The Law of Compensation

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The Law of Compensation

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What if you knew there are natural laws of money that actually have more determination on how you make money versus fiscal policy or whoever is in the office of the President?

There are many natural laws that already affect our lives that we are consciously aware of, such as the Law of Gravity and Law of Thermodynamics. However, most people simply haven’t been made aware that there are also natural laws of money that ALWAYS are at work, whether you know about them or even believe in them.

One of my favorite laws is the Law of Compensation. How many times have you heard someone complain about wanting to make more money? The majority of us would love to earn and have more money. As entrepreneurs, business owners, employees, and customers, we are all subject to the powerful effects of this law.

What exactly is the Law of Compensation and how does it work? This law has 3 basic premises:

1. The need for what you do
2. Your ability to do it
3. The difficulty in replacing you

As you consider these points, it will become clear to you why there are some people who earn more than other people. Let’s look at each point in greater detail.

1. The Need for What You Do:

First, let’s remember that your value as a person is NOT determined by WHAT you do, but rather WHO you are. Most jobs and businesses are created to solve a certain problem, to meet a need, or to offer a new solution to the market.

We all need the food that agriculture produces to meet our basic need for survival, but we don’t need a Hollywood movie in order to survive. Thankfully our society has moved beyond basic survival, and for many people, entertainment has moved into being a daily part of our lives. For some consumers, they would consider having movies to watch as something they “need”, while others would not. If you think about what your business offers to customers, do you provide a product or service that has a strong “need” value to most people? If you think about your current job, do people have a strong need for what you do and in a certain quantity?

2. Your Ability To Do It

If you work in a field that is fairly common, such as education, manufacturing, computers, sales, retail, etc., this part of the Law of Compensation is a very important way for you to distinguish yourself among your peers. If everyone is basically doing the same job, your proficiency, attitude, timeliness, creativity, and the value you personally add really works in your favor and you are generally rewarded for it.

3. The Difficulty in Replacing You:

Clearly, it is harder to replace a neurosurgeon than it is to replace a front-line fast food worker. This is one of the reasons why neurosurgeons will always make vastly more money than a fast food worker. It’s basic economics of supply and demand, which unfortunately, most people haven’t studied or understand.

As you look at your own business or career, how do you fit into these 3 points? If you are willing to take an honest look at where you are at, you will begin to grow in your awareness of how this Law of Compensation is always working. Then you can begin to make changes, such as altering what products or services you offer consumers, or distinguishing yourself more at work or finding a different career. Take some time this week to observe this Law at work all around you

It’s incredibly empowering to know about these natural laws of money so that we can begin to align ourselves with them and reap the consistent benefits they bring into our lives. If you’d like to hear more teaching on this Law of Compensation, check out episode #15 on our podcast, Brilliant Horizons, a Leadership Mastermind Podcast.

Also, if you’d like to learn more about the 11 natural laws that influence how money works, consider joining one of my courses or working with me in one on one coaching. I am here to help you grow in wealth and abundance through your awareness and implementation of these natural laws.

Blessings and abundance to you all!

Karen Smith

Karen Smith

Founder and CEO

We all desire to live fully into our most abundant, healthy, and impactful life; I am here to help you remove the practical and energetic blocks that are preventing you from reaching your greatest potential and success.

I work with visionary leaders, businesses, healers, veterans, and individuals who want to bring their life’s callings and dreams into fruition. We pair the practical and the energetic to get you supercharged results that work!

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Financial Considerations for Life After Divorce

Purse Strings Approved Professional

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Financial Considerations for Life After Divorce

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A divorce can be an emotional journey and no one’s path will be the same. It can place you in a whole new financial situation and you will be faced with unique challenges during and after your separation. The future might feel unknown without the support of your spouse, but there are positive steps that can be taken to help secure a bright outlook for tomorrow. An Oppenheimer Financial Professional can help you navigate this challenging time by reassessing your personal and financial goals. Together, you can develop a secure financial future for you and your loved ones.

Taking the time to invest in yourself and your future will help establish a firm footing in your journey to a happy and secure lifestyle.

To begin the process of preparing for your next steps, here are some planning considerations:

Set Financial Goals
As you go through this process, establish financial and legacy goals that are important to you.

  • What lifestyle do you envision as you take the next steps in your new journey?
  • Are you planning on relocating or moving for a fresh start?
  • Are you considering starting a new career?
  • At what age are you considering retirement? Are there other income sources that you can draw upon?

Build a Team

Our Financial Professionals can work with your Accountant and Attorney to develop a plan that is custom-tailored to your specific goals.

Budget for Expenses
As you continue on this new journey, expenses will arise. Consider the different types:

  • Fixed are the everyday living expenses, such as rent, mortgage and car payments. These expenses reoccur in the same increments each month.
  • Variable are bills that arrive regularly but not always in the same amount, such as utilities and groceries.
  • Periodic can be car and home repairs, gifts to mark special occasions, vacations, etc.

