Cash Clarity: Navigating Money Markets

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Money Market Accounts and Funds

Making informed decisions about where to park your cash is crucial. Whether you’re saving for a short-term goal or looking for a safe place to store funds between investments, understanding money markets and the differences between money market accounts and money market funds can help you make the best choice for your financial plan. In this post, we’ll delve into the intricacies of these two popular options, exploring their benefits, risks, and ideal scenarios for use.

Understanding Money Markets

Money market accounts (MMAs) are interest-bearing accounts offered by banks and credit unions. They are similar to savings accounts but typically offer higher interest rates in exchange for higher minimum balance requirements. One of the key features of money market accounts is their safety, thanks to Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) insurance.

Key Features of Money Market Accounts

  1. FDIC Insurance: Money market accounts are insured by the FDIC up to $250,000 per depositor, per institution. This means that even if the bank or credit union fails, your deposits are protected.
  2. Higher Interest Rates: MMAs usually offer higher interest rates compared to traditional savings accounts. Rates can vary depending on the institution and the amount of your deposit.
  3. Liquidity: Money market accounts provide easy access to your funds. You can typically write checks, make transfers, or use a debit card to withdraw money, making it a flexible option for managing cash.
  4. Minimum Balance Requirements: These accounts often require a higher minimum balance than regular savings accounts. Failing to maintain the minimum balance can result in fees or lower interest rates.

Exploring Money Market Funds

Money market funds (MMFs) are a type of mutual fund that invests in short-term, low-risk securities such as U.S. Treasury bills, certificates of deposit (CDs), and commercial paper. Unlike money market accounts, MMFs are not FDIC insured. Instead, they are regulated by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Key Features of Money Market Funds

  1. Not FDIC Insured: The primary distinction between MMFs and MMAs is that money market funds do not offer FDIC insurance. While they are generally considered safe, there is no guarantee of principal preservation.
  2. Investment in Short-Term Securities: MMFs invest in high-quality, short-term securities, which tend to be relatively low-risk. This makes them a suitable option for conservative investors seeking liquidity and stability.
  3. Potential for Higher Yields: Money market funds often offer competitive yields that can exceed those of traditional savings accounts and MMAs, depending on market conditions.
  4. Liquidity and Accessibility: MMFs are highly liquid, allowing investors to easily buy and sell shares. They are often used as a place to park cash temporarily within brokerage accounts.

Comparing Money Market Accounts and Funds

Safety and Security

When it comes to safety, money market accounts have the upper hand due to FDIC insurance. This provides peace of mind, knowing that your deposits are protected up to $250,000 per institution. On the other hand, money market funds, while typically safe, do not offer this same level of security. The value of your investment in a money market fund can fluctuate, and there is a risk, albeit small, of losing principal.

Interest Rates and Yields

Money market accounts generally offer higher interest rates than traditional savings accounts, but they may not always match the potential yields of money market funds. MMFs can provide higher returns, especially in a rising interest rate environment, as they invest in short-term securities that benefit from higher rates. However, these yields are not guaranteed and can fluctuate based on market conditions.

Accessibility and Liquidity

Both money market accounts and funds offer high liquidity, but they differ in how you can access your funds. MMAs provide check-writing privileges, debit card access, and easy transfers, making them suitable for everyday cash management. In contrast, MMFs are more commonly used within brokerage accounts and might require selling shares to access cash, which can take a day or two to settle.

Minimum Balance Requirements

Money market accounts often have higher minimum balance requirements than regular savings accounts. If your balance falls below the required minimum, you may incur fees or receive a lower interest rate. Money market funds typically have lower initial investment requirements, making them more accessible for investors with smaller amounts of cash to invest.

Ideal Scenarios for Money Market Accounts

  1. Emergency Fund: Money market accounts are an excellent option for holding your emergency fund. The combination of FDIC insurance, higher interest rates, and easy access to funds makes them a safe and practical choice.
  2. Short-Term Savings Goals: If you’re saving for a short-term goal, such as a vacation or a down payment on a car, a money market account can help you earn more interest while keeping your funds accessible.
  3. Safety and Security: For conservative investors who prioritize the safety of their principal, MMAs provide the security of FDIC insurance.

Ideal Scenarios for Money Market Funds

  1. Temporary Cash Parking: Money market funds are ideal for parking cash temporarily between investments. They offer higher potential yields and easy liquidity within brokerage accounts.
  2. Investment Portfolio Component: MMFs can be used as a conservative component of an investment portfolio, providing liquidity and stability while earning competitive yields.
  3. Low Minimum Investment: For investors with smaller amounts of cash to invest, money market funds offer a lower entry barrier compared to some MMAs.

