Financial Fluency Episode #46: When it Pays to Pay

I did an episode of this podcast that was called Gurus vs Goonies.

It was all about how you don’t always have to go for the high dollar guru in any subject. There are different ways to get the information, different ways to interact with that information, and sometimes what you really need is a group of likeminded individuals to kind of get your back and be your gang, be your wolf pack, be your talking circle, be your support, without having to pay the super high prices that it sometimes can take to hire a guru in any subject.
Today I want to talk about the other times, the times when you do need to hire a real professional to help you with something.

You can listen in and read below and Tweet it out here

To illustrate this point, I want to talk about my daughter’s swim instructor. I hired a lovely 19 year old girl to be my daughter’s swim instructor, and there was a day where we hadn’t seen her for a while, we’d missed a few weeks, we’d gone on a trip, we’d done some things, she was having finals. We went to the pool, we were planning on meeting her, and we always get there a bit early so Miffy can get used to the pool, play around and get the wiggles out before her teacher gets there.

I asked her to swim to me, just like I’d seen the swim instructor do. She was on the steps, I went kind of halfway out into the pool and asked her to swim to me. She started swimming to me and it was a great flailing splashing mess of arms and legs, all coming out of the water, splayed limbs, fingers outstretched. She got to me, I reached out for her and pulled her to me, and I thought, okay, let’s see, what can I tell her to do that’ll help her swim more like Desi wants her to swim.

I gave her some instructions, told her what I thought she should do, took her back to the step and told her to swim to me again. She did it again without much improvement at all. As that was happening, Desi walks in, gets into the pool and is ready to start teaching. Normally when Miffy’s doing her lesson, that’s when I go and do some laps, and I did do some laps, but I kept my head up above the water and kind of watched and listened.

Desi went out in the middle of the pool, she told Miffy to swim to her, the exact same thing happened as when she swam to me, but then I watched what Desi did next, and I was really impressed.

The Difference

She explained a few things to her, she took her hands, moved them, she showed with her own body what Miffy needed to be doing, and the next time she swam to Desi, there was a vast improvement. She didn’t kick her legs quite as high above the water, there was less splashing, more propulsion forward. She kept her fingers closer together, it was more of what you want to see when you see kids swimming.

It wasn’t perfect by any means, but by the end of the lesson I noticed a huge difference between those first few attempts when she swam to me, and what she was doing for Desi. They got up and dove and did a lot of different things, and it really got me thinking about the times when an expert versus an amateur makes a huge difference.

Desi, yes, she is 19 years old, and yes, I am many years older than her, but Desi’s from Hawaii. She actually told me that she learned to swim before she could walk. She’s a big wave surfer and she’s probably spent close to half of her life in the water.

Me, I’m from Arizona, I lived in Philadelphia for a while, I have done very little ocean swimming and a bit more pool swimming, but honestly, not much. I am by no stretch of the imagination a great swimmer. I can keep myself afloat, I don’t drown, but if there were a shipwreck or something at sea, if I wasn’t on the lifeboat, I might not make it, let’s put it that way!

So seeing a real expert at swimming teach my daughter to swim, she truly was the expert. It was awesome to watch her teach my daughter to swim, it was fantastic to see how expertly she not only knew how to swim herself, but how to communicate what my daughter needed to be doing. I feel like that’s what I was lacking.

Sure, I knew what it should look like, I knew it shouldn’t be all splashy up above the water, I knew her fingers shouldn’t be splayed out. I knew that her feet needed to be kicking more under the water, not as much above the water, but I wasn’t communicating that to her in a way that she really understood and could take action on it.

So watching that, it got me thinking about the times that we do need an expert, that we do need someone who can see the things that we can’t see ourselves.

The Obvious Choices

Of course the first place I think of with experts is things where it really has a legal or tax consequence in your business and your financial life. So for me, I think taxes are nothing to mess around with. I absolutely think that most of us need a CPA.

If you have a super simple financial situation, if you are a W2 employee and you really don’t have much else going on in your financial world except maybe some kind of retirement savings, maybe you can do it on your own, sure, but if you are solopreneur or a freelancer, if you have your own business, I think it’s a really great idea to have a CPA to help you with the tax consequences of your business actions.

