Financial Planning

The CARES Act Reviewed: Part III Expanded Unemployment Benefits

Photo Credit: Annie Spratt, Unsplash


With millions of people out of work due to the Coronavirus, the CARES Act provides much-needed relief in the form of expanded unemployment benefits. It covers workers previously ineligible for benefits, including self-employed, part-time workers, gig workers, freelancers, and independent contractors. It also helps those who have recently exhausted their weeks of benefits and those who haven’t earned enough to qualify for state unemployment. And, it offers benefits to those who are personally affected by the virus due to being ill themselves or being a caretaker to a family member who is sick and many more.

A new program of this size and scope will take a lot of time to get set up and it’s challenging to get the most up-to-date and accurate information. For people who are applying for benefits, the wait-times are long, and state websites are crashing. And there are stories that some workers won’t get the full benefit due to not being able to document their income fully. But it will help many people.

Here are details that I have been able to glean so far:

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation

This is an addition to regular state unemployment checks.
Those who have lost their jobs will get whatever their state usually provides for unemployment, plus $600 per week for up to July 31.

Federal Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation:

People who have exhausted their regular State benefits (which max-out at 26 weeks in California), could get up to 13 more weeks, for a total of 39 weeks.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance

For newly eligible workers.
The program will provide temporary unemployment assistance to the self-employed and people unable to work for many reasons due to the COVID-19 emergency, for example, people who have contracted the virus, caretakers, people who can’t work because of quarantines, or the person’s place of business has closed. This program does not require a person to actively seek work to receive benefits like most state programs. The benefits are available for the duration of the covered person’s inability to work, beginning retroactively to January 27, 2020, and ending on December 31, 2020, up to a maximum of 39 weeks. These benefits will be no less than $600 a week.

Federal Incentives to Create Short-Time Compensation Programs

The Federal Government will fund 100% of the costs for states that currently have an STC program (California has one) and 50% for those states that choose to implement one through December 2020. These programs are also known as work-sharing or shared-work programs and are an alternative to layoffs for employers experiencing a reduction in available work.

Note: This bill leaves out those workers who are able to work from home, and those receiving paid sick leave or paid family leave. New entrants to the workforce who cannot find jobs would also be ineligible.

Here are some additional resources:

If you missed Part II: Retirement Account Provisions, go here

Next up: The CARES ACT and Small-Business Provisions

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

CARES Act Review Part II: Retirement Account Provisions

Photo Credit: Kelly Sikkema, Unsplash

There are several retirement account provisions in the CARES ACT meant to reduce your tax liability or help with current cash flow or both. Here are the details:


You don’t have to take your RMD (Required Minimum Distribution) for 2020, whether it be from an IRA (regular, Simple, SEP), inherited IRA, 401(k) plans, 403(b) plans or 457(b) plans.

PLANNING TIP: If you already withdrew your RMD for 2020, and the withdrawal has been within 60 days, you can redeposit it to your account and avoid tax. If a distribution was taken more than 60 days ago and you can qualify for the coronavirus-related distribution (described below) you can redeposit it and avoid tax. Note: Non-spouse inherited IRA beneficiaries cannot redeposit the withdrawal. 


For 2020, the 10% penalty will be waived for taking an early distribution from your IRA or employer plan. Previously, distributions before the age of 59 1/2 incurred a 10% penalty in addition to tax owed (with a few hardship withdrawal exceptions).

  • The distribution can be up to $100,000
  • It must be taken in 2020
  • The income is spread over 3 years for tax purposes unless you proactively elect to include it all in 2020
  • Beginning on the day after receipt of a Coronavirus-related distribution, an individual has up to three years to repay the amount as qualified rollover distribution (in one or multiple payments). Any distribution going back to January 1, 2020 qualifies

PLANNING TIP:  If you elect to take a distribution, it may be beneficial to include the entire distribution in 2020 if you expect your income to significantly decline in 2020 and be higher in future years).​​​​​​

PLANNING TIP: In a perfect world, withdrawing from retirement accounts early should be a last resort. These accounts get tax-deferral benefits to incentivize us to save for our future non-earning years. The compounding that happens when the money is left to grow tax-deferred is invaluable in building a nest egg. However, keeping that caution in mind, these are challenging times and the loosening up of these rules may be very helpful to many people. The good news is that there is a way to pay it back and avoid tax and penalties.