Making the Right Choice- Are Money Markets Right for You?

When deciding between money markets, consider your financial goals, risk tolerance, and need for liquidity. If safety and security are your top priorities, and you prefer the peace of mind that comes with FDIC insurance, a money market account may be the better choice. However, if you’re looking for higher potential yields and are comfortable with the slight risk associated with money market funds, an MMF could be more suitable.


Understanding the differences between money market accounts and money market funds is essential for making informed decisions about where to park your cash. Both options offer unique benefits and can play important roles in your overall financial strategy. By considering your individual needs and preferences, you can choose the right option to help you achieve your financial goals.

For personalized advice tailored to your specific situation, don’t hesitate to reach out to us.   

Financial Planning for Pilots with Nick Coleman, CFP®

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In the most recent episode of The Field Guide Podcast host Brian Colvert is joined by Nick Coleman, a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ with Bonfire Financial. Nick has developed a unique specialty in helping pilots navigate their financial planning journey. Below is a summary of the insights shared during the interview, highlighting the distinct financial challenges pilots face and the tailored strategies Nick employs to guide them from the runway to retirement.

The Journey to Specialization

Nick’s journey into specializing in financial planning for pilots began with a personal connection. His father, Jerry Coleman, has been a pilot with United for over 30 years, with a prior career as a Navy pilot. This background gave Nick an intimate understanding of the unique benefits and challenges pilots encounter. Starting with his parents as his first clients, Nick quickly expanded his network, working with many pilots across various airlines, including United, Spirit, Southwest, and many others.

Unique Challenges Pilots Face

Pilots have a distinct set of financial planning challenges compared to other professionals. The path to becoming a pilot involves significant time and financial investment. It often takes around ten years, whether through the military or commercial route, to reach a major airline. Once there, pilots face industry volatility, with crises emerging approximately every ten years. Events like the COVID-19 pandemic have led to hiring freezes, early retirements, and reduced hours, posing substantial financial risks.

One of the major issues is the cyclical nature of the airline industry. Pilots must prepare for potential furloughs, layoffs, or reductions in hours. For instance, Spirit Airlines faced challenges with their Pratt & Whitney engines, affecting many pilots’ job security and financial stability. Thus, having a solid financial plan that accounts for these fluctuations is crucial.

Strategic Financial Planning for Pilots

Nick emphasizes the importance of a comprehensive financial plan tailored to each pilot’s specific needs and goals. The plan starts with maximizing retirement accounts, particularly the 401(k). Bonfire Financial partners with Charles Schwab, allowing access to the PCRA (Personal Choice Retirement Account). This partnership enables Nick to build custom strategies within pilots’ 401(k) plans, significantly impacting their retirement savings.

Additionally, Nick sets up tax-free Roth accounts for pilots and their spouses using the Backdoor Roth IRA strategy. This approach allows pilots to save $7,000 per year per person tax-free, amounting to $14,000 per year for a couple. Over time, these contributions grow significantly, providing a substantial tax-free retirement fund.

Medical and Long-Term Care Planning

Medical expenses are a significant concern for pilots, especially as they approach retirement. Many pilots come from military backgrounds and may have TRICARE benefits. However, each airline offers different medical benefits, which Nick meticulously reviews to maximize their potential.

Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are another critical component. These accounts provide a tax-free way to pay for medical expenses both now and in retirement. United Airlines, for example, offers HRA (Health Reimbursement Arrangement) and RHA (Retiree Health Access) accounts, which pilots can use to cover medical bills tax-free, reducing the need to tap into their 401(k).

Long-term care insurance is another essential aspect of financial planning for pilots. While disability insurance provided by airlines is generally comprehensive, it doesn’t cover long-term care. Nick advises pilots to consider long-term care insurance between the ages of 50 and 65 to cover potential future expenses not included in their standard benefits.

Estate Planning

Estate planning is crucial for everyone, not just pilots. Ensuring that assets are distributed according to one’s wishes is vital. Nick collaborates with estate planners and offers software solutions to help pilots create wills, estates, and trusts affordably. This planning is especially important for those with complex family situations, ensuring their financial legacy is secure.

