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090: Jennifer Dazols - Financial Planning for Women and LGBTQ+ Communities
Episode 9017th January 2024 • Mindful Money • Jonathan DeYoe
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In this enlightening episode of the Mindful Money Podcast, host Jonathan DeYoe is joined by Jennifer Dazols of Modern Family Finance for a deep dive into the intersection of personal finance and individual values, with a particular focus on the unique financial planning needs of women and the LGBTQ+ community. As Jonathan shares his own transformative journey from tech to finance, influenced by his immigrant parents' wisdom, the conversation uncovers how to align wealth with personal happiness and reduce money's dominance in life. Jennifer sheds light on the specific challenges and strategies pertinent to diverse families and lifestyles, while also offering universally applicable financial advice.

Together, they empower listeners to craft a financial plan that is not only inclusive and specialized but also reflective of their deepest values and aspirations, making for a must-listen episode for anyone seeking to shape their wealth with intention and inclusivity.

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Key Takeaways

(00:00) Navigating Personal Finance and Money Beliefs

(11:44) Working with a good Financial Advisor

(18:53) Financial Coaching and LGBTQ+ Family Concerns

(27:03) Financial Advice on Cash Flow

(35:21) Financial Planning and Podcast Recommendations

Tweetable Quotes

"Money should be seen not as a constraint but as fuel for living your best life. It's about shifting the perspective from what we can't do because of financial limits to how we can use our resources to fulfill our dreams and aspirations." (Jennifer)
"The value of financial planning comes not from a transaction, but from a transformation. It's about moving from financial uncertainty to a place of confidence, where you can make decisions that align with who you are and what you value most in life." (Jonathan)
"Inclusive financial advice means recognizing that everyone's journey is unique. It's about crafting strategies that reflect the diversity of lifestyles and experiences, especially for communities like women and LGBTQ+ individuals, who have long been underserved by traditional financial planning." (Jennifer)

Guest Resources

Modern Family Finance

Mindful Money

TED Talk

Books Mentioned:

Your Money or Your Life

The Simple Path to Wealth

Mindful Money Resources

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To buy Jonathan’s first book - Mindful Money: https://www.amazon.com/Mindful-Money-Practices-Financial-Increasing/dp/1608684369

To buy Jonathan’s second book – Mindful Investing: https://www.amazon.com/Mindful-Investing-Outcome-Greater-Well-Being/dp/1608688763

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Website: https://mindful.money

Jonathan on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jonathandeyoe

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Transcripts

::

The biggest thing is you're only a sample case of one right For when you're doing finance for yourself. So there's a lot of different people with different both financial circumstances but also money behaviors and money beliefs. So how do you actually help people that kind of are not exactly a replica of you? So I do think that the CFP education gives you a good basis for all of that. At the end of the day, it's conversations and you learn and sometimes you make mistakes and you have to be humble.

::

Do you think money takes up more life space than it should? On this show, we discuss with and share stories from artists, authors, entrepreneurs and advisors about how they mindfully minimize the time and energy spent thinking about money. Join your host, Jonathan Diyo, and learn how to put money in its place and get more out of life.

::

Hey there, welcome back. Before we get into today's episode, I wanted to read another great review we received on Apple Podcasts. The reviewer not listing their name is named Seeking Peace, joy and Love. He's an extremely talented podcast host. His questions are thoughtful, soulful and insightful, especially like that middle one. If you're interested in learning how to craft a rich life in every sense of the word, this is a must listen podcast. So I want to say thank you to Seeking Peace, joy and Love. Reviews are incredibly appreciated. They tell the algorithm that we're worth paying attention to. So thank you. If you'd like to leave a review, go to ratethespodcastcom forward, slash mindful money and choose your favorite podcast app from the list and go ahead and leave a review. So thank you for that. On this episode of the Mindful Money Podcast, I'm chatting with Jennifer Dazols. How did I say that wrong?

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Close enough is Dazols.

