Ep #84: Learn How Mary Went From Welfare to Wealth Management
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Mary Sterk is the Founder of Sterk Financial Services and Best Selling Author of Ready to Pull the Retirement Trigger which you can find on Amazon, Books A Million and in your local bookstores.
Mary is a Financial Planner who helps her clients grow money and know what to do with it once they have more.
Old Story: Single-Mom with Two Kids on Welfare, Food Stamps and Low Income Housing
New Story: Wealth Management Guru
LEARN HOW A SINGLE MOM WITH TWO KIDS GOT OFF WELFARE
By age 19, Mary was a single-mom with two kids who bought her food on welfare and bought her food stamps and lived in low income housing. Decisions she had to make when it came to money was between buying diapers and food.
Mary realized people in this setting had been there for a long time and they were not creating something better for themselves or their families. She wanted something better. Mary went on a journey to learn how money works.
She went to night school while working full-time during the day while raising her children. Mary ended up earning her Certified Planning Designation where she has worked in her career for the last 25 years.
WHAT IS A HOLISTIC FINANCIAL PLANNER?
Mary helps client look at their finances, invest their money and understand they aren’t just their balance sheets. She looks at them as a whole person not just their finances. She loves helping people align their financial picture with the life they want to lead.
Financial plans have to come back to the life you are most excited about living.
Mary says, “Every financial planner out there will have different graphs and charts and numbers, that is all part of it. When looking at retirement planning, it must be approached like a three-legged stool.”
Mary explains this concept:
- The first leg is emotional readiness. There is a big difference between working and not.
- The second leg of the stool is health and long term care issues.
- The third leg is the financial side of it.
All three legs must be addressed for a well-balanced stool.
MONEY BUYS YOU CHOICES
Money buys more choices! If people don’t have money, their choices are more limited.
Choices can be things that are wanted, experiences to have or the feelings clients want to create.
For example, Mary will often ask people how they want retirement to feel? Her clients might say connected, generous and creative. So this is a clue as to what they will want to spend money on. In their retirement budget, money will need to be allowed to do those things.
DO YOU KNOW WHY YOU INVEST?
When there is a reason to invest money it is much more successful than to invest money to have a pile of money. Having a pile of money just to have money is not the goal.
THE RETIREMENT MYTH
What does it take to start investing? People often think they have to have a certain amount of money to start investing. This is perpetuated that some financial planners will not work with people until they have an asset balance of $100K, $500K or more. The truth of it is, you can learn anything you want about investing online today or buy a book.
You only need a little bit to get started - a minimum of $25/month.
There are companies out there that are RoboAdvice where you can line up your risk levels to a set of questions and they’ll give you a automatic pre-planned set of investments. This is low-cost and caters to people who have smaller dollar chunks to start with. Google $25/month investments, RoboAdvice or contact an investor for a free value assessment meeting.
This just requires you to make the choice to do it.
ARE YOU NERVOUS TO SEE YOUR TRUE FINANCIAL NUMBERS?
This is a common emotion no matter how much money you have. It is not about the dollar amount it is about the scope of what it is necessary to help you along your journey. It is not the size of your portfolio, it is the size of your issue. Judgement doesn’t fall into this!
DO YOU KNOW WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A FINANCIAL ADVISOR?
Most financial planners get paid in three ways:
- Hourly Rate
A hybrid advisor is one that gets paid in all three ways because they have access to investment vehicles. What investors deserve is transparency in how their financial advisor charges. This allows the investor to make decisions on who they work with and how services are performed. There are certain financial vehicles that only fall into one of the three ways.
A commission only advisor, this is your first red flag. Their mission in life is to sell you a financial product. Most humans are not looking to buy an financial product. People are looking for strategy or advice.
Fee-only advisors will charge a fee for planning and charge a fee for managing assets. They tend to have a stronger alignment with their clients because whatever their client needs, they are likely to be able to provide while getting paid for their time and expertise.
Fee-Based or Hourly-Fee is the best. What one gets in hiring a financial planner in this way is time, experience and expertise for writing a customized financial plan tailored to individual specific needs.
You want an investment advisor who can select services and products carefully and will honestly and straightforwardly explain how they get paid for those services.
WHEN DOES IT MAKE SENSE TO GET AN INVESTMENT PROFESSIONAL?
People can invest on their own. Most don’t feel comfortable doing it though. There are some steps one can take before hiring an advisor, but again this is only optional advice.
- Have an emergency fund as your first priority.
- Contribute to a 401(k) so that you can get the company-matching funds (free money).
- Fully fund a Roth IRA.
- Consider seeing a financial planner.
LEARN ABOUT MARY'S BOOK "READY TO PULL THE RETIREMENT TRIGGER"
Her book is ideally for people within 5-10 years of retirement. She intentionally wrote it as a short read so it is not intimidating or scary. This allows people to know what to do before they make the choice that work is optional.
It advises you on what you need, discusses health, emotional balance and money matters.
This book is really a roadmap of how to retire for Do-It-Yourselfers and also how to hire a Financial Planner.
As a great companion to this book, Mary has a Strategic Retirement Tool Kit on her website. This toolkit includes the tools that you’ll need and has resources that the book mentions.
Mary and her team like to make life simple for their investors. They have their availability online to allow investors to set up a time that is convenient for them. Your first appointment is always free because they love to elevate financial education of others.
Be brave and schedule your appointment. Knowledge is power. Money is a subject that is taboo to talk about in most circles but Mary and her team make it easy to get expert advice.
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