Managing Risk and Alternative Investments

Pilots often have high salaries and generous benefits, leading to the issue of maximizing their retirement accounts too quickly. Nick addresses this by exploring alternative investments such as private real estate, private equity, and private credit. These options provide higher returns than traditional investments and help pilots build additional wealth once their foundational retirement accounts are maxed out.

Risk management is another critical area. Pilots typically want the best available investment strategies, which sometimes involves higher risks. Nick ensures that the baseline is secure, focusing on maximizing 401(k) returns and other retirement accounts. Once this foundation is established, he explores riskier investments to potentially yield higher returns.

Tax Planning and Roth Conversions

Tax planning is an integral part of Nick’s strategy. He emphasizes the importance of minimizing tax liabilities both now and in the future. One effective method is the Backdoor Roth IRA, which allows pilots to save tax-free. Another strategy is converting part of their 401(k) to a Roth IRA after retirement when their income is lower. This conversion leverages lower tax brackets, ensuring that future withdrawals are tax-free.

The timing of these conversions is crucial. Pilots often retire at 65 but aren’t required to take minimum distributions until 73. This gap provides an opportunity to convert portions of their 401(k) to Roth IRAs at a lower tax rate, significantly reducing their tax burden in retirement.

Personalized and Custom Approach

Nick’s approach to financial planning for pilots is highly personalized. He understands that each pilot’s situation is unique, requiring tailored strategies. Whether it’s setting up emergency funds, exploring alternative investments, or managing retirement accounts, Nick ensures that his clients are well-prepared for any financial eventuality.

He also emphasizes the importance of regular reviews. Meeting with clients every quarter allows Nick to adjust strategies as needed, ensuring that pilots stay on track to meet their financial goals. This proactive approach provides peace of mind, allowing pilots to focus on their careers and families while knowing their financial future is secure.


In conclusion, Nick Coleman’s expertise in financial planning for pilots offers invaluable guidance for navigating the unique challenges they face. His tailored approach, leveraging strategies like the PCRA, Backdoor Roth IRA, and comprehensive tax planning, ensures that pilots are well-prepared for a secure retirement. By focusing on personalized plans and regular reviews, Nick helps pilots achieve their financial dreams, from takeoff to touchdown in retirement.

Next Steps

For pilots seeking specialized financial advice, connect with Nick Coleman by setting up a call today! 

When can I retire? Navigating Retirement

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Are you contemplating retirement? Are you wondering when you can retire?

In the most recent episode of The Field Guide Podcast, Brian Colvert, CFP® of Bonfire Financial, dives into the complexities of retirement planning and addresses the question we often get asked… When can I retire? From financial considerations to psychological readiness, Brian offers insights to help you navigate this significant life transition.

Psychological Preparedness:

One of the key factors in determining when to retire is psychological readiness. Many individuals tie their identity to their careers, making the prospect of retirement daunting. Brian emphasizes the importance of having a plan in place to alleviate anxiety and uncertainty. Whether it’s traveling, pursuing hobbies, or spending time with loved ones, having a structured schedule can enhance the retirement experience.

Financial Considerations:

While psychological preparedness is crucial, financial planning is equally important. Brian acknowledges the variability in retirement lifestyles, from extravagant globetrotting to simpler pleasures like hiking and local gatherings. Understanding your current expenses provides a baseline for retirement preparedness. Contrary to the popular notion that retirees spend significantly less, Brian suggests that initial retirement years may involve increased spending due to travel and leisure activities.

The 4 Percent Rule:

To estimate retirement income needs, Brian touches on the 4 percent rule—a widely used guideline in financial planning. By dividing the desired income by 4 percent, one can determine the required investment portfolio. While this rule provides a starting point, Brian emphasizes the need for flexibility and ongoing financial planning.

Beyond the Basics:

Retirement planning extends beyond simple calculations. Brian highlights the importance of accounting for factors like healthcare costs, inflation, and unexpected expenses. Collaborating with a financial advisor ensures a comprehensive strategy tailored to individual needs and goals.

Final Thoughts:

Answering the question of “When can I retire?” requires a blend of financial prudence and lifestyle considerations. While the prospect may seem daunting, proactive planning can pave the way for a fulfilling retirement experience.
If you’re seeking personalized guidance or additional resources, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Our team is dedicated to helping individuals like you achieve their retirement aspirations.

Remember, retirement is not just about reaching a financial milestone—it’s about crafting a life that reflects your values and passions. Start planning today to embark on a retirement journey that’s as rewarding as it is fulfilling.

Get started with your Financial Plan today!