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Dazols OK, dazols Of Modern Family Finance. Jenny comes to the world of personal finance from 15 plus years in tech, most recently as a director of a Fortune 500 company in Silicon Valley. She is a local barrier person. Jenny was named hero of the 500s by Fortune magazine for her community contributions. In 2015, jenny and her wife Lisa produced the documentary. The film Out and Around. They travel to 15 countries, interview leaders in the global movement for equality. They're TED Talk this is what LGBT life is like around the world has over 3 million views, and Jenny specializes in working with women and LGBTQ plus professionals in their 30s, 40s and 50s who want to forge their own path in work and life. Jenny, welcome to the Mindful Money Podcast. Thank you, great to be here. I'm super excited to have you. It's not a topic we've covered. I'm just glad to have somebody from the community actually to chat about with us and somebody who's got such deep roots. Before we get into that, where do you call home now and where are you connecting from?

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Actually I'm currently connecting from Taipei Taiwan. So we've been somewhat, you could say, digitally nomadic and living an international life for the last eight years, you would say, but I'm actually returning permanently back home to San Francisco Bay Area this summer.

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Permanently that's. I mean, is anything ever really permanent? That is very true.

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But that is what I call home. I call San Francisco in the Bay Area my home.

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So are you coming to San Francisco or some remote San Francisco?

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Yes, actually we live in the outer sunset, so beautiful, I'm looking forward to be back near the beach.

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Taipei. You're not far from the beach.

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Taipei. You know, actually it's not the same kind of beach. You let me just say we're not a good beach country.

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Right, right. So I kind of start most of these conversations like with childhood. And so what did you learn about money or entrepreneurship when you were growing up?

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Well, I am a family. I am a child of Asian immigrants, taiwanese immigrants, so my parents came here for graduate school and I was born here and they raised my brother and I in the States. So, you know, my parents had this mentality of work hard, save money, play safe, and the teachings that I had around money was that it was important to say it was important to invest. I still remember my mom telling me a Chinese saying, which is Chen Guichen, which is like the translation, you're like, money rolls into money, and I think that was one of the best teachings which it, you know, really taught me to invest. I started my Roth IRA, I think, with the first job that I had when I was 16. But it also taught me to have a scarcity mindset and, I think, too much of a focus on money in terms of it being a source of happiness, and so when I came out of college, I was Uber focused on just finding a job, you know, that would have the highest income that I could find, and so my first job out of college was actually as an analyst at an investment bank.

I was horrible, you know. I spent two years miserable. I just remember walking on me like maybe I'm not cut out for this workforce at all. You know, I don't know if I can do this, and I really had a core life crisis at that point and had to reevaluate my values. What was important and I think that was actually one of the best teachings is just to have that very intense two year period where, yes, I made money and actually, more importantly, what I saw was I was surrounded by people who made a lot of money. You know, looking at managing directors, looking at our clients who were entrepreneurs and people who are IPOing their companies, and you know, buying for our reason stuff. I realized that I mean, we all know this, but we don't know this is that money does not buy happiness and that choosing to choose a job that you don't love is not worth it. So I think that was one of the best, I think, personal learnings of money that I had.

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Go back to like earlier. So that's like post college first job. As a kid growing up, I mean, aside from frugality and you had to save an investment, you got some of that scarcity mentality. Can you like name an experience your parents are talking about money or you want a thing you can't have, or can you name an experience that sort of contributes to your money story?

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Well, we always had enough. I was money. I was fortunate to grow up in a financially stable household, so there was never an issue of that. But anything extra that I wanted. I just remember really wanting to buy a pair of jeans and do your high to look like all the other girls, right, like that stuff. I had to earn and I think for me that really taught me to value money and to realize that you had to work hard for it. But at the same time I think that's what also gave me this overemphasis on money as a form of freedom, as a form of status and all these things. I don't know why, but that Jean story really emphasized in my head about, like my feelings towards money. I've only been in my much later adulthood that I kind of come to realize like that over emphasis of money is actually not. It's kind of holding me back and it's important to recognize that I already am free, I already have independence. I don't need to keep accumulating to try to get that.

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That brings up a that whole. I already am free, I don't need to keep accumulating. That brings up a whole other series of questions, but I'm on the table now for a second. So first job analyst on for a Wall Street firm or investment bank right, when does the tech come in? And then, how do you get to the advisor world? What's that look like?

