Are you looking to get your parents finances in order? In this episode, Angela Alvig, Founder and President of Simplify Wealth, joins Moneeka Sawyer to tackle role reversal with your aging parents and how it can be a daunting task without losing your insanity. Angela talks about preparing for the worst before anything happens and trying to encourage conversation before it becomes an emergency. They discuss the areas you will need to address for your parents’ well-being, and strategies such as downsizing and decluttering that you can apply to handle your parents’ and your family’s assets to keep them in order. Get to know what is a sandwich generation and how you can manage dealing with all the emotions that come with it all.
I am so excited to welcome back to our show Angela Alvig. We’re going to be talking about role reversal with your aging parents, getting their finances in order without losing your sanity. The reason that I invited Angela back for this particular conversation is that there are a lot of ladies that are in that situation. I know that I am too. I thought that this would be a relevant conversation for all of you ladies. As part of your bliss planning, financial planning, or wealth planning, this is going to be a piece of the puzzle. I know that Angela is going to give us some great information but if you don’t remember who Angela is, let me read her bio to you. Angela is a personal wealth CFO for her clients.
A trusted advisor who is intimately familiar with their financial situation, values, and priorities. She is a passionate result-oriented CPA who possesses a unique combination of technical expertise and interpersonal skills with a proactive action-oriented approach. With years of experience in financial accounting in the family office industry, Angela is Founder and President of Simplify Wealth, LLC and leads a team of ten professionals. Angela and her team provide a suite of financial and organizational services for their clients, giving them time and life freedom, which we all want. She effectively leads the strategy and implementation of her firm with vision and heart to ensure she and her team deliver optimal results for their valued clients. Angela, welcome back to the show.
Moneeka, I’m thrilled to be back. It’s great to see you.
You, too. This is so awesome. Thank you. Let’s talk a little bit and remind everybody what a personal CFO looks like. Could we start with that?
A personal CFO can mean all kinds of different things but it is, we all have our whole personal financial life that we’re responsible for and you involve lots of professionals, attorneys, accountants, wealth managers, but there are still a lot of details to manage. If you’re a real estate investor, there are even more details to manage. You may have many legal entities, properties, and different tax things you have to track. What a personal CFO does is help you keep your eye on the big picture and the details. As I like to say, help you wrestle those details to the ground. My job as my client’s personal CFO is to partner with them and take that burden of managing details off of them.
That’s what my team and I do so that our clients can operate in there, I call it a zone of genius. How they want to spend their time whether it’s because they are having more leisure time and don’t want to spend their time doing paperwork. They’re aging and we’ll get into some of those topics here. They’re successful and they’re the visionary of their business, they either aren’t detail-oriented or they are and they want someone they can trust to handle the details, as well as they, would have themselves. It’s a partner in keeping track of everything.
Part of why I asked you back is because I have had several conversations with some of my ladies where they’ve got children that are getting ready to go to college. They’ve got parents that are starting to age, and now they’re responsible for either handling the finances of their parents or their parents don’t have the finances and they have to find it within their own budget to take care of their parents. This is a big topic in my generation and I’m hearing it a lot from my ladies. Could you talk about what that looks like and what you’re seeing out there?
It’s exactly what you’ve said. Those of us who are in the prime of our professional careers whether we have children or we don’t. My children are getting ready to go off to college. I’m feeling a little bit like, “I can do what I want to do.” You have the freedom to pick anyone up at 3:00 in the afternoon, but then my parents are aging too but they’re doing well. You’ve got to think about these things and also things happen that you don’t expect. Expect the best, prepare for the worst. Some people find themselves in that where they’re managing both and their parents suddenly need care and support.
Other people want to get ahead of it and collect the information from your parents or have them collect it for you while they are still doing grace and have a handle on their personal finances. They’re doing a great job being their own personal CFO. If something happens, someone in your family, or a sibling, whatever, you’re going to be squarely in the middle of having to do that and potentially with no information to do so if you know nothing about your parents’ situation which is common. It’s not something families share.
It’s also an uncomfortable conversation. A lot of times, you don’t want to say, “You might get sick and I’m going to need to take care of you.” You don’t ever want to approach it that way and I know you’re going to talk about it but that’s what it feels like so much of the time if we aren’t careful in how we approach this. It becomes an offensive conversation to our parents.
I don’t know that I made this up but I call it a love letter. If you said to your parents like, “I want you to write a love letter to me that would help me. In the event that something happens, we hope it doesn’t happen for 50 years.” I have bosses that I’m working with where the husband is super organized. The wife wants to know who I am because if something happened to him, she would want me to be her CFO. Our personal CFO was him or the other spouse. That’s what I call it. Write a love letter to your spouse whichever spouse is responsible for finances. It makes it less, it makes it fun and meaningful.