 Eligibility (very broad):

  •  People diagnosed with COVID-19, or have a spouse or dependents diagnosed with the virus.
  •  People who are experiencing adverse financial consequences as a result of being quarantined, furloughed, laid off, reduced hours, unable to work because of childcare issues, and a handful of other similar reasons.
  •  Business owners that had to close or operate under reduced hours
  •  Meet some other reason that the IRS decides to say is OK

3. ​​​​​​​COMPANY RETIREMENT PLAN LOANS – a provision to further expand company retirement plan loans (like from a 401(k):

  • The maximum amount of an allowable plan loan doubled from $50,000 to $100,000
  • The loan may be for up to the present value of the participant’s account
  • Payment on plan loan otherwise owed may be delayed for one year

In addition, the usual 20% mandatory tax withholding for non-direct rollovers from company plans is waived for 2020.  However, you will still need to pay tax (at tax time) on any amounts that you don’t roll back into a retirement plan within 60 days.

Next up: A review of enhanced Unemployment Benefits in the CARES Act

If you missed Part I: Stimulus Payments go here.

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

Late-Career Women and Burn-Out or When Can I Retire?

Photo Cred: Noah Silliman, Unsplash

Does this sound like you?
– 50-60 ish,
– have been working for 30-40 years,
– salaried employee,
– your boss is a pain,
– co-workers are all 20-30 years younger than you,
– some days are better than others,
– someone asks: when do you want to retire? and you say “tomorrow.”

If you answered yes, you aren’t alone. One of the most common reasons mid-life women seek financial help is to figure out if they can quit their jobs.

And, if you don’t have a clue whether this is possible or not, unless you dig in, look at the numbers, and project into the future, you won’t get the clarity you need to make such a big life-changing decision.

So, where do you start?

Things You Need To Know

– How much do you have saved?
– Are you getting the return you need on your investments?
– How much do you spend?
– When you retire and start withdrawing from your savings, what will your withdrawal rate be? Is it sustainable?
– Will your spending habits change once you quit your job?
– If you continue to work, what do you project your income to be?
– What do you want to do differently in this next phase of life? How much will it cost?
– What are your assumptions for inflation rates in the future?
– How much will health insurance cost if you are retiring before reaching Medicare eligibility?
– Will you be able to afford healthcare costs not covered by insurance in your older years (long term care)?

The decision to semi-retire or retire is a big one not to be taken lightly. You can assess the viability of reaching your goal by taking a hard look at the facts and numbers and doing some analysis.

Best, Worst and Most Likely Outcomes

Best case outcome: You find out that you can retire or semi-retire when you want to. Worst case outcome: You have to work until you can’t any longer. Most likely case: You find out that you need to work and save for a few more years before reaching your goal.

And surprisingly, once you have clarity and a solid goal, you might find that work and your boss aren’t so bad after all.

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

10 Tips to Being a Happily Self-Employed Person

A friend who recently left her corporate job and is now self-employed asked me how I manage to run a business while still enjoying an active, interesting life outside of work.  She wanted some suggestions, which made me reflect on what has been most important for me in achieving a healthy and happy work-life balance.

I focus on these ten goals – and I must emphasize that it is always a work in progress – I succeed at some better than others, but I’m always trying.

1. Be flexible about when you work and when you play.

Schedule your day creatively: wake up early to finish a project so you can slip out of the office for a long lunch with a friend, or work later in the evening so you can enjoy a daytime activity.

I find that fitting everything into a strict 8 AM-to-5 PM time frame is not my most effective or productive schedule. And hey, flexibility is one of the perks of self-employment people report valuing the most!

