Unique Financial Planning Needs of the LGBTQ+ Community with Christopher Stroup

Cover image of special guest Christopher Stroup.

If Money Were Easy

Hosted by Mary Beth Storjohann and Neela Hummel

Unique Financial Planning Needs of the LGBTQ+ Community with Christopher Stroup

If Money Were Easy
If Money Were Easy
Unique Financial Planning Needs of the LGBTQ+ Community with Christopher Stroup

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Episode Summary

Today we dive into the unique financial planning needs of the LGBTQ+ community. To navigate this often overlooked area of finance we talk with special guest Christopher Stroup, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ with expertise in LGBTQ+ financial planning. Together, we explore the financial implications of marriage, adoption, surrogacy, and estate planning for LGBTQ+ individuals. We’ll shed light on the challenges faced, from workplace discrimination to systemic barriers in the insurance industry, and you’ll learn how to build a safety net, maximize employer benefits, and plan for the future. Join us as we uncover the key strategies to empower and support the LGBTQ+ community on their financial journey.

What You’ll Learn in This Episode:

  • The unique financial planning needs of the LGBTQ+ community
  • The importance of estate planning LGBTQ+ individuals
  • What documents you need to ensure your assets go to the right people
  • The best way to control your assets should you become incapacitated
  • The best way to ensure your children are taken care of
  • How life insurance can intersect with estate planning
  • How marriage affects tax planning and estate planning for the LGBTQ+ community
  • Common hurdles LGBTQ+ clients face with their finances
  • Financial misconceptions about the LGBTQ+ community
  • How workplace discrimination can affect long-term financial goals
  • Five steps to get you started towards a better financial future
  • How to financially plan on growing your family (and what to consider)
  • How to find a financial advisor that’s right for you

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. We’re your hosts Mary Beth Storjohann.

Neela [00:00:23]:

and Neela Hummel, 

Mary Beth [00:00:24]:

Certified financial planners and co CEOs of Abacus Wealth Partners. Today on the show, we’re going to talk about the unique planning needs of the LGBTQ+ community. But before we jump in, a brief disclosure from our Director of Compliance. This podcast is for educational purposes and is not intended as investment, legal, or tax advice, and the opinion shared is not an opinion of Abacus Wealth Partners. Let’s jump in. 

Neela [00:00:52]:

So today on the show, we are joined by Christopher Stroop. Christopher Stroop is a certified financial planner for Abacus Wealth Partners, a fee only firm with a focus on impact and socially responsible investing, diversity, equity, and inclusion, and making financial planning accessible. As a former petroleum engineer in the oil and gas industry – just a quick pause, that’s pretty badass – Christopher received his MBA from Drexel University, then pivoted into wealth management, where he focuses on LGBTQ+ entrepreneurs and Fortune 500 executives. Christopher was named to the 2021 Investment News class of 40 under 40, and this past year, he found himself on the LGBTQ Great Top 100 Game Changers 2022 list, which recognizes 100 inspiring people who are helping to change the game for LGBTQ+ diversity, equity, and inclusion across the global financial services ecosystem. Welcome to the show, Christopher. 

Mary Beth [00:01:51]:


Christopher [00:01:52]:

Hey, happy to be here. Thanks for having me on. 

Neela [00:01:54]:

We’re so excited. 

Mary Beth [00:01:55]:

Thank you for being here. 

Christopher [00:01:57]:

Yeah, I think this is a really important topic for us to discuss, so I’m happy where we’re happy. We’re diving into this as Pride Month arrives. 

Mary Beth [00:02:04]:

Yes. Conveniently, but not so conveniently because it’s necessary all twelve months of the year. Not just in June.

Christopher [00:02:12]:

That’s true. Pride 365. 

Mary Beth [00:02:14]:


Neela [00:02:14]:

So let’s dive in. In this topic, we talk about the unique financial planning needs of LGBTQ+ individuals. And I’m sure like many different categories, all needs are not the same. So maybe give us a little bit of an overview of some of the areas that there is some commonality where there are unique financial planning considerations for the LGBTQ+ community. 

