admin March 12, 2020 No Comments

What does Financial Independence Mean to You?

What do you think of when you hear the phrase financial independence?

Do you think of being able to afford to move out of your parents’ house and pay for your own things? Do you think of living in your dream house, going on great vacations, and doing what you want – when you want. Or, do you think of not working at all, and instead spending your days on the beach sippin’ something sweet? Maybe for you the “independence” part of the phrase just means being able to find a decent home, put acceptable food on the table, have fun with your friends, and live a happy and comfortable life.

The point is that financial independence means different things to different people.


And it may mean different things to the same people at different points in their life. Sarah Newcomb, Director of Behavioral Science at Morningstar, found that people are more likely to have a satisfying life if they choose reasonable role models.

For example, the Kardashians probably are not the best role models to help you feel like you’re living a satisfying life. They have an unusual situation that most people can’t attain. If you choose to spend like the Kardashians and have 0% ability to earn the income they do, you will be miserable.

Warren Buffet on the other hand, is not a bad role model. He has lived in the same modest (depending on your definition of modest) home for decades. He has spent less than he makes and invests a lot for his future. If you follow his lead, you may not live as successful a life as he, but probably just as satisfying.

Even better would be your Aunt Sue who has a good job that pays a middle-class wage. She spends less than she makes and invests the rest for her future. She’s apt to retire at some point with an adequate nest egg to maintain her lifestyle for the rest of her life.

Aunt Sue has an emergency fund to take care of those unexpected issues that come up like someone crashing into her two-year-old car. Yes, she has insurance but they don’t pay for 100% of her replacement car. She has to make up for the difference from her emergency fund.

Her vet bill for her dog never taps her emergency fund because she plans for two emergency visits to the vet a year. Often that line item in her cash flow rolls into her opportunity fund at the end of the year because her dog has been well every year after the first year. (That first year as a puppy used up all of the money allocated for her baby.)

She has an opportunity fund that allowed her to take six months off from work to travel when she turned 30, her dream after graduating college. She came back with a little left in her opportunity fund and her emergency fund full.

Aunt Sue has lived a full life. She’s done what she dreamed of, live in a home that’s very comfortable, and was able to retire from work when she wanted to and maintain her lifestyle. Aunt Sue is a great role model for how to do life successfully and reach financial independence. Nothing fancy, but she found comfort, happiness and had little heartache and disappointments.

Looking into your future, how do you want to live your life? What does success look like? What would disappointment look like? How realistic are you? Who do you know that is living a “good life” in your opinion? What are they doing “right”? How can you apply that knowledge to your own life so YOU can live your amazing life?

Taking some time to reflect on this will set you up not only for financial independence but for a fulfilling life. And everyone here at South Bay Financial Partners want to help you live your AMAZING life!


Because life is too short to not spend it doing the things you love, and your finances should support that.

So, we’ve created a community for passionate young adults to master the intimidating world of money, simplify confusing financial decisions, and manage their expenses all while hanging out with fun, like-minded people working towards one common goal (the best goal in our opinion): living an AMAZING life.

To do this, our community, Your Amazing Financial Life, features…

  • Access to the SBFP team’s advice, guidance, and support
  • Monthly topics (with conversations, learning, and planning)
  • Monthly Q&A video calls with the team
  • Monthly wine and cheese events
  • Special access to courses, office hours, challenges, and events
  • A book club
  • Personalized ADVICE from us and STORIES from others that can’t be found anywhere else
  • And so much more!

Our mission is to provide financial advice and information to as many people as possible, at as low of a price as possible, and we’ve finally found the best place to do it. We do hope you’ll join us over there!

And even better? This month we’re talking all things financial independence (and how to reach it) in the group!

>> It’s time you start living Your Amazing Financial Life!! Come join us! https://yafl.southbayfinancialpartners.com <<


admin August 29, 2019 No Comments

What the Heck are 401(k)s, HSAs, and Other Confusions

If you hear the words 401(k), HSA, and deductibles and you look like this…

You’ve come to the right place.

