How To Be More Financially Savvy

Beth Wraga was interviewed by the Karyn Flynn, the founder of Holos, a newsletter for women adventuring through midlife. Please find the article and link below.

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You cannot get to age 50 without thinking about retirement. Not just when, but are you prepared? How much money do you need? As the women of our generation enter midlife, we are controlling more wealth and power. Are we ready?

McKinsey & Co. calls women the “new face of wealth.” It is estimated women control around 51% of personal wealth today, a number expected to grow significantly. According to a study by the Bank of Montreal, this is due in part to women now filling 52 percent of management, professional, and related positions and women being the primary breadwinners in 40 percent of U.S. households. Further demographic shifts will also contribute to the transfer of wealth into the hands of women as women in the U.S. outlive men by 5 years and generally marry men 2 years older.

In today’s issue I chat with Beth Wraga, Managing Director and Financial Advisor at Ratio Wealth Group, who has thirty years of financial markets experience. Below she shares insights and practical steps one can take to be more financially savvy. I love her perspective as she is also a Certified Life Coach and brings this perspective to her work.

Karyn: Why is it important for women to be talking about money and finances in midlife?

Beth: As we enter middle age, we tend to take inventory of all aspects of our life, but we are often more willing to examine and do something about our physical health. We may have heard we need to get a colonoscopy after we turn 50 but are resistant to take the steps necessary to examine our financial well-being.

Because of deeply rooted cultural misconceptions about women and money, females tend to be particularly hesitant. From a young age, girls are taught to be “cautious” and “fiscally responsible”, and boys are taught to be “smart” and “build wealth”. Women are taught to avoid financial conversations because money is “too personal”, could make someone feel bad, or simply crosses a societal boundary.

This keeps women in the dark about their finances and unwilling to plan. It is imperative that women get involved because they are quite likely to be solely responsible for financial decisions at some point if for no other reason than the life expectancy for women is longer than men.

For both men and women, thinking about retirement can be bittersweet. Making contingency plans around aging, potential illness and mortality can feel uncomfortable.

Karyn: What is the most common question you get from clients in their 50’s?

Beth: Regardless of their net worth, clients want to know if they have saved enough for retirement or their second act. They want to know what they need to do to be secure and thrive. The great news is that 50 is young! With more people living to 100 years old, 50 should be viewed as the middle decade.

I encourage people to reimagine their 50’s as the financial fulcrum of their life: a pivot point that can help you leverage your future. If you are proactive and optimistic, time is on your side.

Karyn: What should a person over 50 do first?

Beth: Be honest about the last time you took a good assessment of your financial health. Take time to identify your core values – clarifying the principles you prioritize above all others will help make the decision and planning process easier. Contemplate what you want to accomplish in your remaining years and what living your best life means. This means something different for everyone but how you invest your money, time, and resources are a direct expression of what you value.

Karyn: Why would someone need to work with a professional financial advisor?

Beth: Just like working with a trainer to get physically strong and or a doctor to assess your health, a financial advisor will ask the right questions to get you on track to achieve your goals.

You want someone who can be objective about your current situation, your values, and your needs. The financial world and changing tax codes are complex, and it is paramount to work with someone who can make sure you have an updated financial plan, shine a light on your actual expenses, and walk you through your retirement or “next chapter” options.

A professional will help you get your financial junk drawer organized and look holistically at everything you own and owe. In addition, a good financial advisor can help you develop a healthy, positive money mindset and turn the money subject from a source of stress into a source of strength.

Karyn: What are some steps someone can take to get started on developing a plan?

Beth: I would recommend people start by:

Working with a professional to get a financial plan. This will reduce your stress about money, support your current needs, and help you achieve your goals. A financial plan is just a roadmap; it is not set in stone but will help give you guidelines about what is possible.

Make sure your will, health care directive, and durable power of attorney are up to date.

Check and update the titles and beneficiaries on all accounts.

Maximize tax advantaged retirement savings. Once you turn 50, you can add an additional $1,000 a year to your IRA ($7000 total) and an additional $6,500 per year to your 401(k) ($27,000 total). The extra contributions can make a huge difference to your retirement savings.