Financial Plan Bonfire Financial

Taxes in Retirement: Planning Ahead


Effective planning for taxes in retirement is paramount for retirees looking to maximize their financial security. Understanding the complexities of how different income sources are taxed can empower you to make informed decisions. This guide delves into strategies that can help reduce your tax liability and enhance your retirement income.


Understanding Retirement Tax Basics

Understanding the basics of taxes in retirement is crucial for effective financial planning and ensuring that you keep more of your hard-earned money during your golden years. As you transition from earning a salary to relying on various income sources in retirement, the way your income is taxed changes significantly. Retirement income can come from various sources, each with its own tax considerations. Familiarizing yourself with the tax treatment of 401ks, IRAs, pensions, and Social Security benefits is the first step toward efficient tax planning.


Types of Retirement Income

Retirement income can be categorized into three main types: taxable, tax-deferred, and tax-free. Each type has different tax implications that can affect your overall tax liability in retirement.

  • Taxable Income: This includes income from traditional investment accounts, rental properties, and part-time employment. It’s taxed at ordinary income tax rates, which range depending on your total taxable income for the year.
  • Tax-Deferred Income: Comes from accounts like traditional IRAs, 401ks, and other employer-sponsored retirement plans. Taxes on these accounts are deferred until you make withdrawals, which are then taxed as ordinary income. This can be advantageous because many people find themselves in a lower tax bracket in retirement compared to their working years.
  • Tax-Free Income: Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s provide tax-free income in retirement, provided certain conditions are met. Contributions to these accounts are made with after-tax dollars, meaning you don’t receive a tax deduction when you contribute. However, both the contributions and the earnings can be withdrawn tax-free in retirement.


How to Reduce Taxes on Retirement Income

Strategic withdrawals from tax-deferred and tax-free accounts can significantly lower your tax bill. This section outlines how timing and the order of withdrawals can impact your overall tax situation.

Managing Social Security Taxation

Managing the taxation on Social Security benefits is a pivotal aspect of optimizing your retirement income. The tax liability on these benefits hinges on your “combined income.” This encompasses your adjusted gross income, nontaxable interest, and half of your Social Security benefits. The intricacies of this taxation mean that up to 85% of your benefits could be taxable if your income surpasses certain thresholds. Navigating these waters requires a nuanced understanding of how different income streams interact and impact the taxation of your benefits, making it essential to strategize effectively to minimize the tax bite.

Strategic measures, such as timing the withdrawal of funds from retirement accounts and potentially delaying the onset of Social Security benefits, can significantly influence your tax situation. Drawing on Roth IRA savings, which offer tax-free withdrawals, can be a smart move to manage your combined income levels, thereby reducing the taxable portion of your Social Security benefits. These strategies underscore the importance of a well-thought-out plan that considers the timing and source of your retirement income, aiming to secure a more tax-efficient stream of income in your retirement years.

The Role of Investment Income

The role of investment income in retirement planning is pivotal. It not only supplements your primary income sources like Social Security and pensions but also carries specific tax considerations that can significantly impact your overall tax liability and financial stability in retirement. By strategically managing capital gains, dividends, and interest from investments, retirees can optimize their tax situation, potentially benefiting from lower tax rates on long-term capital gains and qualified dividends, thus enhancing their income streams while minimizing tax expenses.

Navigating Required Minimum Distributions

Navigating Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) is an essential aspect of retirement planning, particularly for those with tax-deferred retirement accounts like traditional IRAs and 401(k)s. Once you reach the age of 73, the IRS mandates that you begin taking these distributions, which are then taxed as ordinary income. The amount of the RMD is calculated based on the account balance and life expectancy, creating a potential tax impact by increasing your taxable income in retirement.

Properly managing RMDs involves strategic planning to minimize their effect on your tax bracket, such as considering Roth conversions before reaching RMD age to reduce future taxable income or employing strategies like Qualified Charitable Distributions (QCDs) to meet RMD requirements tax-free by directly transferring funds to a qualified charity. This careful approach to RMDs can help maintain a more favorable tax position and preserve retirement savings.

Utilizing Roth Accounts for Tax-Free Income

Utilizing Roth accounts for tax-free income is a strategic approach that can greatly benefit retirees by offering a source of income that does not increase their tax burden. Contributions to Roth IRAs and Roth 401(k)s are made with after-tax dollars, meaning that while there are no tax deductions at the time of contribution, the withdrawals, including earnings, are tax-free in retirement as long as certain conditions are met.