There are times when we take actions without fully understanding the tax consequences, even from the very start when we register our business, either as an LLC, stay as a sole proprietor, or go for a higher level S Corp or C Corp. Those have very real tax implications, and it’s really good to fully understand what that is.

There are certain states in the US and certain counties where different types of corporations are taxed in different ways in terms of your local taxes, so it’s really good to talk to a CPA as you’re figuring out what the best business structure for you is in terms of taxes.

Liabilities Legalities, Insurance

I think this is another area where it is really good to get some professional advice. If you are a sole proprietor who is selling things on Etsy and you have no employees, no customers come to your home, you’re not dispensing anything that’s ingested in any way, if you have pretty much zero openings to liability, if there’s no way anyone can really legitimately sue you, then maybe you don’t need the protection of a limited liability corporation or an S Corp or a C Corp.

Personally the only people I know who really go for the C Corp level are people who are intending to bring on investors, who want to sell their company eventually, or who are planning on going public at some point.

The C Corp is really for big time serious money.

  • If you plan on moving large amounts of money
  • If you are a start up in tech that is really going big
  • If you’re in the financial services industry
  • If you are starting an investment platform
  • If you’re handling people’s money, there are reasons that it is really important to do that kind of high level corporate structure, but not everyone needs it.

It is expensive, there’s a large burden of record keeping, tax preparation, having lawyers on board, things like that.

I think that when you are planning out your business structure, if you’re not bootstrapping it, if you are doing it in a bigger way, if you’re trying to do a non-profit, that’s another place where it is really good to get some great legal and tax advice on how to go about things from the start, set it up right, make sure you can get the tax deductible status that you want for your donor, stuff like that.

There are some really important times when it’s great to go for the professional that is going to provide you the service, and the protection. I think a lot of it is about the protection that you need from making mistakes that can be costly in the future.

That is why I wanted to do this quick episode. I’ve been thinking about the Gurus vs Goonies episode and saying that a lot of times we just need some comrades in arms, we need people who can take the journey with us, and not necessarily someone speaking to us from on high, dispensing wisdom. Sometimes we just need someone to go along with us, but there are times when it really is worthwhile getting the professional advice and services that you need.

The Short Version

Again I’m just going to recap really quickly. For me, the most important areas when I’m talking to a new business owner about what they’re doing are business structure in terms of the tax consequences, the legal consequences and insurance, looking at what your liability is and what kind of insurance you need to cover that.

So if you are just starting out in your business, if you have very few paying clients or no paying clients, I do actually think it’s a great idea to validate the idea before you step into hiring all of these professionals, because a lot of times what you think people are going to want and need may not be exactly what they want and need.

It’s great to go through a process of engaging customers or your ideal clients, even if you don’t have customers yet. Make sure what you have is what they want before you take on the expenses of registering the business, getting licenses, getting insurance, all that sort of thing.

Once you have a validated business idea and you are bringing in enough regular income that you’re going to have to pay taxes, you really should find, at the very least, a CPA. If you have questions about business structures, there is a lot of advice online, you can go to LegalZoom or places like that to start the process. However depending on what kind of business it is and if you have much liability, if you are open to people suing you, either by coming onto a property, by working with you and getting bad advice that affects them financially, there are a number of ways that you can be open to liability that may require the advice of a lawyer.

If that is the case, it’s great to get some feedback from other people who have been in your position and moved beyond it. If you know other business owners – especially if they’re in your local area – it’s great to ask them.

  • So who is your CPA or lawyer?
  • How do you feel about them?
  • Are you happy working with them?
  • How often are you able to communicate with them?
  • How much do they help you?
  • Do they just do your tax filings or do they help you really strategize for taxes throughout the year?
  • How often do you meet with them?
  • How often do you have phone calls?

In my Mastering Money Matters group, we had a month where we looked at building your financial team, and for that I created a PDF that includes a lot of questions to ask when you’re interviewing prospective CPAs.