Christopher [00:02:38]:

Totally. So let’s start with the foundation. We’re financial planners, and at the root of everything, the financial planning sort of looks the same in the sense that we still want to make sure you look at your cash flow, and understand your expenses. We want to make sure that you have an estate plan in place, you’re reviewing your insurances, all of those. We would recommend that for anyone, whether they’re a member of the LGBTQ+ community or our heterosexual peers. I think one of the areas where you really start to see a difference is estate planning. For instance, let’s talk about the family dynamic for the LGBTQ+ community. Not everyone has a really great relationship with the family they were born into. I think it’s something like 50% of members of the queer community are distant or have no relationship with their family because when they came out, their family disowned them for whatever reason. And so I think it’s really important to understand, under the estate planning element, what is the family? Who is the family? Is it biological? Is it a chosen family, as we like to often think about it? And how do we incorporate that into the legacy planning that we do for our LGBTQ+ clients? That’s why it’s so important for a lot of them to have their estate documents in order, because if they don’t, a lot of the intestate rules will default to the biological family. And if they have a fraught relationship with the members of that family, they may not want any of their assets to go to them.

Neela [00:04:04]:


Christopher [00:04:04]:

So that’s one of those areas where it’s really critical for our population, for the queer population, to really have their ducks in a row when it comes to financial planning. 

Mary Beth [00:04:12]:

So talk to us a little bit about what those documents would be. What are we wanting to make sure that we cover under the umbrella of estate planning? Is it like my healthcare? It’s my assets. What are we looking at? 

Christopher [00:04:22]:

It’s all of that. So, first and foremost, starting with a will, making sure you have that documented so you go around any kind of intestate or things that would happen when you didn’t have it in order. Other items you want to think about are durable power of attorney. So end of life having durable power of attorney in place. Someone who can control or take control of your assets and finances if you’re no longer to designate it yourself. Some other things would be just HIPAA authorization ensuring that, let’s say you have a partner, you’re not married, but you want to make sure that they have information about you in terms of if you’re in the hospital, making sure that that’s done. Advanced healthcare directives. What are the wishes that you want, if you’re incapacitated? Who you want to be making them as your agent. All of these are critical documents to think about having in place as part of your estate document to make sure that you have control in that situation rather than maybe having it to your family that you may not want them to have control in that situation. 

Neela [00:05:15]:

Yeah, it’s this idea of who are the people that are important to you, because it’s not just about who gets what, but it’s also who’s making control decisions, who’s making sure that the bills get paid, and then, you even touched on health care directives, who is making perhaps end of life decisions. And if you don’t have a close relationship with the default that is stipulated by your state, somebody could be making those decisions that you really don’t want to be making those decisions.

Christopher [00:05:40]:

Exactly. And I think it’s even more important when you add family context to that in sense of your own family. Do you have children with your partner? Who do you want to be the guardian for your child? Ultimately, you want to name all of that in your will as part of your estate documents, tie up those loose ends. If you have a fraud relationship with your family, that’s all critical in terms of the estate planning work that gets done. 

Mary Beth [00:06:02]:

I love that you brought up the idea of chosen family. I think it’s very often overlooked, even probably in the financial planning community. We really tend to talk about familial relationships that we don’t talk about, very often, the chosen family, and anybody else in your live, and spend time asking clients, “tell us about your family.” We never say, “tell us about your chosen family.” So I think that’s a really interesting perspective. That is a good reminder. 

Christopher [00:06:25]:

Right. I think part of working with the LGBTQ+ community and the planning work that we do is coming to the table and removing all of those expectations or stereotypes or prior definitions that we all have of what a relationship looks like. What does family look like? Because it looks very different for a lot of members of the LGBTQ+ community, and we don’t want to come to the table making those preconceived notions that may be way off base. 

Mary Beth [00:06:50]:


Neela [00:06:51]:

And estate planning, Mary Beth touched on this. It’s such a big umbrella term. And so where else does that have implications? Is that beneficiaries? How does life insurance, how do other insurances, come into play? 