This feature is particularly advantageous as it allows retirees to manage their taxable income more effectively, keeping them potentially in a lower tax bracket and reducing or even eliminating taxes on Social Security benefits. Moreover, Roth accounts do not have Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) during the account owner’s lifetime, providing further flexibility in planning and extending the tax advantages over a longer period. This makes Roth accounts a powerful tool in retirement income planning, offering tax diversification and the potential to optimize overall tax liability.

Estate and Gift Tax Planning for Retirement

Estate and Gift Tax Planning for Retirement is a critical strategy for managing how your assets will be distributed to your heirs while minimizing the tax impact on both your estate and the beneficiaries. This aspect of retirement planning involves understanding and navigating the complex rules surrounding estate and gift taxes, which can significantly affect the value of the assets transferred.

By leveraging annual gift exclusions, taking advantage of the lifetime estate and gift tax exemption, and setting up trusts or other estate planning tools, retirees can efficiently transfer wealth to their heirs or favorite charities, potentially reducing or eliminating estate taxes. Such planning ensures that more of your assets go to your intended recipients rather than to tax payments, preserving the financial legacy you wish to leave behind.

State-Specific Retirement Tax Considerations

State taxes can significantly affect your retirement finances. Each state has its own set of rules regarding income, sales, property, and estate taxes, which can affect the overall tax burden on retirees. Some states offer favorable tax treatments, such as no state income tax, exemptions on Social Security income, or deductions for pension and retirement account withdrawals, making them attractive destinations for retirees. Understanding these differences is crucial for making informed decisions about where to live in retirement or how to allocate assets. Taking into account state-specific tax considerations can lead to substantial savings, enhancing the ability to maintain a desired lifestyle in retirement.

Healthcare Costs and Their Tax Implications

Healthcare Costs and their tax implications are a significant concern for retirees, given that healthcare expenses often increase with age. Navigating these costs requires an understanding of how they can affect your tax situation. For instance, certain healthcare expenses, including Medicare premiums and out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions, doctor’s visits, and medical procedures, can be deductible if they exceed a specific percentage of your adjusted gross income (AGI).

Leveraging a Health Savings Account (HSA), if eligible before enrolling in Medicare, offers a tax-advantaged way to save for and pay these expenses, with contributions being tax-deductible, growth tax-free, and withdrawals for qualified medical expenses also tax-free. Effectively managing healthcare costs and understanding their tax implications can significantly reduce your taxable income and lower your overall tax liability, providing more financial flexibility in retirement.


The Importance of Tax Diversification

Diversifying your retirement accounts can provide tax flexibility in retirement. It offers a strategic way to manage, and potentially minimize taxes on retirement income. Tax diversification involves spreading your investments across various account types—taxable, tax-deferred, and tax-free—to create flexibility in how you can access funds in a tax-efficient manner. This strategy allows retirees to navigate the tax landscape more effectively, choosing from different income sources in a way that keeps their taxable income in a lower bracket, thereby reducing overall tax liability.

By having a mix of Roth IRAs, traditional retirement accounts, and taxable investment accounts, retirees can decide which accounts to draw from each year based on their current tax situation and future income predictions. This flexibility is crucial for managing taxes in response to changing tax laws and personal circumstances, ultimately leading to a more financially secure retirement.


How Tax Laws Impact Retirement Planning

Tax laws are continually changing. Staying informed and flexible in your planning is crucial for adapting to new laws and maximizing your retirement savings. These laws can affect how different types of retirement income are taxed.  For instance, alterations in tax rates, adjustments to the rules governing retirement account contributions and distributions, and changes to estate tax exemptions can necessitate adjustments in how individuals save for retirement, when and how they withdraw from their accounts, and how they plan to pass on their assets.

Moreover, tax legislation can introduce new opportunities or challenges for retirees. Recent examples include adjustments to the age for Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) and changes to the tax treatment of certain income sources, which can influence retirement timing decisions and income strategies. Therefore, staying informed about current and proposed tax laws is essential for effective retirement planning. It enables individuals to make proactive adjustments to their financial strategies, helping to ensure they can maximize their retirement savings’ growth and minimize their tax liabilities, thereby securing a more comfortable and financially stable retirement. Regular consultation with tax professionals and financial advisors can provide valuable guidance in navigating these changes, helping retirees to adapt their plans to benefit from favorable tax treatments or mitigate the impact of less favorable ones.


FAQs on Navigating Taxes in Retirement


How can I minimize taxes on my retirement income?