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Yeah. So I mean, basically I took a year off After like I took after two years in investment banking. I said I can't do this anymore. I left and I was just wondering. I really had no idea what I was going to do. I thought, should I go to nonprofits? How do I find more meaning? I went back to live at home.

I was in my early 20s and a lot of things in my life kind of happened during this time too. Also, it's also when I came out as a gay woman. So there was just a lot of identity formation and seeking Basically. In short, the whole tech thing happened accidentally. This is my parents saying if you don't go get a job soon, we're going to kick you out of the house. So I had a friend at this point. We were living in the, my parents lived in the East Bay and I had a friend who worked at tech and he basically wrote my resume for me, sent it in, wrote my cover letter, told me what to do, and I got the job and I stayed at that company for 15 years. So I was very fortuitous because it put me into a role accidentally. So my first role was kind of a strategic internal consulting role that I really enjoyed, and then I was surrounded with really cool people, so I was lucky to land in tech.

And then the question as to how I landed in financial planning. Basically, as you mentioned in my intro, a couple of years into my tech career. At this point I had had this like quarter life epiphany and realized that it's important to just live life and do that. So my wife and I we decided to take or she was my girlfriend at the time take a year off from our nine to fives. I took a leave of absence for work and we made this film and that experience of traveling around the world doing work that I love, being with the person I loved. I did not miss work one bit and all I could think about was I wanna do this again, I wanna do this again, I wanna and how do I do this again? I really don't see a path to be able to do this in the corporate settings. So that led me on this whole personal financial planning journey for myself to figure out how to achieve a level of financial independence such that I did not have to depend on that level of income, because, you know, tech dollars are good and it's hard to replace that right. So I really was.

I guess I got really into the fire or financial independence. You know what is it? Financial independence, retire, early movement. And that's how my interest in personal finance started. I guess you could say it started with my parents teaching me that money rolls into money and then it really kind of I got a lit of fire under my butt. My red Vicky Robbins I read all those books early, retire what was it that? One guy, jacob, something with the caribou, the name of his book. Those were life changing when I realized, wait, I can do this. And so that's how that got me onto this journey.

::

Could it be JL Collins, that book, JL Collins?

::

I read that book too, but it was another guy he was, I can't remember. It's a very, I guess somewhat of an academic book, but it was very. I want to say it's early retire. It's a very boring title, but it all had to find it. I said it over.

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Yeah. So you started out doing it for yourself, yeah, and I read some of your story. Then other people said hey, you seem to be doing something right here. Can you show us how to do it? What made you think that you could give other people advice on how to do it? Like that seems to be a stretch from reading a book, looking for yourself. And then let me do this for you too.

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Yeah, I mean, really, in the beginning, what happened was, as I got more and more serious about it, I started telling people about my plan, like, I want to leave, I don't know what I'm going to do next. And people are like, oh, what are you going to do about money? I'm planning to do about health insurance, right? And I'm like, well, this is my plan, these are the things that I rent, right. So that's how those conversations began, and in the beginning it was just very casual conversations. You know, it was like if one friend who was getting married and said, hey, you know you're really good at money, can you help me and my partner figure this stuff out? So it was kind of like that.

And then, as I started nearing my point in which I was going to jump off of my career, of my corporate career, I started really thinking about what did I want to do next? And I realized, like it wasn't, that I wanted to do nothing. Next I still I wanted to work, I wanted to contribute, I wanted to do something and I thought, let me just experiment. So I started doing some coaching. Just a little money involved, you know, there was a small fee, but I just wanted to see if I can do it for real, and that was the beginning of my journey into making this a profession.

::

So you read a lot of fire stuff and you start giving advice, and now you're a CFP. You know, you're active in the financial planning world, you're members of NAPFA and all the different FPA and all these kinds of stuff. What do you think the difference is between somebody that reads the fire books? There's a lot of great books jail cons, what am I written a couple of them. There's just a bunch of really good books out there people can learn about. But what's the difference in terms of your knowledge base, now that you've actually been trained to do it professionally? Do you see a big difference? Or do you think? Or do you ever tell somebody hey, yeah, you can do this yourself. Why you need somebody like me?