Use a health savings account (HSA) as a retirement savings tool or as a stealth healthcare IRA. The money grows tax free, and some HSA plans will allow you to choose where your funds are invested. HSA funds aren’t “use it or lose it”; the money rolls over year after year, so you can spend it now or in the future to pay for qualified health expenses—also tax free. In 2022, you can contribute pre-tax up to a maximum of $3,650 for self-only and $7,300 for families. The annual “catch-up” contribution amount for individuals aged 55 or older is an additional $1,000.

Consider long term care insurance, especially if you are still in good health. As part of the sandwich generation, our aging parents are a reminder that we need to think about how to cover potential eldercare costs like a nursing home or a home health aide.

Karyn: For people with kids, what are common concerns?

Beth: Balancing commitments. People want to know how to create a plan which allows them to live well at the same time high school and college expenses seem to be draining savings. And everyone wants to know how to teach their kids to be smart with their money, especially in an environment of rising inflation and changing value of investments.

Karyn: How have the current markets and the pandemic changed, if at all, what people in midlife need to be thinking about?

Beth: The recent volatility in the financial markets has been a wakeup call for a lot of people. It has highlighted why having a solid financial plan in place is so important to weather periods of shock in the markets.

In addition, the pandemic may have given all of us more freedom with our work location, but it was also a reminder that life is short. And I think this recognition has caused some lifestyle inflation as people want to live well while they are healthy. To support these lifestyle changes requires financial planning to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Parting Thought

Beth’s parting thought, “I believe that taking a holistic approach to your financial well-being paves the way to a life rich in success, happiness and meaning. With a commitment to trust and integrity, my mission is to help my clients navigate any financial challenge as well as create security. My background working with financial institutions combined with my empathy and desire to serve others give me an ideal foundation to aid individuals and families to plan and achieve their life goals.”

Beth is a Managing Director and Financial Advisor at Ratio Wealth Group. She has thirty years of financial markets experience. Beth is also a Certified Life Coach and helps clients identify core motivations, values, and goals as part of the wealth management discussion. Beth lives in San Francisco with her husband and three sons. You can connect with Beth at beth@ratiowealthgroup.com.

Disclosure

Ratio Wealth Group, LLC (RWG) is a registered investment advisor located in Colorado. RWG and its representatives are in compliance with the current filing requirements imposed upon registered investment advisors by those jurisdictions in which RWG maintains clients. RWG may only transact business in those states in which it is registered, or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration requirements. RWG’s web site is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to its advisory services, together with access to additional investment related information, publications, and links. Accordingly, the publication of RWG’s web site on the Internet should not be construed by any consumer and/or prospective client as RWG’s solicitation to effect, or attempt to effect transactions in securities, or the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation, over the Internet. Any subsequent, direct communication by RWG with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides. For information pertaining to the registration status of RWG, please contact the SEC, FINRA or the state securities regulators for those states in which RWG maintains a filing. A copy of RWG’s current written disclosure statement discussing RWG’s business operations, service, and fees is available from RWG upon written request. RWG does not make any representations or warranties as to the accuracy, timeliness, suitability, completeness, or relevance of any information prepared by any unaffiliated third party, whether linked to RWG’s web site or incorporated herein, and takes no responsibility therefor. All such information is provided solely for convenience purposes only and all users thereof should be guided accordingly.

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To the extent that any client or prospective client utilizes any economic calculator or similar device contained within or linked to RWG’s web site, the client and/or prospective client acknowledges and understands that the information resulting from the use of any such calculator/device, is not, and should not be construed, in any manner whatsoever, as the receipt of, or a substitute for, personalized individual advice from RWG, or from any other investment professional.