2. Don’t be afraid to say No.

If you receive an invitation to do something interesting – whether it be moderating a panel, traveling to a conference, becoming a member of a board, or chairing a committee – don’t say yes immediately.

Stop and think about how the request fits in with or enhances your priorities. No one can do everything, and you can quickly be overwhelmed if you say yes too often. If you get burnt out from being overcommitted you are no good to anyone.

3. Take great care of your physical self.

Regular exercise and healthy eating contribute to the energy, endurance, focus, and confidence of a successful career.

I make sure to schedule daily exercise and subscribe to Michael Pollan’s philosophy: “Eat food. Not too much. Mostly plants.” I prioritize my physical health, which results in increased motivation and productivity. It’s a

4. Quiet your mind.

For years I have been told that meditation reduces stress and anxiety and can increase productivity along with a multitude of other benefits. But I was too busy to slow down and try it.

I am now working on meditating in the morning – sometimes just going into a quiet room and taking a few deep breaths before starting the morning routine. I can now see where this habit is just as important as exercise and eating healthfully to having a balanced life.

5. Systematize everything you can.

This saves not only time, but the mental energy required to complete certain tasks and jobs. This applies to workflows at the office as well as household chores like paying bills.

Related: Financial Housekeeping: What To Do with Those “Old” 401(k)s

6. Spend time with people who lift you up.

Conversations and connections with positive, energetic people naturally make me feel positive and energetic, and those are the influences I choose to surround myself with. Seek out others to lift up – as a mentor, colleague, or friend – and empower optimism.

7. Work smarter, not longer or harder.

I used to sit at my desk until late in the evening, spending hours at my computer — which often resulted in a sore neck and shoulders (and being cranky when I got home) rather than my best work.

I am happier and more productive working in spurts – I work as a sprinter runs, with high-intensity, uninterrupted periods followed by a break to renew and refresh. I think more clearly and creatively, and stay fully engaged.

8. Develop support systems.

I am very lucky to have an extremely supportive spouse. We work as a team to manage the household, business, and pleasure aspects of our lives, and we outsource the tasks that we have neither the time or energy to do ourselves.

It’s tough to do it all, so play to your strengths and outsource what you need – personal assistant, tech support, housekeeper – delegate tasks so you can focus on that work-life balance.

9. Find a way to schedule uninterrupted work time.

If you are surrounded by people you are vulnerable to distractions. I find it’s much simpler to achieve a ‘flow’ state when I’m in a quiet space – and sometimes feel I accomplish a full day’s work in two hours when the flow is working.

If you have to, leave your office or home and go sit in a library, coffee shop or other alternative space to get some uninterrupted time.

10. Know yourself and where you want to put your energy.

When you can identify what makes you happy, and what is meaningful, you’ll be able to seek out the activities that support those interests and values.

I have a strong desire to live a varied and interesting life, and that knowledge drives me to stretch my limits by challenging myself and re-defining what’s possible — while focusing on taking care of myself so that I can continue to do more.

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

Financial Planning — It has nothing to do with luck.

This month of March you may be thinking about all things green – including your hard-earned cash! You may also hope that some good luck finds its way to you. Oddly enough, many people view luck as an integral part of their personal finances. The idea that wealth is a direct result of “getting lucky” with your job positions, salary, or the market pervades in our society despite evidence to the contrary.

Still, many believe that in order to find success in their financial lives, they need to catch some kind of a break. Something has to go exactly their way, and all of it is outside their control. It’s this kind of thinking that leads people to live a life of scarcity, rather than one of abundance.

Instead of focusing on the ways you’re lucky (or unlucky) with money, step outside that unhealthy mindset. This St. Patrick’s Day, you can start making your own luck with these three easy tips.

Look at Your Earnings

When was the last time you asked for a raise? In all likelihood, the answer may be “never.” In a culture that values being polite, asking for more money may feel rude or confrontational. Many of us want to avoid these conversations at all cost – not instigate them ourselves!

