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Avoiding Financial Mistakes with Matt Benson

George Grombacher April 27, 2023

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Avoiding Financial Mistakes with Matt Benson

LifeBlood: We talked about avoiding financial mistakes, balancing logic with emotion, how to find the right amount of simplicity when it comes to your personal finances, important considerations during the accumulation and distribution phases of life, and how to get started, with Matt Benson, CFP, and Owner of Sonmore Financial.    

Listen to learn how best to think about taxes in retirement!

You can learn more about Matt at SonmoreFinancial.com, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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Our Guests

George Grombacher

Matt Benson

Matt Benson

Episode Transcript

george grombacher 0:02
left with this is George G and the time is right welcome today’s guest strong and powerful Matt Benson. Matt, are you ready to do this?

Matt Benson 0:08
Ready? All right, let’s

george grombacher 0:09
go. Matt is a certified financial planner. He is the owner of Sun more financial their financial firm providing uniquely personal process driven guidance. Putting clients first has been featured in leading media and news outlets such as Bloomberg Forbes market watch CNBC USA Today. He is a committed family man and community member. Matt, tell us a little about your personal lives more about your work, why you do what you do.

Matt Benson 0:37
Awesome. Thanks, George. Yeah, I grew up in Nebraska and my parents were really fiscally responsible. And dad was an engineer and two uncles that worked in the financial services industry. So really kind of piqued my interest and, and becoming a financial adviser. When we were kids, we’d go on family road trips, and my dad would pop in little cassette tape, we’d listen to Zig Ziglar for family road trips. And that kind of, again, the significance of that is it piqued my interest in self development and entrepreneurship. So anyway, Dad, be an engineer to two uncles in the financial services industry, being exposed to entrepreneurship, you mix all those things together, and out pops a financial planner. So that’s kind of how I got to be where I am. And when I was when I was in junior high, I had a paper out, I started investing money for my paper out when I was a teenager. And that’s really kind of how I got into to the finance space and kind of what really piqued my interest.

george grombacher 1:44
I love it. What kind of an engineer was your dad?

Matt Benson 1:48
He’s a mechanical engineer. Yeah, Mechanical Engineering. He worked for a company that in Nebraska, they made they made lawn mowers company called X mark. That was division top of Toro.

george grombacher 1:59
Nice. Yeah. What’s he doing? Listen to Zig Ziglar. Just just tried to sharpen the saw.

Matt Benson 2:04
Yeah, just just trying to start from the side I think was the deal. Yeah. But it was. It was. It was good, you know. And then I read his books. And, you know, he’s since passed away and such, but I read several physics books. After I got there. I knew who Zig Ziglar was, when I was a kid, it was always like, Oh, this is boring. Come on, let’s, let’s do something different. You know?

george grombacher 2:24
That turns out. I mean, fascinating. Just getting that wiring from from from an early age, I’m confident that you feel pretty, I feel like you’ve benefited from that quite a bit.

Matt Benson 2:36
Oh, totally. And, you know, I think certainly the connection between financial planning and engineering, them both them both been a lot of math, that connection is easy. It’s easy to make, but you know, and they’re not dramatically dissimilar in a lot of ways. I mean, as an engineer, you’re presented with a problem, and you’re using math to provide a solution. And financial planning is very much the same. The only challenge is you serve people and insert people into the equation, George, and that just makes the that much harder. You know, what I’m saying?

george grombacher 3:12
We are, we are a lot messier than that the numbers and figures on a sheet of paper.

Matt Benson 3:18
That’s exactly right. That’s exactly right. But as I really, really liked what I get to do for, for my clients, you know, they they come in, and, you know, a lot of our clients, they’re, they’re trying to navigate a new road, for a lot of them. It’s, it’s, you know, as they’re approaching retirement, or, or, or just have entered retirement, and they’re going down a path they haven’t been been down before. And you know, we’re taking them down that path and helping them to dodge tax bombs and dodge, you know, investment bombs and things like that along the way, and how to how to, you know, get health insurance before 65, before Medicare and stuff like that. So, I know that doesn’t make it sound like fun if I made maybe my tone that sounds intriguing, of course, but you know, surface level, a lot of that stuff on its own, to be totally candid, quite boring. But being able to put a solution to somebody’s challenges is really fulfilling.

george grombacher 4:25
Yeah, certainly, I think you could certainly make jokes and say that it’s boring. And they really are bombs, where if one of these goes off, and we’re close enough to it, it’s going to have a profoundly negative effect taxes, investment decisions, health decisions and making different elections when it comes to social security and Medicare. I think it’s pretty serious stuff.

