financial planning


What to Look For in a Financial Professional

Financial services is a young profession and there’s a lot of squabbling going on with regard to what designations are best. There are 100x as many salesmen out there as financial professionals, though, and a bunch of the designations were designed to give them credibility. Quite a lot of the credentials people have can be obtained with a week-end cram course. For tax prep the professionals are CPAs or lawyers, but you have to confirm […]


Uses and Abuses, Tips and Tricks About Debt

Last April, I watched as my eldest son drove out of my driveway in his loaded-down Subaru with a brand-new Thule box on it, headed for Utah with all his possessions loaded in his modern-day Conestoga wagon. As many of you know, a month later he fell off a cliff and received a terrible spinal cord injury. (Happy update: it was a terrible adventure, but thanks to a whole host of blessings, he is nearly […]


My thoughts on 529 College Savings Plans

I’m not in love with 529 plans. I think they are really fabulous in a few settings, but most of the time they’d be my third or fourth choice for ways to save for college. First: when SHOULD you use a 529 plan? When you’re trying to create a trust fund on the cheap. If a grandparent or aunt or family friend wants to give money towards a child’s education but doesn’t want it to […]


Did you know that I am more than just a CPA doing a tax prep service?

April 25, 2016 As a Certified Financial Planner™professional, and as someone registered in Massachusetts as an Investment Advisor, I work as a fiduciary comprehensive financial planner for a group of clients who have me on an annual flat-fee retainer as their “financial concierge”. This service includes: retirement planning, estate planning, strategizing for financial aid, investment advising and management, setting up (or rebalancing) your overall asset allocation for your investments, tax planning and preparation, and advising […]


Bond ladders for a prudent pantry

I’ve talked in the past about the benefits of off-loading risk to an insurance company to create a pension in retirement.  When certain cash flow becomes a higher priority than investment growth, I’ve considered single premium immediate annuities (SPIAs) to do the job. Another idea is a bond ladder.  It’s a very unsexy solution, but may very well do a better job.  I’m putting this article here while I develop this idea more. A Pseudo-Life […]


Thanksgiving Family Money Letter – 2015

  Happy Thanksgiving! The biggest payoff comes from being good at things that are absolutely under our control. That’s the lesson I’ve learned studying economics, finance, and investment theory. That includes saving for goals, being a judicious consumer, and maintaining your relationships, your health, and your emotional wellness. One of my new gurus, Bert Whitehead, wrote a book called Why Smart People Do Stupid Things with Money: Overcoming Financial Dysfunction. He says not to put too […]


The retainer-based financial planning model

A fee-only fiduciary certified financial planner is someone who is a financial professional. “Fiduciary” means “putting your interests ahead of my own. Not equal to, but ahead. I have to act as a trustworthy agent for you. It’s the professional standard that you should insist on, but most people never even realize there’s that option. There are over 600,000 broker/dealers in the United States and about 2,500 members of the National Association of Personal Financial Planners (the […]


Alliance of Comprehensive Planners

It’s been hard to find my path as a fiduciary, fee-only financial professional.  There are so many sales agents out there that people automatically think I’m just another one.  How can they tell, when financial credentials are so thick on the ground?  I’ve heard some really ridiculous ones.  But a fee-only financial planner who belongs to NAPFA is like the difference between a doctor and a pharmacist.  A doctor has a broad range of training […]


What to bring to your first appointment with Wendy Marsden, CPA, CFP®

You’ve just signed up for a consultation with a financial professional.  What do you need to bring? It depends a bit on what you’re hoping to get out of the meeting.  Let’s break it into three cases and you can skip to the section you think fits your situation: Financial planning Tax planning Investment advising Financial planning (which may include investment advising, but see that below) The first thing you need to bring is your problem. What is […]


Thanksgiving Family Money Letter – 2014

Happy Thanksgiving! Thank you for your business this year!  You’ve been a big part in helping a Main Street business succeed. We’ve been working with the Franklin County Community Development Corp to add more services – and more jobs – to Tea & Taxes Company. We appreciate your continued support – and your feedback! Please enjoy this newsletter and the sections below, and pass them along if you wish. Think of the Financial Wellness Checklist as […]


Thanksgiving Family Money Letter – 2013

2013 Year-End Tax Planning and Financial Wellness 2013 Thanksgiving Family Money letter   November 27, 2013   Welcome to my annual Thanksgiving Family Money letter! I’m attaching the nicely formatted PDF of the letter to an email, but also including the actual text inline here, in case you don’t like to open attachments or spam filters got the email.  (It’s just more readable as a PDF, I think.) I’ve recently completed several continuing education courses, […]