But the truth is, if you want to be earning more, you may need to ask for it. Of course, there’s a method to the art of salary negotiation. Shooting an email to your direct manager may not be the best course of action. However, taking the time to understand your company’s review policy, write a meeting agenda that outlines the value you provide to the organization, and speak candidly with your supervisors about why you believe you deserve a pay increase could be worth your while.

Ultimately, if you don’t feel the position you’re in is paying you what you’re worth when you compare the salaries at similar companies for similar roles, it may be time to start job hunting. You deserve to be paid fairly for the value you’re bringing to the table.

However, if you love your current job and aren’t ready to jump to a new position – but still want to be making more money each month – you might consider starting your very own side hustle! From monetizing a blog, to freelance writing, to launching a local consulting business – the options are endless. Bonus points if your side hustle can be consistently used into retirement as a valuable retirement income stream!

What Are Your Priorities?

If you’re still mentally linking wealth and luck, you may want to take a hard look at your financial priorities. All too often people think that there’s “never enough” money, when the truth is that there’s plenty of money available to them but they’re spending it in the wrong places. Change your narrative from one of “never enough” to one of abundance where money flows to and from you easily by prioritizing your spending.

You’re more likely to feel emotionally fulfilled (which is often synonymous with “lucky”) if you spend your money in areas that are important to you. Spending mindfully can look different for everyone, but setting a cash flow oriented budget and a few mindful money goals is a good place to start. It also helps to jot these things down. Your money priorities might look like:

  • Save for retirement
  • Pay down credit card debt
  • Spend more time with friends and family
  • Travel

You might notice that only two of those are distinctly money related – and that’s okay! You’re allowed to have both money-focused goals and spending priorities like travel or experiencing new things with the people you care about. In fact, focusing your spending on these more inwardly-focused goals will help you to feel “lucky” with money, and you’ll feel less of a need to spend frivolously.

Work With a Professional

Part of creating your own luck is creating a financial plan that meets your unique needs. A professional financial planner can help get you on the path to success by creating avenues that help your money start to work for you.

In the long term, working with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ helps you to grow your wealth and develop a relationship with a money-minded professional who can act as a sounding board, accountability partner, and counsel. Building this relationship, and working with them to develop a strategy that sets you up to live the life you want to live, is one of the best ways to start living in financial excellence. So, kick “luck” to the curb this March – you’re all the luck you need.

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

February is Often a Month Full of Relationship Talk.

Healthy money relationship? (graphic) | Curtis Financial PlanningFebruary is often a month full of relationship talk. We talk about what a healthy relationship looks like, what a healthy self-view while you’re single looks like, and the best heart-shaped-recipes to cook on February 14th with your significant other. But I want to talk about the significant other in your life that nobody wants to talk about: money. …

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

Why Do We Procrastinate about Finances?

Have a financial plan? graphic | Curtis Financial PlanningLet’s face it: life gets busy. Between our professional and personal lives, we often have very little time left over to work toward big-picture goals, and some important things end up getting neglected.

Personal finance is something that’s easy to put on the back burner. I hear it from clients all the time:

I only have $200,000 saved for retirement and I’m already 62 years old!

I’m co-signing all of my child’s student loans, and I realized I’m nowhere near as close to paying off my existing debt than I thought I was!

Many people think about working with a financial planner for years before they take the leap. And honestly? It often takes a crisis or a large life change to shift them to a place where they’re ready to set up a consultation.

Why Do We Procrastinate?

If the above description sounds like you, don’t worry! You’re in good company. It turns out procrastination is a big part of most people’s lives. There are several reasons we don’t knock stuff off our to do list before it’s a pressing issue. When it comes to your finances, there are a few main reasons we put off planning:

  • The task is unpleasant.
  • Our finances cause us anxiety.
  • We’re not sure where to start.

Let’s take a look at these procrastination-causes, and how we can work through them to get a jump on your financial planning.

