial climate and will make recommendations in your best interest.

Ultimately, my role is to help my clients reach their financial goals. However, this is often easier said than done. But, by engaging in financial planning, we can build a roadmap to success together. The first thing we do is gain an understanding what your goals are and, then, through the data gathering process, we analyze your individual financial situation. From this analysis we, provide actionable recommendations. After recommendations are implemented, we track our progress over time. Once planning is in place, we handle out client’s investment needs.

I became interested in financial planning having grown up the son of a CFP®. Seeing my father help people, run his own business and possess the flexibility to always be there for us made going into this industry very attractive. While working with my father gave me a leg up, getting to where I am at today wasn’t easy. I left his practice after four years to start my own practice in NYC. It took more than seven years of training and personal growth to arrive here. Keep in mind two of those years involved the great recession. I think a lot of college grads might shy away from this kind of commitment but, if you can get in and stick with it, it’s a very attractive industry.

You work with a variety of clients, but the thing that captured me the most is your emphasis on working with Millennials. What brought you to this emphasis of working with generation Y?

Well, I am a millennial myself so all the things going on with our generation are part of my world too. I saw what happened during the recession. Many of my friends, and even my wife, felt the full brunt of this event. A lot of us decided to continue educating themselves after college and walked into a pretty disastrous economic environment when they finished the graduate programs. Let’s not forget those who were simply laid off due to the circumstances. It was pretty brutal. I saw firsthand how we all lacked financial literacy and just how emotional things were becoming. I also saw that older financial planners typically did not want to deal with us or with our set of financial circumstances. Why would they? They had their own problems to deal with and “bigger fish” to fry with their Baby Boomer counterparts. So, seeing the help we needed and the potential we have, I took it upon myself to invest in us and dedicate a large portion of my time and energy towards helping millennials. You can read about this on my blog. I’ve written a four part series called, “The Millennial Problem.”

Student loan debt…I know these are three words that really put a ball and chain on our generation. How do you feel about student loan debt, and what are some ways that Millennials can work on paying it off?

Student loan debt, like all debt, can be very bad when you are not educated about it or how to use it properly. When you make an uninformed financial decision, and the consequence of that decision is taking on debt you cannot afford, you’re going to be pretty upset. This is a reality for a lot of young people and I know there are too many of us who have found ourselves in a tough situation by virtue of the amount student debt that we carry. However, when used properly, student debt can be a good thing because it allows you to receive an education that should increase earning potential in your working years. Yet, this equation is breaking down because of the rising cost of education and the perception that earning a degree is a right, not a privilege. So, for those who have yet to go to college, or are in school, sit down with a professional and understand how the debt you’re accumulating translates into a monthly expense and how that expense factors into what it is you think you want to do after school (rent, lifestyle, etc.).

The first thing debt laden millennials can do is take ownership over your debt. You have to get over how you got here and the emotions surrounding it. It’s time to educate yourself on what you’re carrying and to plug this item in the context of your larger financial goals. Nothing will ever replace the hard work you need to put into your career and job to earn more income, but by becoming educated around your debt and financial situation, you can better focus on what you need to do to reach your goals, including paying off your student debt. This is why I offer complimentary consultations. Sometimes it’s just a conversation to get someone heading in the right direction.

Entering the real world can bring on a wide variety of financial responsibilities. What is your advice on how to sort through all these financial responsibilities?

Identify and prioritize your goals. I can’t stress this enough. Saying “I want to make lots of money is” is a terrible goal. Goals you set should be quantifiable. Without that part, you cannot create a plan of action to achieve the goal. Remember, you get to set these goals. They are subjective. There’s really no wrong answer, but you should be realistic. Once you know what it is you are striving for, get organized. Having your financial house in order will provide you with focus and clarity. Nothing is more distracting then being unorganized in this area. Understanding your income and expenses thoroughly is a great start. From there, move on to building a cash reserve and/or saving for your financial goals.

Sticking to your financial goals can become pretty challenging. What’s one thing that helps you continue to move forward to achieve such goals?

Think with the end in mind. Don’t get so caught up that you forget why it is you are working. Also and again, being organized is going to go a long way here. If you are ready, financial planning will keep you super focused on what you need to do to achieve your goals because everything is in one place.