::

Yeah, well, I think there's two questions there. So one I want to clarify before I gaze real advice, like I get casual advice, difference right, and the same way we might give romantic advice, right, but actually giving professional advice. At that point I was going through the education process and then to be a professional, I did go through the full CFP program and pass the board, so I wasn't giving willy-nilly advice. But yeah, I do think there's a difference and I think even entering the profession I knew when I first started I was working under another advisor just as a mentorship and learning, and I realized, wow, there's a lot to learn from people who are doing this professionally, just because the biggest thing is you're only a sample case of one, right For when you're doing finance for yourself. So there's a lot of different people with different both financial circumstances but also money behaviors and money beliefs. So how do you actually help people that kind of are not a replica of you? So I do think that the CFP education gives you a good basis for all of that.

At the end of the day, it's conversations and you learn and sometimes you make mistakes and you have to be humble. But I think more than that, the actual practicing of this. The biggest learning has been learning how to talk to people, how to listen, how to be a coach. The technical piece yeah, there's tons of information out there. There's most answers that any CFP can give. You could probably Google it. But how do you know what's relevant to you and then how do you actually receive it in a way that you can take action? That's really the hard part. It's like help. You can read everything you need to know about health, but then actually doing something about it is a whole different answer, and knowing what it lies to you.

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So that answer is why and I knew you would answer it kind of that way it's about coaching. It's not about I have a special knowledge that no one else can have the information's out there, but it's how do you help people make decisions that they're not comfortable taking on their own? They need to have someone hold their hand sometimes, tell them when it's a bad idea, because we get enamored of our own thoughts sometimes. So I'm gonna ask this question. I kind of know what the answer is gonna be, but what is kind of the special knowledge or ability that makes a good advisor? What is it that makes somebody a really good advisor?

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Well, I mean assuming that you have the basic knowledge, right, you're a good technical advisor and you know all that. I think that special knowledge is different for each person. I think it's what makes me special relative to you as an advisor. It's what we're bringing to bear from our own personal experience and the way that we particularly interact with people, and that is special, unique to us, and that is why I think it's like, when I market myself, like there's so many people out there, there's so many advisors I mean, if you look at websites of financial advisors, they'll kind of say the same thing, right? So what makes me different, or what makes you different from any other advisor? It's about who we are as a person and how we connect with that person, the other person, right, the client itself. So I think that, like, what makes you special is the personal experience and the way that you can help people.

I know that might not actually be the answer that you thought I was going to say, but I think that's what makes us unique and that's actually why I work with women and LGBTQ people, because I think that's what they're looking. They could find similar advice from 20 other advisors, but why do they choose to work with me because of who I am and because of my personal experience. That's why you know why would they choose to work with you or anybody else? And I think that part is super important, because working with an advisor is very intimate, you know it is a very personal journey, and so you need to find somebody that you can trust, that you might feel like you have some commonality with, and I think that's particularly important for my target client base.

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So I'm going to ask the question a little bit different way, because I totally agree with everything you just said and it's a great way to answer the question. But I want to generalize across you, across me, across all the other really good advisors out there, Plato's Forms, the concept of there are lots of different kinds of tables, but there's some very few basic things that make it a table.

you know four legs flat top, so the table-ness. What is the skill set? I think you kind of referred to it a little bit earlier. What's the skill set that really makes an advisor a good advisor? We have to be able to tell a unique story and attract a unique relationship. What is that really? Maybe soft skill set, or soft skills that advisors have that make them great advisors Not good advisor, but great advisors.

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Yeah, well, I mean, I think it's a good advisor is someone who helps the client feel like they understand their life priorities and their values and that their money is aligned to it. And so, practically speaking, how does that happen? Right, I think a good advisor is really starting with. Usually the person is coming with some very specific issues, but those issues, you know, maybe it's like what should I do with my 401K rollover, or how should I invest XYZ, or whatever that might be, but that's really just one technical piece in the context of their overall what they want out of their life, right? So it's not about solving the 401K rollover. It's about solving how do I make sure that I can fund my most important financial goals and, by the way, what are even my most important financial goals?

