Apple Podcasts | Google Podcasts | Spotify | Overcast | RSSLinks mentioned in this episode: Sell in May and Go Away? Here We Go Again …Midyear Investing Outlook: Where to Invest Now 5 Stocks to Sell or Avoid Now Fyooz Financial Getting Married? Don’t Forget to Talk Money First Transcript:
David Muhlbaum: Whether couples choose to marry or not, they’re going to face money questions. Do you combine accounts? Who pays for what? These can be the thorny bits on the bloom of love so maybe you should let a couple help guide you with these issues. We’ll talk with a pair of financial advisors who have an interesting combination of qualifications and personal experience about love, money and business. Also, Mr. Market has been keeping us on our toes. A quick look at where stocks are headed in 2022. All coming up on this episode of Your Money’s Worth. Stick around.
David Muhlbaum: Welcome to Your Money’s Worth. I’m kiplinger.com senior online editor, David Muhlbaum, joined by my co-host senior editor, Sandy Block. Welcome to May, Sandy.
Sandy Block: Well, thank you. It’s kind of a weird, slow spring here but I’ll take it.
David Muhlbaum: Yeah, it was a year ago in, well, May, that we explored the stock market maxim, sell in May and go away. You remember that? The idea being that markets underperform in the summer so you shouldn’t really be invested in stocks then. Which of course violates all kinds of guidance to not try to time the markets.
Sandy Block: Yeah. I think we agreed that sell in May and go away is not really a thing, at least for the average retail, long-term investor. Although there are some market watchers saying that this is the year it’s really going to break for sell in May and go away, given what’s going on in May with inflation, interest rates, war and COVID, et cetera.
David Muhlbaum: Yeah. Well, that’s just their opinion, man, as a wise dude once said.
Sandy Block: The Dude abides! How long have you been waiting to quote The Big Lebowski on this podcast?
David Muhlbaum: That was the first time? I guess you’re right. I did get Monty Python in, but those factors, inflation, interest rates, geopolitical tension, those are facts, not opinions. And stocks this year well, they seem to be feeling it. The stock market in 2022 is, well, I think it’s fair to say it’s struggling. The S&P is flirting with bear market territory and the NASDAQ, well, it’s already there. It’s already in a bear market. But as we just noted, it’s only May. Where are we going from here?
Sandy Block: From here? Like to the end of the year?
David Muhlbaum: Well, yeah sure. A 2022 update. Look, I know this idea of measuring stock performance by the calendar year is a bit arbitrary. We’ve said as much here, but in the long run, if you want gains, invest in stocks. But as I think it was Keynes who said, “In the long run, we’re all dead.” Anyway, but there are perfectly valid reasons to have shorter time horizons and to want to move, as some would say, more tactically. Maybe there’s a reason that you need money in the near term or going to need money in the near term. Maybe you want to invest in some sectors, not others. There are reasons. A market update, you got one?
Sandy Block: The person who should be answering this is probably our executive editor Anne Smith, because she just wrapped up her midyear forecast for the July issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance but I’ll do my best to channel Anne or rather, her story. First of all, those three terms, inflation, interest rates, geopolitical issues, they matter and she discusses them but the upshot of her piece and she talked to a lot of smart market watchers, is that really the forces for more gains or more losses are really quite balanced.
David Muhlbaum: You mean, so the market could go either way?
Sandy Block: Yeah. You don’t sound impressed but really that’s the situation. There’s both a lot of bullish sentiment and a lot of bearish sentiment. They’re evenly matched. But the result of that isn’t that markets stay flat, which wouldn’t be so bad, it’s that they get more volatile. It doesn’t help that this is a midyear election year. That tends to make markets less stable as well. But yes, the call is there isn’t any call. Any gains will come stock by stock, not by a big market move.
David Muhlbaum: Yeah. Well, I’d also quibble that if stocks stayed flat, that would be, we’d have a bad year.
Sandy Block: Good point, good point.
David Muhlbaum: But okay, so it sounds like there’s money to be made but it’s going to take selectivity. Given that, how about a stock pick? A buy of course. I know Anne and others hate doing sell calls.