Matt Benson 4:52
Oh, yeah. I mean, all of these things. And the challenges, you know, sometimes I’ll oversimplify it. The The accumulation phase all kind of oversimplify in that, by and large, if you’re when you’re accumulating assets, now it is a little bit more complex than what I’m just about to say here. But by and large, though, you could say, hey, let’s just pick a good growth Next, make contributions to it over a long period of time. Don’t look at it when it goes down. And just keep keep putting money into it. But once you start entering the distribution phase retirement, there’s a lot more moving parts than just a pick a good growth mix, and keep putting money into it every pay period. Like you said, you know, the, for a lot of work a lot of retirees the single biggest expense, though they don’t think about it in this way, the single biggest expense that they’ll have in retirement is taxes. Right? And and if you can, if you can manage your lifetime tax situation, through proactive planning, you can shave off, you know, five, six figures off your lifetime tax by just planning and looking looking ahead. So it’s it’s it is it is fun work. It’s not not not a good way to make friends at a cocktail party necessarily having discussions like these, but it is it is it’s fulfilling and enjoyable work for sure. Yeah. No,

george grombacher 6:24
no doubt. Like that. That’s, it’s, it’s such an interesting thing that the accumulation stage, obviously, you’re tailoring your solutions to the client. And that is pretty straightforward. Target a date in the future, you start putting money into it. But when you actually start withdrawing, or D accumulating or distributing the money, then it becomes very, very, very specific to what clients is going to be doing and where they’re going to be and who they’re going to be doing it with. And so many different considerations.

Matt Benson 6:56
Oh, yeah. And I mean, totally, totally, totally. And there’s, there’s so many different variables, like we said, the tax piece, or you know, the, the insurance piece, the investment piece, and then you throw in the wrinkle, a lot of those things can be, in some ways, quite easy to quantify the things that are just rattled off. But then you throw in the wrinkle of the individual people. Right. And and I kind of kidded that, you know, I kind of joked about it earlier, but that it’s that it’s totally true. You know, my knowledge is different than your knowledge and is different than someone else. And my emotions are different than your emotions and someone else’s. Right. So I, you know, building out a solution for somebody. You know, like, when the markets go down, 20% When you’re in the accumulation phase, you know, a lot of times you can bite your tongue and say, you know, I don’t love that my balance is 20% lower than it was 12 months ago. But you know what, I’ve got 10 years until I’m gonna retire, this will all be fine. Well, newsflash, the markets don’t get the memo that, you know, John Doe entered retirement and that they can’t pull back anymore, right? The markets don’t get that memo. In fact, they kind of get the opposite memo in some ways, right? For a lot of people like, it’s very normal for the markets to pull back. And the chance that they pull back at some point in your first three to five years of retirement or, you know, if you happen to retire last year, in 22, your first year of retirement is very likely to market to pull back. So how do you how do you combat that? How do you how do you build a plan that can stand the test of time? Because we’re not we’re for sure, not going to accurately predict the future? How do we build a plan that that can handle all of these, all of these variables that we can’t, that we can’t predict accurately?

george grombacher 9:02
definitely needs to be dynamic. And something that I I’d like to think that we could just set it once and then forget it, and we’d be in good shape. But that’s definitely not probably not the case, when it comes to what we’re talking about.

Matt Benson 9:14
That’s exactly right. There’s, there’s far more things that that are outside of our control than inside our control. matters. That is for sure. And I’d say it makes it can make it more challenging sometimes, because you oftentimes the things that are trumpeted the loudest are the things that are the most outside of your control. You know, if you turn on a lot of financial media outlets will, will promote, you know, hey, you know, it’s time to sell or it’s time to buy or whatever. And there’s, there’s no, there’s no possible way that you’re going to accurately you’re going to be able to predict when the markets are going to be up or going to be down but that’s the thing. That’s Trump But in the most to people. So it’s it can be it can be quite challenging because I think the perception is that that is a controllable but but it most certainly is not.

george grombacher 10:14
Yeah, it’s a, there’s some pretty funny memes out there that going pretty hard on folks like Jim Cramer, how his timing has been really, really, really, really bad when it comes to that stuff. So I think you’re I think you’re spot on. When when you’re working with engineers, and more traditionally analytical folks about oversimplifying things. I mean, we we each have a way that we’d like to process information. And if I get too much information, I can’t make a decision. But if I don’t get enough information that I can’t make a decision, how do you think about that?

Matt Benson 10:50
I don’t think about that. Yeah, well, our delivery to clients, oftentimes, we start with, we start with simplicity, and backed by complex, if you will. So usually our deliverable to a client is is pretty, is relatively brief. And then for a client that wants to see more, we can give more. But I think a lot of times, you know, when someone’s coming to us, they’re seeking, they’re not looking to hand the baton off entirely, they want, they want a partner to walk with down this path. And to be clear, we don’t want someone that’s going to hand the baton off, we don’t want to be running this race. Without them, they need to know what’s going on. And we need to know what’s going on in their plan as well. So we’re trying to give, give that that client as much information as they need, as you said, to be able to process the information appropriately. And, you know, depending on the topic, you know, sometimes our clients look at it and say, Okay, I understand what’s going on here. But I don’t really want to know every single nitty gritty detail, Matt, like, we trust you, we understand what’s going on, boom, you go perfect. And then other clients. So we do work with a ton of we work with a ton of engineers, we work with a lot of like, clients that have their CPA, whether they’re practicing account, and or like, you know, work in the financial sector, or whatever else, a lot of people that are analytical about things, and they’d like to see the, the, you know, three page spreadsheet of how we arrived at that conclusion. So anyway, I will start with simple and then backed by more complex.