Shawn Wallace, CLTC
Managing Director

720.420.4866 Direct
shawn@RatioWealthGroup.com

“The first time I meet with prospective clients I love getting to know them, exchanging life stories and learning about their goals and dreams. The best moment is when they realize that we’re a great fit and that we are the advisors they have been looking for. I like to think my people skills rival my financial skills! At Ratio, I’m proud that everything we do revolves around our client’s plan. Our goal is for them to trust us as their advisor and planning resource for decades to come.“

Shawn has been a dedicated planning agent for the over seven years, focusing on the comprehensive insurance and investment needs of affluent clients throughout the country. He offers expertise in optimization tactics during the accumulation phase, as well as tax efficient distribution strategies for clients. Shawn also brings a unique perspective and industry knowledge to the table as a United Airlines pilot and Boeing 787 instructor.

After graduating from Indiana State with a Bachelor’s of Science Degree in Aerospace, Shawn flew for the United States Air Force and is a proud veteran of Desert Storm.

Work : Life

Shawn lives in Denver with his wife and two sons and they all love to travel and are avid sports fans. Shawn is also an avid microbrew fan and will happily tell you his favorites. He is also a Board Member of the Wings Over the Rockies Air and Space Museum.

Nancy Kimball
Executive Assistant

720.420.4860 Direct
Nancy@ratiowealthgroup.com

“Helping people find happiness in the little things, moments or even daily miracles brings me joy! I thrive to make sure the Team at Ratio is prepared for all of their clients’ needs in and out of the office. Patience, appreciation, research and knowledge are key to my success at Ratio. I love helping our ratio Team thrive every day.”

Nancy brings a long career in advertising sales where she worked for Blair Television in various cities including New York. She came to Denver where she worked at the NBC News Affiliate, Channel 9. After leaving the Television Industry, Nancy changed career paths to a more administrative supportive role. She worked for mortgage and real estate CEOs and supported various other CEOs as a Consultant. Nancy is well versed in planning, communication and anticipating the needs of the Ratio Team and their clients. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communication and Broadcasting from Colorado State University. She is also a Certified Yoga Instructor.

Work : Life
Outside of Ratio, Nancy enjoys spending time with her husband and cheering her son on during his many sports, especially hockey. Her favorite hobbies are Pilates and playing the piano. She enjoys volunteering wherever she is needed at her son’s school, on her HOA Board in her neighborhood, and serving the homeless in the Denver community.

Michelle E. Buquet Director Of Business Development

720.420.4860 Direct
michelle@ratiowealthgroup.com

“Life is most rewarding when you enjoy what you do. I truly love meeting new people and discovering what connects us; whether that is mutual friends, goals or passions. The one common thread throughout my career is helping other people attain their vision. Ratio Wealth Group does just that for their clients. I can personally speak to this as a client who believes in the process so much, I wanted to become a member of the team. Here, we take a holistic approach to helping individuals turn their financial aspirations into reality. As a client of Ratio and now a team member, I am confident in our services, candor and appreciation of the people we serve.”

As Director of Business Development at Ratio, Michelle brings a wealth of talents and experience to our team thanks to her varied background in sales and marketing. One of her most rewarding experiences was working for Colorado Ski County where she instituted the 5th Grade Ski Passport which allowed 5th graders to ski at almost every mountain in Colorado three times for free. Luckily for us, Michelle discovered her true passion is bringing people together and creating synergist partnerships.

Work : Life
Michelle is the proud mom of four kids. She is an adventurer, traveler and art lover. Her true passion is being with friends and family. She also loves taking advantage of all that Colorado offers; skiing, live music and hiking.

Lauren S. Young, CFP® Vice President, Client Advisor

720.420.4873 Direct
lauren@RatioWealthGroup.com

“I’m passionate about helping people determine their financial goals and then working with them to make sure they can achieve them. I enjoy helping our clients understand “financial language” so that they feel confident when making financial decisions. An important role I play is reminding clients of their goals and helping them stick with them. The difference between us and other financial advisors is our focus on getting to know our clients and connecting with them. That’s as important to us as performance results.”

Lauren has earned a Certified Financial Planner™ designation and has been working in Wealth Management industry for nearly 15 years. She has extensive experience in trust administration, estate planning, retirement planning, and education planning. She has a degree in Business Administration with concentrations in Marketing and Finance from Gonzaga University.

Lauren also created a Kids and Money workshop and is passionate about empowering teenagers with the knowledge and expertise to create their own financial futures.