Setting a budget that incorporates these expenses will help you start your path to a financial future that is within your control.

Create an Emergency Fund
In addition to the expenses that can arise and that have been budgeted for, have you established a savings/emergency fund? Anything can happen in life, and it is important to have a reserve to be financially prepared for any unforeseen events.

Health Care Costs
Health care costs can be the number one expense experienced in retirement. There are many ways you can prevent these cost from depleting your retirement savings.

  • If you are currently working, have you taken advantage of benefits from your employer-sponsored programs?
  • If you are close to or in retirement, do you have a complete understanding of Medicare and the Medigap programs that are available?
  • Have you thought about what age you might consider taking Social Security? Did you know that delaying these benefits each year to age 70 will increase your payments?
  • Will your emergency fund or savings that you have accumulated over the years be enough to cover any unforeseen medical costs?

These steps will ensure that your wishes and objectives regarding your health and legacy will be carried through.

Update Your Estate Plan
Estate plans created during your marriage should be revisited and estate planning documents should be reviewed and updated to reflect your current health and legacy objectives.

Establish a new will or trust
Update beneficiary designations on all pertinent documentation, including your bank accounts, brokerage accounts, and life insurance policies. Create powers of attorney with new directives. These steps will ensure that your wishes and objectives regarding your health and legacy will be carried through.

Protect Your Financial Future
Your loved ones depend on you, whether you are a caregiver or parent. Have you considered protecting them by investing in the following?

Life Insurance

Life insurance can fill a multitude of needs, including financial support for loved ones. It can provide you with confidence, knowing your heirs will be taken care of in the event of your death. It can also help fund educational costs, supplemental retirement income and much more.

Long-Term Care Insurance

One of the biggest risks to your retirement can be a long-term care (LTC) event. LTC insurance can protect your assets in the event you cannot care for yourself. It can cover care in a nursing home, assisted living facility, adult day care center, hospice care and even in-home care. It can provide you with the confidence that you or your loved ones can afford the help should the need arise.

Disability Insurance

Your income is the driving force behind all the plans you set into motion, such as purchasing a home, everyday living expenses, planning for your children’s education, vacations and saving for retirement. If you were to fall ill or become injured and unable to work, disability insurance can provide the support to maintain your current lifestyle, covering expenses and avoiding debt.

As your life changes, so will your insurance needs. If you currently have coverage in these areas it is important to review the policies you may own. This will ensure that you have the appropriate protections in place for you and your loved ones.

Quotation from Aenean Pretium: “Divorce can be difficult, but an Oppenheimer Financial Professional will guide you along the way, building a path that will bring confidence through the planning process for a secured financial future.”


Gary Domoracki

Gary Domoracki

Managing Director - Investments | Branch Manager

I strive to help educate all of my clients about the power and importance of investing, as I still do with my daughters. Making sure that our girls have the confidence to make educated financial decisions is a must in our household, because, all too often in the wealth management industry, women are overlooked and mistreated. One of my goals, as a financial advisor, is to facilitate change in the finance world to make it a space where women feel powerful, knowledgeable and confident when talking about money.

“A Plan for Change – An action guide for women who are divorced or widowed.” Brigthhouse Financial, 2020.
“How to Work with Female Spouses Through Divorce.” U.S. News & World Report, 2020.
“Women Don’t Consult with Financial Advisors When They Get Divorced. Here’s Why They Should.” Forbes, 2020.
“Financial Tips and Advice for Women in a Divorce.” Mass Mutual, 2020.

©2021 Oppenheimer & Co. Inc. Transacts Business on All Principal Exchanges and Member SIPC.

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Guide to Financially Surviving a Divorce

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Guide to Financially Surviving a Divorce

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Divorce is a difficult enough process on an emotional level without having to worry about the financial costs. Nationally, the average divorce takes nearly eleven months and costs around $15,500, including $12,800 in attorney’s fees at an average of $250.00 per hour. Divorces that go to trial cost even more, averaging $19,600, while those that settle privately pay an average of $14,500.

One of the most basic and important requirements for divorce court is a financial affidavit that provides an accurate picture of your income, expenses, assets, and liabilities. Compiling this document can be sometimes frightening and always at least a little bit overwhelming, if you’re doing it alone.
In this article, we will look at how to financially survive a divorce by doing what is legally required of you while still protecting yourself and your assets.

Dividing Assets & Liabilities

Most couples going through a divorce decide on splitting their assets and liabilities on their own or with a mediator rather than leaving it up to a judge. In fact, some experts estimate that only five percent of cases go to court. If you and your former spouse end up in front of a judge, don’t worry. It is important to look beyond the present and keep the big picture in mind to avoid making any emotional decisions.