Christopher [00:07:05]:

Exactly I mean, you named beneficiaries. I think that’s one of the low hanging fruit that anyone, whether they’re a member of the queer community or not, should make sure that if you can name one, someone is named. It’s an easy way to make sure that assets transfer quickly to the loved one that you want them to go to in case you eventually pass away. Same thing with insurances. All of that is extremely important to review and make sure that you have it in place and that you have the right people named as dependents or as beneficiaries to make sure that your loved ones are taken care of. At the end of the day, you’re no longer there to provide for them.

Neela [00:07:39]:

Okay and so we have to talk about the T word. The T word meaning taxes. Both Mary Beth and Christopher were looking at me like…

Christopher [00:07:47]:

I wasn’t sure where we were going with it.

Mary Beth [00:07:49]:

Like the tea. We’re going to spill the tea.

Neela [00:07:50]:

What T are we going to be talking about? The sexy tea. 

Christopher [00:07:53]:

I thought you were talking about transgender and I was like, okay! 

Mary Beth [00:07:55]:

That would have been more appropriate for branding. 

Neela [00:08:01]:

Taxes are intriguing? Is that, no? So you guys are not inside my head as I make terrible, terrible tax references, unfortunately. 

Mary Beth [00:08:12]:

It’s okay. We’re here for it. We’re here for it. 

Christopher [00:08:14]:


Neela [00:08:15]:

So you talk about a chosen family, and I’ve often heard of this idea of should we get married? Should we not get married? And how taxes might come into play. Can you speak about how that might impact the LGBTQ+ community, maybe in a different way? 

Christopher [00:08:30]:

Yeah, I think now that marriage equality is in place, really the planning question is transferred from, ‘how do we protect ourselves because we can’t get married?’ to “now that we can get married, should we?’ And one of those is that tax question- Is there a financial benefit or consequence to us getting married in terms of tax consequences? And I think one of the things to think about in this is that it’s a very case by case basis. You really want to run the numbers to understand are we going to be a net positive or net loss in this situation? For instance, I recently ran this calculation for a couple that is currently engaged. No plan yet in terms of the wedding date, but they asked a question, should we do a courthouse wedding this year for tax purposes? And so it’s one of those number crunching calculations where using our software, are they going to run out ahead. Federal, how does it apply to state? You don’t want to forget about state. Does it apply to local? For them, there’s a local tax to think about and it really comes down to how much is the couple earning separately? If there’s a large wage disparity between the two partners, then they may benefit from getting married. Just given how the tax brackets double with marriage versus being single, that can really benefit. Ultimately the higher earner pays lower in terms of marginal taxes. And then also thinking about what are their deductions? Are they itemizing? Is one just taking the standard deduction? How does that play out? I think really it comes down to speaking with an advisor, speaking with a tax professional to help you understand the numbers at a more finite level because it’s going to be case by case. And for those who are wanting to understand if there’s a net positive or not, we can help run those numbers to help make an informed financial decision if marriage for them is something they want to do because of finances. 

Neela [00:10:15]:

See, taxes are so romantic. 

Christopher [00:10:17]:

I mean, super romantic. I mean, I think all I’ve learned from being a financial planner is that marriage is really just a financial transaction. 

Mary Beth [00:10:28]:

Not wrong. It’s a significant portion of it. 

Christopher [00:10:34]:

Totally. Yeah. I think taxes is one of those key considerations of many when it comes to thinking about should we marry? Should we not marry? What do we gain? What do we give up? 

Mary Beth [00:10:44]:

There’s obviously been a lot of progress in terms of marriage equality. Now the hurdle isn’t ‘how do we?’ It is, ‘should we?’ What are the other hurdles that are being faced by this community? The financial considerations beyond estate planning, beyond taxes. What are you looking at when you’re talking to clients? What are your clients asking you about that you’re noticing?

Christopher [00:11:03]:

I think one of those big areas is insurance. Insurance is slow moving, doesn’t catch up with the modern times in terms of just socially where we are at as a country. In terms of culture. I think the insurance area is where we run into a lot of problems still with members of the LGBTQ+ community. 

Mary Beth [00:11:24]:

And the transgender community. It’s included in the T. But yeah. 

