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.

10 Questions Sales Executives and Top Performers Should Ask Themselves When It Comes To Their Finances

As a former sales executive/top performer, I understand how difficult it can be to manage both your sales goals and personal finances. It’s a daunting task to be fiscally responsible when you are in the thick of closing deals, prospecting, managing cross-functional teams, traveling, fine-tuning your sales skills, and corporate meetings. 

When I was in sales myself, I seldomly thought about my financial plan. I was so exhausted from the sales cycle, that I didn’t have the bandwidth to learn or even think about investments, deferred compensation, tax planning, cash-flow management, college funding, etc. I figured I’d keep making a lot of cash and as long as I didn’t overspend, I would be alright. I’m not sure how long this (non)plan would have lasted, but luckily, I was soon introduced to the idea of financial planning and hiring a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®). 

Looking back, it wasn’t a lack of time, but my ego that didn’t allow me to ask for help in this area. I was closing multi-million dollar deals, was at the top of my game and certainly didn’t feel the need to hire anyone. I read books and was relatively informed when it came to finance, but I was struggling. I think many sales people struggle with delegation of any sort, because they are so used to controlling the sales cycle, and with their paycheck on the line it’s understandable.

One of my past employers, LearnVest, provided their employees with financial plans by a fiduciary fee-only financial advisor, which forced me to sit down with a CFP® and, well, get my shit together. It wasn’t until I met with my financial planner that I realized there were some tough questions I needed to ask myself in order to get started. This was life changing! 

Here are some examples of the questions and considerations that came up as we started to strategize. 

  1. What if I had a down year, could I sustain my current lifestyle? 
  2. Am I overspending? 
  3. Could I be saving more, if so how much?
  4. What if I didn’t hit my quota, did I have enough saved for emergencies?
  5. What if I hit quota, but didn’t earn the accelerators, could I afford my car and house? 
  6. What should I do with extra cash and commissions? 
  7. Should I buy real estate, fund college (for parents), contribute more to retirement, pay off debt?
  8. What can I do to protect and grow my new found wealth?
  9. What if I lose my job or my compensation plan changes, how will this impact our situation?
  10. What if something happens to me, will my family be taken care of?

Ask yourself these questions and be honest with yourself. Are you in a good place, or could you use some help? If any of this resonates with you or you’re interested in learning more about how to get your plan together, please feel free to reach out to me. 

Eric Rodriguez, CFP®


What is a CFP®?

CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioners are trained to be experts in all areas of personal finance. This can include cash-flow, insurance, tax, investments, retirement, estate, college funding, and much more. CFP®’s study for 6+ years, have 4,000+ hours of experience, and pass a rigorous 6+ hour exam to be approved. 

Estate Planning 101

As the saying goes, only two things are guaranteed in life – death and taxes. It’s a hard truth, and can be difficult subjects to approach. Although you better get those taxes done folks, because as the other saying goes – you don’t mess with the IRS! But let’s save taxes for another day. Today we’ve got you covered with the basics of an Estate Plan, a key component to any financial plan.

WealthBuilders is happy to help solidify your financial plan, including guidance with estate planning. Feel free to contact us for a free initial conversation!

What is an Estate Plan?

An Estate Plan is preparing for the transfer of one’s wealth and assets after death. Assets, life insurance, pensions, real estate, cars, personal belongings, and debts are all included in an Estate Plan. The objective of estate planning is to:

  • Fulfill your property transfer wishes
  • Minimize Taxes
  • Minimize Costs
  • Provide Needed Liquidity

Who needs an Estate Plan?

Anyone who wants a plan in place to help manage health care decisions, guardianship, distribute assets and to generally keep peace amongst loved ones during tough times.

Key Estate Planning Documents:

Wills – the simplest estate planning tools. They are flexible and appoint executors, guardians, tax savings trusts, and trusts for children. If you use a will only in your estate plan, your estate will go through probate before it can be distributed to heirs. Probate is a judicial process where a judge supervises the settling of an estate and can last four months to a year or longer. This means heirs will not receive anything until the court makes a decision. Brutal, but better than not having anything written!

Living Trusts – legal entities that hold property during a person’s life and provide for a distribution plan after death. ALL assets in the living trust avoid probate. Living trusts are more complex than a will, but they avoid probate in CA which is usually a determining factor in choosing a will or trust.

Durable Powers of Attorney for Finance – allow someone to make decisions and to manage your financial affairs for assets outside of a living trust if you become incompetent or incapacitated.

Advanced Health Care Directives – allow you to name a person to make health care decisions for you and state your wishes for end of life care.

Retirement Plans and Life Insurance Policies – distributed to named beneficiaries and pass outside of your will or trust. It’s important to have your beneficiaries updated (especially if you are divorced or in the process). Also, one of the major benefits of life insurance is 100% of the proceeds are passed to your beneficiaries tax free.