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Can I Keep The House, Inc.

In Print and On The Air

Article written by Sara Stolberg
Published in the March 2006 issue of Remarkable Woman’s Magazine

Success By the Numbers
Sara Stolberg helps you achieve financial balance

They say money isn’t everything.  But it sure can be inconvenient if you don’t have enough.  If you’re unsure of your financial future, you need to meet Sara Stolberg.

Why should you turn to Sara?   Experience is everything in this profession.  She has been a highly accredited Certified Financial Planner for nearly two decades.  She perfected her skills as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst by negotiating her own contentious divorce financial settlement.  Her credentials are impeccable.

Sara is uniquely qualified to help you secure what you have.  What’s even better, she can provide a trustworthy roadmap to a more secure future.  We had a chance recently to find out more about this engaging woman, and pick up some great financial tips.

Sara, how did you choose this career?

I realized that as a trailing spouse it would make sense to have a career that was transportable, that I could grow with as my children grew, and that challenged me intellectually.  Financial planning and tax advice seemed a perfect fit.

Who most often seeks out your services?

My clientele are predominantly women who are not knowledgeable about money or divorce.  They simply want to get what they deserve, not more.  All women are concerned about their long-term financial circumstances.

What’s the question you’re most often asked?

If it’s a divorce, the question is “Can I keep the house?”  As people reach retirement, they wonder, “Will I run out of money before I die?”  For younger workers, the question is about withholding enough - but not too much - from a paycheck.

OK, what about withholding?

It’s a smart idea for everyone to maximize their take-home pay because Uncle Sam doesn’t pay interest on the money that is over-withheld.  You can go to the IRS website and click on W-4 to bring up their worksheet http://www.irs.gov/pub/irs-pdf/fw4.pdf or ask your financial/tax advisor for help on the withholding allowances and in creating a sustainable budget.

How do folks know if they have enough money to retire?

I do an analysis for people in their 50s who would like to know how much longer they have to work.  We consider their spending habits, where they would like to live, travel plans, heredity/health, their desire to leave a legacy for their family, their feelings about security and investments, and other factors.  There is no pat answer.  One million dollars may be more than enough for some people but not adequate for others.

What about people in a high income bracket?  What can they do?

Consult with a professional who can help you legitimately decrease your taxes.  My clients re-structure investments so that they grow in a tax-advantaged way.  We use strategies to get Uncle Sam to pay child support, deduct expenses that are not usually deductible, and avoid those pesky penalties.

What are some other frequently-asked tax questions?

Questions concerning deductions for children in college are common.  Divorced parents want to know if they should negotiate for their childrens’ exemptions.  Taxability of alimony vs. child support is an important issue in a final settlement.  People want to deduct their parents AND their children as dependents.  The estate tax keeps decreasing, which eliminates the need for certain trusts.

Has the changing economy affected your profession?

Our mobile and downsizing society has added another dimension to the tax environment.  “Will I pay taxes on my 401(k)?” is one of the first concerns of workers in transition.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned as a financial professional?

You can lead a camel to water but you can’t make him drink.  You can create the best divorce settlement or design the most perfect financial plan, but you can’t force your client to move beyond his or her fears to act on that plan.

How do people find you?

I network and advertise, but satisfied clients can be the best advertisement. I was once scheduled to testify in a divorce hearing, when the judge decided to divide the assets equally.  Since I was there with my laptop anyway, I ended up helping the attorneys settle the case.  The attorney on the other side was so impressed he hires me frequently.

"I wish I'd met you sooner” is probably the most common statement Sara Stolberg hears when she tells people what she does. Her offices are in Lincolnshire, Northbrook, and Schaumburg.  Visit her web site at www.canikeepthehouse.com or contact her directly at 847-325-5554.  Her email address is sara@canikeepthehouse.com.

 

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and federally registered CFP (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete initial and ongoing certification requirements.