Financial Planning for Families with Young Kids with Emily Benedetto

If Money Were Easy

Hosted by Mary Beth Storjohann and Neela Hummel

Financial Planning for Families with Young Kids with Emily Benedetto

Graphic of a photo of Mary Beth and Neela with a blue banner that reads, "If Money Were Easy"
If Money Were Easy
Financial Planning for Families with Young Kids with Emily Benedetto

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Episode Summary

Today, Mary Beth is joined by Abacus advisor, Emily Benedetto to discuss financial planning for families with young kids. Emily brings a wealth of knowledge and practical advice for young parents grappling with the new financial responsibilities that come with expanding their family. Mary Beth and Emily discuss everything from managing emergency funds, life insurance, the importance of discussing money openly, to how to save for your children’s future. Whether you’re expecting your first child or navigating financial planning with little ones running around, this episode is packed with valuable insights. 

What You’ll Learn in this Episode:

  • The reason having an emergency fund is a necessity, especially with young kids
  • Some savings adjustments you can make to continue to focus on your financial goals and meet the needs of your littles
  • Two things you should take care of within the first year child’s life
  • How to manage the cost of childcare and other options to consider
  • When right time is to be thinking about your kids’ college savings
  • The importance of revisiting your financial plan once your child has been born
  • Ways to make ends meet without breaking the bank 
  • Adjustments you can make to your financial decisions, so it doesn’t feel like you’ve pushed your financial goals aside for your kid
  • The importance of having open discussions with your partner about money

Resources Mentioned on the Show:

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Transcript of the Episode

Mary Beth [00:00:14]:

Hey there. Welcome to the If Money Were Easy podcast, the show where we teach you how to expand what’s possible with your money. I’m your host, Mary Beth Storjohann. My partner in crime, Neela, is not here on today’s recording, but we are CFPs and co CEO’s of Abacus Wealth Partners. Today on the show we are talking about financial planning for families with young kids. I am very excited to have Emily Benedetto as our guest today. Emily is a financial advisor, Certified Financial Planner and partner at Abacus Wealth Partners. She grew up in Santa Monica, California and still resides there, though she did venture to the Midwest for college. Before becoming a financial planner in 2017, she worked in small business operations. Her husband is a local high school math teacher and this year marks ten years of marriage. They have two small kiddos and whenever she gets the chance, she plants something new in her garden or pops open a book. Emily loves financial planning and spreading the word on financial wellness. Emily, welcome to the show. 

Emily [00:01:17]:

Thank you, Mary Beth. I appreciate that.

Mary Beth [00:01:20]:

Emily, let’s talk about young families and financial planning needs. You yourself have a young family and you also work with clients who have young families. And so when you are in this rain, foggy, exciting, it’s all coming at you transition life phase, what is the most important thing that young parents forget about their finances? 

Emily [00:01:45]:

Oh, interesting. What is the most important thing they forget? I thought you were going to ask what is the most important thing they should do. 

Mary Beth [00:01:51]:

Okay, let’s do. What’s the most important thing they should do? Go ahead.

Emily [00:01:54]:

That that works too. And you know, you are a little bit ahead of me in terms of life and in terms of kids. But it’s been so eye opening to be a financial planner pre having children and then having children. I mean, how I speak to families is really different because it is so impactful on your finances when you have kids. And I think you just don’t understand that when you’re not in it. 

Mary Beth [00:02:17]:


Emily [00:02:18]:

But as I was thinking about today and what’s the most important thing that people forget? I think it’s just general financial wellness. And I’m a very big proponent of knowing the details of your finances. So whether you have kids or you don’t, but especially before you have kids, kids impact your finances no matter what and so it is the task of do you want to be surprised by that impact or do you want to be a little bit ahead of that impact? So that’s the one thing I think people forget, is that they need to do a little bit of work ahead of time. There’s a reason why we are pregnant for nine months. Gives you a little bit of time to prep for what is to come. So that is getting on the same page as your spouse, as your partner. It’s a really big prep item, and a lot of folks don’t have merged finances at that point. So you’re having conversation about merged finances. So the big thing is it’s going to impact you. So do you want to be surprised or don’t you? And there’s very specific things that you can do to prepare. I mean, I’m sure you had spreadsheets before. 

Mary Beth [00:03:25]:

Are you a fellow spreadsheeter as well, or how did you navigate? How do you navigate? 