So I think a good advisor is helping them tease that out, because it's not most people don't come in with a list of five goals prioritize it, how much they cost, right? So that's like kind of step number one. And then it's like, okay, well, how do we come up with the plan to do that? And then, thirdly, understanding that that plan will immediately change and being able to iterate and do that. And then I think fourthly that's where the soft skill comes in is kind of working with that person and there's many different ways to implement a plan right Like there's no one right way and there's also kind of a wide parameter of what's okay financially right. There's some clear wrong answers but there's a lot of different ways you can do something. So it's helping to figure out for that client what makes the most sense, whether personality and also their situation and risk level.

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Beautifully answered. Is there anyone that comes into your office and like I kind of need this help, but I've read this book and that you just say you know what, you don't really need me? Is there anyone that they sort of have these capacities in themselves and do you ever turn people away because, hey, they can do it themselves?

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Yeah, I mean I think if someone is coming out into my office or I guess you'll say my virtual office, they have this inkling that maybe they could use some help. Right, or they wouldn't even reach out. There are some people I've talked with who are strong DIYers. Right, they come in with spreadsheets from Tiller and they do all this stuff right, and they have the they already. They actually come with their list of like five goals and how much they cost, right, and I think what I do with all of my discovery calls is just try to really understand what their core problems are.

I asked the magic wand question is like where would you want to be in a year or two years if you could just wave a magic wand and see kind of help them pretty much talk themselves into. Do you think you have the capacity to get from where you want to be to where you want to go? And what are the roadblocks? Right, what are the roadblocks that you see from you getting there to there? And in the road lot? The question is like can they solve the roadblock by themselves?

I think at the end of the day, it's never that I tell someone you don't need help, it's more that maybe I'm not the right help. There's many different ways people can get help. They might could just use a financial coach, they could just use maybe some short term work. But even in this Tiller example, I recently just signed on someone this KK with a Tiller spreadsheet and he was very much DIYer and at the end of the day, my saying to him was like you could do a lot of this work yourself, but it sounds like what you're really looking for is a sounding board, especially in the context of money, with your partner. Right, because a lot of times what you're doing is holding space for a couple to be able to speak and talk about these things that they're unable to do on their own, and so that's what I think the main value of my work that's why he chose to hire me is because of that capacity. So I think people hire you for different reasons.

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Are there character traits of people that you think they really probably should have an advisor? I mean, you just mentioned one partners that disagree on stuff. That's absolutely true. How do you get a partner, two partners to agree on something while you need a third party? So is there anything that's like really that stands out in people that hire you as a character trait that they really benefit from the help of an advisor?

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Well, I mean, I think one of them is like, if there's some event that's complicated or something, a big change in your life, right, that could be getting buried, that could be getting divorced, that could be coming upon inheritance, that could be receiving a large equity lump sum because your company went IPO, whatever, that is right. So I should say there's a technical issue there. There's also a mindset issue shift, right, you're going from managing your money as a single person to a couple. That's a big shift. You're going from having very little money to have a ton of money right, that's a really big shift. So I think having somebody to help you through that it can be very helpful.

The other second aspect is for folks and I end up with a lot of this and I think I myself really understood the value of financial planning when I was a tech employee through this process too, you try to do it yourself and they're just like you don't have time.

You guys, you know you don't have time and you make mistakes, and you've made mistakes and they've come at having made some mistakes and they realized, like you know, at the end of the day, sure, they can do parts of this stuff themselves, but the value of their time, their energy and the cost of making a mistake, like, is it worth it? And can I just have somebody be on my team, right? Like I really kind of talk to clients and say, look, what you're hiring is not somebody. This is not a transaction, right? What I'm not looking for is a transaction. What I'm looking for is a transformation To get you from a place of financial uncertainty or anxiety to a place of financial confidence. That's what I'm trying to help you do. So that's what I think People who want that, people who think having a third party to help do that is valuable. I think they would benefit from an advisor.

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Yeah, sure, it seems a lot of your work is especially post-tech, is sort of mission-driven. Can you tell us the mission of modern family finance?

