Financial Planning Tips For December

December is a crucial month for your financial plan as you can take advantage of workplace benefits or optimize bonuses and more. Here is a quick list you can use to help start the new year on a good note:  

  • If possible, max out workplace retirement plans (401(k), 403b, etc.). Use any unused PTO or FSA funds that expire this year.

  • Email your CPA and get an estimate of how much you could potentially owe next year so you can start setting aside cash now.

  • Save your year-end bonus (if applicable). Use the 90/10 rule. Save 90% and enjoy 10%.

  • Control holiday shopping sprees. Be practical with your spending. If you don’t have your retirement plan or emergency account fully funded, or if your debt isnʹt under control, think twice before overdoing it.

  • Whether you give consistently or certain times of the year, remember everything donated before December 31 should be tax-deductible for that year.

Set next year’s personal and financial goals. Set goals that are S.M.A.R.T.

Significant – Goals that resonate with what is most important to you will keep you motivated and bring joy to your journey as you move toward your objectives. 

Meaningful – Goals must align with your own values and priorities. 

Attracting – When your goals are both significant and meaningful to you, they will create a positive image that will draw you toward what you want to experience and achieve. You won’t have to rely on pure grit and determination to achieve your goals, but rather the clear vision of what you want in your life will focus your intention and guide your decisions on a day to day basis.

Rewarding – We are more likely to move toward goals that bring us a clear sense of reward along the journey as well as in reaching the destination. 

Timely – Do you have the time required to commit to a specific goal? In embarking on this journey, is the timing right for you? In considering these questions, it is important to realize that some goals should have specific target dates and others should not

Lastly, I recommend taking a mini retreat with yourself and partner (if applicable) to flush out your ideas and write them down.  I personally do this and love the feeling of having a solid vision for the upcoming year. 

If you are looking to elevate your financial plan or need help creating one, feel free to reach out to me.

Ready to create your plan? 

Book a call with me today. 

WealthBuilders, LLC is a virtual fee only fiduciary advisory firm specializing in working with high income professionals and business owners. 


Financial Life Planning & Your Company Stock Options

For most people, reviewing finances and life plans that relate to finances, can be pretty stressful. Planning gets ignored or pushed down the priority list, until something unexpected comes up, and forces you to pay attention. And even when you have positive money circumstances, e.g. an unexpected windfall, or new stock options, it can still be overwhelming – another thing to “pay attention to later.”

While taking the time to create a financial life plan may seem stressful, what you’ll probably find is that it can have the opposite effect. As with most things, giving your situation some attention and care can demystify, create awareness, and help bridge the gap between identifying immediate priorities and planning for the long term.

In comes Financial Life Planning. A values-based, life-centered approach to financial planning. It engages individuals and empowers them to maximize their resources and live meaningful and purposeful lives. It’s laying out your immediate priorities and values and aligning your resources to them now. The financial life planning process helps establish meaningful financial and life goals, and create an effective and inspiring decision-making framework. Financial life planning is well suited for someone that has variable income, stock options, commissions, bonuses, etc.

If you do get a windfall or start to make a lot of money, you will likely have an immediate goal you would like to achieve. Examples of this could be paying off debt, starting a family, taking a sabbatical, traveling the world, or purchasing your first home.

For context, this approach is different from the traditional process of financial planning. The traditional process is tailored for someone with a standard fixed salary/income. In the traditional method a financial advisor may suggest you max out retirement accounts, pay off your debt, and tackle what they believe are your financial blindspots. Financial life planning attacks YOUR priorities and goals first and then layers traditional financial planning on top of it. I use the R.E.T.I.R.E. acronym as my base for assessing financial blindspots after we’ve established your financial life plan.

When it comes to stock options or equity compensation, it’s crucial to understand how you want to live your ideal life. How do you visualize your future? What brings you joy? What aspirations do you have? What will provide you the most satisfaction? What life transitions do you need to plan for? Depending on your answers to these questions will help determine the best strategy for you when it comes to your company stock plan. 


