A Vision Planner for Our Finances

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Thank you to Rebecca Stewart and Northwestern Mutual for caring about us moms and our financial wellness by sponsoring this post!

a vision planner for our financesFinances can be such a taboo topic, and the thought of a financial advisor can feel so daunting and out of reach – especially as new parents. Just like it takes a village to raise kids, it can take a village to achieve financial success. As moms with kids of varying ages and in all sorts of financial positions here in Dayton, we wanted to find expert advice to help us all navigate the world of financial planning. Fortunately for us, we found Ohio native and mom of two, Rebecca Stewart of Northwestern Mutual, to be a vision planner for our finances.


REBECCA STEWART, NORTHWESTERN MUTUAL

rebecca stewart northwestern mutual
Rebecca Stewart, Vision Planner

Rebecca Stewart is a financial advisor – or vision planner – with Northwestern Mutual. She is a fellow Ohio mom and combines her psychology and financial backgrounds with real-life experience of what is like to have kids and raise a family. Her passion stems from the desire the educate individuals on the possibilities of financial planning by advocating for each person she meets with to learn something new.

EDUCATION & TRAINING

A graduate of University of Cincinnati and University of Tennessee with Bachelors and Masters Degrees in Psychology, her educational background of behavior science helps lead individuals to action through small bite-size steps of progress to their short-term and long-term goals.


:: INTERVIEW QUESTION+ANSWER RECAP ::

We know that many parents have questions about their finances, especially in these days, so we’ve partnered with the team at Northwestern Mutual to answer some of the most frequently asked questions they hear from their clients that are moms like all of us. {Scroll to the bottom to watch the video of the full interview!}

Courtney Snow, DMC
Today, we have with us Rebecca Stewart. I’m very excited about this, because I feel like maybe today more than ever, we can definitely use some advice and tips from her. She has actually been a financial advisor for over two years. She’s with Northwestern Mutual, and she helps moms and parents like us realize our financial dreams and goals. So Rebecca, do you want to tell everybody a little bit about you?

Rebecca Stewart
Absolutely. Thank you for having me, Courtney. I’m excited to be here and chat with many other busy moms in Ohio. I do work for Northwestern Mutual and have been a financial advisor for about two years now. I started my career out in Philadelphia and just moved back here to Ohio in April. I am a UC grad, my husband was a UC grad, and we’ve got two little ones – eight and three – that keep us busy as well. I have a background in education and psychology, which actually correlates surprisingly well with finance, because it’s all about behaviors and discipline and habits when it comes to money and decision-making. So just over the course of last two years, I’ve been super passionate about helping young families and professionals achieve some of those goals that they have with financial planning, whether it be house or cars, insurance, investments, and retirement planning. All those things kind of encompass together. So excited to be here with you today and share a couple little tidbits of some things that may help some of the mamas out there.

Courtney Snow, DMC
I love that you are an Ohio mom as well. My husband is a Bearcat grad also! So I know, for me, my daughter was a complete surprise. I was a single mom for the first three and a half years. When I had her, I had no idea how I was going to take care of her or pay off debts; I was in an apartment. It felt very overwhelming. I’m thankful that I had guidance to the point where I was able to pay off everything and buy a house by the time she was three, before I met my husband, and start making those financial steps. And, I feel like there are always things that you have to keep working on. What was your experience? Were you prepared at all when you became a parent?

Rebecca Stewart
I was very similar to you as well; I had my kids very young. First one was while I was in college, a second one while I was doing my Masters degree. And, you know, luckily, we had a friend of ours that actually introduced us to Northwestern Mutual early on. So, we were able to have that connection in that go-to person to answer some of those questions as they were arising, as she was getting older, and then having the second baby and all that comes with that. But, it was definitely a surprise for us both. And, it was just kind of figuring out using your village of people to help navigate some of those major things that come about like you said – managing your debt, just new expenses, and just also kind of figuring out what’s long-term for you to have. You’re just trying to manage day-to-day, but we’re also trying to make sure that we’re going to be good in the long-term. So very similar to you but definitely takes a lot of people and guidance to help you answer some of those questions that come about when you have babies.