Emily [00:03:30]:

So I am a spreadsheeter. And so there was, what is happening right now? So that’s what I would advise people. And there’s so much advice that comes when you’re about to have a baby. Everybody loves to give you advice about when you are expecting. So how do we, Mary Beth, encourage people to, well, not be overwhelmed by this conversation and, like, you got to do all these millions of things before your baby, but sitting down and knowing what’s coming in, coming out, you need to know how much your life costs, right? So when you’re talking about things like adding an insurance premium or adding diaper costs or adding childcare costs, is that just coming out of your surplus? Great. Wonderful. Or is this coming out of a savings bucket, or do you need to lower your 401k contributions? Like, you have to know these things. I always say data drives decisions, right? So if the decision is great, yes, green light. Okay, good. At least you know that. But if it’s like, ooh, no, maybe we need to ask our parents for childcare support, then that’s also an answer, too. So getting into the details of your money, what’s happening? I take every opportunity to tell people to look at their pay stub. It’s my favorite financial planning document. 

Mary Beth [00:04:46]:

It tells such a great story. There’s such a wonderful story on your pay stub. 

Emily [00:04:50]:

So much wonderful stuff happens at that paycheck level. And really, your income is the driver of your financial plan and your financial future. So you need to know what’s happening at that paycheck level. So what are we talking about? 401K deferrals, but really, like, healthcare premiums? How much does it cost to add a baby to your policy? So, there was a pre baby spreadsheet, and then there was a post baby spreadsheet of expenses, and then you’re adding line items. Right. You’re adding the big things that you maybe need to buy the stroller or the car seat. You know, when we’re thinking about financial planning, what is my new health care premium going to be if I add baby? Is baby coming on my policy? Is baby going on my spouse’s policy? We’re likely going to need life insurance. How much is an estimate for that line item? What are the monthly items that we’re going to be buying every single month? People love to say, oh, newborns. Like all you need is like a drawer and a blanket. It’s true. They’re pretty simple. But you do need to buy diapers and wipes and maybe formula. So adding these line items to your monthly budget so just to see where you stand. 

Mary Beth [00:05:59]:

Yeah. And I’d say probably being conservative, overestimating those areas because you think it’s one thing and then inflation and then just reality in general, you’re like, oh, diapers, you know, $50 and diapers are like $100. Do not underestimate the number of diapers from a newborn. You can’t. Which, again, that gets into the device that you will learn as you go. But there are things I think that you kind of plan with this ideal, like, oh, well, we’ll cut here. Won’t be that much. Won’t be that much. And then, as you said, it adds up over time and it can be kind of daunting if you’re not prepared for it. It hits you and you’re like, oh, it’s kind of painful. And where do you make those adjustments? Are you going to cut the 401k, ask for help, et cetera?

Emily [00:06:40]:

Yeah, and that’s going to be tough. If you’ve always been a super saver or you’ve never dipped into your savings for a certain period of life, it may be a bit of a flip switch. And that’s my personal story is like, I was always just saver, saver, saver, saver, saver. And I think you can put those restrictions on you as a, an adult, as an individual, but you can’t do it on your kids. You know, like you have to pay for the medical bill that comes your way, you have to pay for the new shoes, the car seat every 18 months. You can’t put the same sort of austere restrictions on a child that you can put on yourself. 

Mary Beth [00:07:15]:

True, true. 

Emily [00:07:16]:

So I love the idea of buffer. There’s a lot of unexpected, and you can balance it out, like, oh, well, we’ll probably not go on this type of vacation when we have kids or we won’t have this dinners out with kids, but for the most part you will be spending more, more money. 

Mary Beth [00:07:31]:

True. Agreed. So let’s talk about the emergency fund. What people forget to do sometimes, you know, you want to prepare and I like what you said, what people do forget to do is getting on the same page with your spouse, which, let’s be honest, people forget to do that at every stage of life sometimes. Right. You know, one person is constantly and, you know, running the finances because the other one’s not necessarily doing it or as involved as they, as they could be. So I love that that was the answer. But then going into emergency funds for those that are going into this young family status, they have these expenses coming at them. They might have babies, they might have toddlers. They are spending money in one area trying to maybe do 401K. What are you looking at from an emergency standpoint? I know we have our standard numbers, but how do young parents handle multiple priorities?

