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Thom's known for his calm, thoughtful ability to take the long view. He's seen economic tides rise and fall, he's learned from a few mistakes, and he's succeeded.

He's ready for your questions.




Dear Thom,

Financial planning scares me. Every time I think about it I feel like watching an episode of Antique Roadshow (I think I'm counting on Great Uncle Herbie's stamp collection to save my bacon). I know planning is a good thing, but I haven't been able to get started. What can I do?


Dear Nervous,

The great news is that when you look at something carefully, it's usually less frightening than you expected. In fact, the raison d'etre of good financial planning is to help you understand what you want from life, where you are now, and how you can get your resources working for you, even – sometimes especially – if you've somehow slipped into the red. Come visit. Bring a large shoebox of envelopes you haven't dared open. We are not here to judge: we're here to help! And we think Great Uncle Herbie would approve.

Dear Thom, 

I have made a mess of my finances. I don’t feel in control of my cash flow. I have bought some insurance I don’t think I need and my few investments are scattered all over the place. How can I get this cleaned up before I meet with a financial planner? 



Dear Chaotic, 

You have a lot of company. It is not uncommon for people to come to us with unopened envelopes stuffed into shoe boxes. Once we have a fairly clear picture of what you want to accomplish, then our first job is to organize your finances. In the same way that you don’t want to clean your house just before the cleaning people come, don’t put any effort into getting your financial house in order – we’ll do that for you.

Dear Thom, 

I’m afraid that my kids will argue over our estate when we’re gone. We don’t have a big estate but I hear stories of families being split apart over almost any amount. Can a financial planner help or should we talk to an estate planning attorney? 

Worried Parent


Dear Worried Parent, 

Unfortunately, families do argue over even small estates. The cause of the problem is rarely amounts of money. Instead, the arguments stem from “Mom promised me ….” statements.  
A good financial planner will spend a lot of time getting to know you and your family. They will be in a good position to talk about the issues that may arise when your estate is distributed and they can advise you about ways to avoid these issues. If the planner does not have the skills to help you address a particular family issue, they will have resources to refer you to. 
A good estate planning attorney is critical for developing the legal documents needed to make your estate transition smooth and effective. However, it may be best to start the conversation with your financial planner.

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      Financial Satisfaction Survey


      Directions: The statements below will help you to think about and assess how satisfied you are with many aspects of your financial life. Indicate your level of satisfaction for each statement with stars.
      (1 star = "Not Satisfied", 3 stars = "Moderately Satisfied", 5 stars = "Very Satisfied")

      I am satisfied with...

      1. ...with my ability to meet my financial obligations

      2. ...with the income my current job or career provides me.

      3. ...with my spending habits.

      4. ...with the level of debt I carry.

      5. ...with the “extras” that I am able to buy for myself and/or loved ones.

      6. ...with the level and quality of insurance protection I currently have.

      7. ...with the amount of money that I save and invest on a regular basis.

      8. ...with my current investment choices.

      9. ...that I am on track to build a sufficient retirement nest egg.

      10. ...with the level of employee benefits I receive.

      11. ...with my style of personal bookkeeping and financial record management.

      12. ...with my ability to provide financial help to family members.

      13. ...with my estate plan.

      14. ...with my level of charitable giving.

      15. ...with the level of financial education I have attained.

      16. ...with how I respond emotionally to my personal finance issues.

      17. ...with my ability to communicate about my financial matters.

      18. ...with the feelings I have about my money life.

      19. ...that financial issues do not cause stress or strain in the relationships that are important to me.

      20. ...with the working relationships I have with my financial service providers (i.e., insurance agent, banker, broker, financial planner, accountant).

      © 2002 - 2018 Money Quotient, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This document is available via licensing arrangements with Money Quotient and is protected by federal copyright law. No unauthorized copying, adaptation, distribution, or display is permitted -

      Life Transition Survey


      Directions: In each section, select the transitions that you are currently experiencing and those you are likely to experience in the future. In addition, check transitions in the short to mid-term and long-term columns that you either hope to experience or anticipate with concern.

      Work Life Transitions

      1. Change in career path:

      2. New Job:

      3. Promotion

      4. Job loss

      5. Job restructure

      6. Education / retraining

      7. Sell or close business

      8. Transfer family business

      9. Gain a business partner:

      10. Lose a business partner:

      11. Downshift / simplify work life

      12. Sabbatical / leave of absence

      13. Start or purchase a business

      14. Retire:

      15. Phase into retirement

      16. Other

      Financial Life Transitions

      1. Purchase a home:

      2. Sell a home:

      3. Relocate:

      4. Purchase a vacation home / timeshare:

      5. Re-evaluate investment philosophy:

      6. Experience investment gain:

      7. Experience investment loss:

      8. Debt concerns:

      9. Consider investment opportunity:

      10. Receive inheritance or financial windfall:

      11. Sell assets:

      12. Other:

      Family Life Transitions

      1. Change in marital status (marriage):

      2. Change in marital status (divorce):

      3. Change in marital status (widowhood):

      4. Expecting or adopting a child:

      5. Hire child care:

      6. Child entering adolescence:

      7. Child with special needs:

      8. Child w/pre-college expenses:

      9. Child going to college:

      10. Child getting married:

      11. Empty nest:

      12. Family special event (Bat/Bar Mitzvah, anniversary party, trip):

      13. Helping and/or gifting grandchildren

      14. Concern about aging parent

      15. Concern about health of spouse/partner or child:

      Legacy Life Transitions

      1. Increase charitable giving:

      2. Give special financial gifts to children/grandchildren:

      3. Give parental pension (monthly stipend):

      © 2002 - 2018 Money Quotient, Inc. All Rights Reserved. This document is available via licensing arrangements with Money Quotient and is protected by federal copyright law. No unauthorized copying, adaptation, distribution, or display is permitted -