Christopher [00:11:29]:

It really hits medical care, disability, and life insurance. I mean, there’s still, sort of systemic discrimination. For instance, I think about a client gay man on Prep. Prep is a preventative drug in terms of preventing HIV AIDS, which we know in the 80s and 90s, was something that really affected the LGBTQ+ community. Now there’s drugs, I guess, now, that help prevent that transmission. And gay men who are taking it can often be seen as high-risk to the insurance industry in terms of the underwriting process. I’ve had clients get denied life insurance or disability insurance or have had to pay a lot higher premiums because of the industry labeling them as a risk. When the reality is that this is really just a preventative drug. We’ve had to shop around to make sure that we find a provider that doesn’t count this against them. And so I think the insurance area is still an element of planning where we run into a lot of hurdles and may take a lot of extra steps that our heterosexual peers don’t even think about. 

Neela [00:12:37]:

Right. And it’s almost like in the best case, you’re able to shop around and get fair treatment, but in the worst case, you end up paying increased premiums over a long period of time that probably has massive ramifications from a wealth building standpoint, that’s a financial cost that doesn’t need to be bore. 

Christopher [00:12:58]:

Totally. Exactly. And so I think part of it is just setting the expectation and helping clients understand that, hey, we might face these hurdles and helping them not feel discouraged by this. And part of that is our job as the planner to understand who are our partners in these conversations that we can really turn to, who understand how to communicate with this client who’s a member of the queer community. And understand some of their health history that could be affecting them and just how to navigate those conversations delicately to ensure that ultimately we’re still finding them the best coverage for their situation.

Mary Beth [00:13:31]:

There are so many stereotypes that impact this community and I wanted to kind of talk about some of those because I think there’s still such a generational wealth gap. And I think you can speak to this more than I can. But so often we talk about there’s a view of the traditional wealthy gay couple. They have no children. We call them DINK (dual-income, no kids). That’s what it’s called in our industry. And we talk about the spending power they have and what a surplus there must be because there’s no children. And that oftentimes gets projected onto the whole community, right? We assume that there must be so much money running around in this cohort because there’s no kids. And so speak to that a little bit and what is actually and truly happening in terms of generational wealth and the barriers faced by this community? 

Christopher [00:14:10]:

Right. I think dual income, no kids, it’s just a stereotype. I think in this community, it’s the intersectionality of a lot of financial challenges we hear in terms of just race or gender or sexuality. It really all comes together in terms of the LGBTQ+ community. I mean, ultimately, they still earn less than many of their straight counterparts. They still face discrimination in the workplace. Even though it’s outlawed, it still happens. And so, I think they have more fraught relationships with their families. So we talk about generational wealth. A lot of generational wealth occurs via the transfer of wealth from the parents to the children. If 50% of the queer community has no relationship with their biological family, that money is not being transferred to them. And so that means that they have to build wealth on their own. And that’s a lot harder for the community when they just don’t have that extra layer of support. I mean, think about the amount of support that you may help with your children, right? Or how much support your parents provided to you. When that’s not an option, that means it’s much harder to buy a home. You may graduate from school with a lot more debt. Starting a family becomes way more cost prohibitive. So it really compounds when we think about how it affects the LGBTQ+ community in terms of just building wealth for themselves.

Neela [00:15:23]:

And it sounds like it could also start a lot earlier. If you end up having a fraught relationship, say, in high school or even before, that means maybe you’re getting out and you’re starting things on your own. Both of you mentioned student loan debt, but just being maybe more self sufficient earlier than you might otherwise need to be. 

Christopher [00:15:39]:

That’s totally true. I mean, for some people, this wasn’t my experience, but as soon as they come out, maybe they come out in their teenage years, family might kick them out. And so there’s a higher number in foster care and youth organizations that identify as LGBTQ+ versus the general population, and that’s due to these family dynamics. And so a lot of them could be kicked out at an early age and just set back in terms of how they can think about setting themselves up financially for success in the long run. 