Viewing Finances as Unpleasant

It’s not a secret that there is a taboo that exists around money. In general, people don’t love talking about it – or thinking about it. Oddly enough, though, this taboo primarily exists in the United States. Elsewhere in the world, discussing money is seen as anything but gauche – it’s a part of life!

To change this view of money and to motivate yourself to start working on your finances, it’s smart to purposefully alter your perception. When you view money as an entity that shouldn’t be discussed – you give it power.

Instead, try viewing money as a tool to help you live the life you want – whether that’s travelling more, giving more to your favorite charity, or retiring comfortably around family. As soon as you take the power away from money, you realize it’s not unpleasant to try and create a financial plan. It’s actually kind of exciting!

Money Causes Anxiety

If you’re like most people I speak to, you know the value of financial planning – but it takes a personal crisis to move you toward dealing with your finances. This is often because, to put it simply, money stresses us out.

The idea that there isn’t enough money, or that we aren’t moving closer to our money-related goals, is enough to send most people into an anxiety-spiral. In an effort to avoid those negative feelings, we avoid financial planning.

The crazy thing is that if we were to face our fears and create a financial plan that helped us get on track, our money anxiety would dissipate significantly. But because we continue to avoid it, we continue to feel anxious, and the guilt cycle goes on and on.

If money anxiety is what’s stopping you from starting your financial planning journey, there are several things you can do to ease the stress:

  • Try making a to-do list with bite-sized tasks (like calling a financial advisor for a consultation, checking the balances of your assets and debts, or writing down upcoming financial goals).
  • Set a spending budget.
  • Focus on what you’re doing right. Not everything’s bad news! Rather than always beating yourself up about financial mistakes, focus on the big and little financial wins you experience, too!

Not Knowing Where to Start

Often times, it’s a lack of confidence that prevents us from getting started with financial planning. We’re not sure where to begin – and the information that’s available online is daunting to say the least!

Luckily, this financial hang-up is the easiest to fix. Working with a fiduciary CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ can help. As a fiduciary advisor, I have a duty to my clients to provide financial advice that’s always in their best interest. Years of practice and education make a financial planner your best ally when it comes to financial planning.

At the end of the day, you are busy. Carving out time to handle your financial planning alone can be incredibly intimidating. I’d like to help. We’ll work together to get you started on the right financial path, set meaningful goals together, and strive for success. Contact me today to set up an introductory phone call. I’m excited to hear from you!

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

Your New Year Financial Checklist

New Year | Financial Checklist, Curtis Financial PlanningNew Years is an exciting time. It’s a moment filled with hope. We spend time with the people we love, realign ourselves, and refocus on what’s truly important in our lives. For some, this can inspire them to make some positive life changes in the coming year.

We’ve heard all the typical resolutions – exercise more, eat better, learn a language, pick up a hobby (just to name a few). But what about your finances?

Although setting financial resolutions may not be practical, starting your year with a financial checklist can help you get moving in the right direction. I’ve taken the liberty of designing this one. It’s fairly short – just five “to-do’s” long. Some things will be easy to knock out in a few minutes – while others might require some introspection.

#1: Setting a Budget

If you don’t already have a budget for yourself, the start of a new year is the perfect time to get started. I like to look at budgets as more than just dollars and cents – they’re a tool to help you reach your goals and find joy.

In my ebook, Happiness Spreadsheet, I talk about how mindful spending can help you achieve a more fulfilling life. A budget can help you set some guidelines in place that ensure you have the non-negotiables covered (like food and shelter), are working toward paying down debt or building savings, and still have something left over to spend intentionally.

#2: Setting Attainable Goals

Of course, you can’t have a budget without goals to guide it. Many people set big financial goals during this season, but I’m going to suggest you try something different. Instead of setting a goal that’s impossible to achieve – set a few, bite-sized ones instead.

If you start working toward a huge goal that’s impossible to reach, you’re setting yourself up for failure and disappointment. Having negative feelings tied to positive financial goals is never a good thing – and can often deter you from making progress.