Sandy Block: Yeah, because it can come back to bite you. But although we did publish a whole list of those. You can go find the link, David. But for buy recommendations, I’m actually going to give you two from Anne’s piece and there’s a reason for that. The big bank Credit Suisse, compiled two lists of recommendations. One is a top 50 beneficiaries of economic expansion and the other is top beneficiaries of economic recession.
David Muhlbaum: Oh, okay. That’s grand, so they’re hedging too.
Sandy Block: Yeah. Talk about going out on a limb but that’s their job. Anyway, from the first list, beneficiaries of economic expansion, well we’ve got energy equipment and services firm Haliburton that’s ticker, HAL. And on the second list, beneficiaries of economic recession, one of my favorites, discount retailer Dollar General, ticker DG. That one, come on. You can see how that would work.
David Muhlbaum: Yeah. I get it. Recession equals dollar stores. Well okay, let’s hope that doesn’t happen but if it does, dollar stores are a perfectly logical defensive investment. You’re a Dollar General fan?
Sandy Block: I bought a very nice $3 bottle of wine there last weekend, had good structure.
David Muhlbaum: Huh, okay. Alrighty, well thank you for the preview of Anne’s story. I look forward to sharing some of that three buck something. And now normally I’d say check out our show notes for the full piece but that’s going to depend a little bit on when you’re hearing this. I should have it up on or about May 20th, so please come back if you don’t see it at first because it’s got lots of detail that we had to kind of breeze by. Coming up, we will talk to a pair of financial planners who are a couple and advise couples as a couple, about money management. And we think you will find Fyooz Financial, that’s the name of the firm, endearing and informative. Stick around.Fyooz Financial Planning Tackles Love and Money as a Team
David Muhlbaum: Welcome back to Your Money’s Worth. Joining us for our main segment today are Natalie and Dan Slagle. They are the founders of Fyooz Financial Planning, a firm that specializes in advising couples. And before I tell you more about them, I’m going to spell Fyooz because it’s F-Y-O-O-Z. We’ll put in a link to their website in our show notes and transcript, of course. But for those of you listening who want to hunt them down right now, it’s F-Y-O-O-Z Financial Planning. And yes, they’re a married couple and yes, they do financial planning together and they specialize in counseling other couples on money management. Dan and Natalie, I doubt you’re the first couple doing financial planning jointly but it doesn’t seem all that common. Why don’t you start by telling us your origin story? How’d you meet? And how did you decide to go into business together?
Natalie Slagle: Thank you, David. I love this story because it’s a combination of the beginning of Fyooz and it’s the combination of the beginning of our relationship. It’s kind of fun how it ties together. But Dan and I met in college, we kind of knew of each other in the same bigger friend group but really didn’t start dating until after college because after college we went into our industries, respective industries and started to get licenses to do all the things that we do. Well, Dan’s a year older than me and so he had taken all the tests and of course he passed all the tests and I got wind of this. My girlfriend said, “Hey, you’re you’re studying for this exam. Well, I know this guy Dan Slagle did it and he passed.” I reached out to Dan because I knew, well, he’s really smart. He’s really nice. What better tutor could a girl possibly ask for? Long story short, I asked him to be my tutor and now here we are married, doing business together related to financial planning. That’s really where the seed first got planted.
David Muhlbaum: Got it. And were those exams the CFP, the Certified Financial Planner exam?
Dan Slagle: This was the Series 7.
David Muhlbaum: Ah, for the SEC.
Natalie Slagle: Yes, exactly. We got to enjoy studying for the CFP exams during our engagement and married years, which I’m glad we had more of a committed relationship at that time because that one was a bit more crucial.SEE MORE PODCAST: The Future of Certified Financial Planners with Kamila Elliott
Dan Slagle: It was more of a challenge.
Natalie Slagle: And more challenging.
Sandy Block: So romantic. Well, let me ask you guys this, how does being a couple help you counsel couples? And has it ever been a disadvantage or a problem?
Dan Slagle: Great question. There are many advantages to working with other couples as a couple ourselves and it’s really mostly about giving couples a relatable, approachable, fresh feeling of talking about money. It’s similar to hanging out or going out to dinner with your best couple friend and this time really the conversation, rather than maybe talking about your neighbor or the community you’re in, you’re talking about your personal finances. It provides couples with a way to know that there are money conversations, whether good or bad, they’re happening in other households too. It’s happening in households across the world. We want couples to more so know it’s okay that you’re working on your finances together as a collective unit.