Neela [00:16:09]:

We think a lot about one of the best ways to control your financial situation is to increase your earnings. And I would go out on a limb and say that the LGBTQ+ community probably faces a lot of discrimination in the workplace. Can you speak to that? 

Christopher [00:16:24]:

They still earn less than their straight peers, and so that means that it makes it harder for us to save for retirement, build an emergency reserve, and save to buy a home. I mean, all of that plays into slowing down when members of this community might be able to reach some of these goals that we consider the American Dream. Starting a family, buying a home. All of this is happening much later for our community than maybe our straight peers. 

Neela [00:16:50]:

You mentioned a lot of times the fundamentals can be the same. You want to walk us through some of the fundamentals where these are the things that you need, whether you’re in the LGBTQ+ community or not? What does everybody need to make sure that we’re hitting those? 

Christopher [00:17:03]:

Yeah, I think first and foremost, it’s understanding what money’s coming in versus what money is going out. So looking at your cash flow, if you don’t know where the money is going and what you’re spending it on, you’re going to have a hard time ultimately aligning your money with what’s most important to you. And so I think, one, understand your cash flow. There’s a lot of ways to do that. I mean, I personally love mint. There’s also personal capital. You need a budget. I mean, there’s a lot of tools out there that can help anyone just start to see what’s under the hood and where’s the money going. I think that’s really step one. The second step, building an emergency reserve or an emergency fund. I think this is critical for anyone in terms of being able to tackle a curveball that life might throw your way. And so we often say the rule of thumb is three to six months. Think if you’re solo. You might want to think about six to twelve months just to give yourself an extra horizon if you were to lose your job or if there was a large emergency that were able to be dropped on your plate. The third, think about retirement savings. I mean, at the end of the day, we all want to probably achieve work optionality at some point. And so that means taking advantage of your employer plan, at least saving enough to get the employer match. Can you save in a Roth? Can you save in a traditional IRA if you’re married? Is there a spousal IRA opportunity? We want to focus on retirement because the earlier you start, as we know, you can maximize that compounding interest in terms of the time value of money. And starting in your 20s can have a huge benefit for you when you’re 65 versus even starting in your 30s. 

Neela [00:18:31]:

And check those beneficiaries. Check those bennies! 

Christopher [00:18:34]:

Exactly. It should be a default ad when you sign up for that program. We’ve talked about this earlier. I think the fourth step is really building your safety net. And so this is what insurance coverages do I need, whether they’re employer based. Am I taking full advantage of the options that are out there for me via my employer whether it’s health insurance, dental, is there, group life insurance, I could take advantage of disability insurance. It really comes down to making sure that you have those protections in place for when you need it, because ultimately, we’re all going to need to leverage insurance at some point. And so making sure you’re taking advantage of that and then the last one is protecting your legacy. We talked about the importance of estate planning, and that is extremely important for anyone, but especially the LGBTQ+ community that may not have the same familiar relationship that our straight peers may have. And so making sure you have a will in place, prioritizing, end of life care, power of attorney, advanced healthcare directive, HIPPA authorization, tying loose ends up with any children that you may have, all of that is sort of key in terms of underpinning the estate planning work that anyone should really have in place. 

Neela [00:19:42]:


Mary Beth [00:19:45]:

One of the unique goals that I know that we’ve planned for with the LGBTQ+ community, I have in the past, is family planning and the unique cost that can come along with that in terms of adoption, fertility, et cetera. And how do you talk to clients about that goal, if it is appropriate for them or is something that’s on their list? How do you help them to plan for that or navigate around that?

Christopher [00:20:05]:

Yeah, I think to that point, 77% of millennials either have children or want to have children are members of the LGBTQ+ community. So this is only going to be more of a discussion with clients moving forward, including myself. And so I think it really comes down to understanding, what do they want their family to look like and how do they want to navigate the option? Because there’s a number of pathways in terms of family planning. And so first and foremost, do you want to adopt versus do you want to have a child that is maybe of your own legacy? I think that’s really, what do you want that to look like? 

Mary Beth [00:20:41]:

And that’s really just like yes or no on children. This goes here. It’s a flowchart. 

