Financial Planning FAQs

General Questions

What’s the process?

Our first meeting is an opportunity to get to know each other.  We will learn about you and what your priorities are and then you will learn more about us and how we may be able to help you meet your goals. Once you have decided to move forward with us we will begin to schedule our future meetings based on your priorities.

Is there any ‘catch’ to my complimentary one-hour consultation at Wallingford offices?

You’re under no obligation and there’s no catch. We merely spend an hour asking about and listening to your financial situation. Then we share with you what we believe we can do for you to improve your situation and future.

How long is a typical consultation?

Usually you will meet with Kerry for approximately one hour in your initial consultation. From there it depends on which specific services you would like to explore.

How long does it take to reach your offices from Seattle or Bellevue? From Tacoma or Auburn?

We’re just 20-30 minutes South of downtown Seattle and 20-30 minutes North of Tacoma or Auburn outside of high traffic hours. In addition, we use technology for clients that cannot get into our office physically.

Life Planning FAQs

What is Legacy Planning?

Legacy planning is about what you want to leave behind for you family. For some families this is a financial number, but for others it is a legacy of understanding how money works and how to make sure it works for you instead of the other way around. We discuss the goals and priorities of the family and make sure we are staying focused on those goals.

What If I need help with creating a budget?

For some of the families with whom we work, their top priority is simply learning how to live within a budget and learning how to save. We teach you strategies to learn to live within a budget, so the budget doesn't control you.

What if I just want some life insurance?

We represent over 50 insurance companies. It’s important to not only understand what companies will fit the insured but it is also important to understand what amount of insurance you want. The most important part of life insurance planning is to make sure the coverage you want is in force the day you need it. Do you know what day that will be?

Do I really need a will?

We are not attorneys in this office, but I can tell you without question that this is one of the most important planning mechanisms available to families. I work closely with your family attorney, or we will recommend an attorney, to make sure that the objectives of the family come true in the event of a death. Without a properly drafted will your family could suffer financial loses beyond your imagination.

What are “wealth transfers”?

Wealth transfers are those areas in our financial world where we may be unnecessarily and unknowingly losing wealth by how we pay for things. These wealth transfers can be found in how we pay for major expenses, pay for college, pay for your home, and of course in the taxes we pay. We believe that we can make a bigger impact on your family’s financial well-being by avoiding the losses through wealth transfers than by picking the winners.

College Planning FAQs

Do you think shooting for an expensive four-year private university is out of reach for my family?

Many times it’s more in reach than you think! This all depends on a variety of factors which we will explore in your initial consultation. But keep a positive mindset.

Is every child a candidate for College Planning?

Frankly, No. Not every student is right for the college planning and funding solution process.  It’s important to know how driven a child is and how important the process is to the parents as well.  If a family is not motivated to get the work done necessary to assure success for the child then they would not qualify for this program.

What is the cost for the College Planning Program?

We have a variety of services available to help in the college planning and funding process.  The fees can range from $500 – $4000. The fees are based on the needs of the family and the student, as well as the timing of enrollment in the program.  There is such a thing as starting too late. Either way, however, the initial consultation is free and there is no obligation to move forward.

When should I start planning?

College is one of the largest financial commitments a family can make. It is never too early to start understanding the financial impact and what you can do to minimize the costs to your family.

Should I invest in the GET program?

The Guaranteed Education Tuition program can be quite complicated and it is important to understand all the implications involved in participating in this plan prior to making a decision. It is also important to carefully evaluate the realized rate of return to determine if it makes sense financially. You pay a premium for tuition credits today to guarantee them for tomorrow if you don’t have enough time to make up for that premium your return may not be worth locking your money up.

What does a ‘529 Plan’ accomplish?

A 529 plan is a financial tool used to save funds for college. The money in the account is invested in the market so it is “at risk”, it grows tax deferred and you can use the money for college without paying taxes on the growth. As much as it’s important to understand what the 529 plan can do, it’s also important to understand what it does not do.

Our son or daughter is not sure what they want to major in and not quite sure about college but they know they want to go. What is your recommendation?

Sometimes a two-year program can prove to be much more beneficial to their advancement into the college ranks and can be much more friendly to your pocketbook if close to home.

Would you recommend my child living in ‘on-campus’ housing or ‘off-campus’ housing their first year?

This would depend on a variety of factors as well, including their personality and schedule of activities as well. Of the students we’ve worked with it seems many lean towards one side or the other favorably.

What do I need to bring with me to a consultation if we’re just talking about College Planning for my son or daughter?

Ideally we’d like you to bring some of your financial documents, however in your consultation meeting you need only bring yourself and/or spouse.

What is the benefit of working with a ‘College Planner’ instead of trying it ourselves?

There are a number of tools we can use as planners as a family to pay for college. Most individuals don't understand their options. A good planner will educate them on those options. Second, there are many choices and expenses that most parents are unaware of for college and simply don’t budget accordingly. We will assist you with this and much more, saving you time and money.

Business Planning FAQs

Is an employer required to provide health insurance?

The answer to this question depends on the size of the group.  Our advice to the business owners with whom we work is to find ways to help employees have a good health plan that also works within the budget constraints of the employer. Our job is to help that employer find benefits for their employees that bring value yet do not cost the employer or the employee more money than they can afford. In addition, we work diligently in helping to make sure that employers stay compliant with ACA rules.

What types of services can you bring to a small business that the “big brokerage houses” cannot?

Because of my training and experience in working in the financial services world, I am able to teach financial fitness classes that will help employees better manage their budget, better understand what type of mortgage is really best for the them as well as how to pay the least for college and get the best education for their child. These are just some of the financial coaching classes we offer as complementary to our clients. We can hold them on site, after work for families.

What is self-funding and when should a business consider this path?

Self-funding is a mechanism used by larger employers to ideally create greater control over health insurance costs. We don’t recommend this avenue of funding until an employer has 150 employees or more and has had this level of employees for a number of years. The reason for this is that a bad year of claims for a small company could create a significant financial issue and with a small number of employees it’s easy to have what we refer to as a “hiccup year”. We take great pride in knowing our clients and there is often a significant reason we don’t recommend “self-funding” until a certain point. One option is to use a “hybrid” self-funding plan that gives the employer a bit more protection but still could represent and increase in costs.

How many employees does it take to make up a group?

One (1) employee in the state of Washington is considered a group. You must prove through tax documentation that you are a valid business and that 75% of your income is generated from your business. Although you only need 1 employee to be considered a group, many plans are not available unless there are two or more employees and in some cases they carriers require 5 or more employees.

What do you consider to be one of the most valuable employee benefits?

In my opinion, behind good medical coverage, the most important benefit an employer can offer is income insurance. It is also known as disability insurance, however, in reality it is insurance that protects your ability to earn an income. Think of it this way. Two teeth cleanings per year will cost approximately $300, and the cost of a typical dental plan today is about $40 per month. If you were to protect 60% of an employee’s salary the monthly cost for a group plan would be about the same. The difference is when the employee is sick or hurt they will have a check coming to them from the second week of a disability and that check would help them recover and come back to work sooner.

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