Financial Finesse Podcast

S4E5: The Insurance Lady Ruth Stroup Answers Your Biggest Questions About Insurance

The Insurance Lady Answers Your Biggest Questions About Insurance

Your Biggest Questions About Insurance Answered

My guest on today’s episode is Ruth Stroup. Ruth, AKA “The Insurance Lady,” is a Farmer’s agent in Oakland, California. Voted Best of Oakland seven times, The Ruth Stroup Insurance Agency is a community-oriented agency offering customized insurance solutions to businesses and families.

In this episode, Ruth and I discuss all things insurance, from what it covers and doesn’t cover to choosing the right policies and the obstacles that can get in the way of that. Specifically, we talk about wildfire risk in Northern California and how it may cause you to lose your homeowner’s insurance or your premiums to skyrocket. We also discuss what Ruth can and can’t do as an agent to help her clients navigate claims.

Later in the episode, Ruth provides a helpful overview of umbrella insurance, including common misconceptions about what it covers and how to determine if you need additional coverage. She also shares a little-known strategy she uses with her high-earning clients to protect their personal assets.

And be sure to listen to the end, when we talk briefly about earthquake insurance, another potential risk factor for California residents, and many of the common misconceptions surrounding it. Ruth also shares her tips for how she believes people should approach earthquake insurance and how to decide if it’s worth the high premiums.

And lastly, Ruth offers her response to people who believe insurance is just a racket. I learned so much during this conversation and Ruth shared so many great gems that I believe will benefit a lot of you listeners. I hope you enjoy the episode as much as I did.

Episode Highlights

  • [04:02] Ruth Stroup explains what homeowner’s insurance covers and doesn’t cover if someone burglarizes your home.

  • [07:03] How to insure different types of jewelry, whether it’s costume, gems and metals, or fine jewelry.

  • [12:31] What people can do to mitigate the damage if they get burgled or their home is destroyed by fire.

  • [16:22] What to do if your policy goes into non-renewal because you live in a high-risk zone for wildfires.

  • [19:51] How reinsurance companies impact the insurance industry.

  • [22:29] Ruth Stroup shares the reasons besides wildfire danger that a policy may be non-renewed.

  • [26:45] What Ruth can and can’t do as an agent when helping her clients navigate claims.

  • [33:11] Cathy asks Ruth Stroup to give a mini tutorial on liability and umbrella insurance.

  • [38:54] Ruth Stroup shares what she believes is the best kept secret in the insurance business.

  • [42:02] Cathy and Ruth talk earthquake coverage.

Links Relevant to this Episode

Ruth Stroup Insurance Agency’s website

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S4E4: How to Thrive in the Digital World with Susan Reynolds

Digital Wellbeing with Susan Reynolds

Improving Digital Wellbeing

In this episode, Cathy interviews Susan Reynolds about improving our tech-life balance and digital wellbeing. 

My guest today is Susan Reynolds. As co-founder of the nonprofit organization LookUp, Susan helps young people minimize the negative effects of technology and lead healthier, more balanced lives. She also teaches, speaks, leads workshops, and facilitates panels to educate and empower Gen Z to find and implement their own solutions to the detrimental aspects of social media and digital distraction.

Previously, Susan was an English and social studies teacher and curriculum developer. In addition, she was the first Director of Academic Technology at the Fenn School in Concord, MA. There, she developed a curriculum that focused on harnessing the positive aspects of technology while mitigating the negative ones. She graduated with a BA from Dartmouth College and a Master’s in Education from Tufts University. As a yoga and mindfulness teacher, Susan brings mindful technology to her work with LookUp’s youth leaders and innovators.

In this episode, Susan and I discuss the harmful effects social media and digital technology can have on mental health and wellbeing.

And how she works with youths to help them take advantage of the positive aspects of technology and mitigate the harmful ones. We also talk about why she believes Gen Z is well positioned to be agents of change, which may also be a tailwind for new legislation that regulates digital media—specifically, the California Kids code. Unfortunately, since we recorded this episode, Susan has shared that California Kids is now facing an even bigger uphill battle than she previously believed due to aggressive push back from tech lobbyists.