Minimizing taxes on retirement income involves several strategies, such as understanding the tax implications of various income sources, making strategic withdrawals from retirement accounts, and considering Roth conversions. It’s essential to balance withdrawals from taxable, tax-deferred, and tax-free accounts to manage your tax bracket effectively. Additionally, timing your Social Security benefits can also impact your tax situation. The same goes for managing investment income to take advantage of lower tax rates on long-term capital gains.

How can I reduce the taxes on my Social Security benefits?

To reduce taxes on Social Security benefits, you can manage your combined income, which includes your adjusted gross income, nontaxable interest, and half of your Social Security benefits. Keeping this combined income below certain thresholds will reduce or eliminate taxes on your benefits. Strategies include delaying Social Security benefits while withdrawing from tax-deferred accounts earlier, investing in Roth IRAs for tax-free income, and being mindful of how much and when you withdraw from taxable accounts.

What is the most tax-efficient way to handle my investment income?

The most tax-efficient way to handle investment income is to take advantage of tax-favorable investments and strategies. Holding investments for more than a year before selling can qualify you for long-term capital gains tax rates, which are lower than ordinary income tax rates. Consider investing in tax-exempt bonds or funds, particularly if you are in a high tax bracket. Utilizing tax-loss harvesting can also offset any capital gains you might have, further reducing your tax liability.

How do Required Minimum Distributions (RMDs) affect my taxes?

RMDs from tax-deferred retirement accounts such as traditional IRAs and 401(k)s must start at a certain age and are taxable as ordinary income. These mandatory withdrawals can push you into a higher tax bracket, increasing your tax liability. Planning for RMDs involves considering strategies like starting withdrawals earlier to spread out the tax impact, converting to Roth accounts where RMDs are not required, or using RMDs for charitable contributions (Qualified Charitable Distributions) which can exclude the amount donated from taxable income.

What should I consider for tax planning if I’m moving to another state?

When moving to another state for retirement, consider the overall tax environment of the new state. This includes income tax rates, exemptions for retirement income, sales tax, property tax rates, and any other local taxes. Some states do not tax Social Security benefits or offer significant deductions on retirement income, making them more favorable for retirees. Additionally, evaluate the cost of living, healthcare facilities, and quality of life, as these factors also play a critical role in retirement planning.

How can I deduct healthcare expenses in retirement?

You can deduct healthcare expenses in retirement if you itemize deductions on your tax return and your medical expenses exceed a certain percentage of your adjusted gross income (AGI). This includes a wide range of out-of-pocket expenses, such as premiums for Medicare and long-term care insurance, prescription drugs, and costs associated with medical and dental care. Using a Health Savings Account (HSA) for qualifying medical expenses can also provide tax-free money for healthcare costs, provided you have an HSA-compatible health plan before enrolling in Medicare.


Conclusion: Mastering Taxes for Retirement


Proactive tax planning is essential for securing your financial future in retirement. It requires a blend of knowledge, strategy, and the right support to navigate the complexities of tax planning. By taking control of your tax situation today, you’re not just helping to ensure a more prosperous retirement for yourself but also laying the groundwork for a lasting financial legacy. With the right approach and resources, you can minimize your tax liabilities, maximize your retirement income, and enjoy the peace of mind that comes with financial security.

However, mastering taxes doesn’t mean going at it alone. Leveraging the expertise of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and tax professionals can provide you the guidance and insight needed to navigate complex tax issues. These resources can help tailor a tax strategy that fits your unique situation, taking into account your income needs, tax bracket, and long-term financial goals.


Next Steps

Schedule a free consultation call with one of our CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professionals. This initial consultation is an excellent opportunity to ask questions, address concerns, and get a sense of how we can help you achieve your retirement goals. Don’t miss out on this chance to lay a solid foundation for a secure and prosperous retirement. Take the next step today and schedule your free consultation call —it could be the most important call you make for your retirement future.


CFP Colorado Springs

The What, Why and How of a Financial Plan


There seems to be a life hack for everything out there these days. Aluminum foil in the dishwasher for extra shiny spoons, avoiding TSA lines with strollers for faster times, and toothpaste to clear foggy headlights… but what about your finances? 

Well, we have the ultimate hack for that …. A financial plan! 

The What: Basics of a Financial Plan

Think of a financial plan as your roadmap to financial success. It’s your strategic guide, outlining how to reach your financial goals. Just like a GPS, it helps you navigate through life’s twists and turns, ensuring every dollar is well-spent. It involves setting goals, creating a budget, making smart investments, and managing debt and taxes effectively. In essence, a financial plan is your key to turning aspirations into achievable milestones. It provides clarity and confidence on your financial journey.