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Yeah, you know, the mission here is I really want people to go from seeing money as a constraint on their life, because typically you think, well, what can I do depends on how much money I have right To seeing money as a fuel for their best life. Right, it's actually what kind of life do you want and how do I use my money to support that? There's actually a very different way of thinking about money, and there's the reality of money. It's not like I can wave a magic wand and, all of a sudden, everybody that I work with has finally died. There are real constraints, but at the end of the day it is. There's the technical work and there's a mindset work around money.

al kind of nine to five work,:

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So what's the? How do you define modern family?

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It's as you want to define it. I think we use that word to make it more inclusive, right, Because I don't just work with LGBTQ people, but I'd say my primary audience ends up being single women or LGBTQ people. That's just what happens to find me. I think the single woman thing happened because I think that's particularly when you ask who would benefit from my advisor. I think a single person, particularly because they don't have that other partner to bounce off of and you can't really just ask a casual friend. What should I do? Right, like money is very intimate thing often. So, yeah, I think a modern family is as you wish it to be, but I tend to be people who come to me. They're progressive, they fall into these kind of, I guess, demographics, just by nature of they read my website and you can either be attracted or repelled by me, so that's my goal with the website.

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That is what a website's for. What are the special concerns of the modern family, the LGBTQ plus families?

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Yeah, well, I mean, I think there is a couple of things I think at the of course, we can talk about, kind of, there's the higher cost of family forming. Right, my family, we have two kids. We did this through IVF. We worked with other gay couples who adopt and whatnot, so there's an extra cost there. You may have higher medical bills or whatnot. If you've had my trans clients, that's an issue for them.

I think one of the biggest things that we don't define our relationships. Often they're different. You have people who have maybe just different types of relationships, whether it's I primarily am single, but you know, and how does that translate to how they think about money? Is it with the partner? Do they want to think independently? And then how does that translate also into financial planning as it relates to a state planning, or who owns what and how do you split the money?

Another big one is aging. You have families, many families, who don't have children, right. So how do you think about making sure, especially couples or people that I work with LGBTQ people in their fifties a lot of them don't have kids, so thinking about aging as a single person? And then, lastly, I think one that doesn't get talked to about enough is that for LGBTQ people, it's where we live. There's sometimes we'll choose to live in too high cost of areas, but that's because so we choose to live in SF Bay Area, despite all the expensive. It is because it's where our friend base is, it's where we feel safe, it's where we feel like we can just fully be ourselves in a full way, right, Versus having the option to be like, well, why don't you just move to XYZ town? Well, that's great. There's this whole migration out to the rural areas, right, but it's like I don't feel comfortable there, right? So I think that's also a consideration too.

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I mean I think these the issues haven't really changed. Some of the legal stuff around it's changed. The safety feeling probably hasn't changed much, but do you think this is changing over the next decade, 20 years? Do you think that things are improving or do you feel like a little bit of a backlash against it still?

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I mean I feel hopeful, right.

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I mean, I guess I consider myself an entrepreneur, to be the teacher after this. That's a very good answer.

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That's a very good answer. It's amazing how much has changed just even in my lifetime, or our lifetime right, and so I feel fortunate I have also, but it's still a for us. It's still a concern about where we live. So we live in Taipei now because it's the only place in Asia that has marriage equality, right. So I wouldn't go live in certain places in Asia because of that. We lived in Western Europe, but when I go live in Eastern Europe, I mean like there's still places I would choose not to. I would not even consider living in because I would not feel safe. So there's definitely still work to be done.

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No doubt Okay. So I wanna ask a couple of circle of competence questions and the first is most people come to you with an issue. Do you see If there's a bell curve of issues? Do you see most people have the specific issue or a general issue. For me, it's always been retirement planning. When they come to you, what is it they're looking for?

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Yeah, it's a good question. I think it's different depending on who you work with. My clients are not retirees. They're in mid-career folks who usually have a pretty good income. So they're 30s to 50s with decent professional careers. Their question is typically okay, make enough money to support my life Now, but what if I want to stop? That's often the question that's unsaid, but that is what they're coming to. And how do I know that I'm doing all the right things to make sure that my future is going to be taken care of when I stop making all these oodles of income for my nice tech company? So that's typically the question on their mind.