Lastly, we talk about the influence the Covid-19 pandemic had on our technology habits, as well as the challenges of undoing some of those habits now that we’re returning to pre-pandemic norms. Susan also shares her definition of digital wellbeing and how it differs from mental health advocacy.

I think digital wellbeing is a really important issue that affects everyone in one way or another.

Susan offers a unique perspective on how we can have better relationships with technology at any age. With that, I hope you enjoy my conversation with Susan Reynolds as much as I did. 

Episode Highlights

  • [12:04] Why technology is so addictive and how it’s contributing to our mental health crisis

  • [20:04] How digital wellbeing relates to self-care.

  • [28:33] The pending legislation around digital wellbeing at the state and federal levels.

  • [41:38] Susan Reynolds describes some of the work her nonprofit LookUp.Live is involved with.

  • [47:29] The effect the pandemic has had on technology and social media habits.

  • [50:08] Susan Reynolds shares her vision for the next five years.

  • [57:30] How people can get in touch with Susan Reynolds and become more involved with the digital wellbeing movement.

Links Relevant to this Episode

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S4E3: Simple Strategies for Improving Your Grief Literacy with Kathi Balasek

Simple Strategies for Improving Your Grief Literacy with Kathi Balasek

A Helpful Guide to Grief Literacy

My guest today is Kathi Balasek, an educator, empathy and grief literacy coach, university lecturer, speaker, and widow advocate. Kathi teaches financial professionals how to improve their grief literacy communication skills to best serve bereaved clients. She also hosts the One Well Widow podcast, helping widows process their grief and learn from one another.

After experiencing the financial uniqueness of widowhood firsthand and learning that 70% of widows leave their financial advisors within the first year, Kathi leveraged her many years of teaching, coaching, and personal experience to create Grief Smart Advisor as a tool to help professionals retain, connect, and support clients experiencing loss, grief, and widowhood. Through her coaching programs, webinars, workshops, and speaking engagements, she trains leaders to build trust and empathy with their clients so they can support them during the toughest moments of their life.

Kathi earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Education at Montana State University and a Master of Arts degree in Education with a concentration in Kinesiology. Moreover, she is currently a lecturer at California State University, Chico in the Department of Communication and Education where she trains future teachers and athletic coaches. Indeed, Kathi has a passion for motivating leaders to develop communication skills that engage and connect.

Grief Literacy in Practice

In this episode, Kathi shares her personal story of widowhood and how she came to realize the importance of grief literacy. We also talk about the financial challenges women, in particular, tend to face when losing a spouse. And why with a million women becoming widows each year in the U.S., it’s critical for us to prepare for the unpleasant probability that we’ll have to manage our finances on our own one day.

Furthermore, Kathi offers alternative phrases to “I’m sorry for your loss” that may be comforting to people who are grieving. In addition, she shares her thoughts on how to respond if you learn about someone’s death indirectly—for example, through social media.

Meanwhile, be sure to listen to the end, as Kathi explains what she wishes more people understood about grief. Kathi also suggests a variety of resources that can help both widows and advisors to widows.

I really enjoyed my conversation with Kathi Balasek, and I hope you do, too. Whether you’re going through the grieving process yourself or you’re an advisor who works with widows, I think you’re going to find this episode and her unique insights extremely helpful.

Episode Highlights

  • [08:16] What people don’t always know about grieving families, and how they can talk about death better—especially with children.
  • [09:36] Kathi Balasek describes her work as a grief communications coach.
  • [12:37] What is grief literacy?
  • [16:00] Kathi Balasek explains why it’s so important for women to take an active role in their financial lives, even if their partner takes the lead.
  • [19:15] The current state of widowhood in the United States.
  • [22:33] Kathi Balasek shares an example of how she’d train a financial advisor to prepare their women clients for widowhood.
  • [29:54] The differences in how women and men communicate and why they matter for grief literacy.
  • [32:36] Alternative phrases to “I’m sorry for your loss.”
  • [34:22] How to respond when you learn about someone’s death indirectly, like through a Facebook post.
  • [40:24] Why food and practical gifts are better than flowers when someone dies.
  • [43:07] Kathi Balasek shares her tips when it comes to recommending other professionals to their widowed clients.
  • [46:05] The biggest mistake Kathi sees her clients make and the one thing she wishes people understood about grief.
  • [49:20] Recommended resources for widows and advisors of widows.