Emily [00:08:18]:

Yes, I call this the season of competing goals. You know, you’re right in that mid thirties or early thirties, whatever it may be, but you’re, oh, we should do 401K. Oh, but we’re saving for a house. Oh, we have student loans but we have this baby that’s a very immediate need. You can’t defer that one. So, I mean it’s so cheesy for me to say, but it is a goals based conversation. What are we working towards? And kids are dynamic. Things change every six to twelve months. So it could be that the emergency fund, you lean on it for the first six months to a year. Hey, you know, if your company doesn’t give you a good parental leave policy, you may be dipping into your emergency fund for six to nine months so that you can have that buffer of time off with your baby or you potentially need to be dipping into the emergency fund for the big items, whether it’s like nursery items or stroller. But I would say six months of spending should be, should be there on the background. 

Mary Beth [00:09:18]:

Kind of at all times how would somebody who has spent it down, let’s say they spent it down for their leave and now they have toddler status. So it’s a depleted emergency fund. Toddler, you still have preschool, daycare and then 401k, like it’s all still there. How do you squeeze that back in? What do you do? What would you recommend? 

Emily [00:09:39]:

Oh man. 

Mary Beth [00:09:40]:

I know. Case study coming at you. 

Emily [00:09:41]:

Case study. I would likely have people pull back, review their expenses like you know, where can they cut? But I think that pulling back on 401k could be a season that you have to do that is pull back on that or deferring some goals. It could be that you can’t be saving for the house or saving for the 529 plans. They have to be put on the back burner. But I do think that this is where I’ve changed as a planner. I think I used to be so, like, 15% to 401k. You can’t change that. It can’t budge. And now that I have kids and I’ve experience that, it’s this season of like, you know what? I’m going to pull back on that a little bit. But the eventual goal is to always get back to that 15%, right, or 12%, whatever it is. So you are checking in regularly about where can we adjust our savings? So maybe like, the preschool cost drops off. Okay. We’re immediately adding to the 401K or the nanny drops off, we’re adding to the 401K. So having that as that North Star, would you, would you also say that that needs to be the decrease? Because I don’t know where else you’re pulling from.

Mary Beth [00:10:45]:

Yeah, I would say it has to be. I’d probably try to cushion it. My planning mind is always like, I take a little bit from everything. The 529 is probably the one I would reduce fully, knowing that there’s time for catch up. But then the 401k, lifestyle stuff, I’d be adjusting at those areas. The home, I’d probably like, adjust down across the board depending on what the client’s goals are at the end of the day. 

Emily [00:11:08]:

Oh, 100%. And you can get super nerdy.

Mary Beth [00:11:11]:

That’s where it’s personal. 

Emily [00:11:12]:

It’s personal. It’s what help are you getting from family? Like, oh, mom’s helping me with babysitting so that price can go down or my interest rates on my student loans are crazy. I need to prioritize that. So it really is personal. But my encouragement to people is that it is a season 

Mary Beth [00:11:28]:

It is a season.

Emily [00:11:29]:

It’s a season of really intense cash outflow, maybe before you hit public school. And then things change. 

Mary Beth [00:11:37]:

Yeah. So, you know, and that’s the same thing with clients, which I know you get those emails, like you said, the nanny’s going away, preschool’s going away, and you have this influx of cash and, and then it’s, where do you save it? Where do you allocate it? And that’s just, I mean, personally, it’s freeing and exciting. And then also for clients, it’s a really fun time, too, because planner minds were like, oh, how can we maximize and allocate this? And it’s one of the fun things I think we get to do, the cash influx

Emily [00:12:00]:

It’s like a board game where you, like, hit up against something. You’re like, ooh, well, new information. You got a raise. Okay, turn right. We’re going to add to the 529 plan. Oh, it’s like, oh, you want to take a little bit longer out of work? Okay. We’re going to pull out a savings. I mean, I don’t know if that’s how your brain works, but for me, like, financial planning is like this Tetris game where we’re just finding a slot for every dollar that’s coming and going out. 

Mary Beth [00:12:22]:

Yes. I love it. I love that perspective. So talk to me a bit about life insurance. You talked about putting a line item there. I mean, most people don’t even know where to begin in terms of shopping around, what to consider, and then term whole life, etcetera.

Emily [00:12:37]:

Sure. So life insurance comes up a lot, and I’m like, what is the purpose of life insurance? It is in the event of my passing, somebody else was dependent on my income, and so I need to make sure that there’s money that gets left behind for, for that person or my family. So that is the reason for life insurance. If somebody was dependent on you.

