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Case studies

Case Study 1

He was early 40's, she was mid-thirties, and tensions were rising around finances  In working together we uncovered a disconnect in their money values and that there was no plan in place around spending or savings ahead towards expenses or goals. Caitlin needed long-term financial security and Jordan didn't feel the need to save for retirement as he "planned" on working forever. This created stress for Caitlin and in turn for them both. 

After reviewing income, spending, and identifying their short-term and longer term goals, we created a plan and put strategies in place to save ahead for emergencies, non-monthly occurring expenses and identified that  Caitlin could not stay-home with the children at this time without impacting their retirement goals.

In 9 months this 2 income family with 2 young children under the age of 6 went from living paycheck to paycheck to THIS...  They

  • Increased Net Worth by 111% - a $68,230 increase

  • Increased savings by 91% - a $20,724 increase

  • Decreased their debt by 20%

  • Reached their 3 month emergency fund goal of $17,000

  • Have monthly money dates to review their finances

  • Peace of mind and confidence that they are on track


Update: as a result of staying on plan for another year, this couple has further increased their savings, reduced debt, and confidently decided for mom to stay home with the children amid year 2 of COVID.



Case Study 2

Dan and Rachael were a single income family with young adult children out of the house, in fact,0 the last child had just graduated H.S. and was leaving for college. They were excited and planning to retire in 2-3 years while in their mid-50's. But Dan was blind-sided by some unknown debt.  Consequently, he had concerns about their transition to retirement and wanted a second look to validate the viability of their plan. After reviewing their unique circumstances, it became apparent that the retirement they had been anticipating required some tweaks due to debt, expenses and the retirement cash-flow.  Dan and I role-played on how to have this conversation with Rachael so they could have an honest and loving dialogue on the situation and engage in a meaningful conversation to address some difficult choices.


As a result of our working together, the Rachael and Dan sold their homepaid off over $155,000 in non-mortgage debt, downsized into a rental.   


The additional cash flow has enabled them to:

  • Save $10,000

  • Cut their car loan pay-off from 5 to 3 years

  • Cut student loan debt pay-off from 20 to 10 years

The couple has better communication (less blame and defensiveness) in their relationship, peace of mind, and can face retirement more confidently. 


Case Study 3

Jason and Chris were a 2 income family with small children.  Chris was an accountant and Jason was a Service Member, and he had just had a car accident.  They were struggling under the burden of stress caused by 

  • $85,000+ in credit card debt

  • Having 20+ credit cards

  • With average interest rates as high as 26% 

  • Credit card payments of $4,000/month 


Monthly they were increasing their debt load, and found themselves in a cycle of moving balances from 1 card to another and never getting ahead as a result of living above their means. As he was also in the military, this mounting debt could jeopardize his security clearance standing.


We were able to work out a plan that

  • Reduced their credit card payments to $1800/mo 

  • Reduced  monthly credit card payments by 55% - saving $2200/mo

  • Created some breathing room in a highly stressful situation

  • Debt will be paid-off in 5 years (f they stick to the plan and don't take on more debt)

and WITHOUT having to go delinquent and ruining their credit history

The increased cash flow has reduced stressed, allowed clients to live closer within their means, avoid taking on additional debt to cover daily expense or  having to explore bankruptcy (which would not have been advisable for his career).


Case Study 4

It was the day before Thanksgiving and Victor was in a situation that threatened his security clearance and presented a potential loss of a 20+ year pension. He was set to retire in the next 18 months.  Over 7 hours, we reviewed his 3 credit bureau reports, tax and sales records on the applicable county websites, documentation from his short sale, contacted his mortgage company, previous mortgage company, filed a Better Business Bureau complaint, contacted Fannie Mae, and built a chronological history with weblinks and screen shots for his security clearance inquiry that he could present to his command. 


As a result of this process and our work together, Victor's stress was reduced, as I assisted this him in clearing a short sale from 2008,  regaining  security clearance and which would allow the Member to retire with a military pension.  Without this resolution this member would have lost a 20+ year pension and jeopardized the future financial well-being in retirement for he and his family. 