When it comes down to technically speaking, it still boils down to the same topics that I'm sure all advisors deal with, whether it's cash flow, tax planning, savings I guess in my case it's often equity compensation planning as well, but they just look a little bit different because of the people I'm dealing with. So there's a fair amount of tax planning, because usually these folks are in the higher brackets. So we are trying to figure out what we can do around there. And then I think equity compensation is interesting too, because there's a lot that you can do around there and there's also a lot of emotion because people are very attached often to their company equity and a lot of the work I do is just helping to come up with an objective plan Around that. I think that's worth. Third party having a professional third party, a trusted expert, can help.

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Yeah, I did this in the late 90s where it was like the dot com boom so everyone thought their company was the company I'm like there's hundreds of the companies. So stop it.

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Yes.

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Is there anyone that comes to your office that's asking for something that you can't do? I have this experience in terms of like Jonathan, I'd like you to beat the S&P 500 every year, Like that kind of thing. Has that come up for you? Or anything like that come up for you?

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Yeah, I try to be quite clear on my website about my investment philosophy so I don't have too many people who come in asking to beat the S&P 500. They generally already understand that trying to time the market and trying to gain that is very difficult. I tell them off the bat that, look, I'm not a stock picker. That's not what we're trying to do here. My goal with your investment system maximize the certainty that you can reach your financial goals. That is my goal. I do have some folks who want to say well, can I compare how you do to my 401k and let's just see how it goes in half a year. I say, look, if that's what you want to do, I don't think you should hire me, because that's not actually the point of the work that we're doing together.

I do have people coming in a lot who say I don't know if I have enough to hire a financial plan. I don't know if I have assets. I don't know if it's worth it also, and sometimes the answer isn't always yes, so it depends. But yeah, but I'll have clients who might not have a ton of net worth, who might not have a lot of assets right now, wondering if they need to hire an advisor and wondering what's worth the fee and I say, look, it's not about I don't have a fee asset minimum. The question is, do you think the value of a work together is above and beyond the fee that you're paying? That's what it is in terms of both the return that you can and that might come in tax planning return but also like the time that you save, the peace of mind that you feel, the confidence that you feel towards having a plan.

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But this also sounds very familiar. So there's an enormous amount of noise out there and there's all the books and there's the blog, but there's also CNBCs and news sources and things like that. So I really want you to simplify something for us. So let's just pretend like you're on a cross country flight, or maybe you're on the flight back from home to home. If you met someone on that I guess global flight and they started to pick your brain and you thought they'd really benefit from working with an advisor. What is one thing that they should do right out of the gate that would give them better outcomes?

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One basic financial tip.

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Yeah, but just like the first thing, like not, it doesn't have to be invest the next way it can be. Just what is it they need to understand or do first?

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Well, I say it always starts with capital, right. It doesn't matter how much you make. I think first thing is just to understand where your money is going, and because, at the end of the day, if you're a working person, your most important asset is that income that's coming in, right. If you're retiring, it's different. It's what's going on with your nest egg right now, but it's where is that money that's coming in and where is that going to? And I think that kind of can drive the conversation everywhere. So one of the first thing I would do is get a handle on where your money is going. How much of it is.

One of the things I do for my clients is the first thing we do is just like a bubble chart you have this much coming in, how much is going to taxes, how much is going to savings and how much is going to your spending and within that spending, how much is going to, say, mortgage and fix things and discretionary things. Just seeing that picture is usually really eye-opening to people One in terms of their savings rate, right, like is that again, and the benchmark that I typically throw out there for folks that I work with is look, you're trying to get to at least 20% of your gross income. That's my goal for most of my clients, right, which is not. It's a fairly ambitious goal for some people. And so let's see where are you with that right. And then also, how much is going to taxes can be quite enlightening to people too. Understanding, like is there anything that you could do to help mitigate that? Where you're saving, are you using the best channels?