Christopher [00:20:48]:

I hate to say it’s a flowchart because this is planning for a family, but it sort of is in terms of, is having a child of your own legacy important or do you want to be a foster parent? Because the cost there, your answer to that question depends on how much this is going to cost. Let’s say you want to foster. It could range from virtually free to a few thousand dollars if you do state foster and have state assistance to upwards of $50,000 or $60,000 in terms of adoption. If you decide to do an international adoption, it ranges anywhere in there, depending on the kind of adoption you want. And it’s key to recognize that members of the LGBTQ+ community also face discrimination in that foster pathway. There are some countries that will not adopt out to me because I’m a gay man and they don’t see me as a parent. And so that’s something that you got to help a client navigate in terms of, if they do an independent adoption and decide to take the burden on their own to navigate the adoption process, or do they work with an agency and finding an agency that understands how to work with queer parents and help them navigate those intricacies? If they decide to not go with Fostering and have a family through surrogacy and IVF, you could be looking at $250,000 in terms of the full cost of having the surrogacy, the different rounds of IVF, if things all go well the first time, that is a down payment on home. And that’s just to have a child that doesn’t include all the costs that we know that come. 

Mary Beth [00:22:18]:

It’s about $300,000 to raise to age 18, I believe. 

Christopher [00:22:22]:

Exactly. So it’s really key to just help clients understand it’s not just a one time cost of like, yay, the child is here. How does it fit into the context of their overall financial plan and some of the modeling work that we do in terms of just, how do we make this work for you? Because you said starting a family is really important. So where are you at now in relation to that goal? What levers do we need to pull over the next two, three, five years to help ensure that you are in a financially sound position to raise this beautiful child that you want to have?

Neela [00:22:56]:

Right. This idea of bringing intentionality into it. I remember talking to one of my friends a few years ago and her saying, there’s no whoops in terms of family planning for me and my wife, she’s like, our family planning starts with us sitting around a kitchen table with spreadsheets and yellow pads. It’s a different prospect. And so just being more intentional about it. And then what I’m also hearing from you is just asking the right questions. What does it look like? Because what it might look like can be very different depending on which route you pick. 

Christopher [00:23:27]:

Totally. And I think that’s part of our job as the advisor is to really bring that out with the client and just show them the options. 

Neela [00:23:34]:


Christopher [00:23:34]:

They don’t know what they don’t know. And part of it is connecting with the right resources or just helping them understand. Okay, again, running the numbers, having a child is a financial decision.

Neela [00:23:46]:


Christopher [00:23:47]:

And so what does that look like for you in the short term? In the long term, are you willing to work a couple of extra years if that’s what it takes for you to start the family that you want to have? 

Mary Beth [00:23:56]:

And it is so hard with fertility treatments because there is no guarantee. 

Christopher [00:24:00]:


Mary Beth [00:24:00]:

And that is like, what’s your cap or are you willing to work longer? What are the levers that you’re able to pull, or willing to pull, when you get to the second round of IVF and it hasn’t worked, or you need the next donor? Where are you going? And I think that is a unique situation. And I’d say it’s a combination of financial, physical, and emotional all in one for this family, depending on which path you take, because adoption comes with so much more in fostering, especially so much more emotional. Maybe the financial situation isn’t necessarily there, but there are some real interesting things that happen on that side, too, where you could be with a child and then the parents could come back into the picture. And so that’s like a different emotional roller coaster versus private adoption and fertility. So it’s such a unique position that we’re in as advisors to be able to consult with clients through those kind of life decisions. 

Christopher [00:24:48]:

Totally. Yeah because at the end of the day, it’s just their journey. And so part of our job is just to be that guide for them and to help them make the smartest financial decision. 

Neela [00:24:57]:

Yeah. Well, before we wrap, are there any other concerns or considerations that come to mind that we should be sharing with our listeners in terms of working with this community? 

Christopher [00:25:10]:

I think really just find an advisor that meets you where you’re at. In terms of finding an advisor, whether they’re an ally or a member of the community themselves, I think having these money conversations is critical and we don’t have enough of them for our community. And so I think if you can find yourself a partner who celebrates you, sees you where you’re at, and can just be able to speak your language and understand your story, because maybe they’ve been there themselves, that can be really powerful for you as you think about building on your financial journey and ultimately achieving your goals in the long run. 