Ready to create your plan? 

Book a call with me today. 


WealthBuilders, LLC is a virtual fee only fiduciary advisory firm specializing in working with progressive professionals with stock options.

How Instacart Employees Should Prepare For The IPO

After nearly two years of a tech IPO drought, we have some action! Instacart has officially filed their S-1, and it’s the perfect time for shareholders to take their stock options strategy to the next level. In this blog post we’ll explore how Instacart employees can best prepare for the IPO and make the most of this exciting milestone.

Understand The Basics of an IPO
An IPO is when a privately-held company offers its shares to the public for the first time, allowing anyone to buy a stake in the company. This transition from private to public ownership can significantly impact the company’s operations, financial transparency, and culture. Instacart reportedly is planning to list on the Nasdaq ticker symbol “CART”. Once the IPO happens, Instacart employees will likely have a lockup period of six months, meaning they won’t be able to sell shares during this time. Those who haven’t planned for this liquidity event yet have six months to make a plan.

Pay Attention
You have to stay informed about the IPO process. Instacart will likely provide updates and communications about the progress, key dates, and any changes that may arise. Regularly check official communications, attend company-wide meetings, and take advantage of any information sessions or resources provided.

Get Organized
One of the easiest things you can do now is to collect all of your grant agreements and keep them in a secure digital folder. Whether you are tackling this IPO yourself or working with a professional, you will need to have this information handy coming up with a planning strategy.

Learn The Basics of Your Stock Options and RSUs
While you don’t need to tactically understand every aspect of your Stock Options and RSUs, you should have a fundamental understanding of how each works and the high level tax implications. A CFP® and a CPA can help you determine the tax consequences of each and the various strategies that are available for your current situation. At a high level, traditional Stock Options like Incentive Stock Options (ISOs) and Non-Qualfied Stock Options (NQSO’s) are taxed differently than RSUs. For many, you most likely have RSUs (Double Trigger) and it’s crucial to understand that you will pay ordinary income taxes when the shares vest. The single most important thing you can do is update your tax withholdings before IPO date. A best practice is to withhold as much as possible.

Start Planning
I’m a huge fan of doing a comprehensive Wealth Plan for clients before an IPO (if possible). It’s important to get an understanding of your overall financial health before you can start formulating a strategy. There are many different ways to look at your equity compensation and the potential wealth generator the IPO will create, but if you are lacking certain financial fundamentals it can drastically change your strategy. I recommend seeking a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ who can help you with every aspect of your plan (cash-flow, investments, taxes, risk management, etc.).

In the meantime you can action the below…

1.  Determine your goals. Ask yourself these types of questions – What is most important to me? What are some financial challenges that have been keeping me up at night? What is my priority with this windfall money? What is my money vision? How do I want to give back?, etc.

2. Do your tax planning. You need a solid tax projection so you don’t have any surprises come April. Find out how many shares of Instacart you will have on the IPO date and multiply that by the opening day price, you can then determine how much they will be worth. As of 9/18/2023 analysts are estimating that shares will be worth $28-$30 each. Once you have an estimate of share worth then you can set aside a decent amount to cover taxes in April. This can vary a lot on several factors (total income, deductions, withholdings, etc.). In general, most employees will likely need to liquidate stock to cover additional tax bills. Get comfortable with 37-50% of what you vest going to Uncle Sam. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and/or a CPA can help you solidify a number to set aside for future taxes.

3. Exercise your stock options carefully. If you are fortunate enough to have Incentive Stock Options (ISOs), you should consider exercising a good portion up to the alternative minimum tax limit (AMT) to start the clock for long term capital gains. Remember in order to get favorable tax treatment you need to exercise stock options and hold them for one year and then two years from grant. This is crucial! This all will be determined by your goals and your personal financial situation.