Links Relevant to this Episode

Kathi Balasek’s Website

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S4E2: Estate Planning with Heart with Patricia De Fonte

Estate Planning with Heart with Patricia De Fonte

Patricia De Fonte Shares Why She Practices Estate planning with Heart

My guest today is Patricia De Fonte, founder of De Fonte Law based in San Francisco. Patricia practices estate planning with heart and is focused on working with happy, proactive people who want to protect their heir’s privacy. Through her estate planning process, her goal is to give her clients the tools they need to become savvy and successful people.

However, what’s unique about De Fonte Law is how they develop values-driven estate plans that empower heirs and preserve family harmony. In addition, they work with all members of the community, operating from the belief that estate planning is for everyone.

Moreover, Patricia has been recognized as a San Francisco Super Lawyer due to her dedication to estate planning and her clients. Additionally, she recently won the 2021 Better Business Bureau Torch Award for Ethics in the San Francisco Bay Area. She is also a graduate of Golden State University, where she adopted social justice as a core value.

In this episode, Patricia and I discuss a variety of estate planning topics, including:

  • Why everyone needs an estate plan.
  • Why an estate plan is more than a will.
  • The importance of choosing an estate planning attorney you trust and how to find an attorney whose values are aligned with yours.
  • Patricia’s estate planning with heart process and how she works with her clients to create a personalized estate plan that reflects their values and preserves family harmony.
  • Finally, some of the common misconceptions many people have when it comes to hiring an estate planning attorney.

Indeed, Patricia offers several nuggets of wisdom during this episode, and I think you’ll benefit from hearing her take on estate planning. Lastly, be sure to check the show notes for more information and resources related to this episode.

With that, I hope you enjoy my conversation with Patricia De Fonte as much as I did.

Episode Highlights

  • [04:30] Patricia De Fonte explains what an estate plan is in plain English and what documents a comprehensive estate plan typically includes.
  • [11:32] What Patricia De Fonte recommends using to direct your assets instead of a will.
  • [20:36] The importance of choosing an executor or trustee you can trust to manage the distribution of your estate according to your wishes.
  • [32:44] How to find an estate planning attorney you can trust and who is well suited to your needs and objectives.
  • [40:11] Cathy and Patricia discuss some of the most common mistakes people make with their estate planning documents.
  • [45:28] Patricia De Fonte shares some of the biggest misconceptions people have about estate planning based on her experience.
  • [54:42] What to do if you don’t know who to appoint as executor of your estate.
  • [1:05:06] Patricia shares additional questions you should ask any estate planning attorney you’re considering engaging.

Links Relevant to this Episode

De Fonte Law’s Website

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S4E1: Advancing Democracy Worldwide With Your Investment Dollars

Democracy Investments

Democracy Investments Is On A Mission To Promote Democracy By Shifting Capital Flows

In this first episode of Season 4, I interview the management team from Democracy Investments: CEO Julie Cane, Chief Investment Officer Chris Browne, and Chief Economist Rick Rikoski. These three individuals have decades of financial services experience and unique back-stories, all of which influenced them to collaborate in creating an investment management firm that’s committed to advancing democracy worldwide. And I really believe this conversation couldn’t have been more timely given Russia’s ongoing attack on Ukraine and the explicit dangers of authoritarian government.

This team’s mission is to incentivize democracy by directing capital towards the economies of democratic nations and away from authoritarianism. In fact, by holding an exclusive license agreement with the publishers of The Economist, they leverage The Economist’s Democracy Index to measure and rank countries globally based on their democratic values and practices. Democracy then uses this information to construct a diversified international index. This is the basis for their flagship ETF, the Democracy International Fund.