Mary Beth [00:12:59]:

So it’s dependent on your income, and you need to make sure there’s some money left behind for them. Is it in perpetuity? Is it until what point in time? Like, how far are you looking to get those people through? 

Emily [00:13:11]:

Exactly. That is the first line of life insurance question. And then the second line is, and do you want to make sure your kids go private school all the way through grad school? Do you want to make sure that your spouse never has to work a day again in their life? So that’s like, step one is just who was dependent on my income? How can I cover them for critical years up to age 18 or 25? So I did it through an independent broker. I always recommend term. These days, I’m recommending 30 year policies, more than 20 year policies. The kids stay on the parents dollar for a lot longer. 

Mary Beth [00:13:46]:

Just wait till your kids tell you they’re never moving out, because that’s what mine say. Mine say they’re never moving out, which I’ll take it.

Emily [00:13:50]:

Well, there you go. And you know this, in California, people work a lot longer than age 60. 

Mary Beth [00:13:56]:

They really do. 

Emily [00:13:57]:

They do. 

Mary Beth [00:13:58]:

Really do.

Emily [00:13:59]:

And the reason being is we put a lot of people love their jobs, love what they do, but we put so much into our homes that ending work at age 60 is not usually an option for. So if people working until 67, 70, that’s really like that 30 year plan gets them a lot closer to that. But yeah, terminal always. You’re paying for life insurance, you’re not buying an investment. And then the younger you get it, the cheaper it is. So I say, tell me if this is too lenient, but it’s a one year goal. After your baby’s born, you need to have life insurance.

Mary Beth [00:14:34]:

I think that’s reasonable.

Emily [00:14:35]:

That’s reasonable. 

Mary Beth [00:14:36]:

I mean, it’s reality of it getting done right. You’re having a baby, you’re recovering from a baby, you’re in a fog of no sleep, and then trying to get all of your health exams done for any type of sleep situation is hard to do. So I’d say one year. I usually say it’s the insurance. And tell me this tracks for you. It’s the insurance and the estate planning are the two that they’re urgent, but it usually takes probably six to twelve months to get those things going and finalized. 

Emily [00:15:04]:

Totally. I mean, you just immediately have to become an adult when you have a kid, so. But just from a line item cash flow perspective, life insurance is usually a once a year premium. So ours are due in December. And I know that. And so when you’re looking at your budget, I tell people you need to monthize your expenses and you need to annualize your expenses. So, like, you need to know what your life costs as a whole on an annual. And you’re expecting those big, like, oh, that’s when the $1,500 life insurance policy is going to be paid for. And then something like an estate plan, that’s going to be just a one time purchase that you have to put that in your post baby spreadsheet. 

Mary Beth [00:15:46]:

So I have a question in terms of the insurance, and just stop me if I’m getting too into the weeds. Do you ever recommend your parents, young parents, to ladder their policies? 

Emily [00:15:56]:

I have, yeah. But usually the ladder strategy comes up a little bit later. It’s almost like I meet with a 40 year old and at 30 they had gotten a 20 year policy, and then all of a sudden that 20 year policy is looking like, oh my gosh, that’s just in ten years. That’s when we’ll ladder. But you tell me, do you tell a 30 year old to do like a 20 and a 30 year? So they have it for like, their highest earning years. 

Mary Beth [00:16:22]:

Yeah, I’d say like 35 is usually when we’ll start to ladder. If like a 30, like 20. And that’s not all the time. It just depends on what their career is, what the plans are, and talking through their personal situation. But we have laddered in the past as well, depending on personal goals, incomes, and an idea of phasing out of work. Right. Of like you were just talking about working until 70. A lot of times it’s like the ideal is that work is still optional, so you won’t need to replace as much income at that point in time. So it’s not going to be zero to, you know, 100. So we stagger it out, assuming the assets will start to replace it over time. 

Emily [00:16:55]:

And it’s true. And if you’re in a career that you’re just going to earn more and more and more money over the years, you likely will increase your lifestyle. And so like the million dollar policy you got at 30 may not be appropriate when you’re 50. 

Mary Beth [00:17:10]:


Emily [00:17:10]:

But hopefully you’ve accumulated assets up to that point too.

