Pretty much from the time we walked down the aisle, Steve and I had a clear division of responsibility when it came to our family finances. I was in charge of creating the family budget, paying the bills, and dealing with our day-to-day cash flow, while Steve was more of the big-picture-guy who took on the task of managing our investments, negotiating our mortgage, and making sure we were on track to retire someday (after putting six kids through college of course).
When the economy was humming along and we were both gainfully employed, this set up worked just fine for us. But when the economy started its downward slide, and our employment situations changed, we moved from strategic/intentional mode with our family finances into more of a survival/let's-just-weather-this-storm mode. And we both ended on focusing more on the day-to-day finances, taking our eye off the big picture almost completely.
Sound familiar to anyone else?
I knew that it was time to step back and take a serious look at our family finances so that we could start working again towards our goals of retirement savings and college tuition savings. I knew that we needed to build back up our “emergency fund” and take another look at where we were spending our money relative to our goals. And I knew that this time, I needed to be more involved. But how? Did I need to hire a financial planner? Should I ask friends for recommendations? And how much was this all going to cost me? Would it be worth the money invested?
SUM 180: Financial Planning Service Designed by Women for Women
In November I was given the opportunity to try out an online financial planning subscription service for free, in exchange for my feedback regarding my experience. For me- the timing was perfect- I had so many questions swirling through my head that I wanted to find answers to, but I had no idea when I was going to find the time or energy to seek out advice. And I was worried about even starting down this path for several reasons: Had we waited too long to get started on a plan? Would it be too complicated for me to understand and execute (sure, I was a business major in college but those financial classes were a long time ago!)? Would I come away from this process feeling as if we could never achieve our goals?
I took a deep breath and dove in.
The SUM180 Process
Let me start by saying that I loved the SUM180 process. Through a series of detailed questions that you answer at your own pace online, SUM180 gathers data from you regarding your expenses, your savings and investments, and your financial goals. You then have the opportunity to upload your most recent financial statements from your bank, your investment and college fund accounts, and all of this goes into the SUM180 system for your financial advisor to use in their creation of a personalized plan specifically for you.
Does that sound a bit overwhelming? Well- heck yeah. In some cases I wasn't even sure where to go to find this information. Did I have online accounts for all of these things? And if so, did I know how to access them? It took me some time to figure all of this out- but it was easy to “pause” my online interview process as often as I needed to go and look up account numbers, contemplate goals, and give thoughtful answers so that I could get the best possible financial plan.
The SUM180 Plan
In a few weeks, I received an email letting me know to log back into my account to review my plan… and with a sinking feeling in my stomach, I headed in to check it out.
And there it was- in a clear and concise format- a beautifully formatted recap of where things stood, and a list of three steps to follow which will help me work my way towards our goals. My plan started with a list of “key accomplishments”- showing me 7 things that we were doing right (Go us!).
Next we were given our three most important steps that we need to work on right now. I LOVED that by limiting me to just three things it makes me feel as if I can actually accomplish them. And I also love knowing that once we get three three things in line that I can go back to SUM180 and move on to the next three steps. I think it is so smart to give it to me in manageable bite-sized pieces.
The entire plan felt personalized to my goals and my unique financial situation, and was prepared in a way that felt respectful to me while also making the information very accessible. I didn't feel as if I needed to Google financial terms in order to understand what was being laid before me. But i didn't feel as if it were “dumbed down” to a simple basic level either. It felt like it was tailored to me.
And one of the things that I love the best about SUM180, is that I feel it is a very well-priced service. A one-year subscription runs $129. You subscribe, you conduct your online “interview process” and you get a plan and start working on your steps. Should your financial situation change, you can re-do the interview process and you get a new plan! Should you knock out your three steps- you reach out to SUM180 and you get the next three steps- and it is all included in your subscription! I think that is brilliant. And should you want to actually hop on a call with an advisor and walk through your situation and ask some in-depth questions, you can do that as well (for an additional fee). I love that this is not a one-and-done situation for me.
Having a Plan is a RELIEF!
And it is empowering! I no longer am fearing what I don't know. I no longer am relying on my husband to manage our financial goals- I am an active participant in the process. Truly- it is a great place to be!
As a special introductory offer, the first 200 clients who register and complete their online interview will receive a $129 rebate on a $129 SUM180 subscription. That means you could get your SUM180 plan for FREE! Click here now to visit the SUM180 community forums and read what clients are saying about the service.
This post has been sponsored by SUM180. I was provided with product at no charge to sample in exchange for my review. The options expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with SUM180 and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.