David Muhlbaum: I was thinking that ... financial planning sometimes bleeds over into broader questions of, what are you doing with your life? And that sort of thing. Does doing it with couples sometimes bleed over into — dare we say, therapy?
Natalie Slagle: Absolutely. Yeah, it does. And we kind of, sometimes we do just draw the line. Hey, as a reminder, we’re not therapists but this is going to feel a lot like therapy. Let’s just remember where our expertise lies, which is on the financial side. But you’re absolutely right. A lot of these questions have to deal with, well, what do you want out of life? We all make money to get us something, utilize those resources to really bring light to the values, the thing that’s most important to us. And so we want to have those conversations to at least make money, which can feel so maybe disconnected or arbitrary, at least feel a little bit more connected to your life. And so with these types of conversations, which we love to have because we’re a couple ourselves and we like to have these conversations just personally and privately, it can feel a lot like therapy along with the financial guidance along the way.
David Muhlbaum: We featured you guys in the June issue of Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and I’ve also been doing my good due diligence, looked at your website a lot. And I’ve noticed one thing that struck me is that you guys model yourselves as an example for your clients to work with. I don’t want to sound like you’re putting yourself on a pedestal, rather it’s more so that you guys make very vivid, the challenges and the dynamic of working together as a couple and showing people how, “this is how it can be done.” But it was interesting to see how essentially, transparent you guys are with what you’ve been posting to your website.
Dan Slagle: Yeah, absolutely. And it all comes down to transparency at the end of the day. And that’s what we want to bring to our clients. Our clientele is teaching them to have greater transparency when it comes to money. And, of course, there’s transparency in the technical aspects. We want our couples to be aware of what’s going on financially in the household but it’s also really important to have transparency about your money background, what money was like growing up for each of you individually because that plays a role into who you are today when it comes to your finances. You have your individual upbringings and I’ll think about it, you’re merging those together. And that can cause some points of tension. It can also just bring some points of beauty when it comes to a relationship. But it’s more so about how we manage those expectations going forward as a household. And that’s something that we’re really big on at Fyooz Financial Planning is just talking about money in general because it is such a taboo subject in our society.
Natalie Slagle: To add to that, if we’re going to ask our clients to be transparent about their finances and with each other and with us, it seems only fair that we provide that transparency too. We might not lay it all out detail for detail on our website but if a client asks about our money, our assets, we will tell them because it’s only fair in any type of relationship that you kind of give and take the same amount with all parties involved.
Sandy Block: I think one of the interesting points you made in our interview in June was that a lot of couples bring to the relationship a background in finance that can affect how they manage money going forward. If you grew up in a household where nobody ever talked about money, that’s going to affect how you manage money in your marriage. And I guess, sort of what that brings me to, one of the most interesting and common questions that I’m sure people ask and I ask other people is, should you merge your finances? Should you have a joint account? Or should you keep separate accounts? Because I think, especially now when so many couples have already established themselves, they’re not just out of college, how do people work that one out?
Natalie Slagle: We don’t have a hard and fast rule because everyone is different, and we do like to treat every couple with their unique qualities and aspects. There is that. We also have seen that transparency in sharing has a lot of benefits to it. It just tends to be a little bit easier if there’s less credit cards, if there’s less bank accounts, things like that. However, we can also see the impact of maybe taking some of that individual feeling, of just feeling a little bit more independent with your money and how that can be troublesome as well. There’s just this beautiful, delicate approach to figuring out as a couple and now as a household, how transparent you need to be, how do you merge your account so that you really feel like as a household, you’re doing everything you can strategically and you’re working as a unit, you’re working together but you’re also not losing just that independence and that individual freedom, especially when we have just dual income, separate jobs, maybe one person gets a bonus and they want to spend it on something only related to them. There’s these just aspects of money that happen that we need to just figure out for your household. How do we balance taking care of the household versus taking care of you as an individual?SEE MORE How to Choose the Right Payment App
David Muhlbaum: Since we broached transparency and since we broached the idea of merging accounts, I’m wondering if, do modern platforms like Venmo, where there’s this radical transparency of where people have the opportunity to say exactly — or to pretend to say — what they spent their money on. Are you seeing that as a factor when the people coming to you already know about what the other person’s doing from a spending perspective, thanks to that type of platform?