Work : Life
Lauren is a sports fanatic and loves to ski, bike, go to the mountains, cheer on the Denver Broncos and Colorado Avalanche and spend time with her husband and two kids.

Josh Freedman, CFA
Chief Operating Officer

720.420.4863 Direct
josh@ratiowealthgroup.com

“After 30 years in the finance industry, I have seen many different investment strategies employed by multiple firms.  I am thrilled to be at Ratio Wealth Group because I believe that the firm’s holistic approach, our investment philosophy, and the services we provide are the best way to ensure our clients’ financial well-being and peace of mind.  It gives me great pleasure and satisfaction to work with such talented people – both coworkers and clients.”

Josh has worked in just about every aspect of the asset management business – from trading and securities research to compliance and operations. Before joining Ratio Wealth Group, Josh was Chief Operating Officer and Chief Compliance Officer for several independent investment advisors, most recently Ballast Equity Management, LLC. He has experience in investment research and portfolio management in both the equity and fixed income markets and began his career in client service and sales and marketing.

Josh holds a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of San Diego and a Masters in Business Administration, with a specialization in Finance, from the University of Denver. Josh is a CFA charterholder and a member of the CFA Institute and CFA Society Colorado.

Work : Life
Josh and his wife enjoy traveling and being in the mountains to ski, ride and hike whenever they can. Josh is also a dedicated, if slow, swimmer and runner. His favorite pastime is annoying his grown sons with the worst dad jokes he can find.

Dominique Caraveo
Client Relations Manager

720.420.4867 Direct
dominique@RatioWealthGroup.com

“Money is an incredibly vulnerable subject. At Ratio, money can be discussed without fear of judgement or pressure all within a space that ensures trust and care. As a first-generation college graduate, I have learned what it’s like to not have been provided with the tools to make yourself financially successful until much later in life. At Ratio, financial advice is coupled with education to ensure that each of our clients has the tools and resources to write their own financial story.”

Dominique focuses on client relations management at Ratio Wealth Group. She has 5 years of client service experience helping clients navigate their financial planning needs. Dominique holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts and an M.S. in Marketing both from Regis University.

Work : Life
During her free time, Dominique enjoys playing tennis, pickle ball, cooking and spending time with her family.

Darren Spreeuw, PhD
Portfolio Manager

720.420.4879 Direct
darren@RatioWealthGroup.com

“I am an educator at heart. I love talking with clients about the economic theories that underlie financial markets, and helping to clarify their understanding about how things work. I’m also a musician, and a little known fact about me is that I pick up foreign languages easily – accents and all. I’m proud to work at Ratio because we are a true fiduciary, putting our clients first, while practicing and promoting best ethical practices with kindness, empathy, and respect.”

Darren has approached the capital markets from a myriad of angles over the last 22 years. At Ratio Wealth Group, he focuses on portfolio management, portfolio analytics, planning integration and client relations. He works closely with the entire Ratio team to insure complimentary investment strategies are thoughtfully integrated into tailored financial plans.

As an academic economist, Darren taught graduate level econometrics, finance and economic theory at several universities, and conducted firm-theory research in Eastern Europe as a Fulbright Scholar. In the private sector, Darren has provided thoughtful strategic analysis to a range of firms, from small family offices and RIAs, to big-data firms overseeing portfolios of mortgage-backed securities.

Darren is a Founding Executive Board Member of the Colorado Student Leader’s Institute, an affiliate of The National Conference of Governor Schools. He holds degrees from San Francisco State University (BA Econ) and The American University (PhD Econ).

Work : Life

Outside of the office, you’ll find Darren fixing anything that breaks at one of his many rental properties, cheering on his kids’ soccer teams, skiing, climbing, cycling, and playing beer-league hockey.

Beth Steininger Wraga
Managing Director

720.420.4865 Direct
beth@ratiowealthgroup.com

“I believe that taking a holistic approach to your financial well-being paves the way to a life abundant in success, happiness and meaning. I have a deep background working with financial institutions and a strong desire to serve others with empathy and integrity. This combination gives me an ideal foundation to aid individuals and families in planning and achieving their life goals.”