Neela [00:25:44]:

Love it. Well, let’s pivot to our closing questions, sir. Thank you so much. So our final three questions, we’ll start with our first. What is the best financial advice you ever know? 

Christopher [00:25:59]:

When I was thinking about this question, I was thinking, okay, what are key moments of my working life in terms of that were financially an inflection point? And the one that came to mind was my first internship when I was working for Chevron in Houston, Texas, my sophomore year of college. One of the petroleum engineers, his name was Bill, pulled me aside one day and showed me my pay stub. And in our 401(k) and as an intern, we had the option to defer into Chevron’s 401(k) and I remember him just walking me through here’s the 401(k), you should really contribute to this. At least get the company match at minimum. And I can just remember that conversation happening and contributing to a 401(k) as an intern and thinking about the importance of maximizing that as I move forward. And I think that always stuck with me in terms of just maximizing your employer benefit, saving for the long term, and trying to save early so that you can have more options down the road. And I thank Bill for sort of pulling me aside as someone who knew nothing about personal finance at that time or probably what a 401(k) was, to sort of set me on a path of being a saver in that regard. 

Neela [00:27:11]:

Raising our hands to all the Bills of the world. Keep doing it. 

Christopher [00:27:15]:


Mary Beth [00:27:18]:

All right, what would you say is your favorite money mistake you’ve made and why? 

Christopher [00:27:24]:

When I moved to California, I was dead set on buying a Jeep Wrangler. And so this is after college. I bought a brand new Jeep Wrangler 2014 Sahara granite hard top. And it was like… 

Mary Beth [00:27:43]:

How cool did you feel?

Christopher [00:27:46]:

Super cool because I was just, like, living my California dream, right? I thought, oh, this is going to be the perfect car for sunny California. Go on adventures. Cost about $40,000. I was probably spending $850 a month on my car payment, and it just felt really cool. And then fast forward probably two years later, I’m like, ‘why am I paying for this?’ I ultimately traded it in for a Volkswagen Passat, which I called my ‘dad vehicle’ that was used, way more affordable, and paid it off much faster. And I look at that Jeep purchase as a mistake, but a learning opportunity of like, what do I need versus what do I want, and how do I reconcile those two things in terms of the long run and opening more doors up financially? And so I look back at that Jeep fondly. I still think about it. I live a car less life here in Los Angeles now, which is a huge turn from those days. But I look at that vehicle and think, yes, it was a money mistake. But I look back on it. It’s one of those early learning moments in my adulthood. 

Neela [00:28:52]:

That’s a good one. Also, Christopher just said he lives a carless lifestyle in Los Angeles. I just need to put an exclamation point on that. That is very impressive. So kudos to you. 

Christopher [00:29:02]:

Thank you. 

Neela [00:29:03]:

Okay, final question. Fill in the blank. If money were easy… 

Christopher [00:29:09]:

I’d spend a lot less time looking at my mint and a lot more time embracing just the simple pleasures in life and the experiences of my day to day. 

Mary Beth [00:29:20]:


Christopher [00:29:20]:

Thank you. 

Neela [00:29:21]:

Well, Christopher, thank you so much for joining us on the show. Let our listeners know how they can get in touch with you and where they can find you on the interwebs. 

Christopher [00:29:30]:

First and foremost, I’m very active on LinkedIn, so do not hesitate to connect with me on LinkedIn. Reach out, send me a request. I’m always happy to be a resource. You can also find me on the Abacus website. You’ll see my bio, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me through there or you can find me on Instagram. I share a lot of personal and professional things on Instagram. I’m pretty open, so don’t hesitate to reach out to me there. My Elias is at Christopher L Stroop and you’ll find me there.

Mary Beth [00:29:57]:

Amazing. Thank you so much for being on the show. This is a wonderful conversation. 

Christopher [00:30:02]:

Hey, thank you for having me. I appreciate it. 

Neela [00:30:06]:

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