Whether you’re reading this because you just landed your first job (congratulations 🎉) or you’re just looking for some clarification, we’re here with all of the answers to make sure you find success in your career, finances, and life!

Let’s get started.

So, what the heck is a 401(k)?

A 401(k) is your employer sponsored retirement plan.

They come in many different forms, but this is the most common and most well known. It’s an opportunity to save for retirement in a tax advantaged way. I’d say the first step is to figure out if your employer matches and how much you need to contribute in order to take full advantage of the matching schedule.

You may have two types of 401(k) accounts offered, a Traditional and a Roth.

Traditional 401(k)

Everyone will have a Traditional available and that allows you to put money into the retirement account BEFORE taxes are taken out. If you put in $1,000, that’s $1,000 off the top of your pay before taxes are taken out. But don’t worry, the government won’t let you NOT pay taxes. You’ll pay taxes on those dollars when you take them out during retirement. This is called “Traditional” because it was the way retirement accounts worked when they were first designed back when your grandparents were probably still working. The idea was that you would be in a lower tax bracket when you retire and therefore you would pay less taxes in the long run.

Roth 401(k)

Roth plans were introduced recently because it was discovered that people often are NOT in a lower tax bracket when they retire. Many people take as much out of their retirement plan after retiring as they were getting as salary before retirement and therefore they were in the same tax bracket. All that great planning was for naught. But the government realized the errors of their ways and designed the Roth plans. In these plans, the money you put in is AFTER taxes are paid. (The IRS wants taxes one way or another. No getting out of taxes completely!)

With a Roth plan, when you contribute $1,000 from your paycheck, you will first pay taxes on that money. Say you’re in the 20% tax bracket and your state taxes are 5%, you will have $250 go to taxes and $750 will be deposited into your Roth IRA. That may seem like a bad deal BUT, you will never pay taxes on that money again. Ever! Hopefully, that $750 grows for the next 10, 20, 30, 40 years. And say you have interest, dividends, and growth of $2,000 on that $750, you get to take out $2,750 in retirement and not pay a penny in taxes. Sweet deal, right!?

How much should I contribute?

It’s difficult to give blanket advice here about how much to contribute to Roth versus Traditional because there are so many variables involved. Our rule of thumb is 50/50. When you’re younger and in a lower tax bracket, you may want to put in more than 50% and when you’re older and in a higher tax bracket, you’ll want to put in less. But 50/50 is a good all purpose target.

Most employers that offer 401(k)s are now offering a Roth option so it’s important to make sure you are also taking advantage of this option, especially if you are in a lower tax bracket right now.

Some resources:

How to Set up Your 401(k)

3 Things to Consider before Maxing out Your 401(k)

Next, Health Insurance

What is health insurance?

In Julia Kagan‘s easy to understand words, “Health insurance is a type of insurance coverage that pays for medical and surgical expenses incurred by the insured. Health insurance can reimburse the insured for expenses incurred from illness or injury, or pay the care provider directly”.

When it comes to health insurance, Step 1 for young adults is to figure out whether you need to stay on your parents (if you are fortunate enough to have been on it to begin with) or switch to your own. Find out if your employer has a health insurance offering and if they do figure out how much, if any, of the cost that they cover. Do a quick cost comparison of how much the premium is on your parents versus how much your premium is through your employer. Make sure you compare prices for the same deductibles. Employers may pay half or even all health insurance premiums. Some will even put money into an HSA. We’ll discuss HSA in a minute.

What are copayments?

A copayment is the amount that you have to pay when you get medical services. Sometimes insurance plans require you to pay a percentage like 20% of the visit cost and the insurance pays the rest. Other times, you’ll pay a flat fee like $10 or $20 dollars. It’s typical for you to have to put “skin in the game” when you use medical services.

What is a deductible?

When you go to the doctor, your health insurance expects you to pay for the first dollars paid. If your deductible is $500, and you go to the doctor that charges $250, you’ll pay the whole bill since you are under the deductible. If you end up going to the doctor three times for a total of $750, you’ll pay $500 and the insurance may pay $250 (or more likely a little less because of the copayment).⠀

With a high deductible insurance plan, you pay a high deductible (hence the name) but you have the tax advantage HSA to help you save to pay for that deductible. After you finish paying the deductible, you then pay only the copayment, if you have one, for the rest of the year. Each year the deductible goes back to $0.