In this episode, we discuss the genesis of Democracy Investments, as well as their investment philosophy and approach. Additionally, we talk specifically about Russia’s war in Ukraine and more broadly about the global trend towards authoritarianism. Lastly, be sure to listen all the way through to the end, as we discuss why investors who want to make an impact with their investment dollars may want to consider the Democracy International Fund.

With that, I hope you enjoy my conversation with Democracy Investments as much as I did!

Episode Highlights

  • [05:47] The team shares their insights into the Russia-Ukraine crisis and events leading up to it.
  • [08:41] Democracy Investments explains their methodology and why they believe overweighting democracy is a good investment decision on multiple levels.
  • [19:11] Cathy asks the team to explain why parts of the world are trending towards authoritarianism.
  • [22:23] The team shares their thoughts on why ESG investors should consider the “D” first when making responsible investment decisions.
  • [30:25] Cathy asks where the U.S. would rank on the Democracy Index if Democracy Investments managed a global fund.
  • [35:10] The team offers final thoughts on how investors can access their fund and why now may be the right time to consider the Democracy International Fund.

Links Relevant to this Episode

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S3E8: Can’t Stick to Your Budget? Try These Money Saving Tips Instead

Money Saving Tips

Money Saving Tips for Women Who Don't Like to Budget

Lately on the podcast, we’ve been talking a lot about awareness, mindfulness, and creating space for what’s most important in our lives. I think these topics are so important because of how they relate to our finances, and specifically, our spending habits. When we’re not aware of where our money’s going, it’s easy to get off track when it comes to budgeting and long-term financial goals. So, in this episode, I want to focus on a few money saving tips that don’t involve traditional budgeting. Instead, they’re going to require you to be more self-aware, mindful of your spending, and intentional with where your money goes.

Episode Highlights

  • [01:37] How to identify your values to spend more intentionally
  • [02:47] Why you should budget for your future, not your past.
  • [05:06] 20+ tips to get your shopping habit under control and save money
  • [09:34] Why finding your personal style can be a great money-saving tip
  • [11:17] The surprising reason you may need to go on a decision detox.

Links Relevant to this Episode

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S3E7: Sage Money and Life Advice from the Savvy Women of Season 3

Podcast Guests Share Expert Money and Life Advice for Women

Money and Life Advice from Our Season 3 Guests

The Financial Finesse Podcast features some of the smartest, savviest women on the planet. In this special compilation episode, we’re sharing the top money and life advice from our season 3 guests.

Episode Highlights

  • [01:30] Liz Eshleman on Planning for Long-Term Care
  • [03:25] Joy Lere, Psy.D. on Living Authentically
  • [05:10] Jennifer Barrett on Thinking Like a Breadwinner
  • [06:28] Megan Gorman on Saving for Retirement
  • [08:25] Lis McKinley on What True Organization Looks Like
  • [10:55] Nichole Proffitt on Mindset and Meditation

Links Relevant to this Episode

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S3E6: How to Calm Your Mind and Experience Life More Fully with Nichole Proffitt

Nichole Proffitt, Presence Mindfulness Coaching

Practicing Mindfulness and Presence with Nichole Proffitt

On today’s episode of Financial Finesse, I’m interviewing Nichole Proffitt, founder of Presence Mindfulness, Somatic Counseling & Coaching for Women, based in the San Francisco Bay Area.

Nichole is a graduate of the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, with a certification in mindfulness facilitation. She is also a Certified Mindfulness Teacher Professional and holds interdisciplinary degrees in psychology, education and the arts. Nichole is trained as a counselor, coach and dance teacher and has advanced-level training in Somatic Experiencing, a nervous system-based trauma healing modality. Her work is informed by 20 years of meditation practice and a lifetime as an artist.

In this episode, Nichole and I discuss:

  • The importance of being more present in our daily lives
  • How to reduce anxiety by first accepting it, rather than trying to fight it
  • And how even as a beginner, we can all practice mindfulness so that we can experience life more fully.

From improving our mental health and relationships to our careers and finances, we can all benefit from incorporating Nichole’s tips into our daily routines.