Courtney Snow, DMC
I feel like as the stages go on, you still need more advice and more help, and sometimes some redirection. So the tips that you’re going to share with us today… you’ve got some younger ones and then the eight year old, I have a new teenager, I’m close to 40s, my husband’s close to 50. So, for people like us knowing that college will be here at some point and then retirement… some of the tips you’re going to share – they’re going to help us on all stages of this parenting life journey?

Rebecca Stewart
Yeah, absolutely. I think, you know, a lot of the stuff that we’re going to chat through today is just kind of general concepts around some things to start thinking about. I think in general, everybody has to have that go-to person to really bounce ideas off of and have a more individualized plan for themselves, because everybody’s situation is so different. You know, I heard one time you can go on the internet – if we were logical beings – and kind of read what we need to do and just do it right. But at the end of the day, we’re all behavioral creatures. And, so it takes that extra step of accountability to really get you to do what you’re supposed to do. It’s always good to have that person that you can turn to for some of those major decisions.

Courtney Snow, DMC
Yeah, you said you have some psychological background in your education, right?

Rebecca Stewart
Yes, a Bachelor in psychology and Masters in educational psychology and adult learning, a little bit different than how children grow up and learn but more about how adults can learn and grow.

Courtney Snow, DMC
That’s really cool. I’m sure you have some amazing insight into helping people with finances, right, because if we just if we just all did a blanket plan, you know, we’d all have it down. Yeah, there’s definitely a whole lot that goes in to it. I’m excited to learn from more from you. I know that this is just a very introductory thing for people to be learning some basics. So hopefully, we’ll be able to have you on again and keep diving into these tips for all of it. But, we’ll just get started and let you pass on a little bit of your knowledge for us. So, first question that we had is, “How do I manage my budget with new expenses, like childcare and baby items?”

How do I manage my budget with new expenses, like childcare and baby items?

Rebecca Stewart
Yeah, so I think that’s kind of the biggest question that comes about is about the new expenses that arise when you have babies or maybe a second baby after you figure it out first, right? The biggest thing that we always talk about on the defensive side of the plan is really just building your emergency savings, which is usually about three to six months of your fixed expenses. Now, figuring out your fixed expenses is that first step into knowing what that number should be, which would start with a budget, and I feel like budget is kind of like a naughty word, because nobody likes to hear that. So, just think about it as your cash flow. You know, what’s coming in? What’s going out? What am I spending every month? There are a lot of things that fluctuate month to month. But, there are a lot of things that don’t, so looking back at your statements and figuring out what should be on your budget sheet and kind of where we can tweak if need be. It’s never really a budget that we say, “Hey, you’ve got to stop going to Starbucks every day.” It’s more of like, “Hey, let’s still go to Starbucks. But, let’s pull back on a couple other things so we can make sure we’re achieving some of these goals.” It’s really just following a 60/20/20 rule – 60% fixed expenses, 20% savings, and 20% spending; it’s a good start to see how on track you are with that. If you’re not a big spender, then you can put more towards savings. Simple as that.

Courtney Snow, DMC
Yeah, that Starbucks habit… I feel like, especially as a mom, we’ve all got!

Rebecca Stewart
I have one sitting right next to me!

Courtney Snow, DMC
My about-to-be-teenager told me a few months ago, “When I can get my first job, I think I’ll work at Starbucks, so I can make sure to get you free coffee.” And I was like, “Oh, you DO love me!”

Rebecca Stewart
She’ll build up all your stars for you???

Courtney Snow, DMC
Yeah! I don’t don’t know if she’ll actually follow through with that, but at least right now, she’s still thinking about me… Okay, great tips. So how do I save for myself? And my new child?

How do I save for myself? And my new child?

Rebecca Stewart
If you’ve ever been on an airplane, and they talk about the safety rules and things like that, they say, if worst case scenario, and the oxygen mask comes down, put it on yourself before you put it on anybody else. I think that’s kind of a good thing to think about. As a mom, we’re always thinking about others and taking care of others first. We usually make sure that we’re taking care of others prior to prioritizing ourselves. So, really just figuring out savings-wise, is it a short-term goal? Is it a long-term goal? Then, really talking to your advisor about what type of accounts make the most sense, depending on what that is. Short-term goals might mean more like needing a new car or wanting to go on vacation next Summer. Long-term would be more like the kids’ education or an investment property. It’s figuring out which of those accounts makes the most sense when it comes to saving for yourself and then and then your kids. Maybe it’s a 529 plan for education, something like that, that would be able to help long-term and also be tax strategic, because we talk about taxes a lot. And just figuring out again, kind of where to place those goals into savings and short-term versus long-term.