High deductible health insurance can work well if you are young and healthy. Again, this depends on the individual, their personal and family history, and financial situation. Most young people have low medical expenses and only need insurance to cover big bills.

What is an HSA?

An HSA is a Health Savings Account connected to health insurance that has a high deductible.

When you have a high deductible, a HSA may come in handy. Your HSA allows you to keep your insurance costs low but still have coverage for those emergencies that would otherwise wipe out your bank account and put you in debt. Employers who offer plans with HSA’s may put money into your HSA or match funds that you put in. It’s important to know what your employer does and what you can do to maximize your benefits.

More Resources:

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/health/health-insurance-guide/

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/insurance/disability-insurance-explained/

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/health/dental-insurance/

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/health/vision-insurance/

https://www.nerdwallet.com/blog/health/what-is-an-hsa/

We hope we’ve helped you understand all of this a bit more. If you’re still feeling confused, we invite you to join our private Facebook group and ask all of your questions there.

Tara Unverzagt February 1, 2019 No Comments

What’s Holding You Back? – A Reflection on Financial Success

Let’s take a moment to reflect today. What are your financial goals? What are your life goals? Almost always, there is overlap between them, and that overlap usually is happiness. What is happiness for you?

A partner whom you love and who loves you? Children who are happy and healthy, who are able to pursue their goals in life, and who love and are loved?

Enough money to buy and do what you want whenever you want it?

A debt-free life?

Whatever goals you’ve identified for yourself, do you have a realistic action plan to achieve your goals?

(As tempting as they are to imagine, winning the lottery, inheriting money from unknown sources, inventing some unidentified do-hickey that everyone will buy, being discovered somewhere unexpectedly and becoming a movie star probably don’t fit the criteria for a “realistic” action plan.)

Previous articles have offered realistic roadmaps for your success. Have you been able to stick to a plan for budgeting, spending, and saving? Investing, compounding, harvesting your rewards? “Spend less that you make.” “Have a regular savings plan.” “Buy low, sell high.”

On paper, at least, financial planning sounds easy, right? Why are so many people unable to get their financial house in order? There are more answers to that question than can be answered here, but if you still struggle with finances, you may need to start with looking at yourself and identifying some of the bumps on your road to success.

Are you telling yourself money stories that aren’t helping you?

They may involve buying rewards for yourself because “you deserve it” or spending too much money going out on the weekend because “life is short” or “spending time with friends is important.” Both sayings are, no doubt, true, but are there ways to do them honor without spending too much money? Maybe you tell yourself that buying a big, beautiful house is always a good investment. Guess what? Even a house can be just another consumer good that’s draining your bank account.

Sometimes you can’t tell your family and friends that you can’t afford to do what they’re doing. I’ll let you in on a secret: there’s a good chance they can’t afford those things either. They may be going into debt living the life “they deserve” or “they expected.” Don’t follow them down the path.

Take a hard look at what’s important to you.

Does your budget reflect your values and your goals? Or do they reflect the values of the “friends you keep.” Sarah Newcombe, a senior behavioral scientist at Morningstar, Inc., says that comparing ourselves to others is hardwired into our brains. She recommends choosing carefully whom you compare yourself with. If it’s Kim Kardashian and you realize she doesn’t really represent who you want to be, you might want to choose a new role model. A better model might be the quiet, unassuming millionaire next door who doesn’t drive a fancy car but was able to pay his kids’ college tuition without going into debt.

Decide what’s important to you, find a healthy role model who has achieved what you want to achieve, and then compare away. Newcombe says that your odds of being satisfied with your finances and life will increase with a healthy financial role model.

If you need help figuring out what you want from life and your money, contact us at South Bay Financial Partners. We can help you put the pieces of your personal puzzle together to make a beautiful picture that we call our lives. Schedule a FREE consultation with us here >> https://calendly.com/SBFP-Call