Author Archives: Western Reserve Capital Management

Gage Reflects on His First Investment

Gage Reflects on His First Investment 

My First Investment

I recently needed to make a copy of my Social Security card and had to go into my safe to get it. While looking for it, I can across a plastic cylinder with silver coins inside of it. These coins were my first “investment” I ever made and I had completely forgotten I had them.

I originally purchase these coins with the money I saved during a summer job as a server in-between my Freshman and Sophomore year of college. This was before I began any of my Finance course work, and had no idea about investing or the stock market.

Also, I didn’t know anyone in my family who invested outside of their 401(k) plan and had little guidance to turn to. I was certain my meager initial investment would not meet the minimums of a Financial Advisor, and I had no idea how to get into “the market”. The whole process seemed very intimidating and out of reach for someone in my position.

The idea was brought up of investing in physical silver coins since my uncle was familiar with doing that. So over the summer, I set an arbitrary goal for myself of saving $500 to purchase as much silver as I could get. Throughout the summer I gradually saved up the money and gave it to my uncle.

I am still not sure where he purchased the coins or how much each coin cost, but the result was my $500 was exchanged for a stack of coins that have sat in my safe ever since.

“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

Arthur Ashe

The Results of My First Investment

I decided to back-test my investment using $SLV ETF in place of my silver coins and compared it to the $SPY ETF which tracks the S&P 500. The chart below shows that the $500 I initially invest has lost money when adjusted for inflation, while the same $500 invested in a broad US-Stock market index almost doubled in value, even when adjusting for inflation. This analysis also ignores any transaction costs I would have paid when buying the silver coins.

Source: Portfolio Visualizer

At first glance, you would think I made a poor choice since my investment did not beat the market or even keep pace with inflation. However, I view this as a learning experience that certainly provided more value than the $500 I could have made If I were invested 100% in stocks. I view this as a form of tuition to the “school of investing” and I glad I was able to pay this fee early on in my investing career when stakes were much lower.

I also know I could have put it towards college expenses so that I would have less student loan debt after graduating, but younger Gage would have probably used that money on Pizza or Proteins shakes instead of tuition.

I have no intention of selling my silver anytime soon, partly because I am not entirely sure how, but I will not look to purchase any more precious metals in the near future. These coins serve as a reminder to me that you are influenced by your surroundings, and education is needed to help make the most of someone’s positive intentions.

I too often take for granted that investing can be intimidating to some people. Everyone has to start somewhere, and there should not be any judgment placed on that person for not knowing “better.” They are likely doing the best they can with the resources they were given.

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Adapting Portfolio Withdrawals in Retirement

What is a Dynamic Portfolio Withdrawal Strategy?

When creating a plan for generating income in retirement, we think you will need a portfolio withdrawal strategy that allows you to receive withdrawals throughout your life while maintaining your purchasing power. You will want to balance the risk of outliving your assets with the risk of leaving too much behind. Also, whenever possible, you want to structure your withdrawals to maximize long-term after-tax wealth. 

One way to achieve this is by using a “dynamic withdrawal strategy”. This approach provides you the possibility to have a higher monthly income without jeopardizing your portfolio when markets decline. This strategy places “guardrails” around your portfolio to let you know when you will have to make adjustments to your withdrawals.

Meaning you reduce your portfolio withdrawals in bad times and increase them in times that are good. This is empowering since it informs you in advance when you will have to make adjustments and how large these adjustments will be. The guardrails set a ceiling and floor to your portfolio value can fluctuate in-between before action should be taken. 

Flexibility is the Key to Stability.

John Wooden

What Will the Adjustments Need to be in “Bad Times?”

In the bad times, your retirement activities may be temporarily restricted, but as markets recover and your portfolio rebounds you will likely be able to increase your spending again in the future.

2020 was a miserable year in many aspects. For many, there was less travel, less dining out in restaurants, less attending live events, and less overall in-person discretionary spending. As a result, many people spent much less than would have in a “normal” year. 

This decrease in spending would likely be similar to a cut in spending someone would have to make in a market downturn, bad times, when using a dynamic withdrawal or “portfolio guardrails” strategy. When markets decline and your portfolio value falls below the set floor, you will adapt, not eliminate, spending. You will still likely do things you enjoy, just in a modified fashion, much like what you did in 2020. 