You can use a lot of the same questions for prospective lawyers, it really takes you through how they want to communicate with you, how often you need to communicate with them, when you need to get them certain forms by, especially for things like taxes. When do they want you to make the appointments to go over your quarterly income to get the figures for your quarterly estimated taxes? When do they strategize with you at the end of the year about things like expensing out supplies and getting ready for the new year, or do you need to put off purchases because you’re planning on making more in the coming year.

There are all kinds of tax strategies that you can do to reduce your taxes in different ways with businesses by timing different actions. It’s great to have a CPA who will look at those things with you and help you figure it out. What is the best tax advantaged retirement account for you right now? Is it a Roth IRA? Once you start out earning your eligibility for a Roth, what’s the best investment then? You could do a traditional IRA, there are SEPs, there are individual 401ks that you can set up, depending on how you’re structuring your business. There are also some back door ways into a Roth IRA by putting money into a traditional IRA and then pretty immediately converting it into a Roth, if that’s the best strategy for you.

It’s good to have some people that you can talk to about all of these things, because every individual situation is different, both based on your business and your spouse’s income, how they earn income. If you have inheritance, if you have trusts with family members, it’s good to have someone who can really look at your full tax picture and your full financial picture, because it’s possible at some point you’ll want a financial adviser too.

A lot of people are starting to question the need for financial advisers because it seems so few of them actually outperform the market in the long run, so a lot of people do have basically their major investments in index funds, and I do too, but because I am super enthusiastic about different platforms, I’ve also been experimenting with things like and Betterment and WorthFM. I recently became a beta tester for the WorthFM – which is Worth Financial Management – platform and I am investing there as well. My main retirement investments are in Vanguard.

Now, the reason for that is that Vanguard was the original creator of the index fund. They have stuck by that model, they have stayed on top of it, and they run their business as a non-profit, which I love. Vanguard and TIAA-CREF which is the Teachers’ Union financial institution are basically the two places that have this model of no third parties’ involvement, so the only funds that you can buy from Vanguard are Vanguard funds. TIA-CREF has its own set of financial products it can sell you.

There are some really interesting annuities, really interesting products, but what you don’t have through Vanguard and TIA-CREF is the sort of back door incentives to sell more expensive products to create kickbacks. So a lot of companies – and this is changing now with the new fiduciary laws – but a lot of companies in the past, at least, if they sold a product for another company which may not be the best product for the client, they could get a kickback commission on it. So there is an incentive for them to bring in that commission that could outweigh their desire to get you the best product for your current situation.

Hopefully these new Department of Labor laws are changing that with these fiduciary laws which means that the highest priority is the good of the client, so those things should be changing, there should be fewer kickbacks, fewer back door commissions and things like that, but I still feel like Vanguard was built on a really good principle, so I’ve stayed with them, I like them.

The more complicated your situation is in terms of different income streams, different financial models, different trusts or family interests within businesses and things like that, the more important it is to really have a firm grasp on the legal and tax implications of your actions, both in your business and personal. Those are the times when I think it is really important to hire a professional, and of course there are other times, depending on what kind of business you have.

There may be times when you really do need some good marketing advice, when you really do need some good technical advice, so thinking back to that other episode that I did, Gurus vs Goonies, I wanted to do this episode as a companion piece to say that yes, I fully stand by what I said in that episode, but there are honestly times when you do need to make the investment and hire the professional who really know what they’re doing, who can get your back, who can save your butt and keep you from doing anything that’s illegal or puts you in danger, or just anything that make you tons and tons of time.

Like building a website, I do not know how to build a website, I had to hire people to build a website, for me, that was a really good investment, because if I tried to build it on my own, I would probably have spent a year watching YouTube videos and trying to do WordPress. So yes, I still stand by that you don’t always need a guru, sometimes you do need some Goonies, but you also probably need a CPA, maybe a lawyer, and possibly a financial planner.

It’s good to figure out when is the right time for these different things. Again, if your business is making enough to pay taxes, it’s good to at least consult a CPA, and when you start interviewing people to find the right person for you, you don’t have to take the first person.