Dan Slagle: Yeah. Yeah. I think there’s definitely transparency there that’s built into modern platforms that we have out there in society today. I laugh when you ask that question because Natalie and I have a joint Venmo account as far as both of our names are on it and we’re probably the only ones who do that. But again, that just goes in line to the overall transparency that we preach at Fyooz Financial Planning. I think there are platforms out there that make things easier to see as a couple. And if there are other resources that couples can utilize, just to have more awareness of what’s coming into your financial household and what’s going out on a monthly basis, then we’re absolutely all for it.
Sandy Block: I want to take the conversation to the reason that we’re doing this now, which is it’s June, it’s wedding month and we’ve seen a lot of reports that there’s just going to be a record number of weddings this summer because so many people put off weddings during the pandemic. And one question that comes up a lot in etiquette columns, which I love to read, is whether it’s ever appropriate for a couple to ask for money instead of gifts. I guess it sounds tacky but a lot of older couples don’t need another Instant Pot, they need a down payment for a house. I wonder what your thoughts are on that.
Natalie Slagle: Sandy, I’m so glad you’re asking this question and you’re bringing it out into the world because it should not feel taboo. You as a couple know exactly what you need and no one should tell you otherwise. And I can speak from personal experience because I thought it would be rude to ask for money when we got married so I asked for help around my office on building out our registry list. I had no idea. I remember a garlic peeler was on there and I barely even cooked at that point. Why I needed a garlic peeler, I have no idea. And yes, we got a garlic peeler. What ended up happening over the last, our married years is Dan and I have moved across the country. We’ve started a business, lots has changed since we got married and we actually don’t own a lot of the gifts that we have anymore. We sold it for cash because that’s just what we needed. Instead, let’s just, let’s all just be aware that every couple is in a different situation. I think if you still are using your college pots and pans that you got from Goodwill, then it makes sense that having a registry with gifts that the two of you can maybe kind of just increase the things that go in your kitchen, sure, that totally makes sense. But to your point, Sandy, a lot of people are getting married later. They already have an independent life behind them and so maybe the physical things that they’re bringing into the marriage are plenty. They don’t need any more things. They just need cash to pay off those student loans, the wedding that you were invited to, all these other things. I’m an advocate for, if it makes sense for your situation, to just go ahead and ask for money.
Dan Slagle: I was just going to add another point and the couples that we work with who are engaged and their wedding is coming up, it’s fascinating and again, it speaks to how financial planning is really living and breathing and we adapt as life changes because we’ll be working towards certain goals up to the wedding. Whether it’s paying for the wedding or building that emergency fund or paying down some debt. And we get to a point when the wedding happens and these goals maybe haven’t been met yet but all of a sudden parents will gift to their kid, five, $10,000 and that shifts the whole mentality of where we’re trying to get to from those goals because we had the idea that, and maybe in, for example, in six months, you’ll be able to hit your emergency fund goal. We check that box and we move forward. We continue on with the planning process. But now all of a sudden, when a wedding comes and there’s a large gift for a down payment on a home or cash that can be utilized for that emergency fund, it really makes our job fun because we can then shift the outcomes of what’s to come. At the same time it’s also again, the word of the day seems to be transparency. Having conversations with maybe your parents about what they plan to contribute to the wedding, what they plan to possibly contribute to a future down payment. Those conversations should be had. Again, we don’t always want to count on those aspects coming into your financial plan but the more we know, then the better the plan and the outcome can be.
David Muhlbaum: Better no surprises. Better to know ahead of time.
Dan Slagle: Yeah. Yeah. And these are good surprises at the end of the day so if this is your situation, you should feel pretty blessed.
David Muhlbaum: Has anyone ever given your services as a wedding present? That’s going to cost more than your average serving tray or garlic peeler but it could be more useful.