Financial literacy is something that all generations could potentially work on. How can a CFP® help with increasing financial literacy?

CFP® professionals are trained to educate you on areas of personal finance you don’t understand or simply want to learn more about. We have a fiduciary obligation to you. While you don’t need to understand personal finance like a CFP® does, we want to make sure you know enough about the various subject in personal finance to make the best financial decisions for yourself. You can visit www.letsmakeaplan.org to learn how financial planning can help you reach your goals. If you understand financial planning and it’s key areas by having working with a CFP®, you should be able to demonstrate a high level of financial education.

What’s one bit of advice/a quote that helps guide you in life?

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”-Theodore Roosevelt. Teddy is telling us that there’s no magic bullet to success. You have to work hard and work smart. Those are the secret ingredients.


I want to give another huge thank you to Douglas for stopping by for this interview! If you live in New York City and you’re looking to speak with a CFP®, get in touch with Douglas by heading over to his site here. He’s incredibly inspiring!

P.S. Think you’ve got advice and guidance that fits in with Generation YRA: A Millennial’s Guide to Securing a Strong Financial Present and Future? I’d love to interview you! Feel free to reach out to me at Alyssa.Windell@live.com // looking forward to it.

Disclosure: This communication is strictly intended for individuals residing in the states of AZ, CA, CO, CT, FL, LA, MA, MD, NC, NJ, NY, PA, VA, WA. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident outside these states due to various state regulations and registration requirements regarding investment products and services. Securities offered through Commonwealth Financial Network®. Member FINRASIPC. Privacy Policy. Life and Wealth Planning, LLC. One Penn Plaza, Suite 2109 New York, NY 10019, 212-279-9121

Savoring Your Bonus Is Not Erroneous

In the words of Vince Vaughn in one of my favorite movies Wedding Crashers:

ERRONEOUS! Erroneous…erroneous on both counts!”

But what I’m really trying to say with the help of Vince Vaughn’s words is:


So you just got a bonus….

$$ CHA-CHING $$

Maybe it was even a day after pay-day…

$$$ CHA-CHING, CHA-CHING $$$

And you’re thinking you could potentially…

Make it rain.

I remember receiving my first bonus. Do you remember receiving yours? The anticipation welling up inside me, my mind screaming “More money!!!” The very day it was deposited into my account, you know what I did? I booked a round-trip flight for a vacation without even thinking about the cost (it was about $400 dollars if I recall correctly). That first bonus that was completely unplanned, why not spend it right away?! Receiving that unforeseen cash flow felt like racking up all those coins in the bonus round when I used to play Sonic the Hedgehog on Segaaaaaa Genesis.

This was before I really knew what was up in regards to personal finance…I could even admit that I’m fairly sure my checking account was only in the double-digit range. I had no emergency savings set aside. I spent that bonus in an absolute flash. At this point in my life, I just relied on my bi-weekly paycheck to cover everything. Even if that meant almost dangerously zeroing out my accounts. I was that college grad who did not have the mindset to even recognize the importance of saving. I mean, how do you handle large lump sumps of cash being deposited into your account when you start a real world job?! Boy, have a come a long way in the last 3 years.

So hold up, wait a minute. Let’s just put a little thought into this bonus of yours that you’re about to receive. Let’s explore some other options that you have, instead of just spending cash money.

Let’s reverse the mindset: instead of figuring out how you’re going to spend your bonus, what are some ways that you can savor it?

Here’s a mighty fine list of things you could do with that extra bonus income:

  • Beef up your emergency fund

  • Contribute to your 401(k)/IRA

  • Add to a savings goal

  • Pay down debt

  • Make a contribution/money donation

  • Invest

The following isn’t a limited list, but it gives an overarching idea of how you can wisely put that money to work. All these listed? Yeah, they’re not erroneous by any means when it comes to feeling empowered by your money. Try not to mindlessly spend your bonus (or even count on that bonus coming to cover your actual monthly obligations). That’s when you potentially find yourself getting into financial trouble.

In the pursuit of strengthening your financial game plan, one thing certainly starts to become clear. The amount of money that you take home per month starts to become more than you really need in order to cover your everyday expenses & bills. You start to realize that the next time you get paid, there’s way more in your account because you’re not spending all your money, money in every which way possible.