Being stuck in the middle here, parenting your parents, or whatever you want to call it. Even having people understand that they’re not alone that there are tons of people going through this, the generation term is not a new thing but there are many things that people have to manage. Furthermore, the information that you need to collect for your parents is not as readily available as it may have been at one time. Years ago, you go through your parents’ file cabinets and find all the paper they had saved from the paper mail. Now there are logins, usernames, and passwords. You could lose track of financial assets or other things if you don’t take certain steps to collect that information.
What parts of your parents’ financial wellbeing or general wellbeing that you do you need to address and be aware of?
We touched on their financial wellbeing and again, it’s even less like, “Do mom and dad have enough money?” It’s more selfishly that you would learn where to find their stuff if you had to act on their behalf while they’re alive or after they pass. You need to be concerned about their living situation. We’ll talk a little bit about downsizing later but aging in place is more and more a thing. Helping them get situated in their home. That’s a whole expertise that not everyone has. There are firms that have expertise in care management, helping you advocate for your parents, and getting the right care. In general, their social health but also social engagement which gets into mental wellbeing and all of those things and helping them. Retirement can be an interesting phase of life. I’m not sure. I plan to retire because I don’t know what I would do although I could fill my days.
What is true about retirement is a lot of people identify themselves with what they do for a living. When they stopped doing that, they don’t know who they are. There’s a period. I’ve seen this consistently because I’ve got six parents, two sets of in-laws and my parents, and they all went through these retirement days. Some of them were easier. Some of them were not as easy but in general, it was a two-year transition of things that are rough, trying to support them through that can be a challenge. That’s another one of those things that we don’t think about.
That’s an important factor in wellbeing. That’s easier to discover if you’re healthy if something changes with your health situation. I’m trying to encourage conversation before it becomes an emergency. It’s being proactive. It’s the most boring thing in the world. People generally wait until something happens to deal with it. We have clients who we’ve been hired by their adult children to help mom and dad pay their bills and do things. In a way, it makes those adult kids spend their time with mom and dad on fun things.
It’s not like, “Can you look at this mail? Can you help me with this?” We can do it in a way that keeps them independent too. They have a person who comes over and helps them do this that isn’t their kid. I always joke that I’ll send someone on my team to take care of my own parent’s bills and stuff when the time comes. My poor mother doesn’t deserve the eye roll I’m probably going to give her. It’s not right and I know it isn’t. It can be an interesting dynamic.Things happen that you don't expect. Click To Tweet
Especially as things are changing in their lives. You do want more quality time with them. Talking about finances and paperwork, it doesn’t feel like quality time on anybody’s put book.
You can do it yourself with them. You can delegate it to a professional, whatever it may be. What are the things I would have to walk through? At a minimum, find out if your parents even have a will. I’m going to have any of this stuff figure it out. If you’re that person who’s been named as their personal representative, walk through what you have to know and do it now. Try to make it fun. Make it a love letter, not a sad conversation.
Talk a little bit about what you’re going to need to inventory in order to make a plan for them and to help them make the plan.
You have to build a personal financial statement. You need to inventory the assets they have, the financial assets, any liabilities they have, mortgages, credit cards. I always say the least important thing about this personal financial statement is the dollar value. What’s more important is where these accounts are. What bank? What’s the account number? How are they titled? In whose name? Are they joint? Some people as their lives get more sophisticated, they might have trusts and life insurance. All these things can get misplaced or misunderstood. That’s the first thing. Inventory what you have and what you owe.
The second thing is to inventory your income and expenses. The least interesting thing here is also the amounts. Who are the vendors? What are the usernames and passwords for all these logins? Some of these vendors may be more or less have varying degrees of being critical to your life and keeping things moving. At a minimum, if your parents were here, their bills still have to get paid or you’ve got to figure this stuff out. You can’t even log into their cable bill if you don’t know this information or you may not know who those vendors are. The third thing touches on what I talked about, you have to inventory all of their digital assets and I don’t mean Bitcoin.
It’s usernames, passwords, and social media accounts. We’ve all heard horror stories of people who can’t get into people’s accounts after they passed away. If you document everything, there are password managers. Some people have a spreadsheet. I’m fine with that as long as it’s stored in a secure place. Don’t print it out and carry it around in your briefcase. That’s not a good idea. If it’s in a drawer at your office desk at home, that’s fine. I like password managers because then you can share them as the passwords change if they should.
Password change is communicated automatically. Make sure that your loved ones know where stuff is. Think it all the way through. Some people are like, “I have my passwords. They’re all on my computer but then they failed to give people their password to get into their computer.” That’s a fail. Take it step-by-step. I have a simple mind so that you have to take it like, “What would I do first? What would I do second?” Collect that information.
Let’s talk a little bit about downsizing. That is a great topic.
I’m going to confess. My favorite thing to do is to help people downsize and deal with dumpster management. It’s more fun to do it for other people than it is to yourself. Here’s what I would say. Downsize before you have to. I sound like a broken record on the proactivity comment. I have one client, she has no intention of moving anytime soon. It might be 2 or 3 years, whatever, we’re making it fun. We’re tackling things a little bit out a time. One corner doesn’t matter. To my point about the love letter, think of the downsizing as a gift to your family that you’ll leave behind. Don’t leave them with your 500 Beanie Babies that they don’t want. These are tough conversations too because it can be sad to find out that people don’t want your stuff. I feel like that’s been talked about enough.