There are two different sets of rules when it comes to splitting assets and liabilities, depending on the state you live in:

  • Community Property – This is the rule here in Washington, as well as Alaska, Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Wisconsin, and Puerto Rico. It means that assets and liabilities are classified as either community property or separate property. Community property is equally divided between spouses, while each spouse keeps their own separate property.
  • Equitable Distribution – All other states are equitable distribution states, which means that assets and liabilities accrued during marriage are divided as equitably as the court sees fit. It’s important to note that equitable isn’t the same thing as equal. For example, in some states, a judge might order one spouse to dip into what other states would consider separate property to make the settlement fair to both spouses.

Community property includes everything that was accumulated during the marriage. Separate property includes everything prior to the marriage along with gifts, inheritances, personal injury awards, pension proceeds (vested before the marriage), or similar types of property given to one of the spouses.

The house is often the most difficult decision. If there are young children involved, the house often goes to the parent that will spend the most time with the kids. If no children are involved, the house goes to the spouse that owns the house as separate property. If the house is community property, the situation becomes a bit trickier and a court may decide for the couple during divorce proceedings or as part of a temporary order.

If you’re a business owner, you’ll have a whole other set of concerns to address (assuming you don’t already have some sort of prenuptial agreement in place).
In addition, you’ll need to sort out distribution of any retirement plans, 401(k), and/or pension plans. Often, courts will implement a QDRO (Qualified Domestic Relations Order) that recognizes the joint interest in such plans and splits them accordingly.

The long and short of it is this: when you end up in divorce court, you and your spouse lose a lot of decision-making power. It is in your best interest to settle privately.
This may require you to give up some items that you feel are rightfully yours. Try to look at the big picture and think about whether these things will make much of a difference to you in five years. If not, then let them go.

One other option to consider is a practice called “collaborative divorce.” This one really only works if you and your former spouse are parting on relatively amicable terms and can decide on the terms of your divorce amongst yourselves without taking it to court. It’s less expensive and lower stress for everyone involved. Check out the International Association of Collaborative Professionals for more information.


Determining Income & Expenses

Fewer than one-third of Americans prepare a detailed household budget each month that tracks their income and expenses. Maybe you never felt a need for one before. You will likely wish you had a budget during your divorce proceedings, because the financial affidavit requires a detailed look at your income and expenses each year.

Before you go into court, take the time to build out a spreadsheet of your income and expenses. Do not rely on your spouse to present an accurate picture of your financial situation. Even if you do not think he or she will be dishonest, it’s still important to present your side of the story in all regards.

This can be a particularly difficult process if your spouse handled the lion’s share of financial matters. Get login information for all your accounts, request statements from your bank, meet with your financial advisor, and take any other steps to build as accurate of a picture as possible.

Click here to download our retirement planning guide.

Many fixed costs are easy to find, such as your mortgage, real estate taxes, insurance, cable bill, internet bill, car payment, gym membership, and cell phone bill, which makes them a perfect starting point. You can usually find these numbers on account statements that are mailed or emailed or by looking at your bank statement for the past month.

The next step is calculating weekly costs, such as groceries, child care, gas, parking, lawn care, dry cleaning, entertainment, and allowances. While it may be tempting to just look at last month’s bill, you should take an average throughout the year to get a more accurate picture. After all, you may have gone on vacation last month and not paid for groceries or child care, which would give you an unrealistically low estimate for these categories.

The final step is to take a look at your uneven and/or random costs that occur throughout a given year, such as utilities, car repair, medical costs, holiday gifts, and vet bills. It’s also important to include spending that doesn’t necessarily occur every year, such as vacations that you might take every other year or major medical procedures. Average out these expenses to come up with a monthly cost, as if you were saving for them on a regular basis.

Household Inventories

Most people are aware of the need to calculate their assets, liabilities, income, and expenses, but it’s easy to forget special or sentimental items in the process. During a divorce, each spouse should create a separate checklist of household items that are important to them.

The easiest way to create this checklist is to create categories for different items, such as artwork, furniture, books, and clothing. When adding items to these categories, it’s important to assign a monetary value to each of them. Courts usually assign flea market values, even when items are new, so if you have documentation of value, it’s important to include it.

Finally, be sure to capture video or still images of everything in the order that they appear in the checklist. If your list seems too long to document, at least photograph the items with the greatest value to you. It’s important that the court understands what item is being considered when it assigns ownership rights to one spouse or the other.