I think a lot of the folks that I work with they have access sometimes to these after-tax 401ks or the mega backdoor Roth. If you have enough cash flow, that could be a great way to take advantage. It's a goose up your tax-efficient savings, right? And then your spending. That's the biggest black box for people. People have no idea If you actually can figure out those other things. The remaining is going to spending, and then almost everybody is appalled and shocked by how much they're spending. I say, look, we're not trying to minimize your spend here, we are trying to maximize your joy for your present now and your present person and your future person, right? So that's the balance. I'd say like the first thing is really starting with the cash flow, and that can branch out into many other conversations.

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Love it, that's great. And then there's what is the sort of follow-up to this is what is one thing that maybe they think they're supposed to do, or that they're worrying about, that the world tells them they've got to think about, but you're just like, just don't worry about that. Ignore that for now.

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Yeah, I'd say it's like fancy investing, right, like should I be buying I don't know some private real estate deal or should I do some VC stuff or angel investing, if you find that to be fun? Sure, I occasionally have clients who come to me. They're like, well, there's this kind of opportunity to invest in XYZ, should I do this, especially in tech? Right, if it's fun, and if it's a small percentage and there's kind of like we're risk managing it, that's one thing. But if your goal is like I'm trying to build my will, at the end of the day, like I think the biggest thing that financial media is trying to make you believe is that complexity is actually gonna drive better results, and that is absolutely 100% not true, right? So complexity does not drive bigger results. In fact, most of the time it's gonna make your results worse. So that's what I would say.

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It reduces the probability of good outcomes. Yes, yes, it reduces the probability of good outcomes, for sure. We have so many things that are aligned. I hope that when you get back to the Bay Area, we can go grab coffee or something.

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Yes, yes, that'd be great If there's one of the beliefs that are right along. I'm in Berkeley, so right across the country, okay, great yeah, two questions just on a very personal note.

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What was the last thing you changed your mind about?

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What was the last thing I changed my mind about? Well, it could be anything in life, Anything. It could be what you have for breakfast we're gonna have a sandwich.

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I decided to have a bagel.

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Okay, well, it's absolutely about food, right? So actually, for I don't know, I'd say the last four, five years our household has, it was my wife had been largely vegetarian, and so one of the things that I've recently started doing is introducing meat back into my diet. I still eat a lot less meat than I used to, but one of the things is just kind of, as I've been reading about women aging and all this kind of stuff, this, the important of protein and just all these different amino acids, and so just introducing some of that back into my diet that's been a big thing. That has been that I've changed in my life, in my mind.

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That's great. I've done that a few times. It's good If you could get. The second thing is if you could get the truth about any single question about your life or your future, and all you had to do was ask what would you ask?

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Oh, man, see, now you're gonna know the true planter of me. I told myself I wanna know when I'm gonna die, I wanna know the age I'm gonna die, because then I could plan around it. But that's me right Like. My wife absolutely does not wanna know that answer. She's like why would you wanna know that? I'm like, well, then I can really know, right, like, both financially, personally, like then, how would know? It's like this is very bothering to me that I'd have to plan for longevity when I don't know. I told her. I said one of the things I'll be so pissed is if I die early and I didn't get to light. I wanted to sometime to spend everything right. So that's what I'd wanna know. How about you?

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I sort of agree so I could prepare. I'm a planner too. I wanna be able to prepare. I wanna make sure all the ducts are in a row, something happens to me, my kids are put up, everything's you know, everything's aligned. Yeah, yeah, I think that's a good one. So, jenny, tell people how they can connect with you, where they find you on the web.

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Yeah, so you can find me by going to modernfamilyfinancecom. That's where all my information is, so that's the best place to go, Awesome thanks so much for coming on.

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We're gonna make sure everything's in the show notes. If you do think about the book we were stumbled on earlier, send me the name of the book and I'll include that in the show notes as well. But I really appreciate you coming on. I'm glad you're here to sort of talk to folks everywhere about the best ways to plan their financial futures.

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Great. Well, thank you so much. This was really fun.

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Thanks for listening. Full show notes for each episode, which includes a summary, key takeaways, quotes and any resources mentioned are available at mindfulmoney. Be sure to follow and subscribe wherever you listen to your favorite podcasts and if you're enjoying the content and getting value from these episodes, please leave us a rating and review at ratethispodcastcom. Forward slash mindfulmoney. We'll be sure to read those out on future episodes.

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