Courtney Snow, DMC
Awesome. Yeah, and you made a really good point about as moms, it is not in our instinctive nature to think about ourselves. Just when you think about wellness overall, you know, whether that’s mental health or physical health, but also financial health. I think it’s a really key thing to make sure that we’re practicing self-care financially, so I’m really glad that you brought that up.

Rebecca Stewart
Yeah, yeah, absolutely.

Courtney Snow, DMC
All right. So, next question we had is “What benefits can I take advantage of at my job?”

What benefits can I take advantage of at my job?

Rebecca Stewart
Yeah, so this was a big one I think that gets brushed over a lot, because it can be really overwhelming to look at your employer benefits package, because it’s usually about 60 to 100 pages of a lot of stuff that doesn’t always really make sense, right? And so, we take a look at it and make sure that we pull out the most important topics that you should know within that. Usually that involves your retirement plan and what you should contribute. What are they matching, if anything? What type of retirement plan that is? They usually have some type of life insurance that will cover final expenses, but that’s about it. With the fluidity of jobs, you don’t necessarily want to purchase more supplemental insurance with your job, just in case you leave there, because then you’re kind of throwing some of that money away. So, we talk about making sure you have some individual planning done as well, and not necessarily banking on your employer benefits. It’s kind of more of an added bonus. And then really, the last benefit, there is Long Term Disability Insurance. So, we hear those terms, Short Term and Long Term Disability Insurance, that just basically mean income protection. If something happens to me, and I can’t go and work, I’m sick, I’m hurt, and part of my income will still be paid to me. And that’s super important, because our income is the main driver of all things. If we don’t have that, we can’t do a whole heck of a lot. So, you know, looking into some of those and just kind of pulling out the main points, they’re super helpful, and then making sure that we’re implementing some of the things on an individual basis to supplement for what we don’t have through our employer.

Courtney Snow, DMC
Okay, yeah, really, really good points there. And then next, “What resources do I have outside of my job?”

What resources do I have outside of my job?

Rebecca Stewart
Yeah, so I think this kind of comes down to working with an advisor, right? We always turn to friends or family for advice. And, I think that we learn a lot from them. But, there are also things that they don’t know, because they’re not experts on it, and they’ve probably made their own mistakes. Turning to someone that can really put together an individualized plan for you based off of your particular situation and having that go-to person to turn to. When you’re ready to make a big decision, whom can I talk to about it? Being a phone call away is always nice, especially when you’re super busy, or you need to send a text or you need to send a voice message, right? We all are doing that now, because we’re so busy. But just being able to turn to somebody for that, and utilizing that resource, and at the end of the day, it takes a village, right? And, when we think about our village, who are those people in our village? It’s our friends and our family, but it’s also your doctor, it’s your nail tech, it’s your hairdresser, and it should be your financial advisor so that you have that additional person to turn to.

Courtney Snow, DMC
So, how can I ensure that I leave a legacy for my children?

How can I ensure that I leave a legacy for my children?

Rebecca Stewart
This one’s big? I know that as when I was a young mom – I don’t know about you, Courtney – when I was a young mom, I didn’t know anything about legacy life insurance, I didn’t know how any of that works, let alone what it meant or what it costs, and the impact that it could make. As I’ve seen more and more people pass along the years and being in this type of industry where you’re seeing these things happen all the time, as people get older, they want to leave money behind to their kids or their grandkids or charity, or their alumni association. Being able to strategically use your life insurance, your estate plan, your retirement plan, being super tech savvy with that, and so you’re not paying a bunch of taxes when you do leave that money behind. Just making sure that you have the right amount of life insurance that makes sense to you is important. What do you want to prioritize as far as something that you want to leave behind in your name, and pass on, I think that’s the easiest way to create generational wealth, which is something that’s usually important to most people, especially parents. Just trying to think of those types of things and making sure that we’re doing that early on, so that we’re locking in our age and our health, because we know those things can change. And then just making small meaningful contributions over the course of a long period of time, into some type of investment accounts that you can pass down as well. So, really just being strategic with different types of accounts there to create that legacy is super helpful and helps you sleep at night because you know there’s something you’ll leave behind God forbid something happens to you.

