Success Stories

(Note: These personas are hypothetical, do not involve Cedar Financial Advisors clients, and should not be construed as a guarantee.)

Case Study #1: Early Retirement
(With College Planning and Tax Management)

Blake and Sylvia Smith want to retire within 10 years, but they’re unsure what it will take.

Family Stats:

  • Blake is a 50-year-old manager at a large corporation.
  • Sylvia is a 47-year-old nurse at a local hospital.
  • Their daughter Nina attends a private high school; their son Matt is in eighth grade at the neighborhood middle school.

Financial Stats:

  • Both Smiths are earning six-figure salaries.
  • Both are maxing out their 401(k) and 403(b) plans.
  • They’ve been contributing annually to their children’s 529 plans.
  • They’ve built solid equity in their home.

Worrisome Questions:

  • Taxes: The Smiths are in a high tax bracket and believe they could benefit from improved management.
  • Stock Options: Blake has several NQOs; he is unclear when or how to tax-efficiently sell them.
  • Deferred Compensation: Blake also just qualified for deferred compensation, and Sylvia has access to a 457 plan. But neither of them know how to optimize these possibilities. They find it complex and overwhelming.
  • Work-Life Balance: They are busy and stressed, and need help trying to find a path through what seems like a maze. “How much do we need to save to retire when we want?”
  • 529 Plans: New legislation permits using 529 funds for private high school costs. But should they?

Establishing Priorities Through Life Planning

Bottom line, the Smiths have a lot of unanswered questions. They would benefit from our Life Planning Process, to identify and prioritize their greatest goals. After engaging in this process, they might determine something like this:

  • Family first: Sending their children to private schools and good colleges is a top priority.
  • Leisure time: They love spending time at the Coast, and hope to get a second home there.
  • Employment: Most of all, they want to step away from the rat race. They can’t imagine not working at all, but a part-time work-life balance strongly appeals to them.

Connecting Personal Goals with Financial Planning

With their goals in focus, we would introduce the Smiths to our interactive financial planning tools, to estimate how much money they’ll need. After crunching the numbers and considering various trade-offs, they might decide to save more and prioritize private schools over a second home, so they can more readily work less. In other words, the beach house might have to wait, while they position themselves to achieve everything else they have in mind.

Putting the Pieces in Place

Now it’s time to optimize the Smiths’ financial resources. We’d partner with them to confidently unwind Blake’s NQOs; deploy their compensation plans; build an investment portfolio that reflects their ideal balance of risk and expected reward; implement cohesive tax planning throughout; and otherwise empower the Smiths to advance toward their ideal wealth goals.

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