Mary Beth [00:17:13]:

Yeah, and so we’re talking about laddering and then ladder up or down with your policies, which means having multiple insurance policies for different terms and different amounts. So you can have a 30 year policy for a million, 20 year policy for 500,000, a 10 year policy for 250. So you have that full coverage and the coverage falls off over time. Or you can increase coverage as time goes on too, if your income is going up. So you can go either direction.

Emily [00:17:39]:

Oh, I like that. Another thing that I really encourage people to do in preparation for baby is really know the details of your work’s policies. Like what does work offer you in terms of leave? Is there flexibility for coming back? I’ve seen a lot of companies where you come back at a part time basis and then you kind of ramp back up to full time. If you’re in the state of California, you’re dealing with disability paid family leave. What’s the cost of adding a newborn to your policy? You’re in that data gathering. And as you’re thinking about, okay, what expenses are going to be added to my budget, there’s just also a lot you need to suss out from a details perspective because we could have a whole conversation about EDD and, you know, disability and paid family late, that stuff’s kind of confusing. And to do that when you have like a five week old, I would just do it beforehand. 

Mary Beth [00:18:35]:

Do beforehand. That’s where that nine months comes into play again. 

Emily [00:18:37]:

Yeah. Right. 

Mary Beth [00:18:38]:

And you definitely want to be prepared free baby for what to expect in terms of returning to work or what your options are, options A, B, C also having an idea of what delivery could cost you. What will it cost you out of pocket for having a baby?

Emily [00:18:53]:

Yeah. Go on your insurance portal, do an estimator. You’re going to be grateful that you have all this data to make decisions. Are we going to be able to just pay for the max out of pocket from our normal checking account or we’re going to have to dip into savings for that? Or are we going to need to move like all of these things that it’s a time of pretty big decisions that you’re making. So if you have the data to back it up, you’re going to feel a lot better about these big decisions. 

Mary Beth [00:19:22]:

Yeah. So let’s do timeline of baby is here to two to three years old. You may or may not have multiple kids in there. What are you looking at? So we talked about after baby, you have a year for life insurance and estate planning. What are the things that you should be doing? The markers of babies here. You’re probably in like three months of survival, right? You’re not thinking about your money. Ideally you have the plan before you six months. It could be twelve months of survival depending on where you’re at in life. 

Emily [00:19:47]:

Depends on the baby.

Mary Beth [00:19:48]:

Depends on the baby and the situation. But what are you advising? What’s the checklist of like, not necessarily pre preparation, but baby’s here. And then how do you as an advisor, re engage clients around their money? Your life has changed. You’re a little bit more distracted, especially in like that phase of life. But things, conflicting priorities. How do you engage clients? What are the most important things you want them to look at during that time? 

Emily [00:20:12]:

Yeah, I like to give people a little bit of a break from emails in that first three to six months of a newborn. I do think you start popping your head back out about four months postpartum. You can kind of handle things, but, you know, assuming you have life insurance in a state on your radar. I actually always encourage people to open 529 plans even if they are not personally funding them. A great opportunity for aunts, uncles, grandma, grandpa to just have money. And 529 plans are tax favorable, college accounts, college savings accounts. And if grandma, grandpa is asking, you know, what do we want for Christmas or birthday? You can direct them to just add money directly into the five to nine plan. So I really like that. And then I would say creating just good parent financial habits. So every quarter, I don’t know Mary Beth, are you on a quarterly system with your husband? I always like, every quarter, we’re looking at what happened. Where’d the money go? Where are we saving? Are we on track? What can we change? So getting into that habit, if you’re not already in that habit, would be good. 

Mary Beth [00:21:16]:

Brian probably wishes I would talk about money less, if I’m being honest. I’m sorry, it’s too much for him. So there you go. 

Emily [00:21:22]:

Well, and then you’re talking about the ever looming decision of nanny, daycare, preschool, and those are big monthly line items. So, you know, I remember I had a date in mind that I was like, I need to have a nanny by October 15. And I went right up to the deadline on that. But I think in terms of engaging clients is, you know, you just have a baby and you wake up sort of a different person. You have a little bit more perspective of like, oh, my gosh, yeah, I’ve got to get myself in order a bit more. I have this child to care for, so I actually do find that clients have an uptick in engagement and responsibility once they have kids. 

Mary Beth [00:22:05]:

Love that. Yeah, that’s great. So the 529, you recommend setting that up whether you’re funding or not. What do they need to have in place prior to starting the funding? Like, if I’m a client of yours, what are you making sure that I’m doing? Can I be saving for my 401K and doing 529 my student loans? Where does the 529 come into my priorities?