You’ve become a saver. You responsibly account for necessary big ticket items, trips, and future endeavors (i.e. retirement, building up net worth). When you take control of your finances, a bonus is like an unplanned enhancement towards driving down your debt, contributing to a cause, or paying your future self. The decision is yours whether you want to spend it in a jiffy, or put it towards something that may have a more lasting effect on your life.

So tell me, what do you do with your bonuses? Are you tempted to spend that unexpected cash? What’s the most extreme thing you’ve ever done with a bonus?

The Illusion of Retirement to Reality

Where will I be in ________ amount of years?

What will I look like in the month of ______?

How will I know I’m satisfied with where I’m at when I reach the age of _______?

Illusion of Retirement


Do the questions above have you pondering? I’m sure some of you may feel matter of fact about answers when you fill in the blanks with specific numbers. But will those answers remain true when the time comes?

I’ve got a better question….

What will my life be like when I retire at the age of _____?

I can’t even figure out what I’m going to eat next week.

Wait…scratch that. What I’m going to eat tomorrow morning.

Does anyone have it figured out in their 20’s what life will be like several years later?

And I get it. We make plans. We’ve got goals. Accomplishments to achieve.

I’m a planner. I can be very type-A. I like to get stuff done. I create a goal, a detailed plan of how to get there, and do my best to reach it. Sticky notes everywhere with affirmations & to-do items that decorate my cubicle & home. One of my favorite tools to use is a planner to write in vs. my phone. I feel gratification to see list items get physically crossed out with the power of a pen in my hand (ahhh yes, another item off the list). But you know what? Every now & again I tell myself just go with the flow (better yet, it’s my fiance giving me the confidence to do so). Things will happen. So maybe for a day that to-do list & the sticky notes are forgotten. Maybe even crumpled up and thrown in the trash. I take some deep breaths & slow down.

With this go-with-the-flow mentality, things may tend to go differently than planned. But that’s OK. I’m cool with that. Not everything has to be so systematic.

But right now I’ve got systems in place for retirement. I’m socking away money to my 401(k) and IRA. I have automated savings. I’ve got mapped out plans of where my money goes to make it work for me. What I’m incredibly satisfied with is that only after a few months of working on the psychological aspect of saving & spending, I don’t even think about touching the money that’s going towards retirement. It is OFF limits, hands-off!

But what happens when you just get exhausted?

How can the motivation be maintained to ensure that the goal of how I see myself in retirement is met? Because you see…I’ve experienced life happening. I’m sure a lot of you have, too. Where the anticipated outcomes you believe will happen in 2 years…well you end up getting to 2 years later and recognize next to everything is beyond different than what you planned. Suddenly, I feel like making these money systems go by the wayside…just like those crumpled to-do lists that I choose to forget about for a bit.

Who is to say that what I plan right now will play out in retirement? I’ve got quite a bit of time before that day comes. Even if I decide to speed up my retirement goals (say set a date for my early 40’s), that’s still over 15 years of life happening and taking it’s course.

I’m feeling like retirement is an illusion that somehow has to make its way to reality.

What am I actually saving for? Even with the process of creating tangible goals to reach in retirement, I’m struggling mentally with the fact that most of it is potentially going to change. So I’m reaching out to all of you, because I know many of you have plans to retire earlier than what the traditional age would be.

How do you maintain your drive to save for retirement?

What do you do on days when you’re just ready to throw in the towel?

Do you feel the way you envision yourself in retirement will become a reality?

I would absolutely love to hear your thoughts in the comments below.

 

Resolution: Renting

If you stopped by last week, you probably got an in-depth glimpse of my latest financial indecision episode. I am happily announcing this week that decisions have been made & I cannot wait to give you a break down as to why. Amazing what can happen in just one week!

Resolution- Renting


Alright, folks. The fiance & I have officially come to the decision that we will continue to be renting for our living situation! Starting in August we will be moving to a new apartment complex. Ahhh yes, we are those Millennials that are delaying home buying. Hold that thought though, because purchasing a home is actually one of our biggest financial goals as we speak (up there with contributing to our retirement, beefing up our emergency fund, and investing) even though we are not quite ready for it just yet. We can’t wait to begin our family and when we’re ready we will ultimately buy a home. We made this choice for several reasons, but it essentially came down to being financially & emotionally ready. Not to mention, parting away with a big chunk of your savings for a down payment is pretty nerve wracking if you ask me. Something at least I just wasn’t quite ready to do in such a short span of time.