What to Ask a Lawyer

Divorce attorneys constitute the bulk of most divorce expenses. At a cost of between $150 and $350 per hour, you’ll want to come to meetings prepared to ask important questions and get the answers you need quickly.
You’ll want to discuss a few issues up front with your lawyer:

  • Fee Structure – Will they bill you for each hour spent on the case, including the time spent answering questions? Or is it a fixed fee? Since divorces can take months to finalize, you need to be prepared to cover the costs.
  • Divorce Procedure – What is the divorce procedure in your state? Most attorneys can provide an estimate of the timeline. If you work full-time or have a busy life with children, this knowledge can help prepare you for what lies ahead.
  • Alimony Issues – Different states have different rules when it comes to seeking alimony from the other spouse. For example, some alimony issues depend on the length of the marriage or discrepancy in earnings between spouses. Ask your attorney about these laws to provide an idea of your liability or benefit.
  • Child Custody – This is the most important, and potentially most difficult, matter in any divorce with children. If you can’t privately agree on who will retain custody, it’s important to understand the factors that are important to state judges from the beginning. Your attorney should provide some idea of the odds of custody and any challenges. Keep your children out of the proceedings as much as possible and try not to speak negatively about your former spouse around them. While you are understandably upset, that other person is still their other parent.
  • Asset Splitting – Lawyers should be able to tell you how states handle splitting assets, which can help you prepare ahead of time.

It’s also important to shop around for the right divorce attorney. Choose three potential attorneys and meet with each of them before making your decision. If the cost is out of your range or if there are any red flags, move on to the next attorney and find one that is right for you.

The Bottom Line

Divorce is a stressful and expensive time, but there’s a high cost to making any mistakes during the process. By following these tips, you can help ensure that you financially survive a divorce.

A financial advisor can also help during these times by providing objective advice to help minimize costs and divide assets in ways that make sense.
Contact us today for a free consultation to learn more about how we can help.

Dale Terwedo, CFP, ChFC, CLU, BFA

Dale Terwedo, CFP, ChFC, CLU, BFA

Certified Financial Planner and Founder

When I founded my original practice in 1983 and then TFS Advisors in 2008, I had one goal – to bring confidence and clarity to my clients’ financial lives. As I worked with clients for over 38 years, it became apparent that the pre-retirement transition was often the most challenging both financially and emotionally. With so many moving parts, clients felt overwhelmed and fearful that they’d miss a key detail that could jeopardize the retirement lifestyle they’d been working toward.

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My True Story as a Caregiver

Sharing Stories

My True Story:

” I am sharing my story and my why with you, hoping that it will have enough of an impact for you to react. The only thing you can ever be certain about is that life doesn’t play fair. Proper planning for the low probability, highly impactful events can alleviate a little uncertainty, provide peace of mind, and at the very least, ease some afflictions.” 
– Ashley Nichols
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We all have a story that creates our why. Our stories mold us, build our point of views and provide a foundation for us to decide what, in life, is valuable to us. We then create our lives around those values and beliefs. This is what we call being reactive, which isn’t necessarily bad. It allows us to be more creative, react to new ideas, and make decisions based on newly-received information. The problem is, all too often, most of us live with the notion that tragedy or misfortune does not or cannot happen to us. It happens to other people. Until it strikes home and we’re unprepared. I am sharing my story and my why with you, hoping that it will have enough of an impact for you to react. The only thing you can ever be certain about is that life doesn’t play fair. Proper planning for the low probability, highly impactful events can alleviate a little uncertainty, provide peace of mind, and at the very least, ease some afflictions.

I grew up in an average middle-class household in Las Vegas, Nevada. Both of my parents worked full-time. My mother is a realtor, and my father was a Baccarat dealer for the better half of his career and then switched to Blackjack, or as he referred to it, Twenty-One. I grew up in a four-bedroom, three-bathroom house with three sisters, a fish, a lizard, two love birds, a dog, a cat, and the occasional injured pigeon that my younger sister would bring home to nurse. We owned two family cars. By society’s standards of the word “normal,” we were that.

My parents did many things to raise the four of us that I admire; however, if I had to list one thing, it would be that their children never wanted for anything. Sure, there was the occasional bratty melt-down at the grocery store because they said no to buying the candy or ice cream we wanted or the brand-new Nikes that just came out that my mother (dad usually caved) would always say no to because our feet grew way too fast. But what kid doesn’t throw a fit when they don’t get their way!? Nonetheless, we participated in every sport we wanted to be in without question. Every birthday and Christmas list made in that house was, dare I say, happily fulfilled. The kids were happy, at least! I can’t speak to how my parents’ wallets felt afterward. But I can, without a doubt, tell you that they were grateful to have had the opportunity to afford us the kind of childhood that they, themselves, did not experience. We weren’t rich, we were merely comfortable, and my parents worked hard to ensure it stayed that way.