Case Study 5

Jim wanted to retire in his mid-50's, but he was living paycheck to paycheck, with credit card debt, a HELOC loan and a mortgage.  In working together over 9 months, we were able to craft a spending plan that addressed his relationship with money and spending triggers, set up structures to save ahead for expenses as well as  his lifestyle goals (such as travel and buying an RV). 


As a result, our our accountability together, Jim decided to sell his home, and 

- Paid-off the primary & secondary mortgage

- Paid-off remaining debt

- Retired 5 years earlier than he originally planned.

Last I heard, he was living a life he dreamed of, traveling the US in his RV, spending time in Europe visiting friends, and looking for a small house that he will hopefully call home.


Case Study 6

Gina was a hard-working mom with 2 young children and always looking for opportunities to better improve her chance of retiring early (before age 50).   She was committed to FIRE (financial independence retire early).


Over 12 months of working together, she :

- Saw a significant increase in her net worth that allowed her & her spouse to setup additional savings for

  their children's education and increased retirement savings

- Confidently evaluated a career offer and made the decision to accept that offer with financial clarity

- Began a business that her children work in.  She is maximizing tax efficient strategies for the business, and

  opened and is funding Roth IRA's for her children from their earned income.


Case Study 7 

Jeff & Christine weren’t savings as much as they wanted.  They didn’t have “debt” but they "always needed to use" their credit cards for upcoming expenses and could never seem to get ahead.  


In working together, we reviewed expenses and identified $1300+ monthly that could be utilized towards their life goals  - boy were they surprised!!   


We crafted a plan that

- Added an additional $600/ month towards retirement

- Setup a strategy to save ahead $770/month for

       - variable expenses such as vacation (3 trips a year to see family in Minnesota) , house maintenance, car

         maintenance, clothes, gifts 

       - and save funds for the future healthcare needs of their parents


Case Study 8

Nick and Jody were having cash-flow issues, no emergency fund, and mounting debt.


They were considering a refinance on their mortgage for a larger amount, with a cash pay-out so they could payoff their debt. We discussed spending habits, and how rolling credit card debt into their mortgage would create risk, as that unsecured credit card debt would now be secured by their home and the behaviors that got them here did not change  (which meant they might find themselves in debt again).


They were only looking at the issues from a monthly cash-flow perspective and not considering the additional interest or spending habits.  Using an amortization schedule, they saw how much the additional interest they would have spent by rolling that debt into a new mortgage for 30 years would REALLY cost them.  Instead, we created a plan & strategy to refinance the existing mortgage balance (not a cash payout for more money), use the extra monthly savings created by the lower mortgage payment to pay-down the debt within 3 years.  


The data and plan created motivation, and within 2 months, their spending was on track and Nick and Jodyhad saved $5K in their emergency fund.


Case Study 9

Not every financial problem requires full financial planning, sometimes Financial Coaching makes more sense for the situation. Sometimes clients make good money, but never seem to get ahead, even when they’re a 2 income family with "good" salaries. 


In our sessions over 4 months, we unraveled the mixing of rental income/expenses with personal accounts, established savings buckets, and set up a “zero” balance checking strategy.


Within 9 months, Craig and his wife

- Saved 12K in their emergency fund

- Were generating a positive cash flow from rental property in their business account and could build a

   capital account for rental property improvements


Case Study 10

Jamie was 24, with no savings and wanted to buy a home. We reviewed income & expenses,  setup automated savings buckets for her variable and known expenses, as well as her "house" down payment fund. This helped reduce credit card usage and create transparency so Jamie could easily track her progress towards her goals.


As a result of our accountability sessions and working our plan, Jamie was able to

- Purchase her first home within 6 months of working together

- Saved an additional $20K+ over the next 12 months after the home purchase

Case studies are based on notes taken during actual interactions with previous paying clients or from individuals that engaged in pro-bono work with Michelle in her role of a Financial Counselor or Financial Coach. Services provided did not involve investment management or investment advice. The names have been changed and the outcomes are not a promise or guarantee of similar results but instead are unique to each clients' circumstances, as well as their own motivations, effort and discipline.  

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