Natalie Slagle: It could be. And I would say it is much more useful than a garlic peeler. We’ve actually looked into this. The answer to your question is no. No one has ever gifted our services. And we’ve been wondering how to crack that a little bit because we can work with clients on an ongoing basis or just come and visit and let’s talk about all the things you need to do and then be on your way. I think that would be very, very beneficial for those newly engaged couples. And then it makes prioritizing this part of your life that much more important. Someone paid for this kind of maybe more on the expensive end sort of service and so I’m going to take it seriously. Someone else is an advocate for us in this aspect of our life and so I think it could be a really, really powerful piece for those newly engaged couples or newly married couples.
Sandy Block: Going back to the planning process, it’s been a while since I got married and for years, my dad claimed he was still paying the bar bill for our wedding. My husband’s family’s Irish, so figure that. But what I realized and I was not all that young, it’s very easy to get caught up in the whole perfect day wedding planning and I guess if couples come to you before they get married and I think that’s a good idea, what advice do you have for them in terms of basically, keeping costs down, having the wedding they want within expectations, particularly now, as we talked about when so many couples are really struggling to buy a home, pay off student loans, credit card debts. How do you sort of get a handle on that?
Natalie Slagle: Yes. And the issue with this summer, going back to what you were saying earlier, Sandy, is because everyone’s trying to get married and have a more normal wedding, quote unquote, the venues can skyrocket their prices, which they’ve already started to do. Not only do you have just an expensive event happening in general but inflation is hitting the wedding industry, unlike anything else. You have to be aware for that. We like to recommend before you go off looking for venues, for wedding dresses, for caterers, you need to know what your budget is first. I think people tend to do the opposite. They find all the things and then they’re like, okay, how much money do we have? Which could lead to a lot of disappointment and then asking family for more money and just uncomfortable situations.
We would say, let’s flip that. Start with what your resources are. What do you have? What can you cash flow? What can you budget for between now and then? And then what gifts would people give you before the wedding? Because it’s hard to kind of calculate what you think people will give you on the wedding day so don’t worry about that. That’s your bonus. You need to know in hard dollars, if you’re getting any money from family, how much is it? When can you expect it? And then start the planning process with all the fun things.
David Muhlbaum: We’ve talked about how your clientele includes couples and that that is a thing that you can really speak to being one yourself. But it goes beyond that. You advise couples who are managing a business together, a bit like you are. What are your golden rules for that?
Dan Slagle: Yeah. We have three golden rules. The first is know your roles and responsibilities, have the mindset that you’re a team in life and in business, approach it that way but know when to understand when one person has the final say on a decision. We ran into some hiccups when we first started. And again, just having a better understanding of who is doing what and who has the final say when it comes to making decisions in your areas of expertise is crucial.
The other one is over communicate about everything and don’t make any assumptions. And the third would be set your personal boundaries. If you’re feeling tired of work and you just need a break, you need to communicate that with your partner because the last thing you want to do is sit down at the dinner table and one partner is really excited to talk about work or maybe landing a new project or a client and the other person is like, I need to check out. I can’t have this conversation anymore. Again, those three areas stem back to just communication. It’s definitely more of an art than a science at the end of the day and you just need to learn how to read the other person but again, just verbalize as much as possible.
Sandy Block: A lot of couples perhaps have already owned a business, inherited a business going into the marriage. And again, I’m thinking perhaps of older couples. What are your thoughts on prenuptial agreements? It’s not romantic but I read an awful lot of stories of people saying, “I sure wish we’d had one.”
Natalie Slagle: Yes. Usually, those stories are at the end of the marriage though. This is one thing that I love about prenups is it’s a clear sign that the couple is talking about money before they’re getting married. You just don’t get any more clear than that. It shows a lot right there. I think it is very, very dependent on the couple, their situation. Usually, the more wealth that an individual comes from, especially family wealth or money that will be passed down from an older generation, you have to think about, well, what happens if something happens to me? Whether it’s a death or divorce or incapacitation, how does that family wealth transfer to someone who’s married in? Something like that.
It can quickly get into the what-if scenarios. That’s why, if this seems like an area that you should just at least have a conversation with an attorney about, then you probably should. Most attorneys will let you do a phone call for 15 minutes for free and so you can just call someone up, tell them about your situation, about your preferences and they can just give you the facts about whether a prenup may or may not be in your best interest.
David Muhlbaum: We talked about the idea of financial planning as a wedding gift and that maybe that hasn’t quite panned out yet but tell us a little bit about what it’s like being in the business, how you are finding your clients, how they’re finding you and is how much of that is the fact that you guys are a couple and how much of it is just like another financial planner?