And then, as “normal” families do, my parents divorced when I was seventeen. My father suffered from COPD for a couple of years before the divorce and finally had a double lung transplant shortly after their divorce concluded. It was that pivotal moment in time; for the first time, I was able to see my parents as people. Often, we hold our parents on these pedestals and expect nothing less than perfection from them. They must keep it together at all times because…because we simply can’t see them in any other way. We forget they are also just people navigating life the best they know how. They experience trials and tribulations, sadness and defeat. And with that, I watched my father slip into a deep depression after the divorce and surgery and simultaneously watched my mother become a single parent. Because mentally, my father couldn’t be there consistently.

The crash of 2008 was soon upon us, and my mother’s career came to a sudden halt. This year had a significant impact on real estate agents, but real estate brokerages also suffered. The brokerage where my mother held her license decided to make a “cost” cut. That “cost” was my mother. The verbiage in her contract read that should she leave or be asked to leave the firm, the properties that she managed, even the ones she had procured on her own, were to stay with the firm. She was now a single mother left to build her business back from nothing in the middle of one of the largest economic downturns since the Great Depression. What did she have to fall back on? A small amount of savings kept in a regular savings account and credit cards. That was the extent of her financial planning.

…where my mother held her license decided to make a “cost” cut.

That “cost” was my mother.

On the other hand, my father was fortunate enough to keep his job and continue work. However, he dissolved his entire 401k in fear of the market crash. The one major rule that we instruct our clients to NEVER do is to pull out of the market when it’s down! Ergo, my father violated the number one rule of investing. Soon after, due to my father’s depression, health issues, and what we now know was the early onset of dementia, most likely not fully cognizant of what was happening at the time, the bank foreclosed on his property. By the time he told me what was happening, he had one week to move out. I frantically drove my dad around town, trying to find him an apartment to rent. Because of his now less than acceptable credit, I also had to co-sign for him on a new place. I then had 48 hours to rent a U-Haul, grab one of my sisters, and move as much of my father’s belongings as possible before his home was sold at auction. Needless to say, we didn’t get everything.

A few years passed that were seemingly ok. He still suffered from depression but was managing, or so I thought. One night, I received a call that would drastically change our lives. The hospital called to inform me that my dad had been in an accident. I rushed down to the hospital and was told that he was experiencing acute hyponatremia. Basically, his sodium levels were critically low, and it had most likely caused a seizure while he was driving. He had not been taking care of himself, had not been taking his anti-rejection medication required from his lung transplant, and drinking heavily. I also found out that his place of work had terminated him earlier that day for “strange behavior.” For those as unfamiliar as I was, he described it as a “fishbowl” like perception where nothing really makes sense. He simply couldn’t understand what was
happening because of his health.

The hospital discharged my dad, and at that point. He had no job to return to, and his dementia was progressing, forcing him to retire. He was 63. So here we were. After growing up in a household where money wasn’t an issue, it now seemed to be an issue. And how quickly and drastically things changed after that. I was now my father’s caretaker. At twenty-four, I sat at his dining room table, trying to navigate the dreaded Social Security/Medicare System. After waiting on hold for what felt like an eternity, I finally reached someone on the other line. Half listening to the customer service employee, I was finally able to ask the most crucial question, “How much will he be making?” My jaw near touched the floor when she responded, “Ralph will be making $1800 a month.” Suddenly the little light I thought I would be seeing at the end of this long dark tunnel disappeared. My father’s rent alone ate up half of his monthly benefit. That left $900 for groceries, medications (anti-rejection medication is not cheap), his car payment, car insurance, cell phone, utilities…I could go on, but I think you understand that it wasn’t nearly enough.

Anything he couldn’t afford, I made up for it. It was not easy, but he was my dad, and I would make sure that he was ok.

I remember sitting at that table feeling overwhelmed and helpless. It didn’t matter that my dad had consistently brought in $6000 a month or more while he was working. He would not be making that now, nor did he have an option of going back to work. He had no retirement, no savings; there was no coffee can hidden in a cupboard with a rainy day fund. Remember that 401k I told you about? Yea, that had been gone since 2008. Oh, and by the way, social security decided to stop paying him for six months at one point to add to everything else. I, still to this day, could not give you a comprehensible explanation for why the payments stopped, and neither could the social security department. What was even more incomprehensible to me was realizing that if my father didn’t have a family that he could lean on, he would have been homeless for at least six months. 

The question presented itself, how many other seniors have found themselves in my dad’s situation? By the grace of God, I was in a position where I was making enough money that I could help him. Anything he couldn’t afford, I made up for it. It was not easy, but he was my dad, and I would make sure that he was ok. I was pretty much my father’s supplemental income from there on out. As he aged and his health deteriorated more, I moved him into a senior 55 and older apartment complex. He was pushing 70 at this time. He was so mad at me for making him “live with “old” people”! My dad was funny and the comedic moments made things a little lighter, but as he aged, things got harder.