No financial plan is the same

Every financial plan is inherently unique. It should be tailored to individual circumstances, goals, and preferences. Factors such as income, expenses, risk tolerance, and life stages contribute to the unique and personalized nature of every financial plan. It will also adapt and evolve with the individual’s journey, guaranteeing adaptability and ongoing relevance as circumstances change. It really is a living document.  However, each plan typically has similar components.

Components of a Financial Plan

A comprehensive financial plan typically includes the following key components, again varying based on the individual’s circumstances:

Financial Goals:

Incorporating financial goals into a financial plan provides a clear roadmap, giving purpose and direction to your financial decisions. These goals serve as motivating milestones, guiding your financial choices and fostering a sense of accomplishment as you work towards tangible objectives. It is important to identify short-term and long-term financial objectives.

Emergency Fund:

An emergency fund acts as a financial safety net, providing a buffer against unexpected expenses or sudden income disruptions. Including it in your financial plan ensures you’re equipped to handle unforeseen challenges without derailing your overall stability or long-term goals. Generally, we recommend at least three to six months’ worth of expenses in an emergency fund. 


A budget is the compass of your financial plan, offering a comprehensive overview of both income and expenses. Beyond instilling disciplined spending habits, it establishes a structured framework for strategic allocation. It allows you to prioritize savings, investments, and goals, ultimately contributing to enhanced financial stability and control.

Debt Management:

Incorporating Debt Management into your financial plan is paramount for achieving and sustaining financial well-being. By strategically managing and reducing debt, you not only free up resources for other financial goals but also cultivate a healthier financial profile, fostering long-term stability and reducing unnecessary financial stress.

Savings Plan:

Integrating a savings plan into your financial strategy is crucial for building resilience. It allows you to allocate funds for both future goals and unexpected challenges. This disciplined approach fosters financial security and positions you to achieve long-term objectives with confidence.

Investment Strategy:

An investment strategy in your financial plan acts as a catalyst for wealth growth, leveraging your resources to generate potential returns over time. By carefully selecting investment vehicles aligned with your goals and risk tolerance, you optimize your financial portfolio, working towards long-term prosperity and financial success.

Insurance Coverage:

Are you covered? Including insurance coverage serves as a safeguard, shielding you from unforeseen risks and potential financial setbacks. Whether it’s protecting your health, property, or income, insurance provides a crucial layer of security, ensuring that unexpected events don’t jeopardize your financial stability and long-term goals.

Retirement Planning:

Retirement planning is a cornerstone of a financial plan, ensuring that you can enjoy your golden years with financial confidence and independence. It’s like giving your future self a high-five from the beach of financial freedom. By systematically preparing for retirement in your financial plan, you build a nest egg that aligns with your lifestyle goals, providing peace of mind and the freedom to savor your post-working years.

Social Security Strategy:

A Social Security strategy is essential in retirement planning due to the impact it can have on your financial well-being. Social Security benefits provide a significant source of income for many retirees. However, the timing and manner in which you claim these benefits can significantly affect the overall amount you receive.

Tax Planning:

By strategically navigating the tax landscape within your financial plan, you optimize your financial picture, dodge unnecessary tax potholes, and help to ensure that your money is working for you in the most efficient way possible.

Estate Planning:

Estate planning is the meticulous crafting of your financial legacy. It ensures that your assets are distributed according to your wishes and minimizes the burden on your loved ones. By incorporating estate planning into your financial strategy, you secure a comprehensive roadmap for the future, fostering peace of mind and preserving your financial legacy for generations to come.

Regular Review and Adjustments:

Regular reviews and adjustments are the steering wheel of your financial plan, ensuring it stays aligned with your evolving life circumstances and goals. It should be a flexible guide. By consistently revisiting and adapting, you optimize its effectiveness, making strategic changes as needed to navigate the ever-changing terrain of your financial journey.

The Why: Benefits of Having a Financial Plan

Embarking on a journey without a map can be a daunting prospect, and the same holds true for managing your finances. The benefits of having a well-structured financial plan are akin to having a reliable guide on a mountain expedition. From providing clarity and direction to ensuring efficient resource allocation, a financial plan serves as a powerful tool that empowers you to navigate the complexities of your finances.

