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Our Services…The Benefits in Case Study Format

What follows are some mini-case studies that highlight the benefits of our financial planning services.  These case studies are about real clients Kay has had the privilege of serving.

Notice especially how specific the benefits of financial planning are to the unique circumstances of each client.

Another common theme in these cases is that financial planners have a real knack for spotting financial opportunities and ferreting out  important issues that the client would have never found on his or her own! In fact, it is not at all unusual for Kay’s advice to more than pay for itself in savings and streamlined wealth building.

(Note: I would love to include client testimonials with each of these cases. Unfortunately, the laws and regulations that govern my profession forbid me from doing so! )

Case 1: Soon to Retire, Dual Pension Couple – Each had already chosen their retirement date and they now needed help with the numerous financial transitions they faced. They especially wanted objective advice about what to do with substantial 401K assets. Her 401K contained highly appreciated employer stock (aka NUA stock). Interestingly, after she retired and took the stock out of the plan, the 401K plan administrator issued an incorrect tax document that didn’t accurately reflect her choices for how to transition her 401K assets. Their tax preparer didn’t alert them to the problem but a follow up review of their tax returns by Kay uncovered the problem in time to correct it without penalty. Kay also devised a highly tailored strategy for them to harvest the gains in the NUA stock while minimizing the tax bite.

Case 2: Dual Income Young Couple With Kids – Presented with need to make sure they are fulfilling their financial responsibilities as parents and expressed a desire to take a comprehensive look at their finances to learn where the shortcomings and opportunities were. As they suspected, they were under insuring their lives and Kay helped them objectively quantify their need for coverage and the type of policy to get. They were surprised to find they needed more disability income insurance. They were also surprised to learn that his 403(b) plan imposed much lower fees than hers and would therefore be the best place for them to direct all their retirement savings, especially since neither spouse was making the statutory maximum allowed contributions each year. Kay also helped them choose which investment options within his plan to invest in and what their allocation to each option should be.

Case 3: Couple in Early Retirement – Presented with general desire to obtain ongoing, objective support with the many financial challenges faced by early retirees, especially with how to cost effectively invest a comfortable nest egg and how to sustainably tap into it to fund their retirement. Among other things, Kay was delighted to find that this couple could be annually converting sizable chunks of their IRA assets to Roth IRA assets completely tax free saving them literally thousands of dollars!

Case 4: Couple With Budding College Scholars – Presented with desire to turbo-charge their college savings efforts and obtain a comprehensive plan for how best to pay college expenses. Kay devised a multi-faceted plan for covering college expenses that minimized loans and, through efficient loan repayment, minimized total loan interest. She also assessed the impact of this couple’s college goals on their prospects for retirement.

Case 5: Tax Planning for a Taxable Investment Account- Presented in 2007 with a taxable investment account that was loaded with capital gains.  By the first checkup in 2009 most holdings in this account were sitting at a loss. Interestingly, the losses, and upcoming changes to the tax code, could be exploited to transition the money to a Roth IRA despite the client being ineligible to make direct contributions to a Roth IRA.  The transition to a Roth IRA will save the client a bundle on taxes over the next 10 years!

Case 6: Semi-Retired Couple – Presented with need to secure the financial future of the wife in the wake of learning that the husband has a degenerative illness and only 2-3 years to live. Learned they could afford for him to completely discontinue working and enjoy travel and time with family while he is still able. Established a time line of upcoming milestones that will impact their finances and for which they must be prepared and take timely action. Also, we established a strong, trust filled bond that will provide her with long term support.

Case 7: Thirty-Something Single Individual – Presented with questions about how to save for retirement. Learned he was undermining her financial well being by not having an emergency cash fund and by owning an “in the red” rental property. Selling the rental townhouse enabled him to refinance his primary mortgage and build a solid emergency fund. Seven months later he was well positioned to accept a buyout from his employer and free himself to pursue more fulfilling employment.

Case 8: Fifty Something Couple, Husband Considering Early Retirement From Teaching – Presented with desire to learn if it was financially feasible for him to retire from his 20+ year teaching position (that he still enjoyed) with a partial pension. We learned that if he worked for 2-3 more year,  his pension benefit will increase enough that the wife would be able to retire by age 63 at the latest. He liked the idea of her being able to retire earlier versus later and felt motivated to continue working a few more years.

Case 9: Couple struggling with Mounting Debt – This couple was aware that they were gradually building debt which they understood meant that they were consistently living beyond their means. Using a tool Kay designed , they first created a detailed tabulation of their actual household cash flows and then transformed this into a balanced budget .  This process, facilitated through out by Kay, helped them identify where their money was going, and the expenses they needed to cut back on or eliminate. The process required great courage and commitment but having a dispassionate and objective coach ensured the work was productive and devoid of unnecessary stress.