Dan Slagle: Yeah, I would say about 95% of it has to do with the fact that we’re a couple. I think specifically we work with younger clients who we’re talking millennial, gen-X couples specifically, and they’re not necessarily looking for or to work with their parents’ financial planner. They want someone who can be relatable, as I talked about earlier and approachable at the end of the day. And I would definitely say that we have a little bit of a biased sample when it comes to the clients that come to us. Meaning that they understand this is really important to work on their finances as a collective unit. Because as we go through our discovery process, we pick up things, maybe one partner had parents that separated due to financial issues. There are many issues or reasons why people come to us at the end of the day. When it comes to attracting clients, it’s really been online searches. There’s various find an advisor portals that we’re a part of. The XY Planning Network is really big for us as our business has continued to grow.
Natalie Slagle: Yeah. And then client referrals, of course. Clients, we like to take a survey on why clients chose us, why they stick with us. And like Dan said, a lot of the responses are, “Well, we really like that you’re a couple and you can relate to that. And we can talk about kind of the disagreements we have with money and it just feels like this authentic conversation.” And clients, obviously they tell their friends or their families about it. It’s been really humbling to see that the referrals have been coming in as well.
David Muhlbaum: On your website, you literally posted your asset allocation. We have this much in this and this much in this and this much in this and I believe roughly 1% was in cryptocurrency. And since you broached the idea of having a younger generation approaching you for advice, is that younger generation perhaps also showing more interest in cryptocurrencies? And what kind of guidance are you giving along those lines?
Dan Slagle: Yeah, it’s mixed. We have clients that come to us with a couple thousand dollars in cryptocurrency or clients that have maybe $50,000 in cryptocurrency. Our big take on cryptocurrency is that we definitely view it as a speculative investment. That doesn’t mean we’re not behind it at the end of the day. We do want to have an allocation because we feel like our financial foundation is in place. We have things like an emergency fund built up. We feel like we’re adequately saving for retirement. We put that percent, which you’re referencing in cryptocurrency more so as a way for us to personally learn more about it.
Natalie Slagle: As fiduciaries, we have to do what’s in the best interest of our clients, assets just need time to kind of play out. Any asset class needs time and history and data. And even though it feels like cryptocurrencies have been around for a while, a decade is not that long in the grand scheme of things. And so it’s our duty to stay up to date on anything financially related. Cryptocurrency isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and so we wanted to have that personal involvement, just like Dan said, to learn and then also to just stay up to date so we can advise our clients as well.
Sandy Block: I guess my last question, we are doing this because it’s June and the wedding month but you mentioned that a lot of your clients are millennials and what we see from numerous surveys is a lot of millennials aren’t getting married. They might be in a committed relationship, living together, but they’re not in any rush to get married or even have kids. What specific do you counsel people like that? And what kind of advice do you give them that might be different than the advice you’d give to a married couple?
Natalie Slagle: Yes. We do have couples that are living together but they’re not married. And some couples, they do have plans to get married. A lot of our advice is just, well, how are we saving for that? And then others that it’s just not a part of their long-term plan, at least for right now. For those couples, you have to think about, well, what rights do married couples have that you don’t have? And a lot of it has to do with more of the estate planning or even incapacity planning.
Let’s say Dan and I were a couple but we’re not married and something happens to me where I’m in, let’s just say a coma for a few months. Well, Dan might not have the authority to take care of my finances or make healthcare decisions since he’s not my spouse. There’s things like that, that you have to consider and have to have the appropriate planning items in place so that whoever is making the decision maybe you don’t want it to be your life partner and that’s okay. But if you do, you might need to take an extra step to make sure that authority is granted to your partner because a lot of institutions, they’ll see it as your roommate and not necessarily your partner who can make decisions on your behalf.
David Muhlbaum: Time to check with the lawyer. Well, thank you so much for your time today, Dan and Natalie. You guys have a fun dynamic that I hope comes through in audio as well. Thanks so much for joining us today.
Natalie Slagle: Thank you, David.
Dan Slagle: Yeah. Thank you very much.
Natalie Slagle: Thank you, Sandy.