Emily [00:22:24]:

Yeah. So, like, the ordering of where you’re putting savings in surplus. I really like when people are not just minimally funding their 401Ks before they jump to the 529 plan. Do not pass go if you’re not adding 10% into your 401k. Yeah, that’s gonna be my, my base there. 

Mary Beth [00:22:44]:

You’re nicer than I am. 

Emily [00:22:45]:

Oh, really? You say 15? Maxing? 

Mary Beth [00:22:48]:

I usually say maxing. Always, like, kids can get student loans and you can help them pay back the student loans. May not be the best, like, theory, but that’s usually where I go, make sure you’re able to do this. 

Emily [00:22:57]:

I think you’re so right. But also, are you getting the question these days where people are like, college is not going to exist in 15 years, and I’m like, I am a financial planner. That I cannot tell you. 

Mary Beth [00:23:07]:

I do not have a crystal ball. But we can plan, and here’s what you can do with the funds if college doesn’t happen. Here’s how the funds work.

Emily [00:23:13]:

Yes, exactly. 

Mary Beth [00:23:15]:

And rollovers and different things. Yes. So we have those conversations. 

Emily [00:23:18]:

I know. Okay, so, yeah, you’re adding ten to 15% in your 401K. And then my next question is, what are other immediate goals? You know, are you trying to save for a home if you have student loan interest rates above six 7%? I’d be putting everything to tackle those. Yeah, but that’s me. I am a pretty debt averse individual that would just loom over me a little bit more than other people. But I think in these years, it’s helpful to think year by year, every two years, by 2026, will have eaten into our loans by this amount. We could consider a refinance at that point and move money into 529 plans. But that conversation of just college and supporting your adult children in general is just a great spousal conversation to have. 

Mary Beth [00:24:06]:

Really good. 

Emily [00:24:08]:

Yeah, and this is where I’ll plug, like, Gabe’s interview where it’s like, how are we going to handle money and our kids? And are we going to just let them pay 100% of college? Are we going to require that they work? Are we going to always cover their cell phone bill and their healthcare premium? So, like, good meaty conversation there. 

Mary Beth [00:24:25]:

Really good. Especially because you and your partner had different upbringings. Right. So based on your perspectives, what you experienced, what you enjoyed, what you didn’t, and then how you want to bring that forward to completely different thoughts. And so how do you meet in the middle or move to one side? I think it’s always fun to be a part of those conversations with clients and then they’re difficult to have on your own, in your own house is one thing to do, like, with myself and Brian, having those conversations of, like, negotiating and bringing it, that’s one thing. Because when you’re in it, it’s one thing. But when you’re able to see the progress from couples as like, an advisor, to be sitting in the room and helping them to navigate where they want to go, that’s rewarding in a different way. I mean, it’s rewarding with your partner also. But there’s more compromise. You’re doing the personal compromising well. 

Emily [00:25:06]:

And if you make a decision, you have 18 years to deliver the message to the kiddos, like, we will only pay for up to a UC education. We will only pay up to a UC education. And at least, like, not going to be a surprise in 18 years if that’s what you’ve, you know, decided to do. 

Mary Beth [00:25:22]:

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. I just finished reading Ron Lieber’s book, the how to raise generous Kids, which is so, so applicable right now in this phase of life for, for me. And, and then just imagining for clients as well. Do you work? Do you not work? You know, what’s the expectation? Cell phone bills? How do you handle the allowance? Everything Gabe shared on his podcast, which we’ll link to, were really interesting. So what else? What are we forgetting? 

Emily [00:25:45]:

What are we forgetting? I think that in terms of raising kids in LA can be cookie crazy. And so this is also just bringing it back to you and your partner as like, what are our money values, too? And I will tell you that we bought a stroller new, we bought a car seat new, but like, everything else has been like Facebook marketplace, and, like, buy nothing groups. And you live in LA. People don’t have room to store things in their garages and their basements, their attics, so they are just given stuff away. The message that I want to relay is like, you know, you don’t have to spend $10,000 on a nursery renovation and get a minivan the same year and move to a three bedroom home. Like, you can put your values on the parenting experience. 