I got into law school and had to move away. I now would not work for one year. However, I still had to be my father’s supplemental income and caretaker. I would drive back and forth from San Diego to Las Vegas to take him to his doctor’s appointments; I had to find creative ways to remind him to take his medication, coordinate when groceries would be delivered to him, etc. I cannot tell you how we managed that, but again, we did it by the grace of God.

A few more years passed, and I continued to care for him. Then in November of 2019, a week before Thanksgiving, he suffered a stroke. His health never recouped after that, and I was forced to put him in a nursing home where he could be adequately cared for. He hated every minute of it, and so did I. The last thing you want for your parents is to take away their independence. His dementia worsened, his health diminished, and my father died after being taken to the hospital on June 23, 2020. He did not have life insurance. His funeral was the last thing I paid for.

My dad was my best friend. I don’t tell this story to make you feel sad or pity me. I love my parents dearly, and if I had to do it all over again, I would. I know they would have done the same for any of their children. The lack of financial planning doesn’t only create a problem for the individual; it also has a substantial impact on your loved ones. What if things were different? What if there was a savings plan, life insurance, disability insurance, and a financial strategy? What if my parents came across an article like the one you are reading now, and it created the awareness needed for them to react and realize that life, in fact, does not play fair? There are a lot of “what ifs,” and it’s my job to eliminate those what-ifs for my clients.

So, how do we make a plan? Everyone’s financial picture and overall goals are going to look different. However, where we start is pretty standard.


Get very clear about your balance sheet. Figure out what you own and what you owe. The number one answer I get as to why some don’t do this is, “I don’t make enough” or ” I don’t have enough.” You do not have to be raking it in to identify these two things. It is essential to know what you have. Once you have a clear picture of this, you can decide what you want your future balance sheet to look like. Then, identify short, mid, and long-term goals. It is critical to be very clear about how you want our money to work for you.


Identify what forms of asset protection you have in place and what you think you need. Think of asset protection as the roof over your balance sheet protecting what you are building. You wouldn’t have a house without a roof, so why should your balance sheet be any less protected? Umbrella insurance, life insurance, disability insurance, and overall estate planning are some of the things you want to look for. Once you identify what you have, you can locate the holes you may have in your roof.


You want to identify what your cash flow looks like. How much are you bringing in for the year before taxes? Ideally, the goal is to save twenty percent of your gross income. Don’t worry if that number seems too large at first. Twenty percent is what we are working towards; it is not where we have to start. It is also not a hard cap. If you feel like you can and want to save more, that is a personal preference.


Create a budget sheet to know your fixed and variable costs each month. It is advantageous to see what you have left after your expenses. You can now identify where you might be overspending and what you might be able to cut back on.

These four steps may sound obvious and trivial, but they are crucial to creating an efficient financial plan. I have found disorganization to be the biggest proponent of stress and confusion, which leads to a paralysis of financial decision-making. A clear-cut picture of your net worth, protection, and cash flow can indicate where to pivot next.

We share our stories in hopes that they will impact others. I hope this article encourages you to act.



 Ashley Nichols J.D.

Ashley Nichols J.D.

Financial Planner

 In analyzing where my strengths lay and where I thought my time would be of most value, I realized that most are in need of financial planning and guidance. That is when I decided to pursue finance and is where my passion thrives. My responsibility as a financial representative is to ensure that my clients have an understanding of where they are today financially and to assist them in creating a roadmap of where they want to be, whether it be in the near future or long term. 

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Becoming Free From The Fear Of Failure

Purse Strings Approved Professional

Blog Series

Becoming Free From The Fear Of Failure

An Interview With Savio P. Clemente
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Do First. Think Later. Learn By Doing. When I was a kid; I wanted to learn how to ride a bike. But I am stubborn and didn’t want anyone to help me. Regardless, my brother instructed me to just straddle the bike at the top of a hill, lift my feet up, and then coast down the hill…all I had to do was balance. Little did I know if I started at the top of a hill, I would be going very fast by the time I got to the bottom. And I didn’t know how to brake.

The Fear of Failure is one of the most common restraints that holds people back from pursuing great ideas. Imagine if we could become totally free from the fear of failure. Imagine what we could then manifest and create. In this interview series, we are talking to leaders who can share stories and insights from their experience about “Becoming Free From the Fear of Failure.” As a part of this series, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Karen Koenig.

Karen Koenig is a speaker on the topics of money types and money mindset. She is the author of “Woman on Top: How to Win in a Woman’s Way”. She is the founder of KK Financial Solutions and is a seasoned Financial Advisor/Planner who helps individuals, business owners and divorcees understand how to create a financial future that is right for them and their businesses.