4. Decide On A Liquidity Framework.

  • Immediate Pay Day – Sell most stock for cash ASAP, least risky from a tax perspective, and limits exposure to volatility.
  • Target Liquidity – Set’s a specific net of tax cash target for goals, optimization at liquidity, goal attainment is anchored to price. Set a price you’d be happy to sell your shares at.
  • Bet On Upside – Sell enough to have cash for underwithholding, raise cash for future taxes each trading window, super confident in company stock, most risky.

5. Your Trading Window Is Open – Now What?
Sell, Sell, Sell! Sell at minimum the amount you will need to cover additional taxes. Sell enough to cover the goal expenses you developed. The important thing is to take immediate action, if you wait, it will be a missed opportunity. I’ve seen many folks forget to sell and then they have to wait until the next trading window. This is a huge gamble as the stock price could fall (historically they usually do after the first month of trading) and you could jeopardize the predetermined goals.

Your Wealth Building Journey Starts Now
Celebrate this milestone! Working for a company that goes IPO can be a once in a lifetime opportunity to achieve financial independence early! Don’t let this opportunity slip, plan accordingly with a team of experienced experts to help guide you through this arduous process.

I’m happy to help solidify your Wealth Plan, including guidance with your stock options. I’ve helped numerous clients before and after the IPO process set up Wealth Plans designed to align their money with their values, cover blindspots, and save on tax. If you are in need of a financial check-up or want to learn more about my success working with other tech professionals, book a call with me today.

WealthBuilders, LLC is a virtual fee only fiduciary advisory firm specializing in working with progressive professionals with stock options.

The Basics of Socially Responsible and Impact Investing

Investors have a lot of options when it comes to where they want to put their money–– individual stocks, bonds, mutual funds, and ETF’s are all options traded on public markets. You can buy passive, active, or hybrid managed funds to help you reach financial goals. When determining which options to invest in, you might compare how they are managed, but beyond that, you should know how they are constructed and the ideologies behind them. 

With the rise of social consciousness, accessibility to information, and more companies and their investors modeling the importance of making social impact, individual investors are also demanding that they are able to align their values with their investments. This can be done through ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) or SRI (Socially Responsible Investments) strategies (strategy names are used interchangeably). 

Here’s a quick look at how a traditional investment strategy works, vs ESG/SRI investments.

Traditional Investing Strategy: Prioritizes financial returns/growth vs. how it can negatively impact our society. These strategies include most publicly traded companies regardless of their industry, effect on the environment, and negative social impact. This traditional strategy takes advantage of shady financial systems and amplifies inequitable power structures. This can cause extreme harm to communities that are unprotected. This strategy disregards social justice and environmental impact. This is typically a basic index fund or actively managed fund.

ESG/SRI: Considers social impact, encourages ethical practices, and products. ESG/SRI investing involves factoring issues such as carbon emissions, labor standards, community relations and board composition into your investment decision. Screeners analyze to determine how a company impacts the environment, how they treat customers/employees, social program support, and if the company exploits loops holes in legal guidelines. 

In a nutshell, ESG/SRI investing aims to reduce exposure to companies involved in unsustainable activities and environmental, social, or governmental controversies. They look to increase investments in companies that work to address solutions for core environmental and social challenges in measurable ways. 

Sounds like a win-win, so then why doesn’t everyone invest in ESG/SRI? You probably guessed it, not everyone believes in people over profit. Some ESG/SRIs can come at a premium because of associated management resources, and there’s a stigma of them not reaping the returns that traditional investment strategies do. That said, Betterment recently did a white paper comparing their SRI portfolio vs. their core portfolio. The evidence indicated that both historical and forward-looking performances are not significantly different, but there may be return differences over shorter time periods. With the right ESG/SRI investment strategy, you can potentially achieve market-like returns or better.

Feel free to contact me if you’re interested in learning about how we can align your values to your portfolio. 

Be safe,