Courtney Snow, DMC
Yeah, yeah, absolutely. And, I feel like even with the financial mentors I’ve tried to surround myself with and having some banking and credit union experience in the past myself, I have been realizing even before meeting you and being connected with Northwestern Mutual that it’s important to have somebody that’s helping guide it, especially as busy parents and moms. There are so many things that are on your head that trying to stay on track of all those little things… and I think just as you get older, you start to think about more things. I just know for me personally, I’m definitely going to need to connect with you. For this whole past year, I’ve realized I need to get myself a dedicated financial advisor in place again. You have me sold! So, what are the key points for new mothers’ financial success?

What are the key points for new mothers’ financial success?

Rebecca Stewart
Yes, I think it goes back to, again, taking care of yourself first putting that oxygen mask on yourself before you put it on anybody else and really talking to your significant other (if you have one) about these things as well, because you may be on the same page, but you may be on completely different pages, too. If you’re a new married couple, or had a baby and you’re just kind of like What is happening?!, there are a lot of questions that come from that. Having those conversations around that is helpful. Secondly, just managing your budget, living within your means, and saving as much as you can. Talk to an advisor about where the the right places to save are, whether it be for short-term or long-term goals. And, then just kind of have that trusted person to turn to, making sure that we’re always going to challenge you to think about where you want to be and be a part of the progress that it takes to get there. I think that that’s super important, and we love doing that. That’s our passion. We love to help people. So, don’t be intimidated by the Financial Advisor title. A lot of us mamas that are financial advisors like to call ourselves vision planners or goal achievers, legacy builders, right? Because, financial advisor can be a little bit scary to think about. I think those are kind of the main points there.

Courtney Snow, DMC
Yeah, yeah, that’s awesome, and I don’t know if this is just kind of industry wide, but I feel like a lot of financial planning places seem like you’ve just got the strong, smart guy that knows everything. You don’t have somebody that’s a fellow mom like you that’s like, “Hey, I’ve gotten through this. I know what you’re feeling. I know how to help map that path for you.” At least for me, and I’m sure for a lot of our our listeners and viewers, could say that’s huge to have somebody like you.

Rebecca Stewart
Absolutely. There are a lot of men in the industry. And not that they can’t relate, but we as women can definitely relate better. And like you said, experiencing it, you know, for myself, and a lot of the other moms that are in this industry have have experienced it as well, and we can break it down into bite-sized pieces for people, because it can be very overwhelming to think about your finances. It’s a taboo topic, right? Not a lot of people talk about it, we don’t discuss it at the dinner table with our family. Just having that go-to person being able to break some of those things down and just make progress over time, I think is the best thing that you can do.

Courtney Snow, DMC
Yeah, yeah, I could definitely tell that having you, or someone like you from Northwestern Mutual, be a part of our village is really, really important. These have been some amazing tips, but where can our listeners go for more information?

Where can we go for more information?

Rebecca Stewart
Yeah, so like I said, we are affiliated with Northwestern Mutual. You can go to nm.com or you can reach myself on my cell phone number, which is 330-998-0141. And, my email address is [email protected].

Courtney Snow, DMC
Awesome. Well, we’d welcome any comments that people have with questions or ideas, and we would definitely recommend that you get in touch with Rebecca. Rebecca, you obviously have a really good background and a good passion for helping other moms and families like us. So, thank you so much for taking the time to share some of your expertise with us today.

Rebecca Stewart
Yeah, thank you so much for having me, Courtney. I really appreciate it.

*This interview was originally recorded in Cincinnati, Ohio on our Sister Site, Cincinnati Mom Collective.*


:: CATCH THE FULL INTERVIEW ::


Thank you again to Northwestern Mutual and our go-to gal, Rebecca, for providing these financial tips to moms and parents in our community. We are excited that you all are a part of our village and that we can welcome Rebecca into our village as well.

Learn more about Rebecca, and contact her by phone at 330.998.0141 or email at [email protected].

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