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

I was originally born and raised in the Midwest, but in 2012 I moved to the Pacific Northwest and currently live on a little island North and West of Seattle, called Whidbey Island. Through my careers, I have accumulated over 30 years’ experience in male-dominated fields. I spent 26 years in the military, 6 years in aerospace and then changed careers entirely and went into financial services in 2015. I love being an entrepreneur, where I can work with individuals, small businesses, and divorced people to help them plan and grow their financial future.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

When I was in Officer Candidate School (OCS) I was the guidon for our flight. Meaning I took care of our flight’s flag and carried it during our marching sessions. On one occasion our flight got in trouble, and we had to do push-ups as punishment. I had no idea at the time what to do with the guidon (flag), or how I was supposed to do push-ups while holding it, and I was downright scared to do the wrong thing. So, without thinking, I proceeded to do a one-handed push up, while still holding the guidon in the upright position. My Drill Instructor was impressed to say the least but scolded me later and stated I needed to find a better way. Later I found out I was supposed to wait for the flight to do their pushups, then hand the guidon to the person behind me, then do a two-armed pushup just like everyone else.

What I learned from this experience was to prepare for certain situations that might happen while in the process of doing a particular task, then store the knowledge in my databank for later use. Knowing at some point I would l have to do push-ups while carrying the guidon, I should have watched what another guidon did with their flag when their flight had to do push-ups. Had I prepared ahead of time and observed how to do this task correctly, I could have taken the fear out of the situation and applied the correct procedure from the start.

You are a successful leader. Which three-character traits do you think were most instrumental to your success? Can you please share a story or example for each?

I believe the three character traits that were most instrumental to my success, were the core values I learned in the military. Integrity first, service before self and excellence in all we do. Integrity is the willingness to do what is right even when no one is watching. It’s the moral compass or the inner voice. Service before self is the new assignment or new job which we take that isn’t in the ideal location, or the need to retrain to do something else even if you are happy with where you are at. Excellence in all we do is a mindset of giving your best, striving to continually improve yourself, and expecting the same from others.

Ok, thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the concept of becoming free from failure. Let’s zoom in a bit. From your experience, why exactly are people so afraid of failure? Why is failure so frightening to us?

I believe people are afraid of failure because of a couple of reasons. They either don’t know exactly what to do at every step of the journey or they hit a roadblock and quit. People get so caught up in trying to figure out how or the right way to do something, they get into ‘analysis paralysis’, and never start. Or, when they hit a roadblock, instead of moving past the issue, they just stop because it’s the easiest thing to do. Failure is so frightening to us because there might be the perceived negative judgement of us by others, or a sense of shame or disappointment. In essence, we don’t want to let ourselves or others down.

What are the downsides of being afraid of failure? How can it limit people?

Failure causes stress and stress causes the release of cortisol, which can lead to many issues to include limiting people from succeeding at goals, on how to be productive, or it may even impair your relationships. Therefore, the downside of being afraid of failure is never accomplishing what you set out to do in the first place. The fear grips you to the point you do not act on things which could change your business and/or life.

In contrast, can you help articulate a few ways how becoming free from the fear of failure can help improve our lives?

Becoming free from failure can improve your life in many ways. Success releases dopamine, which helps regulate unconditioned fear in the brain. In essence dopamine can help you accomplish a goal. When you feel good this then helps in productivity. The more you succeed, the more you want to accomplish. And, last, when you feel good, and are productive, naturally your relationships become better.

We would love to hear your story about your experience dealing with failure. Would you be able to share a story about that with us?

Of course. I experienced true failure in recent years when I was studying to become a financial advisor. The Series 7 test was very long and was an ardent task to study for. The test itself was 135 questions and they allot 3 hours and 45 minutes to complete the test. After studying for months, working with an advisor, and taking many practice quizzes, I sat for the test and failed it the first time by 5 points. Once you fail, you must wait 30 days to retake the Series 7 again. After 30 days, I sat for the test again and failed the second time by 1 point. Then, after another 30- day wait, I was allowed to sit for the test again and I passed!

How did you rebound and recover after that? What did you learn from this whole episode? What advice would you give to others based on that story?

I recovered slowly. I was embarrassed the first time I failed, but I knew I could take the test again, so I did. But after failing the test a second time, I was not only embarrassed, but I felt I was a complete failure and I wanted to quit. Quit my goal of becoming a financial advisor.

My advice to others is reach out for help! I finally reached out to another advisor and told them I wanted to quit, but they encouraged me to try another time. I am glad I listened. What did I learn? If I had quit after the second time I failed, I wouldn’t be the successful financial advisor I am today. Never quit because it could be the day before you become successful!

Fantastic. Here is the main question of our interview. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that everyone can take to become free from the fear of failure”? Please share a story or an example for each.