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s that we humans are adaptive creatures and can adjust to things that before never thought could happen. Often we can not control the circumstances we find ourselves in, but we can always choose the attitude we take towards them. Have confidence in your ability to prevail, just like you did with all the obstacles you have already faced.

Feel free to email us at with any questions you have. If you would like to schedule time with us to discuss your specific situation click here.

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Glass Half-Full Thinking

Retirement Planning in “Normal” Times

When planning for retirement we encourage people to envision what they believe their future life will look like. In normal times, people extrapolate the trends and technologies of today in a linear fashion into the future. A good example of this is “The Jetsons” which was set in 2062.

While flying cars and robot maids are still a distance proposition, they will likely look nothing like what was depicted in the original cartoon. The creators of “The Jetsons” simply used the technology they had at the time and futurized it. They had no idea innovations that would actually take place between 1962 and 2062.

Retirement Planning in Our Current Reality

If we were to ask someone to envision the future retirement based on what happened in 2020, they could likely imagine a future you would not want to be a part of. With a global pandemic, economic uncertainty, and divided nation, it is very easy to find things to be negative about.

Reasons to be pessimistic is tend to dominate the news and you often have to look for reasons to be optimistic. Below are three books that I found helpful in allowing me to think more optimistically about the future:

3 Books to Shift Your Mindset

These books detail how life is better than we may think. Violence, global poverty, and child mortality all are decreasing. Human innovation and technological advancement are happening at an increasing rate. Progress is always taking place, even though it may not be directly visible to us.

Shifting Your Mindset

A positive mindset can be thought of as a “muscle”, meaning the more you train yourself to look for the good things, the easy it becomes to find them. If you are fortunate enough to be reading this post, there are likely millions, if not billions of people who would consider your current life to be the “dream life.”

Long-Term Optimism as an Investment Philosophy

“The first rule of compoundingNever interrupt it unnecessarily.”

Charlie Munger

To allow a long-term optimistic investment philosophy to play out, you must secure yourself from the inevitable short-term crises. This security is money not exposed to market risk, used to provide a buffer to meet your current spending needs, and allow your assets exposed to the markets to remain untouched.

The size of this buffer is viewed as “X” number of years of future spending. The actual dollar amount can vary greatly from person to person but should be large enough to allow you not to have to sell long-turn investments during a market downturn. This can also be viewed it turns of having enough set aside to allow you to sleep soundly when markets are manic.

“Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.”


Disasters are inevitable, markets will boom and bust. Through all of this, we will continue to innovate and change for the better. Uncertainty of the future will always be present and optimism may become scarce. Prepare for these times, but have faith that a better future will prevail.

What Steps Can you Take Today?

  • Think of 3 things you are grateful for
  • Determine how much of a buffer you need for short-term expenses
  • Create an investment strategy that allows you to take advantage of the long-term potential of the markets.

Feel free to email us at with any questions you have. If you would like to schedule time with us to discuss your specific situation click here.

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Claiming your Spousal Social Security Benefit Early


Can a spouse take their spousal benefit before they could take their own benefit?


The Earliest You Claim a Spousal Benefit

The earliest one can claim their benefit or a spousal benefit is age 62 and doing so will result in a permanent reduction in your benefit based on your full retirement age.  

Below is a table from that shows the reduction of benefits when claiming at age 62

Source: Social Security Administration

In order to claim a spousal benefit, Spouse #2 must wait until Spouse #1 begins drawing benefits on their own record. Spouse #2 must wait until age 62 to claim a spousal benefit even if Spouse #1 is already taking their benefit on their own record.  

*Any early claiming of benefits will result in a permanent reduction in benefits. The only caveat to this is if you are caring for a qualifying child, we mean a child who is under age 16 or who receives Social Security disability benefits could allow you to claim earlier. 

Understanding Deemed Filing

The Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 made some changes to Social Security’s laws about filing for retirement and spousal benefits. 

If you turn age 62 on or after January 2, 2016, you CANNOT apply only for spouse’s benefits and delay filing for your own retirement benefit in order to earn delayed retirement credits. You are required or “deemed” to file for both your own retirement and for any benefits you are due as a spouse, no matter what age you are.  