Beth brings twenty-five years of institutional financial services experience in sales, research, and operations to her role as Managing Director. Prior to Ratio Wealth Group, Beth worked as the Director of Investor Relations and Marketing for two different hedge fund advisors that were focused on the technology, media, and telecom sectors in the public and private markets. Previously, she worked for Goldman Sachs as a Vice President in Institutional Equity Research Sales and in the Global Investment Research Technology Group. She also worked at Paine Webber (now UBS) in Investment Research and started her career in its Management Audit and Controls analyst program. In addition, Beth is a Certified Life Coach – she uses this training and passion to help clients identify core motivations, values, and goals in their wealth management discussion. Beth received her Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Texas at Austin.

Work : Life

Beth lives in San Francisco with her husband and three sons. She is passionate about travel, theater and cheering on her boys.

Graham C. Gerlach, CFP®, AEP®
Co-Founder, Owner, Partner

720.420.4871
Graham@RatioWealthGroup.com

Graham brings a varied and highly valuable combination of expertise to Ratio Wealth Group, advising on all aspect of our business. Graham is also a Co-Founder and Chief Revenue Officer of Inclined Technologies, a SaaS software company focused on driving better long-term outcomes for whole life policyholders.

Graham holds a (BA) from Denison University (Religion and Psychology) and is a member of the Denver Estate Planning Counsel.

Work : Life
Outside the office, you’ll find Graham enjoying American and European Football, cooking outside and fine tuning esoteric knock-knock jokes with his kids.

Derek J. Scarth
Co-Founder, Owner, Managing Partner

720.420.4872 Direct
derek@RatioWealthGroup.com

“I am incredibly grateful to assist families in developing a thoughtful strategy for their specific needs and imparting trusted advice. I truly subscribe to a life in service for others. At Ratio, we take a team approach to caring for our clients. I want individuals and families to know that we take tremendous pride in providing confidence and harmony around estate and financial objectives. We know that assets are only valuable as part of an prearranged mosaic and are truly dedicated to being a dependable resource at every turn.”

Derek’s professional experience began in public/private equity analysis and institutional portfolio management. He is well versed in business development and operational management for both for-profit and not-for profit entities. Prior to co-founding Ratio Wealth Group, Derek was a Portfolio Manager and Managing Director for Inspire Capital Partners. Previously, he was a Partner at Denver Investments LLC, where he served as Co-Portfolio Manager for Large-Cap Growth institutional clients and on the Westcore Large-Cap Growth Fund. In 2003, he assisted the investor relations team of Newmont Mining Corporation (NEM -NYSE) in a public offering capital raise. Derek began his investment career as an Analyst and Assistant Portfolio Manager for Berger Funds, which was acquired by Janus Capital Management in 2002.

Derek received his bachelor’s degree from Regis University and holds a master’s degree from the University of Denver – Daniels College of Business.

Work : Life

When he’s not actively engaged in the Ratio community, you will find Derek spending time in the Colorado mountains with his wife and their three sons. Derek is very proud to give back to his alma mater as the Regis University Board of Trustees Chair. He also is an assistant boys soccer coach and mentor at Regis Jesuit High School.

Disclaimer

No client or potential client should assume that any information presented should be construed as personalized financial planning or investment advice. Personalized financial planning and investment advice can only be rendered after engagement of the firm for services, execution of the required documentation, and receipt of our disclosure documents which we will provide upon request. For more regulatory information regarding Ratio Wealth Group please visit the SEC’s website at www.adviserinfo.sec.gov

Licensing

Investment advisory services offered through Ratio Wealth Group, a Registered Investment Adviser.

Graham Gerlach CA Insurance License #0C37975, State of Domicile, Colorado
Shawn Wallace CA Insurance License #0G59657, State of Domicile, Colorado

We have representatives licensed to sell securities in the following states: AZ, CA, CO, DE, FL, GA, HI, ID, IL, KS, LA, MA, MI, MN, MO, NC, NE, NH, NJ, NM, NY, OH, OR, SD, PA, TX, VA, WA, WY. State of Domicile, Colorado

Ratio CRD: 6705290