Empowering Wealth: How My Husband and I Manage and Invest Our Money

Empowering Wealth: How My Husband and I Manage and Invest Our Money

I want to let you in on a little secret: my husband and I make very similar choices in investing our money as I recommend to my clients. Actually, it’s not much of a secret at all. My clients hear this all the time—although I’m not sure many believe it.

There is no set of wealth-building rules for clients and another set for financial professionals. What I believe works for you, also works for my family.

Of course, every person’s situation is different, so financial advice is customized. However, the approach to building and managing wealth is the same. Take a closer look at how my husband and I are investing and managing our family’s money and see if you recognize any of the investment advice and decisions.

Creating an Emergency Fund

In our family, my husband, Kevin, does the bookkeeping, and we keep a little cash in the bank to cover our day-to-day expenses. Then we also maintain cash in our portfolio. Together, these comprise our emergency fund.

Identifying Our Risk Tolerance

Just as I would with a client, my husband and I identify the appropriate risk tolerance for our family—for me, my husband, and our children, who are nearly out of college. How we treat the money we save for our kids—our portion of their college expenses—is different from how we approach our retirement money. One has a short-term horizon, and the other a long-term horizon.

You wouldn’t have much trouble recognizing the investment strategies we opt for when investing our own money. For the most part, they mirror the ones Deerfield Financial Advisors uses with all our clients.

Allocating Money

My husband and I use the corporate term “operating account” for our personal account because it takes care of our household expenses and ongoing expenses. But we decide as a family how much we can live on, and that’s what we put into our operating account.

Any excess income is automatically directed to investment accounts. So when investing our money, it’s very intentional how much goes into the operating account and how much goes into what I call our portfolio: my husband’s individual retirement account (IRA), my IRA, brokerage accounts, and other tools.

Sharing What We Have

We use a donor-advised fund for giving, and my husband and I discuss what we want to give. It’s an important conversation because we’re pulling from monies allocated for our retirement.

We look at the highest-appreciated assets. Backing into a certain dollar amount for the upcoming year of gifting, we select from the highest-appreciated assets and move them into the donor-advised account.

Having a Little Fun

While investing our own money, we have what we call passion investments that we use “fun money” to fund. I tell each client that fun money is money where you would be okay if it disappeared. So it must be a small amount relative to your portfolio. Ours is less than 1%.

Through our 32 years of marriage, the fun investments have morphed. I’ve enjoyed Warren Buffett over the years, so I have a little bit of Berkshire Hathaway stock. It’s not an investment I’d recommend to a client, but I’m passionate about it—and it’s fun. This year, there’s a good chance I’ll attend the 2024 Shareholder Meeting in person! It’s a three-day event dedicated to Nebraska Omaha, where I’ll have the opportunity to connect with fellow Buffett fans and share in the excitement.

The Fundamentals of Investing Our Money

My husband and I are comfortable with market volatility and have a good tolerance for risk, so we have a more aggressive allocation than many people. But just like with clients, our investments are diversified, and we take a long-term approach.

Another fundamental when investing our money is rebalancing. We use inflows—dividends, interest, and aggressive savings—to help minimize taxes, and if that’s not enough, we use sales and consider the timing of the tax consequences. If it can happen now, that’s great. If it’s December 20th, we might choose to wait until the next year to push the order forward.

Managing Your Money

If you don’t yet have an investment strategy you feel confident in or would like a second opinion, we invite you to get to know us at Deerfield Financial Advisors. We’re here to help you create the right investments so you can focus on your WealthwhileSM. If you’re ready to see if we’re a good fit, please reach out by calling (317) 469-2455 or emailing ssteel@deerfieldfa.com.

About Susie

Susie Steel is COO, Wealth Manager, and Senior Shareholder at Deerfield Financial Advisors, a fee-only financial advisory and wealth management firm with offices in Indianapolis and Chicago. With over three decades of experience in financial planning, Susie’s approach has always been rooted in a spirit of service, treating each client as an extension of her own family. She simplifies the complex for clients, with the goal of creating a calm, trusting, and nurturing environment. Her unwavering commitment to the principle of “To whom much is given, much will be required” serves as the driving force behind her dedication, diligence, and empathy. 

Susie obtained a business management degree from Ball State University, holds the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation, and held the Accredited Estate Planner (AEP®) designation from the National Association of Estate Planners & Councils (NAEPC) from 2013 to 2018. Susie is actively involved with an extensive list of professional organizations, including NAPFA (The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors), a premier association of fee-only financial advisors, and has served on multiple boards, committees, and councils. Her consistent recognition as one of Indianapolis Monthly’s “Five Star Wealth Managers” for the past decade attests to her outstanding accomplishments (2009-2023).

Outside the professional realm, Susie gives back to her community through her involvement in the Financial Center First Credit Union (FCFCU) to the Indianapolis Children’s Museum Planned Giving Council and Kiwanis Club of Northwest Indianapolis to Junior Achievement. She mentors women through the CFP® Board’s “WIN-to-WIN” program, embodies the spirit of Rotary Club of Carmel, advocates for Indiana Canine Assistant Network (ICAN), and actively serves on the board of the Mary Rigg Neighborhood Center (MRNC).
Susie and her husband, Kevin, reside in Carmel, Indiana, where they raised their three children. Outside the office, her focus centers around family, spirituality, and fostering meaningful connections. Embracing the concept of the body as a temple, her personal growth is nurtured through practices like strength training, yoga, and meditation. In her leisure time, she enjoys strolls with her dog, Lulu, and indulges in movies, podcasts, books, and the theater. To learn more about Susie, connect with her on LinkedIn.


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