Deemed filing means that when you file for either your retirement or your spouse’s benefit, you are required or “deemed” to file for the other benefit as well.  

The rules for deemed filing apply only to retirement benefits based on your own work record and to the spousal benefits (including divorced spouses) you receive based on retirement.

If you receive a spousal benefit because you are caring for a child who is under age 16 or disabled or if you receive spouse’s benefits and are also entitled to disability, deemed filing does not apply and you are therefore not required or “deemed” to file for your retirement benefit. 

Social Security can be very nuanced and claiming strategies should not be made without consideration of the rest of one’s financial plan. Social Security is foundational to most retirement income strategies and when you claim should be personalized to your circumstances. If you would like to schedule time with us to discuss your specific situation click here.

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7 Benefits of Hiring an Expert

Why Gage Hired a Personal Trainer

I recently decided to purchase workout programming from Barbell Medicine after months of slowed progress in the gym. Being a Certified Personal Trainer and regular weightlifter, I have historically written my own workout programs. I felt I had sufficient knowledge with my education and access to free information available on the internet. 

I know from past experience there are many people who call themselves fitness “experts” but have no clue what they are talking about. I eventually found the Barbell Medicine team who do individual and group coaching. They produce a lot of good content and base their recommendations on current research and their experience training clients. 

They also hold impressive credentials that show their commitment to their profession. I am only a few months into this programing but, I am pleased with my progress thus far and attribute these results to the following values they provide: 

The Benefits of Hiring an Expert


Being that I am paying for the programming and have someone to report my results to, I feel much more responsible than I would be if I were to do it on my own. 


They provide an outside insight into my training and help me avoid emotionally driven decisions that could have negative outcomes. This will hopefully reduce my risk of injury from training. 


They are aware of where other clients have struggles and anticipate where I may run into similar issues and can adjust my programming accordingly. 


The program is based on current research as well as experience with past clients. It is presented in a way that is much more in-depth than what I would have put together on my own. They are also constantly researching topics and providing new content relevant to my situation. 


There is a support network I can turn to if I need assistance or have questions. They also encourage me to autoregulate my training, meaning they tell me what level of fatigue I should generate but it is up to me to determine how much weight goes on the bar. 


The template provided a plan overview, as well as an excel file to log data. This allowed me to track my training and nutrition in one centralized place and show my progress and see trends in the data. I will also note the spreadsheet they put together is much more detailed than I would have created for myself. 

Reduced Self-Experimentation 

I am confident that I could do it on my own, but I now see the value in professional guidance and know that my time could be better used elsewhere than staying current with the most recent fitness and nutrition research. I also want to not make the same mistakes as someone else, rather try to learn from them. 

Enjoy the Journey

I know fitness is a journey, not a destination and there will be peaks and valleys along the way. Although its level of priority in my life will likely change, I plan to always maintain some level of physical activity throughout my life. 

As I learn more about myself, make mistakes, and adjustments, my goal is to pass on the lessons learned and knowledge gained. 

“A smart person learns from his mistakes, but a truly wise person learns from the mistakes of others.” 

-Ken Schramm 

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Health Insurance Pre-Medicare

If you retire before the age of 65, be that a planned retirement or something else, you will not be eligible to begin Medicare benefits and need to bridge the gap between the time when you retire and that date. Depending on your circumstances you could see a significant increase in healthcare costs during this period. With this in mind, it would be prudent to plan for an increase in annual premiums and additional out-of-pocket costs after your employer-subsidized group health insurance ends.

Healthcare Options Between Retirement and Medicare

COBRA Coverage

The Consolidated Omnibus Budget Reconciliation Act of 1985, COBRA, is available to former employees of employers with 20 or more full-time employees. You will typically pay the full cost of coverage plus a 2% administrative cost. This can result in premiums being 3 to 5 times higher than they were when they were an employee since the cost of coverage is no longer subsidized by the employer.

Since COBRA is continuing the same coverage you had as an employee, you keep your existing network of doctors and have the same copayments, coinsurance, and other plan features. You must sign up for COBRA within 60 days of when you are notified then, you can make the election, and coverage typically lasts for up to 18 months after your separation from employment. 

*One special note is if you are on your spouse’s employer plan and they enroll in Medicare you may be able to continue your coverage under COBRA for up to 36 months.