Tweetable Quote

Nichole Proffitt on meditation:

Episode Highlights

  • [04:57] What it means to be present.
  • [07:58] The importance of being more present in our daily lives.
  • [13:39] Managing anxiety through mindfulness and acceptance
  • [16:15] How Nichole’s training in somatic experiencing helps clients alleviate the effects of nervous system trauma.
  • [18:28] Why Nichole believes meditation is key for building a life that feels useful and manageable
  • [20:51] Nichole explains the “right” way to meditate.
  • [22:24] The relationship between being present and having presence.
  • [26:00] How to cultivate more presence and truly connect with others.
  • [27:55] Nichole’s personal journey that led to her becoming a mindfulness coach.
  • [36:00] The group coaching programs Nichole offers clients and newcomers.

Links Relevant to this Episode

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S3E5: How to Make Room in Your Life for What Matters with Lis McKinley

Lis McKinley Let's Make Room

Lis McKinley will help you get--and stay--organized

On this episode of Financial Finesse, I’m interviewing Lis McKinley, a Certified Professional Organizer and move manager. Lis is the owner of Let’s Make Room, a residential organizing and move management company that has organized hundreds of living, storage and work areas in the San Francisco Bay Area and beyond. Lis is a recognized public speaker on personal productivity, organizing and well-being. She is also a trained Marriage and Family Therapist, holding a Master of Arts degree in clinical psychology from John F. Kennedy University.

While you may be thinking, “what does home organizing have to do with personal finance?” I think you’ll be surprised to learn how many parallels there are between what Lis does as a personal organizer and what I do as a financial advisor when it comes to helping our clients achieve their goals and aspirations. In this episode, you’ll hear how mindset is the number one determinant of maintaining an organized life and how Lis helps her clients get unstuck from the bad habits that keep their homes cluttered. You may also get some great ideas for how to organize your living space if it needs a refresh.

Tweetable Quote

Lis McKinley on getting organized:

Episode Highlights

  • [5:55] Lis’s process for helping her clients curate their belongings to match the vision they have for their life
  • [16:17] How having a personal mission statement can help you get and stay organized
  • [29:53] The online auction and estate sale platform that can help you downsize and make money in the process
  • [46:30] How lockdown inspired Lis to pivot her business to include virtual services
  • [50:23] Lis demonstrates her ACT system on Cathy

Links Relevant to this Episode

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S3 E4: Understanding the SECURE Act and Inherited IRAs

Understanding the SECURE Act and Inherited IRAs with Megan Gorman

How the SECURE Act May Impact Your Estate Plan with Megan Gorman

In this episode, I interview Megan Gorman, Founder and Managing Partner of Chequers Financial Management, a high-net-worth tax and financial planning firm in San Francisco. An attorney by training, Megan is passionate about the problem-solving required to work in the world of complex financial planning. She is also a senior contributor at Forbes and writes on personal finance and income tax.

As you listen, you won’t be surprised to hear that Megan is an adjunct professor at Golden Gate University in San Francisco as well. She is a very clear communicator and a great educator. And I’m happy to call her a friend, too.

Megan’s expertise is invaluable for today’s topic, inherited IRAs, which is why I’m so excited to have her on the podcast. Specifically, we’re talking about how the SECURE Act of December 2019 changed the rules for certain beneficiaries of inherited IRAs. I think everyone can benefit from this information, whether you have an IRA or expect to inherit one.

Tweetable Quote

Megan Gorman on estate planning:

Episode Highlights

  • [08:11] Why the SECURE Act impacts so many people–not just the ultrawealthy
  • [10:28] Two major changes the SECURE Act made to IRAs an how it impacts certain inherited IRA beneficiaries
  • [14:54] Groups of beneficiaries excluded from SECURE Act inherited IRA rules
  • [18:22] Why everyone should take a holistic view of their estate plan in light of these inherited IRA rule changes
  • [24:29] Measures some IRA owners may want to take before they die to reduce their beneficiaries’ tax liability
  • [37:32] The importance of having a personal tax philosophy when it comes to estate planning
  • [41:34] Additional planning ideas to minimize taxes related to inherited IRAs

Links Relevant to this Episode

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