Mary Beth [00:26:33]:

Yes, yes. I love that you share that. And, you know, the thing that we’ve seen the most, the big items, but also clothes, like how much you go through clothes. And so when we had Ellie, our eldest, a friend dropped off boxes that she had gotten from a friend of just clothes from, like zero to three, which then I’ve now passed those clothes to another friend for her three daughters. And the youngest one is now on those clothes that we see come through. And it’s stretching those out again from a fast fashion standpoint in terms of, like, you know, what we’re doing to the, to the world from a sustainability perspective, but also just in terms of a savings for your wallet. I mean, when you start to actually shop for clothes, shoes are probably the thing that I’m always shocked by how much shoes actually cost for these ages. And I don’t know if you, you’ve seen that yet or experienced. 

Emily [00:27:16]:

I’m not fully into that world. I mean, like, my kids are almost two and almost one, so they are the 11th and 12th grandchildren in my family, so. 

Mary Beth [00:27:26]:

Oh, so you have. 

Emily [00:27:27]:

Yeah, I got a lot of hand me down.

Mary Beth [00:27:30]:


Emily [00:27:30]:

I got a lot of hand me downs, which is wonderful. But I also took myself off Instagram. I think Instagram, I know, is like tired nursing mom, I’m going to just feed you all of these ads about how your children are going to sleep through the night and how they’re going to be smarter by using this, and they’re going to eat better. And goodness gracious, you just like, buy now. And it’s silly. You just like, no, no, I’m not going to be part of your algorithm. I’m going to pull myself out of that right now. 

Mary Beth [00:27:58]:

Solid move. I love that. 

Emily [00:28:02]:

Also, the number of strollers. I have three strollers. Did you feel like you had a million strollers? 

Mary Beth [00:28:07]:

We had three by the end, yes. 

Emily [00:28:09]:

Yeah, yeah. 

Mary Beth [00:28:10]:

Different things, different uses for different reasons. 

Emily [00:28:12]:

But again, like, Facebook marketplace, $75. There’s such great camaraderie in fellow parents, too. Like, we all do want to help each other out.

Mary Beth [00:28:22]:

Yes, yes. We got rid of a table recently that the kids had sat at for years in our dining room, just like a little kid table. And the woman who bought it off Facebook marketplace sent us a picture of her daughter, her little two year old added afterwards, saying she loves it already. And it’s just like that community of people who are so excited to pay it forward and just, you know, pass things on. And I love that. I agree that parents want to help and support other parents. 

Emily [00:28:45]:

Yeah. So true.

Mary Beth [00:28:47]:

Okay, let’s transition to our closing questions. 

Emily [00:28:50]:


Mary Beth [00:28:51]:

All right. What is the best financial advice you’ve ever received? 

Emily [00:28:56]:

So I have two things, but I’ll tell you a story. So I went to Chicago for college. My parents did not drop me off. I just got on a plane and went to school. 

Mary Beth [00:29:06]:

Wow. You were just, you just said goodbye and left? 

Emily [00:29:08]:

Yes. And independence, we didn’t have the conversation about how they were going to pay for tuition. Just got sent there. And then I remember Wheaton, my college, was sending me the bills for tuition. And, like, I just was getting these bills and, like, wringing my hands because I was like, I don’t know what to do. And I remember I was, like, in the registrar’s office on, like, December 12, the quarter was closing, and I don’t know what to do. So I called my dad, and he picks up. He’s like, hey, Em, what’s going on? I was like, dad, I have this bill. And I don’t know, we never talked about it. He could just tell I was so worked up. And he was like, whoa, whoa, whoa, whoa, Emily. Never be afraid to talk about money. Never be afraid to talk about money. And I was like, thank you. I mean, I wish we would have had this discussion six months ago, but I hear your advice. I hear your advice, and it’s true. Like, you just sometimes have to talk about it. And that was really hard for me. I was a bit more of a head in the sand type person before I became a planner, but then also, so that’s advice. And then I’ve seen my dad give away 10% of his income my entire life. So just generosity. Generosity always has, like, really been amazing. Just example and advice for me. 

Mary Beth [00:30:26]:

Oh, I love the generosity. I think there’s so much power there. What is your favorite money mistake you’ve made? 