Coverage through a spouse’s plan

When you retire and were currently covered under your spouse’s employer health insurance plan, you will likely be able to continue your coverage as long as they continue to work.

This could be your least expensive option if it is available to you and like with the COBRA option there should be no change or disruption in your coverage. This option would likely only be available as long as your spouse continues to work.

Public Marketplace

The Affordable Care Act established a public marketplace and provides coverage options to anyone who is not eligible for Medicare yet. The plans are categorized by metal level with “Bronze” being the least expensive and “Platinum” the most. Bronze plans typically have lower premiums and higher deductibles, while Platinum plans have the highest premiums but the most comprehensive coverage. Silver and Gold plans fall in between these two plans.

Open enrollment is from November 1 to December 15 each year for the marketplace. However, there is a special enrollment period for individuals who had “certain life events” such as losing health coverage. The special enrollment period can vary based on the specific life event. 

You could be eligible for Advance Premium Tax Credits (APTC) if you purchase a policy on the exchange and your household income falls between 100% and 400% of the federal poverty level. In most states, you can qualify for a subsidy for a plan in 2021 with an income as much as $51,040 for a single person household, $68,960 for a two-person household, and $104,800 for a 4 person household. *Note these maximums are higher in Hawaii and Alaska.

You can go to to see the coverage available to you in your state and if you may be eligible for federal premium tax credits.

Private Insurance

  • You can also obtain coverage through a local insurance agent who offers plans from multiple carriers through the “private exchanges.” Since these exchanges are not government funded, the Advance Premium Tax Credits cannot be applied but do provide more plan options. You can find a health insurance agent or broker at to help navigate you through the individual market.

Planning for Pre-Medicare Expenses

People are often surprised by the cost of health insurance between the time of employment and Medicare eligibility. That is because their employer often subsidizes a portion of their health insurance, so when they see the price of COBRA coverage or coverage on the public exchange, there can be a sticker shock.

The graph below comes from a 2018 study by Vanguard/Mercer where they estimated that the median cost of a Bronze plan on the exchange for a pre-Medicare 64-year-old, and compared that to the average employer-sponsored plan for the same age group and the cost of Medicare coverage would be for someone age 65 and eligible for Medicare.

They also layered the out-of-pocket costs for their estimates for “medium” and “high” risk individuals. As you can see there is a large difference in cost between employer-sponsored coverage, Marketplace (pre-Medicare) coverage, and Medicare.

Source: Mercer – Vanguard Health Care Cost Model, 2018.

Regardless of the type of coverage you select, you will have to consider two factors:

  • Insurance premiums
  • Out-of-pocket costs (including dental and vision)

Your insurance premiums vary based on the type of plan you select and could vary from year to year but is likely predictable once the initial coverage is established.

The other factor is out-of-pocket costs, which include deductibles, copays, coinsurance, or other services not covered by the plan. These expenses can vary greatly year to year and can depend on your current health levels, predicted future health levels, and the amount of risk you want to take on in your plan.

How Your Health Impacts Your Cost of Coverage

Your current health conditions are relatively straight forward to assess by asking:

  • Do you currently have significant health care out-of-pocket costs? Typically people in poor health, already have higher than average out-of-pocket costs.
  • If you have pre-existing or chronic conditions, do you expect these to continue indefinitely? The more chronic health conditions you have, the worse your health is projected to be.
  • Do you consider your health to be average or below average? Some people are overly optimistic about their current conditions, and while this is a great outlook on life when planning healthcare expenses it is more conservative to have a pessimistic lens.

Your future health level can be based on your family history of chronic disease or based on your current health conditions. Even if you don’t have any current or expect any in the future, it would be prudent to overestimate the out-of-pocket costs rather than not.

The unfortunate fact for most is you are likely the healthiest you will ever be right now and will see a gradual decline as you age. 

How to Plan for Healthcare Costs in Retirement

When planning for healthcare expenses, it is better to look at healthcare expenses as a reoccurring annual cost that may change based on the type of coverage you have. Yes, your total cost of coverage may change year to year due to unforeseen out-of-pocket expenses, but it still better to frame healthcare costs in this way. Healthcare costs also tend to increase at a rate higher than general inflation, and this should be accounted for in your planning assumptions.