Here are our top 5 benefits to having a financial plan.:

Goal Achievement: A financial plan helps you define and prioritize your goals, providing a roadmap for turning aspirations into actionable steps. 

Emergency Preparedness: A financial plan includes building an emergency fund, and offering a financial safety net for unexpected expenses or income disruptions.

Wealth Accumulation: A well-crafted financial plan incorporates strategies for savings and investments, allowing you to build wealth over time and work towards financial independence.

Risk Mitigation through Insurance: Integrating insurance into your financial plan safeguards against unexpected events, protecting your health, property, and income.

Retirement Readiness: Planning for retirement is a key aspect, ensuring that you have the necessary funds to enjoy a comfortable and secure post-working life.

Be part of the 35%

According to Schwab’s 2023 Modern Wealth Survey only 35% of Americans have a documented financial plan, and those who have one feel more in control of their finances. Surprisingly, this means that 65% of Americans have no plan. 

One of the biggest reasons why most said they don’t have one is that it seems too complicated to create a plan. 

Well… we disagree and that is where our life hack comes in. 

The How: Getting Started: Tips for Creating Your Financial Plan

A life hack is all about making your life easier, not more difficult. Hence, that is why we have a motto of “Do it for yourself, not by yourself.”

Don’t Complicate it- Get a professional

It can be a complicated process, but with the right people in your corner, it doesn’t have to be.  While some people may create their own financial plans, there are several reasons why you might want to seek professional assistance (Like from us… wink, wink) rather than attempting a DIY (Do-It-Yourself) approach:

Expertise: Financial planners and advisors have specialized knowledge and expertise in various aspects of personal finance.  Areas of expertise range from  investments, tax planning, insurance, and retirement planning. Their experience allows them to provide valuable insights and guidance tailored to your specific situation.

The complexity of the Financial Landscape: The financial landscape is complex, with laws, regulations, and market conditions constantly changing. A professional can help navigate these complexities, ensuring your financial plan remains relevant and effective over time.

Objectivity: An external financial planner provides an objective perspective on your financial situation. Furthermore, this objectivity can be crucial in making unbiased decisions, especially when emotions might cloud judgment in financial matters.

Comprehensive Approach: Furthermore, Financial planners take a holistic approach to your financial well-being. They consider all aspects of your financial life. They help you create an integrated plan that addresses short-term and long-term goals, risk management, and more.

Time and Effort: Ain’t nobody got time for that! Crafting a thorough financial plan requires time and effort. Professionals can efficiently guide you through the process, saving you time and ensuring that no critical aspects are overlooked.

Risk Mitigation: Professionals can help identify and manage potential risks in your plan. Whether it’s investment risk, tax risk, or other uncertainties, their expertise aids in creating strategies to mitigate these risks.

Adaptability: Financial planners are equipped to adapt your plan as your life circumstances change. Whether it’s a career change, marriage, birth of a child, or other life events, professionals can adjust your plan to align with your evolving goals.

Access to Resources: Financial professionals often have access to a broader range of financial tools, resources, and market insights that may not be readily available to individuals.

Accountability: A financial planner can also serve as an accountability coach and financial mentor. As such, they’ll help you stay disciplined and focused on your financial goals, especially during periods of market volatility or economic uncertainty.

Legal and Regulatory Compliance: Professionals are well-versed in legal and regulatory requirements. They can ensure that your financial plan adheres to applicable laws and regulations, preventing unintended legal consequences.

While DIY financial planning is possible, it’s important to recognize your limitations and the potential benefits of seeking professional guidance. A CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ or advisor can bring a level of expertise, objectivity, and comprehensive understanding that may enhance the effectiveness and success of your financial plan.

In Short

Having a well-structured financial plan is not just a strategy; it’s a necessity for securing your financial future. Above all, it’s the roadmap that guides you through life’s uncertainties, ensuring you’re prepared for both the expected and the unexpected. From managing debt to saving for retirement, a sound financial plan touches every aspect of your monetary life, providing peace of mind and a clear path forward.

Next Steps:

Understanding the intricacies of financial planning can be daunting. That’s why we’ve created the Financial Field Guide – a step-by-step guide to help you simplify, navigate, and elevate your financial life. This isn’t just any financial plan; it’s your financial life, broken down into simple, actionable steps. It is a path to a future where you’re in control of your finances, not the other way around.

Don’t leave your financial future to chance. The power to change your financial story is just a click away. Are you ready to unlock it?  Get your Financial Field Guide today!

Financial Plan Bonfire Financial

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