Most CPAs and lawyers should do a free consultation with you, you should be able to ask questions like, how do I communicate with you? What happens if you’re unavailable? What happens if you are ill, incapacitated or even die before my taxes are due? Who is next in command? Who can access my accounts? How do I handle these sorts of things? By what date do you need me to get all of my receipts and reports into you? How often do you give me profit and loss reports? Do you go over these reports with me? When do we talk about tax implications? When do we strategize for my end of year taxes? How do these things work?

If any of you are interested in joining the Mastering Money Matters group, this is absolutely the type of stuff that we totally dive into. We talk about it, we talk about our own CPAs, we talk about any problems that we have, issues that have come up, times when things haven’t turned out like we thought, times when we’ve had higher tax bills than we expected and why that was, and what we do about it, so I’ll put a link to the Mastering Money Matters Group.

If you want to join, it is a great place where we really just hash things out, have great conversations, and every Friday we get on a private Zoom where you don’t have to reveal anything you don’t want to about your finances, but any questions you have, any feedback you want, it’s really turned into a bit of a mastermind, lately. Last week we actually had one woman come on who is really shifting her business from one focus to another, and she just sat there and told us all the ideas of what she’s working on, and we all brainstormed on her business idea, how to shift it and what we thought of what we would want from the type of business that’s shifting to. It’s something that all of us need, to be honest.

It was great! We talked about her new opt in, we talked about her copy, her presentation, her positioning, and by the end of it we all felt really jazzed for seeing her launch her new thing, and just today I saw a new page that she put up, and I was like, fantastic, she’s totally making this shift, she’s going to make this work, and it’s going to be awesome. Not that we’re in any way responsible for her deciding to do this, but I feel like getting feedback from people can be invaluable, especially when the people in the group are potentially part of the target audience that you’re looking at.

It’s really my favorite place to be online right now, I completely love it. If you want to join it, I would love to have you in there.

Thank you so much for joining me, and I will talk to you again soon.

Episode #45: Light it Up! With Niamh Arthur

This week I am joined by Niamh Arthur and I’m actually doing her 30 day Light It Up video challenge right now!

We talk about the importance of being yourself on video to really connect with people and how you can overcome the “effort barrier” of video.

As a treat, because it’s Niamh favorite thing to do (!) we spoke about structuring businesses. Niamh has studied so many different styles and ways of doing business. In different industries and with different business models.

Her big question is always

“Why does that work?”

You can listen in below and Tweet it out hereTweet: Check out @jturrell and @niamharthur talk how to do video here:

Favourite Quotes

I’m really excited about everything you do! – Jen on Niamh

When we realise what is beneficial about being as we are, that is helpful for others – Niamh, on being yourself on video

It brings in the “me too” factor – Jen on being natural on video

If you could teach every one in your target audience one thing, what would it be? – Niamh with the question she asks her clients

I am obsessed with impact, I’d rather impact a small number of people than be everywhere – Niamh

There are so many things in this economy that you can use to make money! – Niamh

Niamh ArthurNiamh is an online business designer and marketing strategist. She helps people take “that thing” they’ve always wanted to do and translate it into a lucrative online business that reflects who they are.

Niamh has been in the online space for over ten years, building multiple businesses and creating multiple six figure incomes.

The real breakthrough came when she discovered the power of short, simple videos created first on an ancient digital camera, and then on her smartphone.

Hundreds of videos later she now generates all her new traffic from videos on Youtube and Facebook, and she trains other entrepreneurs to use simple videos in their own businesses to up their impact, share their message, and build their businesses.

You can find out all about Niamh here.

If you enjoyed this episode you can subscribe to Financial Fluency here on iTunes and listen every week. If you like what you hear, please also leave an awesome iTunes review

I do two episodes every week, one solo and one interview.

I also have the fantastic Mastering Money Matters group, a monthly membership group where you can join and we talk about all the different pieces week by week of getting our money systems set up and how we look at, think about and value money and all areas of our lives.

It’s a very supportive and private group just for women and it’s a safe place to hang out and talk. It’s kind of the extension of the interviews I’ve been doing with mainly entrepreneurs on this show, and it’s where we can talk about the things we may not want to broadcast out to a broader audience.