Healthcare will be another line-item expense in retirement and although it will be sizable, it should not be overwhelming when planned for accordingly like every other expense in retirement. Factors such as your health, where you live, your age, and marital status should all be considered when you are making decisions on healthcare.

In Summary

Planning for healthcare is highly individualized and the expected costs could vary greatly based on the type of coverage available, your age, gender, health status, and geographic location. Getting a grasp on how these factors affect your situation can help to make more reasonable assumptions when planning for retirement pre-Medicare. 

One final note, planning for health expenses is distinct from planning for long-term care needs in retirement, and this separate issue needs to be considered.

Feel free to email us at with any questions you have.

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Don’t be a Retirement Maximizer

The Paradox of Choice

I recently read The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less by American psychologist Barry Schwartz. In this book, he talks about the counterintuitive idea that having more things to choose from makes us less happy than if we were to have fewer options.

His reasoning for this is the more options there are the more likely you are to regret the choice you made or you are already anticipating the future regret of a decision you haven’t even made yet. He explains every choice has an opportunity cost embedded in it and our modern world has caused our expectations to increase. This then decreases the likelihood of those expectation being met.

The most important idea he covered was the idea of self-blame. Meaning in a world where you have control of your decisions, you are increasingly likely to blame yourself when a choice you made was below your expectations. 

Maximizing vs. Satisficing

After he describes why more choice can lead to discontent, Schwartz talks about the work of Herbert A. Simon and the concept of maximizing vs. “satisficing” when making choices.

  • Maximizers are similar to perfectionists. They need to be ensured every decision is the “best” they could have made considering all imaginable alternatives. As the possible options increase, this becomes more and more difficult. 
  • Satifisficers on the other hand, are not worried about the possibility there could be something better. They have set criteria and standards and as long as their choice meets those, they are happy.  

The key here is how one sets the acceptable criteria and standards when they are making choices. Often, we look to others to base our expectations. But this then sets the bar for a good enough choice too high. Alternatively, you can turn to experts in a given field for recommendations. 

Satisficing In Retirement

When it comes to planning for retirement, there is a myriad of choices, many reoccurring, that need to be made, and a numbing number of options available for each. Many of the choices you make can’t be quantified on a spreadsheet and require thoughtful consideration.

If you approach retirement with the lens of a maximizer trying to make the best possible decision for each choice you could easily become overwhelmed. This is why you must look at it as a satisficer and make decisions based on your preset criteria and standards.

The Role of an Expert

Alternatively, you could turn to someone for guidance when making these choices. The role of any “good” financial advisor is to help clients: 

  • Determine their goals 
  • Evaluate the importance of their goals  
  • Simplify the ever-increasing array of choices 
  • Provide clarity to the potential trade-offs from a reduced list of options 
  • Work with them on the implementation of their decisions.  

The advisor will be able to help you in setting acceptable criteria and standards for retirement. This is based on their subject matter expertise and past experiences helping clients in situations similar to your own. 

This should be a collaborative process and you should leave any meeting with clarity on what was discussed and a connection with the advisor delivering the recommendations.

In a world of material affluence and endless options, we shoulder the responsibility to curate the life we think we should have based on our inflated expectations that aren’t based on reality.

The choice is yours and you must determine what is “enough.”  

Let us know of any comments you have: 

 Below Is a Video of a Ted Talk Barry gave:

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Don’t Lose Sight of What Matters

Beware of Convenient Benchmarks

I’ve spoken before on tracking key performance indicators to monitor progress on a strategy you implemented. This is based on the idea of measuring benchmarks that will drive the achievement of your desired outcome. 

For instance, people concerned with their health often use a scale to track their weight and measure progress. The weight on the scale can vary widely each day because of variables such as the time of day you weigh yourself, your calories consumed, your calorie burned, your level of hydration, the type of clothing worn, and current intestinal mass. 

Over the long-term, the determinant of weight gain or loss is your net energy balance being positive or negative. A positive net energy balance means you have consumed more calories than you have burned.  

What Do You Measure in Retirement?

When it comes to retirement, people often track the value of their portfolio, as a measure of success. Like with your weight, the value of your portfolio can vary greatly over the short-term but over the long-term is a reliable measure of the “net energy balance” of the portfolio. Ask yourself, “Is your portfolio growth outpacing any withdrawals being taken from it?” 