george grombacher 12:46
I think that that makes a lot of sense. We have so many different resources that can help us with the the produce wonderful reports and spreadsheets. But I mean, I imagine that people like just having the ability to have a conversation with you and to talk through things like a sounding board, and because there’s a lot going on

Matt Benson 13:06
100%. And a lot of times, and I mean, I’ve just found this over my 10 plus years in the financial services industry is that in the beginning, I would I would sometimes use these flashy reports as a crutch, you know, to because I didn’t know what I was talking about. I would just, oh, here’s this report that shows something, you know, and I, I don’t know if I can come up with a quote offhand here real quick, but I think it was it maybe as Mark Twain, if I would have had more time I would have been able to explain it with less words, or I would have made it shorter. Right. Totally true, right. Yeah, I think that that’s

george grombacher 13:48
a good one for sure. And now I’m wishing that I knew the exact quote as well. So simple, simplification, oversimplification under simplification. Back to the idea that taxes are the biggest expense that that we’re going to have in retirement and how a simple some simple changes upfront can make this massive difference. You know, I have a healthy sense of urgency about everything. And that doesn’t mean that that other people do. How do you think about that? Or how do you try to inspire people to be more urgent? Do people come to you with a pretty good sense of urgency?

Matt Benson 14:34
Yeah, well, you may not have to be your chip right now. Right? It just depends to you know what stage you’re at. A lot of times we’ll we’ll we’re trying to if you can imagine your lifetime tax on a graph, right? So imagine you’ve got the overtime your your your what in your working years, typically you’re going to be earning more as time goes on. Then eventually you’re retired your incomes going The draft, likely maybe not. And then once you turn on Social Security, your income is going to go up. Once you have to take required minimum distributions, your income will go up, go up even more. We’re not trying, what we’re trying to do there is we’re trying to pay, we’re trying to pay taxes, when we’re in the valley years we’re in when we’re in the low years, and then we’re on when we’re in the high income tax years we’re trying to defer or trying to defer, right. So if you’re say, you know, 57, and you’re on the back end of your career as an engineer, and you’re making close to $200,000, and you’re in the 24%, tax bracket, and you’re going to retire next year, and you know, that you’re going to drop from 24 to 22, or even 12%. Why would you want to do Roth contributions right now, do pre tax, give me the tax benefit today, I’ll convert it next year, when I when I’m in a lower bracket, right? You can quite quite easily make the argument even though now to just because we’re 30 year lows for income tax rates to say, pay the tax today, you know, who knows what taxes will be like, in five years and 10 years down the road, too. So I think it’s, I think it’s, you know, just informing people. We’re, you know, we’re not trying to twist anyone’s arm and saying, hey, you need to have an urgency about this. Though, oftentimes, we’re, we’re a couple of years out from where they really need to be urgent on things. So you know, we’re trying to plant that seed several years ahead, and and then when that when that when that time comes, where it’s like, hey, we need to do Roth conversions, or we need to do tax gain harvesting, as opposed to tax loss harvesting, and some of those fun things that we’ve already been kind of, we’ve already been talking about that before we get to the point where it’s like, alright, now’s the time go, you know? Yeah,

george grombacher 16:57
I appreciate that. And let’s, I mean, the more proactive that we can be about things, obviously, the better off and the more time we have, then it’s not an urgent thing. And we’re not running around like our hair’s on fire and needed to hit deadlines and stuff like that you can make an informed decision and hopefully do your best to make more logical decisions versus emotional.

Matt Benson 17:17
100% 100%. Yeah.

george grombacher 17:21
Whole emotional thing does not normally lead us to make good financial decisions. So that’s right. Well, Matt, thank thanks. Thank you so much for coming on. Where can people learn more about you? How can they engage?

Matt Benson 17:33
Yeah, well, you can go to our websites, some more financial. So n, m r e financial.com. And we posted we posted a monthly blog and a monthly newsletter there so you can even go on there and subscribe to our newsletter and blog. And, you know, we write it so we think it’s pretty good, but we’ll let you be the judge of it.

george grombacher 17:58
I appreciate that. If you enjoyed as much as I did show, Matt, your appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to Sun more financial.com That’s S O n m o r e financial.com. And check out all the great resources, subscribe to the blog, get the newsletter. And if you are like me, and you appreciate what Matt’s been talking about, get in touch and find out if it’s a good fit. Thanks again, Matt. George, thank you. And until next time, remember, do your part by doing your best

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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