Making one of the biggest financial purchases in your life seems next to impossible from a rushed standpoint.

To turn this situation into a positive, I am glad that this whole process of our rental house being sold led us to get acquainted with the home buying process: getting pre-approved, working with a realtor (hey, Jason! we’ll be working with you soon again), running comps., evaluating the market, researching neighborhoods, gaining some insight & advice from those around us, house touring, gathering proper documentation/paperwork that is needed for the buying process, and evaluating what we would like & not like to have in our first home (this probably only scratches the surface of what we’ve experienced in the last couple of weeks). It allowed my fiance & I to just test the shallow end with our floaties before diving into the deep end of the home buying process.

Another side of this whole situation, is we have decided to downsize from a 1300+ sq. ft., 3 bedroom rental house (in Eugene, we were able to find this size of a rental home for less than half of our take home income which is pretty neat!), to a 2 bedroom 800+ sq. ft. apartment. With just the two of us right now (and the family/friend visitors), we realized we just had too much dang space that we barely used.

Before you go, “say what?!” to our decision of renting an apartment, here is a condensed list of why we’re excited:

1. We get to re-think & re-evaluate all of our personal belongings

When my fiance & I first moved in together, we created a pretty awesome collaboration of furniture that wasn’t perfectly matching but somehow worked altogether. Think a mixture of furniture from childhood homes, thrift store finds, hand-me-downs from the family, and college keepsakes. In our 2 years of living together, we have kept all of the following items & have only purchased a handful of new items. Now it’s time to get creative! In order to downsize we must sell, donate, or purge.

2. Freed up time from yard work

Another huge responsibility that came with our lease for the house we’re currently living in. Living in an apartment complex frees up this time from taking on these duties. Although, we did enjoy from time to time digging into the soil with our hands, we’re ready to be free from taking care of a yard that technically wasn’t even ours.

3. Less costs = maximized savings

That’s right, downsizing and moving to an apartment is allowing us to have cheaper rent, lower utility costs, and will grant us more opportunities to maximize our savings for a larger downpayment on our future home. There’s more to come with that because we may have been inspired to create a savings challenge!

4. Amenities!

Gym, yoga studio, pool, BBQs, secured access, air conditioning, retail space, pet-friendly…and so much more. It’s almost as if we get permanent vacation living at an even cheaper expense than what we’re paying for now.

5. New friends…?

Bahaha…so I could imagine you might be thinking that we’re publicly admitting we do not have any friends. Not the case…(I’d like to consider each of my visitors a friend – hi there)! Most of our friends just happen to live in different cities & states from us (thankfully, we do have some wonderful family & friends in town that we love spending time with!). Eugene is a unique little town with interesting demographics. The in-between subset (range of 20’s to 30’s) of young professionals are a little more difficult to find unless you actively seek them out. An apartment complex creates community events, and also gives more opportunities to potentially meet people easily around our age-range. (P.S. we are not opposed to having friends of all ages, but you get the picture!)


Do you currently rent, or have you bought a house? What do you like best about either one? If you have bought a house, how did you save up for your down payment? Let me know!

Financial Indecision

I’m feeling a push & pull kind of thing right now. You ever get that feeling? Those moments where financial indecision and questions make you feel a bit cloudy in the head from day to day. Those kinds of things that take up your thinking at max capacity, when you certainly have other tasks, work, and to-do list items to accomplish daily…

 


Financial Indecision

Financial Indecision…

What do I want to save for? What’s the price per ounce? Will this cost up front pay off in the future? Can I afford to pay more than the minimum balance on my student loans? Is this shirt really worth 10 bucks? Can I retire at 40 on the path I am on? Are my savings up to par? Can I make it on that trip with my friends? What would it be like if I tried to keep up with the Jones’?

I can continue this rambling list of questions. I could imagine you may be thinking, “Why do I want to read this when I already have enough questions in my head Alyssa?!”