Let’s Keep the Conversation Going

If you’re enjoying the podcasts and something has lit a fire for you, carry on the conversation over on the Financial Fluency Facebook Group.

See you there!

Jen x

Financial Fluency Episode #44: Setting Financial Goals

Today I’m talking about goal setting. I feel like there are a lot of different ways that different people like to tackle the issue of financial goal setting. Because I tend to work with women who are either starting their own business to leave a traditional nine to five job, or they have been out of the traditional nine to five working atmosphere for some time – either for caregiving responsibilities or other things – and want to start their own business as a way to restart their careers, I take a slightly different look at financial goal setting than a lot of other people do, and I wanted to share that process.

You can listen or read below and Tweet it out hereTweet: Get @jturrell's 4 levels of financial goal setting here:

What I like to look at are four different levels of financial goal setting.

  • Sustain
  • Maintain
  • Next level
  • Dream level



For sustain, I like to look at the absolute bare minimum expenses that you need to cover in order to not have to make a drastic change in your lifestyle like moving to a place with a lower rent or mortgage, or taking your kids out of the school they’re enrolled in. If you had to cut everything you could possibly cut if something happened, what would you still need to pay?

These are the things that keep the lights on and the engine running, things like mortgage or rent, homeowner’s or renter’s insurance, car payments, fuel for your car, car insurance and basic groceries. If you have an online business, the internet is included in that, and running your computer and your electricity. If you take your absolute minimum baseline expenses, that’s your sustain level.

If you’re looking at how much you need to be able to make on the side before you leave your corporate job, for instance, a lot of people aren’t able to actually replace their corporate income or their nine to five income with their side gig until they leave that job, because you only have so many hours in the day. You often can’t dedicate work hours to your side gig, you can’t do consulting calls while you’re at work, so there’s only so much that you’re able to do.

I often think it’s a good idea to at least build up enough of your sustained level goal for several months before you leave that job or be consistently making enough to cover the sustain for several months before you leave with a savings cushion.



The next level I like to look at is maintain, so maintaining your current lifestyle.

For instance, again if you’re looking at leaving a job in order to do your side gig full time, you not only want to know the numbers for the absolute bare minimum, you want to know the numbers that you’ll need to be making in order to maintain your current lifestyle.

That adds on things like eating out, extra groceries, entertainment, extracurricular activities for the kids and yourself, just the more expensive things that make up your daily life and make it pleasurable and the way that you want it.

Things like getting your hair done in a nice salon, as opposed to the discount hair cutters in the mall, things that are nice to have, that you want to continue to have in your life, you don’t want to have to cut them, but if the worst came to the worst and you had some sort of catastrophic event, these are things that you could cut at least for the short term in order to get yourself back on your feet.

next level goals

Next Level

After that and once you know what those numbers are, the next level of goal setting that I like to look at is what I call next level.

These are the upgrades you want to make in the next three to five years:

  • To be debt free,
  • To save up for a down payment on a house,
  • Maybe you’ll need to replace your car
  • Or get a new computer,
  • Pay for tuition for a new school for the kids,
  • One of your kids is starting college so you’re saving up towards that,
  • An overdue vacation,
  • Maybe you’re planning for a wedding in the next few years
  • Helping one of your kids with one of their dream projects
  • Maybe you’ll have a new dream project you want to do yourself
  • Perhaps you want to start travelling more

It’ll be things that you see happening in the next three to five years that you want to start saving for and putting money towards.

Dream level goals

Dream level

The dream level goal is more than three to five years out, it’s looking towards retirement, whether that’s early retirement or at retirement age, possibly a time when you want to be able to hustle less, have your income coming in through more passive channels, have your life set up in the ways that you want.

For some people this is moving up to a dream house, maybe having a dream car, buying a sports team, buying a vacation house, or just having enough so that you know that you’ll have a steady income from the principle that you’ve saved up at some point in your life.

If you have big dreams for your dream level goals, go and actually put dollar amounts on them, and that goes for next level goals too.

I like people to put real dollar amounts on everything that we look at working towards, so just like in the sustain and maintain levels where you’re going to write down exactly how much you want to be spending on each of those things, or how much you are currently spending on them, do the same thing for the next level goal and the dream level goal.