I have 5 steps that are principles in my book:

  1. Do First. Think Later. Learn by Doing.
  2. Perfection is not Progress
  3. Find the Truth and ask for help
  4. A Target only you can hit
  5. There is Power in Failure

Do First. Think Later. Learn By Doing. When I was a kid; I wanted to learn how to ride a bike. But I am stubborn and didn’t want anyone to help me. Regardless, my brother instructed me to just straddle the bike at the top of a hill, lift my feet up, and then coast down the hill…all I had to do was balance. Little did I know if I started at the top of a hill, I would be going very fast by the time I got to the bottom. And I didn’t know how to brake. By the way, I was riding a bike which had a braking system controlled by reversing the pedals…of which my feet were NOT on because I had lifted them to let the pedals spin. Half-way down the hill, I was screaming at my brother, “How do I stop?!” And low and behold, I hit a lifted piece of sidewalk and wiped out. I ended up cracking my head on the cement and getting a big goose egg, but you know what? I learned how to ride a bike! I did it first, thought about consequences later, and then I learned how to do it better.

Perfection is not Progress. Perfection is defined as everything must be 100% accurate or in place. Perfection paralysis is when everything must be 100% to move forward, where progress is going from 50 to 60%. If you are improving that is progress. The primary focus is starting somewhere and improving on where you are. Because when people think they need to be perfect, they often don’t get started at all.

Find the truth and ask for help. When I was married, I wasn’t happy towards the end. We had gone to counseling three times over a period of three years. Things would get better for about six months; then we would go back to the same behaviors that had gotten our relationship in trouble. I was avoiding the reality that divorce was the solution, but we had two small children. Long story short, I reached out to my pastor and asked what I should do. I asked for help, and he guided me to the solution that I should not stay in an unhappy marriage just for the kids. He made me realize I was teaching my children it was okay to always be unhappy. I found the truth in my situation, and I asked for help.

A Target only you can hit. My parents taught me at a young age to set goals. They were the ‘set it and you will achieve it’ type people. My father was an EMT in the Air Force and then went to school, after I was born, to be an engineer. My mother went to college to be a nurse, through the ROTC program, and then served four years in the Air Force to pay back her college tuition. My goals were to be the first sibling in my family to go to college, to join the Air Force and eventually get commissioned as an officer. I defined my goals by looking at what I wanted to do in life, then I looked at my family and how those goals might affect them, and then I set out to achieve them. I wrote the goal down, I mapped out the preliminary steps and then I envisioned the goal daily, keeping only the end in mind without getting caught up in the “how’s.” I now do a 5-year vision board to help my process of goal setting.

There is Power in Failure. In the process of writing my book, “Woman on Top: How to Win in a Woman’s Way” I met a huge stumbling block along the way. The publisher and I talked through the steps, and I followed his successful process for publication. I was going along great, figuring out my content; coming up with examples and fleshing out what I wanted to say, and just when I was close to finishing, I got stopped by compliance. I had received permission to write my book but was never told I had to produce the manuscript before I started to promote it. I paid for a URL and had a website set up but was never told the website had to be approved. Therefore, I had to shut it down right when I was getting started. I let this one event define how and when I was to move forward. The publisher I was using had a proven process, and I was not able to follow it, so I thought I had to quit everything, including writing the book! Even though I had a failure in the process, I was able to meet with my publisher and get back on track using a modified process to fit my needs, and still get my book done.

The famous Greek philosopher Aristotle once said, “It is possible to fail in many ways…while to succeed is possible only in one way.” Based on your experience, have you found this quote to be true? What do you think Aristotle really meant?

I certainly have found that quote to be true. I think Aristotle meant it takes multiple failures to meet our personal definition of success. In my case, as you have seen, I have failed several times at my goals, but like in all the examples, I succeeded in then end, in one way or another.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would inspire a movement to change what is currently being taught in the school systems. I believe it would be more beneficial to teach young people practical skills on how to be successful in life. For example, how to open a bank account, how to file their taxes, how to buy a house, how to apply for a job, when/how to invest, etc.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US, with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

I would love to sit and chat with Jamie Kern Lima, author of “Believe It” and founder of IT cosmetics. I admire her tenacity, her grit, and her authenticity. She was met with many failures in her rise to the top, yet look at where she is at now…what a blessing and a gift to see her success in a highly competitive industry.


About The Interviewer: Savio P. Clemente coaches cancer survivors to overcome the confusion and gain the clarity needed to get busy living in mind, body, and spirit. He inspires health and wellness seekers to find meaning in the “why” and to cultivate resilience in their mindset. Savio is a Board Certified wellness coach (NBC-HWC, ACC), stage 3 cancer survivor, podcaster, writer, and founder of The Human Resolve LLC.

Karen Koenig

Karen Koenig

Founder and Ower

As CEO and Founder of KK Financial Solutions, I use the principles from the book to help business owners, entrepreneurs, and divorcees like me, with their money mindset. I also help them to understand and implement a financial strategy that is right for their family and business, and to grow their money using other principles beyond the traditional venues of 401k, IRA and ROTH.

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