Emily [00:30:33]:

Oh, dear. My goodness. Okay, so I got married really young. My husband and I have always been really big savers. Really, like, frugal. And when I was 27, my best friend invited me to her bachelorette party in an all inclusive resort in Mexico. And I just looked at the sticker price, and I was like, I can’t go. I can’t go. I was like, $2,000 for the weekend or something. It was just, to me, it was absurd. I couldn’t believe it. And, Mary Beth, I said, no, I did not go to my best friend’s bachelorette party because I was scared of the price. And I just felt like, you’re not allowed to do that. That’s not frugal. And you know what? I 100% had the money to do it, and I just didn’t know I was allowed to do that. And this was, you know, before I became a financial planner, before I, like you think about your values and your money and the yeses and the no. But, yeah, I wish I would have had someone tell me, like, you’re allowed. It’s worth it. You’re gonna have a great time. This is your best friend. I don’t wanna make that mistake again. 

Mary Beth [00:31:42]:

Wow. So do you feel like you walked away with the lesson? How long did it take for the lesson to land? Was it years later? 

Emily [00:31:48]:

Yeah, it was years later. It was like, after becoming a CFP and thinking about, you don’t make childhood friends every day, you know, and thinking about now as a mom with two kids, like, what I would give for an all inclusive vacation in Mexico. What was I thinking? And I don’t know, was it like a morality thing of, like, it’s just. You’re not allowed to. That’s not right. It was funny. So that was a money mindset I had to work through. 

Mary Beth [00:32:16]:

Money script. Yes. Yeah, that’s a really good one. That’s a really good example. You know, in terms of not giving yourself permission. A lot of mistakes are some sort of spend. Like, I spent here, I did this, or I made this investment. It didn’t pan out, but yours is actually a restriction of not allowing yourself to experience joy or experience a memory creation. So it’s really interesting. Okay, fill in the blank. If money were easy… 

Emily [00:32:44]:

I’d read fewer books. Don’t you still find, like, financial planning interesting?

Mary Beth [00:32:50]:

I have so many books. I have so many to read still. I find it fascinating. I I’m often sad that I cannot go back to school and do it all over again. I feel like the perspective of elder me versus younger me. I find the books fascinating still. 

Emily [00:33:04]:

I’d listen to a fewer podcasts. 

Mary Beth [00:33:06]:

Yeah, true. Okay, Emily, this is such an amazing conversation. Can you tell our listeners how they can contact you or find you on the Internet? 

Emily [00:33:16]:

Sure, I just said I’m off Instagram because they’re trying to poach me for money. 

Mary Beth [00:33:24]:

Now that’s a solid financial move. So we will link to your email and your LinkedIn. 

Emily [00:33:30]:

Yeah, my LinkedIn, my LinkedIn, my work email, all that. 

Mary Beth [00:33:34]:

All right. Thanks so much.

Emily [00:33:36]:

That was fun. Thanks, Mary Beth. 

Mary Beth [00:33:37]:

Thank you. 

Mary Beth [00:33:40]:

Thanks for tuning in to today’s episode of If Money Were Easy. If this is the year that you want to expand what’s possible with your money and you can use some professional guidance along the way, head over to and schedule your free consultation.

Mary Beth [00:34:18]:

Abacus Wealth Partners is an SEC registered investment advisor. SEC registration does not constitute an endorsement of Abacus Wealth Partners by the SEC, nor does it indicate that Abacus Wealth Partners has attained a particular level of skill or ability. This material prepared by Abacus Wealth Partners is for informational purposes only. It is not intended to serve as a substitute for personalized investment advice or as a recommendation or solicitation of any particular security, strategy, or investment product. Opinions expressed by Abacus Wealth Partners are based on economic or market conditions at the time this material was written. Facts presented have been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Abacus Wealth Partners, however, cannot guarantee the accuracy or completeness of such information, and certain information presented here may have been condensed or summarized from its original source. Abacus Wealth Partners does not provide tax or legal advice, and nothing contained in these materials should be taken as tax or legal advice. Economies and markets fluctuate. Actual economic or market events may turn out differently than anticipated. No investor should assume that future performance will be profitable or equal, either the previous reflected performance or that of the reference benchmarks. The historical performance results of the comparative benchmark do not reflect the deduction of transaction and custodial charges or the deduction of an investment management fee, the incurrence of which would decrease indicated historical performance. The S&P Index includes 500 leading companies in the US and is widely regarded as the best single gauge of large cap US equities. The holdings and performance of Abacus Wealth Partners client accounts may vary widely from those of the presented indices. Advisory services are only offered to clients or prospective clients where Abacus Wealth Partners and its representatives are properly licensed or exempt from licensure. No advice may be rendered by Abacus Wealth Partners unless a client service agreement is in place.

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