Let’s Get Real

Having real numbers to look at is what starts making those goals real and means that you can start putting money towards them. I feel like the best way to work towards all of these goals is firstly to know exactly how you’re covering both the sustain and the maintain goal as you’re working towards covering all of this with your own business or freelance career, or whatever it is you’re working towards, and then doing the same thing with the next level goal.

Start planning on how you’re going to expand.

  • Are you going to offer more products or services?
  • Are you hiring more people to work under you?
  • Are you planning on adding some revenue streams?

Start figuring out how much you need to start putting towards those things month by month and year by year to get to them in the next three to five years, and then to get to them in the next ten to 20 years after that for the dream level goals, and maybe it won’t take that long.

The good thing about this is as you start tracking your progress towards these different goals, you can adjust the timeline for each of them. You can see how long will it really take, and as you add more income streams or more projects or expand in different ways, the timeline on those different goals can change dramatically, depending on what it is, especially when you’re looking at things like paying off debt or saving up for a house, those sort of nearer term goals.

Changing the monthly amounts that you put towards each of those can have a really big effect, and it’s exciting to see. Some of my favorite calculators for looking at this stuff are at, and I also just created a new calculator which I call The Bottom Line Calculator, on my own website.

I’m starting a new program soon that’s going to be called Accountable, helping us all to be accountable for the things that we want to do and how to track towards those goals.

It’s All Figureoutable

If you do have a product or service based business, you can go to that URL and it allows you to fill in your different products and services and have the prices there and adjust the number of sales you need per month or per quarter or per year. It then lets you also look at how much you should be setting aside for taxes out of those, estimating how much your business expenses are. You can then look at your sustain and maintain expenses to figure out how much bottom line you need to be able to bring home in order to cover your sustain, maintain and next level and dream level goals.

Once you have real numbers for all of those levels – and that can change over time, of course, as you meet some of these goals and they get knocked off the list – then you can add other things, you can change other things, you can move where that money goes to. Say you were saving up for a down payment on a house, once you have the down payment, that’s a big goal that you’ve saved up for and you have a mortgage now, but you no longer need to be saving as much as you were probably saving to get the down payment.

Or again if you’re saving up to get out of debt, once you’ve gotten out of debt, now all that money you were putting towards debt before, all of that can go towards your next level and dream level goals.

It’s pretty exciting to see, and I’m planning on building a suite of calculators there on the ‘accountable’ area of my website to help people really look at these things.

We’re going to be adjusting it so that you can track the progress towards these goals over time and really see how the timelines change. So far we just have this one bottom line calculator, but I would love it if you would go and check it out and give me your feedback. Send me an email, let me know if it’s helping you, and I’d like to hear about what you’re working on in your life and your business. What are your goals? What are you working towards right now?

If You Want More

I’m going to keep this one short and sweet, it’s just a quick rundown of how I look at goals for the women that I work with as clients. If you’re interested in finding out more, I have a fantastic group program called the Mastering Money Matters, which is a monthly membership group.

There is a library of content that you get access to which we work through together, but it’s been really interesting watching this group evolve over the past nine months.

At first I thought it would just be about the content, but really what’s ended up happening is we’ve sort of evolved as time has gone by and people have asked for more things, and now we do a Blab every Tuesday where we talk about the businesses of the different women in the group, we usually have a couple of people in the hot seat and focus on them, and then we all share it with our networks.

On Fridays we have a private Zoom where we get together in a Zoom room and either work on financial tasks or we can brainstorm or do Q&A or sometimes people just want feedback for what they’re working on, just to find out what we think before they put it out to the public.

It’s been a really great group, I really enjoy all the women in there, so if you’re interested in finding out more about joining that, click here.

If you like this show, I would very much appreciate it if you would subscribe, rate and review the show on iTunes.

We also have a free Facebook group where we carry on discussions after the episode. I would love to hear what you think about this episode and others you’ve listened to, I really appreciate getting any feedback from listeners. Come on over and join us, thanks so much for joining me today.