For example, if you have a heavy debt load, you may not be able to become debt free this year. But you can work to pay off a large portion of it – and that’s something to be proud of! Set a handful of goals for yourself this year. Don’t be afraid to get creative! Money is a tool that can be used to amplify your happiness – set goals that reflect that.

#3: Organizing Taxes Before Filing Season’s Rush

Raise your hand if you’ve ever waited until the last minute to file your taxes. It’s not a great feeling. Instead, take the time to get yourself organized in the first few months of the new year so you can knock out your taxes early. You’ll get your tax refund sooner, and you’ll be able to check this often intimidating task off the to-do list. You don’t need to stress about getting them filed too early, though. Remember that your employer, banks, and other financial institutions have to get you the paperwork you need first.

#4: Review Retirement Plan Contributions

If you’re already contributing to a workplace retirement plan, that’s wonderful! The new year is a good time to check where you stand in comparison with your retirement savings goals and adjust your contributions as necessary.

You can also consider upping your retirement savings game by contacting a CFP® about additional savings options – like a Roth IRA.

#5: Create a Debt-Pay-Down Plan

Are you currently shouldering debt? Being in debt can make your financial life challenging. More importantly, it can have a negative emotional and psychological impact on you as an individual. Being in debt forces you to put off short and long-term goals, and it can damage your credit score. In short — the faster you can get your debt paid off, the better.

Although it might not be possible to pay it all off immediately, making a plan of action can help put you back in the driver’s seat of your financial life. Take this opportunity to assess your debt, and create an easy-to-implement strategy to make paying it off a priority.

A Focus on Finances For 2020

Whether you choose to tackle all of these tasks at once, or you want to take it one step at a time – find a pace that feels best for you. The most important thing is to continually make progress in the right direction.

Of course, if you ever need help or want to talk — reach out to me! I’d love to hear from you and help you work toward building a financial life that supports your dreams.

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

Why You Need A Financial Plan

There are a few times a year when the volume of calls to my office from people seeking financial advice goes way up. One of them is in January when New Year’s resolutions are top of mind and another is the 30 or so days leading up to the tax deadline in mid-April.The “January effect” arises from a wish to get a fresh start on financial planning; the “tax effect”  has to do with figuring out how to pay less to Uncle Sam.

But most people would be better off if they didn’t wait for a deadline or time of year to take a hard look at their finances. Financial planning can be compared to being proactive about your health – we’re way better off maintaining a healthy lifestyle than waiting for a medical crisis to change our habits! Same goes for your finances. Making smart financial choices early and often will ensure a strong financial future.

For sure, meeting with a financial advisor isn’t always the easiest thing to do. It’s hard to talk about money especially if you feel “clueless” (not my word, but a word many women use to describe their financial savvy) or embarrassed about some of the financial decisions you’ve made in the past. But a good advisor doesn’t care about any of those things; they want to objectively help you make good financial decisions going forward.

When I ask a potential client why they contacted me, here are some of the most common answers:

  • I want to retire early and do something different with my life. Can I afford to do this and how soon can I do it?
  • I am retiring in 5 years and I have no idea if I’m on track.
  • I want to buy a house and I need to know how much to save and what I need to do to qualify for a loan.
  • I am afraid to invest my money in the stock market because I don’t trust it, but I’m not earning any return on my money in the bank, what should I do?
  • My father (or mother) just passed away and left me some money. I want to make sure that I make the right decisions with this money and need help and a plan.
  • I want to send my kids to private schools but they are expensive. I want to know if I can afford it and save for other goals like retirement.
  • I’m single and I don’t want to rely on anyone else for my financial health, I want a plan to reach my goals.
  • I’m going through a divorce and I worried about my financial future.I need help figuring it out.
  • I make a great salary but I spend too much. I want help to set up a budget, reign in my spending and start saving and investing more.
  • My spouse/partner passed away and I’ve never managed the finances alone. I need someone I can trust to help me.