The weight on the scale and the size of your portfolio are just numbers. They are easy to track and quantify but do not necessarily equal your health or success in retirement. For instance, someone could crash diet and become much less healthy in the process of losing weight. Yes, there would be “progress” on the scale, but at the sacrifice of the more important goal of health. 

What is Progress in Retirement?

The same parallel can be drawn with your retirement portfolio. You could slash all your discretionary spending for the sake of increasing the size of your portfolio and not allowing yourself any enjoyment in the process. We do not view this as a successful retirement plan.

Health and happiness can not be measured directly, so we use other easy to quantify measures such a weight or portfolio size to help us determine them. As you can see there are flaws in placing too much importance on single data points and finding balance is key.  

Embracing the Process

Sustainability must be considered when using any strategy, the process of becoming healthier, or happier is what is important. What you measure to track progress is the means to an end. 

Health is not the weight on the scale, success is not the size of the portfolio.  

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Estate Planning in the Digital Age

Why Estate Planning is Important

We often ask; what would happen to everything you own if you were to pass away tomorrow? Does any of your family members or loved ones know where to access your important documents or passwords? Would they know what to do with the information once they got a hold of it? As part of our financial planning process, we review all our new client’s estate plans and help get them organized, this includes creating a Legacy binder. This article will lay out the basics of an estate plan and describe our solution to make it simpler for you to pass your assets on after you pass away.   

Most Americans say having an estate plan/will is important, but only 40% have one in place. If this is the case when you die your loved ones will have little to no say over how your belongings are managed. That is why we feel it is important for you to create the necessary estate planning documents and communicate your wishes to your heirs. Here is a list of documents that should be included in your estate plan: 

  • Living Will 
  • Power of attorney 
  • Durable power of attorney for medical/healthcare (advanced directive) 
  • HIPAA release 
  • Last will and testament  
  • Trust  
  • *We will not go into details for each of these documents, but we recommend you speak with an estate planning attorney.

Once the estate planning documents have been created, we put them in one central location we call the Legacy Binder. This binder can be stored in a safe at your home, a safety deposit box at a bank, or simply in a safe place you have chosen. We then recommend you tell at least three loved ones how access to this binder.  

What is a Legacy Binder? 

It is a physical binder, not just a folder on your computer, that has all the information your family needs if something happens to you. Unfortunately, a will or estate plan won’t be helpful if no one knows where it is or how to access it. While this part of planning for the future is not as fun as planning for a big trip, its impacts can’t be understated. Having your Legacy Binder in place eliminates added stress and confusion during a time of grieving. 

How to Set Up Your Legacy Binder? 

  • Binder  
  • Tabs 
  • Sleeves to hold documents 
  • Flash drive (optional)  
  • A safe, safety deposit box, or fire-proof folder. 

What’s inside Your Legacy Binder? 

It should contain everything your spouse or family needs to know if you aren’t around. That means anything to do with your financial life, passwords, your medical wishes, and plans for your funeral. We will break down what documents to include and how to organize them so your loved ones can find what they need quickly. We have included the spreadsheet we use, and the checklists mentioned as well. 

Cover Letter 

  • This is a letter stating the purpose and contents of the Legacy Binder. This is meant to introduce your loved ones or heirs to the contents of the binder and what actions need to be taken. 

Estate Planning Inventory  

Professional Contacts 

  • Financial advisors, accounts, attorneys, and insurance agents. These are important people to contact when major events take place and action needs to be taken. 

Asset Inventory 

  •  All your financial account information, insurance policies, employee benefits, income sources, and any liabilities you may owe. 

Documents and Estate Planning 

  • This includes all your estate planning documents and other important documents such as tax returns and personal forms of identification 

Usernames and Passwords 

  • A list of usernames, passwords to key accounts and devices so that their loved ones can access any needed documents, money, or information. 

Home Information 

  • This includes important bills the household pays, any subscriptions, and any other relevant information someone will need to know. 

Funeral Instructions  

  • All the details surrounding your funeral should be included in your legacy binder so your loved ones can fulfill your wishes. Are there important details you want to be included? What would you like people to give in your honor? Where do you want your funeral to take place? What do you want the mood to be at your funeral? 
  •  If you’re married, create a set of instructions for you and another set for your spouse. 