Quick: say out loud the first financial thought with a push & pull effect on your mind that you had today?

Did it come to you strikingly fast? I could imagine so. If you had to sit & ponder, that’s actually pretty dang awesome.

Decisions revolving around finances can really pluck at the heart and mind strings. I’d like to say that it should strike harmoniously (perhaps in a melody), but oftentimes it’s a furious, abrupt plucking that may even cause the strings to wear out, or sadly break.

My most recent financial indecision milestone is really wearing away at my strings. I present this to you because personal finance can often be challenging to me…even though I choose to blog about it publicly each week. Last weekend I was introduced to a really rather fantastic quote (*a word has been modified to maintain a PG-ish rating on this site):

“Most people think they have their crap* together, when they’re really just standing in it.”

Yup, I’d say that’s me about now. I wanted to let you know that because there is a realness to this blog that allows for a transparency in finances – all of it’s triumphs & pitfalls. You think someone’s got it all figured out, buttoned up, or tied pretty with a bow. Take a step back, each & every one of us has faced challenges, imperfections & the like throughout this marvelous thing called life. I’m just so willing to share with you this financial indecision challenge to emphasize vulnerabilities do exist.

My most recent major financial indecision started just about 3 weeks ago. Our landlord out of the blue told my fiance and I that he would like to get rid of the house/sell it. We have only been living here for a year and 1/2 with the intention to stay for quite a bit of time until we were ready to purchase our own home. We had pondered the idea of starting the home buying process, considering rates have been incredibly low. Pondered is the key word. Heck yes I continue to strengthen my personal finance game plan, but entering into the process of potentially buying a home and real estate is a whole other world. One where your credit score & savings can completely dictate the process of.

Our landlord then offered us to purchase his home. As easy of a transition it would have been, my fiance & I ultimately made the decision that we did not want to buy his property, and would rather search for our own home to buy. We were then notified that the house would be put on the market and showtimes for potential buyers would need to be arranged.

Fast forward only 5 days of our rental house being on the market, only one showing & BOOM. Just like that, our landlord accepted an offer & sold his house in 5 days (do keep in mind that yes, inventory may be shrinking but the Eugene housing market is nowhere near that of Portland, or any other major cities facing outrageous bidding wars – we were a bit blindsided considering houses in our neighborhood have been sitting for sale with no activity for a long time). You got that right….we received our notice and we now have 30 days to get our act together. All of the sudden the logistics of moving & unforeseen expenses are now on our radar for the next 3o days. So referring back to the aforementioned quote, hopefully we can trudge right out of this crap with grace.

Enter in financial indecision: continue renting, or to buy a home? We have enough savings for a down payment, but not to the full 20% we would like to reach as a savings goal in the near future (which I’ve read multiple times that this is taboo to not put a full 20% down). We could start building equity and begin our family, or continue renting to experience the flexibility of not being tied down to a major asset? We could actually begin building into something that is our own, or continue to pay some person’s mortgage that’s not even ours? On a more personal side, throughout my childhood I’ve moved several times cross-country. The last few years I have moved multiple times while attending college. After graduating, I moved to Eugene when I am originally from Portland. I’d say it’s upwards in the double-digit range of moves I’ve experienced in life. The idea of moving so many times is beginning to make me feel homesick for a place that doesn’t even exist quite yet (just like Sam in the movie Garden State). Renting has it’s wonderful perks, but it never is officially your own place. Needless to say, there are a ridiculous amount of personal, financial, and life changing questions regarding the pros & cons of renting vs. buying.

Financial indecision is on point right now ladies & gentlemen.

And it may always be throughout the rest of life. But the more we grasp it, research, seek advice, and lean on our communities for support… the more we can tackle the moments that bring on financial indecision. Let’s take these indecisive moments and take them head on with certainty. The more empowered you feel with your money, the more likely you are to make decisions with confidence because you have the elements of freedom, flexibility & security.

How often do you face financial indecision? What are ways you work around it? What’s your take on renting vs. buying? Let me know in the comments below!

On another note, I hope you check out the giveaway my friend Gen Y Finance Guy is having! Check it out here: Win the 11 books that will change your money mindset and make you rich. Entering this giveaway could also help with all those moments when financial indecision seems to strike.