Some of these situations are like a medical crisis – “oh my gosh…I’m retiring in 5 years and I haven’t saved enough money!”, others are unexpected, such as a divorce. But all share one thing in common: all situations will be less stressful and better managed with financial education and a plan.

Photo by Teerapun/

Editor’s note: This post was originally published on April 7, 2014 and has been updated and refreshed.

Related articles:

Do You Need A Financial Advisor?   Investopedia
Six Important Steps to Hiring a Financial Advisor  Forbes


If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!

How to Prepare For An Encore Career

Ready for a career change?

More and more people are rethinking success at midlife or retirement, and considering a shift to more meaningful, purpose-driven work. More and more people are rethinking success at midlife or retirement, and considering a shift to more meaningful, purpose-driven work. Combining a desire for social contribution, entrepreneurial passion, a job that’s not-just-a-job, and – often – continued income, encore careers are an appealing fresh start. Whatever your encore career goals, these strategies can increase the odds you’ll reach them.


Another name for an ‘encore career’, many Americans are looking for work that is more than a ‘job’; a meaningful expression of what you have to offer the world.

There are several encore variations I see with my clients: those mid-career corporate professionals in search of a more fulfilling focus, and folks at retirement age who want to stay engaged and do meaningful work. Continued income, social impact, flexibility, pursuing a passion – second-act careers have many different motivations.

Here is a great place to start: what would you answer to the ‘Tell me about yourself’ interview question? Your response will help uncover the values and priorities that we often don’t pay enough attention in our day to day life. And then ask a friend: ‘What am I best at?’, for more insight (and possibly a few surprises).


This is the time for self-assessment. What skills, talents, and strengths have made you successful in your professional career? Can you repurpose your corporate skills? What ignites your fire? Do you want to continue working for a paycheck, a passion, or both?

Explore new opportunities while still employed, if possible: research, research, research; do informational interviews; volunteer; take a class or consider an internship. Knowledge is power.


Find a like-minded group – whether a casual meeting of people volunteering in the arena you find interesting, or an established organization or professional group.

The feedback you’ll get from your network will provide motivation, expertise, and experience, as well as the invaluable contacts you will want as you consider a career move. (And if you aren’t already harnessing the positive aspects of social media, now is the time to dive in! It’s an effective tool, and one you might find valuable in your ‘second act’.)


If you are leaving a corporate career to pursue more meaningful work, or if you are nearing retirement and want to embark on a fulfilling new chapter — be prepared!

Before you embark on a major life change, outline the specific outcomes that could result, and develop the plans to get there. Inspiration and passion are a starting point, but sustaining a change will require planning and adaptability… two things most of us have learned a lot about by the time we are considering an encore path. Take advantage of your life experience for real motivational mojo.


A survey recently found we are less comfortable talking about money than death. I want to change that! Given that the average encore career transition takes about 18 months, and 67% of those ‘transitioners’ had reduced (or zero!) income during that time, we need to redesign our approach to thinking about – and talking about – money.

Planning with your financial advisor ahead of your career transition will prepare you for the practicalities of pursuing your passion, and can help strategize ways to make the math work during your encore career. And, while some encore careers are the intended result of long-held dreams, others come on the heels of an unexpected job loss.

Planning ahead makes even an unplanned career change an opportunity, rather than a misfortune, allowing you to move forward with the confidence that a solid financial plan provides.

You Need Not Reinvent Yourself

The encore career movement has become a mainstream conversation, including books, conferences, consultants, and coaches. You needn’t reinvent yourself for your second act; instead focus on the expertise, skills, experience, and passion you have – and how your talents can lay the foundation for your encore career.

Do you want to manage your money (and life!) better?

The Happiness SpreadsheetIf you want to think differently about the relationship between your spending, your values and your happiness, then sign up to get your FREE copy of The Happiness Spreadsheet.

Like this post?

If you were inspired or encouraged by this blog post, please share it on your favorite social media network!

If you found this information interesting, please share it with a friend!
Curtis Financial Planning