Executor Checklist 

  • This is a list of action items for the person responsible for handling matters regarding their estate to make sure they don’t miss anything and know what to prioritize. 

If you decide to keep your binder in a safety deposit box or safe, create an envelope that includes instructions on where your binder is and who has access to it. If you want a boost to your peace of mind, invest in a fireproof envelope where you can put this envelope. Once all your files have been set up, don’t forget to tell your spouse and trusted contacts about it. This is also a great time to share the specifics they might not be aware of or things that have changed over the years.

Creating your Legacy Binder might seem like a lot to do at first, but once you get going you can knock it out in a month or so. Make sure you revisit your legacy drawer every 12 to 24 months or when a major life change takes place. Check to see if any documents need to be added or amended if you need to make copies of new or changed information, or update login information. 

With your Legacy Binder in place, not only are you protecting your family but you’re also giving them the gift of peace of mind. 

Steps to take today for your Estate Plan 

  • 1. Review and update all your beneficiaries on all financial and insurance accounts. 
  • 2. Gather and review all estate planning documents you currently have.  
  • 3. Purchase the supplies needed to assemble the binder. 

An important note: this estate planning article highlights many legal elements and is not meant to offer advice. It is important to talk with a lawyer when it comes to planning out your estate documents this article was meant to give a high-level view of what a complete estate plan should consist of. 

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From Certified Personal Trainer to Certified Financial Planner®

I often joke with Jim when I become interested in something, I go down the proverbial “rabbit hole” and go very deep on a specific subject and try to learn as much as I possibly can. As I look back at my career thus far this holds true. When I became interested in fitness and nutrition, I became a Certified Personal Trainer and when I became interested in personal finance, I became a Certified Financial Planner®.

My fitness journey began when I was training for soccer and high school. I was heading into my senior year and looking to add some muscle to increase my performance on the field. 

As I began to work out, I soon found I liked training more than playing soccer. I diligently researched the optimal training routines to maximize my performance and muscle growth. I meticulously tracked my exercises, sets, and reps. I studied diet and nutrition to understand the amount of protein, carbohydrates, and fats I needed to intake daily. I spent the majority of my income from working at Discount Drug Mart on supplements to enhance my workouts.

After learning so much about fitness and nutrition I decided I wanted to share this with other people and thought I could make a career out of it. I began to train and counsel friends and family and attained my Certified Personal Trainer from the International Sports Science Association. In addition to my personal training certification, I decided to study nutrition at the University of Akron and got a job at the Rec Center on campus, and began seeing clients.

I soon realized that not everyone has the same passion and commitment to fitness and nutrition as I did. This was very discouraging for me, as my clients did not see the results I expected. This was mainly due to only training them for 30 minutes twice per week and having zero control of their behavior outside of the gym. 

As I was training clients, I also discovered there was not a lot of money to be made in the personal training business as an employee. If I wanted to make a career out of it, I would have to open my own gym.

This led me to study finance because I thought people who worked with money would by default make a lot of money and I could then use that money to open a gym. As I got exposure to personal finance and got an internship with a large insurance company, I learned that you were able to help people as a personal trainer or coach would. 

I then began digging into all information related to financial planning and striving to become a Certified Financial Planner®, which I saw as the gold-standard in the industry. It wasn’t until I graduated from the University of Akron and began working at a Registered Investment Advisory firm where I saw the difference between product sales and real financial planning and seeing there was so much left to learn beyond the Certified Financial Planner® designation. I began to dive deeper into specific areas that interested me. The first was taxation, where I decided to get the Enrolled Agent license as a good way to have a thorough understanding of the US tax code. 

Then I was then drawn towards the area of retirement planning once I found out the number of decisions and complexities that surround this time in someone’s life. So, enrolled in the Retirement Income Certified Professional® designation through the American College to explore this area further.  

I will always have a love for fitness and nutrition and I’m more than willing to help anyone who has questions in these areas, but I see this as a passion rather than a career. My transition from fitness to finance has shaped me into who I am today. I look forward to guiding clients through their retirement journeys. Who knows maybe someday I will open a gym to help clients get in great financial and physical shape. 

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