It’s time to get naked! (Again!)
Last year, we started Naked With Cash, a series and feature at Consumerism Commentary. Last year’s introduction can provide you with the in-depth look at the purpose of the series. This year, I’m joined by Miranda Marquit to help organize the series. She, I, and the financial experts you’ll meet below, have selected four Consumerism Commentary readers who will work with those experts as they publicly track their finances throughout the year.
This year, we have four participants who will share their financial reports, exposing the results of their financial choices. Each participant is paired with one of our Certified Financial Planners (CFPs). The experts will provide insight and guidance that will, hopefully, help our participants take their finances to the next level by the end of 2014.
We’re also adding a video component this year, which should be a lot of fun. We will keep our participants anonymous, but the CFPs will share their thoughts in video format.
Meet the experts
Naked With Cash features four experts, offering commentary and advice on the participants’ financial situations.
Neal Frankle is an independent Certified Financial Planner™ based in Southern California. He founded Wealth Resources Group in 1994 to provide comprehensive fee-based financial planning exclusively.
His firm specializes in helping clients make smart decisions about their money so they can stop worrying and start enjoying the things that matter most to them.
I know what it’s like to have financial trouble. Both my parents passed away while I was still in high school. I took a tiny insurance settlement to a financial advisor. Rather than help me grow it safely to help me get through college, he churned and burned the account. It was horrible. But this experience made a deep impact on me and helped me really understand what it’s like to be in a tough situation with limited resources and almost no financial understanding. This motivated me to help others by developing a top-rate financial planning firm offering clients a comprehensive range of investment and financial planning services that are customized to clients’ needs.
Sara Stanich is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) practitioner and Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA™) based in New York City. She provides financial planning and investment advice to her clients who include dual-income couples, entrepreneurs and couples going through divorce.
Mom to an energetic preschooler, Sara Stanich has first-hand knowledge of the costs and challenges involved in raising a family. She finds that the responsibilities of parenthood motivate many growing families to deal with issues previously put on the back-burner such as investing, insurance, college savings and estate planning.
Sara Stanich lives in NYC with her husband and son. When not working, she enjoys gardening, being outdoors and spending time with her family.
Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC.
Roger Wohlner, CFP®, is a fee-only financial adviser based in Arlington Heights, Illinois. He provides comprehensive financial advice to individual clients and investment consulting services to retirement plans, foundations, and endowments. Roger’s blog is The Chicago Financial Planner where he provides information about financial planning, investments, and retirement plans.
Roger has been quoted extensively in the financial press including The Wall Street Journal, Investment News, and Reuters. Roger is also a regular contributor to the US News Smarter Investor Blog.
Connect with Roger: @rwohlner on Twitter · LinkedIn
Jeff is a Certified Financial Planner™ and CEO of Alliance Wealth Management, LLC a registered investment adviser. He is the founder of Good Financial Cents (a top 25 finance blog according to Wisebread) and author of the best selling book Soldier of Finance. He also runs Life Insurance By Jeff
He currently writes for US News and Equifax and has been featured in major sites such as Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, Reuters, Kiplinger’s, and Fox Business.
In his free time, he loves hanging with his family, tortures himself with Crossit workouts, and daydreams frequently when he can chow down on an In-N-Out Burger again.
Meet the participants
Laura and Leon
Laura and Leon met in 9th grade and started dating in 12th grade. They lived apart during college, and when they finished their undergraduate work, the married. They recently celebrated their five-year anniversary.
The two are 28 years old, and plan to start a family at some point. Here is what Laura shares about their financial history:
Our financial history is one where we never did anything particularly wrong, but we never did anything right either. We are natural homebodies, so we never spent a lot of money and our cash balance was able to keep growing, but our money just sat there in a checking account for a long time. No credit card debt, no retirement accounts, not even an interest-bearing savings account.
If it weren’t for the fact that our parents paid for our respective undergrads and provided each of us with a car, I think we would have been in trouble early in our early adult lives. That level of apathy is simply not something we can afford going forward.
Laura has a B.S. in Engineering, and a state Professional Engineering licensure. She earns $63,200 per year. Leon has a law degree and has passed the bar in three different states. He earns $60,000 a year. They have $44,000 in student debt. They max out contributions to tax-advantaged retirement accounts and hope to begin aggressively paying down debt. Laura and Leon hope that they can get a plan together to better use their financial resources, eliminate student loan debt, and save up to buy a house.
Jake and Allie
Jake and Allie are 47 and 42, respectively. They have no children, but they do have pets. Jake and Allie are employed by the same company, and they make a combined $140,000 a year. Jake has a Master’s degree in Computer Science and is an IT Director. Allie has a BBA and works as a Creative Manager.
They contribute to their company’s retirement plan, taking advantage of the employer match. They love to travel, and arrange matters so that they can take two week-long vacations each year and smaller getaways in between. Here is what Jake has to say about their financial goals:
In the short term, I plan to remain at my company to take advantage of a buyout plan when (and if) the company sells. Allie would like to start a photography business and eventually do that full time if we find that it can be financially reasonable to do so. We also would like to move to another state that we would enjoy more (to some mountains and a little snow). The time and location is still to be determined, mostly dependent on the buyout.
In the long term, we want to retire early (by the time I’m 55 and Allie is 50) and do some more traveling. After retirement, I’ll probably do some consulting here and there (or possibly open a luxury dog boarding business) and Allie plans to continue with her photography business.
They hope to move from the Southeast U.S. to a state with mountains and snow when they have a little more financial freedom.
Brian is a 30-year-old engineer. He has a wife and two young children. He works as a software engineer, and his wife stays at home. One of their biggest recent adjustments was dropping to a single-income family after being a dual-income family for so long. Brian’s parents paid for his college education, but his wife has student debt from her time at college. They have student loans and a mortgage, but they have never had credit card debt. They had two car loans in the past, but have paid those off.
Here is what Brian has to say about his goals and current situation:
My number one priority is being a good steward of the money God has given me. I have much to improve but is a strong priority for our family. Second is providing for my family and making sure all the needs are met with a little fun money. Making sure we will have enough to retire on and help the kids get through college are priorities.
My goals for the next year are to keep paying down the remaining consumer debt and really start to save. Overall, I think we are in a good place for now, but not dealing with this change in our earning level could change that fast.
Betsey is a 27-year-old government analyst. She recently moved 500 miles to start a new job with the government. She is single, and lives with two roommates, with whom she can split rent and utilities. They occasionally split grocery costs. Betsey has a net worth $10,268, and her assets include a bank account, IRA, security deposit, and I-bonds. She has $3,418 in credit card debt.
Here is what Betsey says about her hopes for her finances and participation in this series:
My biggest goal for 2014 is to save a significant portion of my income for a house down payment. In addition, I am a 20-something living in a high cost of living area (Washington, DC), so a related goal is to make sacrifices and keep my discretionary expenses down while I save up for a house.
I’m hoping for more insight on my finances from a broader audience that is interested in personal finance. I’m also looking forward to input from the certified financial planners – especially on taxes and retirement planning, as I am relatively new to having a real paycheck and handling extra income. Finally, I’m looking for some accountability and hoping that the public angle will help hold me to my goals.
Betsey has a passion for craft beer, and thinks that, perhaps, when she is ready to “retire,” she would like to open a brewery.
Updated June 24, 2016 and originally published January 7, 2014.