That’s a thing too. There are articles written about it. You’re 30 or 40-year-old kids don’t want your junk. I don’t even mean that’s not nice junk, it’s nice but they don’t want it. They’re minimalist. It’s not their taste. You’ve got to rip the Band-Aid off on that deal and acknowledge that. Taking control of your destiny when you do your own downsizing and again, bring in resources. If you want a partner, it’s better done with a partner. It’s hard to sift through things yourself. When we help clients sort through stuff and sometimes in the middle, we’re doing this after clients have passed away and helping their kids with it. We’re much faster at sifting through the information. What we do is we can tell what are sentimental items versus, “This is truly like a dumpster.” If someone else goes through it then they can make some bins for you that are sentimental and you can go through those at your pleasure.
At least, you’re moving forward in the process. You’re not going to leave it because every box is an emotional experience for you and taking control of the situation. My other tip would be to keep good records for income tax deduction purposes. Make a list to maximize the tax deduction value depending on how much you have, you may want to get an appraisal that’s qualified for the IRS. Get somebody who’s an expert in what’s valuable. I find these conversations are more steered, “I’m sorry, what you thought was valuable isn’t.” At the same time, there are things that are and a person with a keen eye and expertise for this can walk through your home and may or may not even charge you to do so. Although, they’ll walk through and tell you like, “This has value and this doesn’t.”
They can help you do an auction or whatever for the items that do have value. Some people will even take those things off-site. You don’t have to have an estate sale in your home. A lot of people don’t want to do that or they may be ready to do that but they want to maximize it. If a charity puts something you donate to a related use, meaning the charity uses it for its exempt purpose. If you gave away a car to a school that teaches kids how to repair cars, you would get a higher value deduction for that if the charity is using that asset for its purpose. People have what I call hobby assets.
It might be a collection that your kids don’t want but if you can get creative on finding charities that these items are collection or something, it might fit right into their exempt purpose, you can get some better tax exemptions there and feel good that your stuff is going to good use. You can’t do this good research if you’re trying to get rid of this stuff so that you can get the house on the market in a month. It takes some time to do it. Have your parents do it themselves with your help while they’re still perfectly able to do so. They can feel good about that.
This whole idea of downsizing, all of my parents have gone through this whole thing. I’ve gone through it a couple of times because I moved to France. We had to downsize our house. When we moved back, we had to downsize from France. Every time we move, I do a full downsize because I don’t want to carry stuff. I wanted to give the other side of that perspective is hire somebody that loves it. I have an organizer who loves it. When she talks me into, “Moneeka, someone else will enjoy this much more. You haven’t worn this for two years.” We can have these conversations but it is emotionally and mentally exhausting for me.
I bet you could organize somebody else’s stuff. It’s more enjoyable than your own.
I probably could but it’s not a blissful experience for me. Every once in a while, my organizer will have to smack me like, “Moneeka, you need to let go of this.” A lot of times, I smacked back. You are like, “No, I’m not going to make that decision right now.”
Put it in a clear bin for later. That’s what I say.Expect the best, prepare for the worst. Click To Tweet
We’re going to talk about the emotional side but I wanted to give a little perspective on having compassion because if I want to smack my organizer, I would never do that. I love her but we get into these snips where I’m like, “Don’t make me.” I’m in control of my life. Imagine your parents, when they’ve got an entire lifetime of memories.
That is why you want to do it more in advance, you can do it a couple of hours at a time because it’s exhausting.
You want to make sure that it’s someone who enjoys doing it. At least, that will uplift your parents. Working with Giana, at least it’s uplifting. Every time she walks into my house, I know my house is going to look better afterward. No matter what trauma I go through, it’s worth it.
That’s what I tell my team. You’ve got to make this fun. Even if you’re going to someone’s house, telling them to pay their bills. We’re delightful. We show up as we bring flowers. We want to make this a fun experience. It’s not awesome for them sometimes so we want to make it fun. They’re excited that we’re coming over because they like us and they feel accomplished when we leave.
That’s how I feel about my organizer even when we’re downsizing. That was a good segue. I have my own emotional experience of my downsizing. What emotional stuff should we be looking out for?
Having some compassion around it and acknowledging that that’s a huge walk down memory lane. It’s a lot of things. First of all, it’s the least about the actual things. The prospect of losing their independence, like why are they moving? Where are they moving to? It might be fun when it’s not an imminent thing happening. You want to be patient because if they haven’t gone through their stuff, they’re going to come across things that spark a walk down memory lane. Use that as a fun thing to do. If it takes three hours to go through one box, so be it. If you had a nice time with your parents, you laughed about some things, had some good memories, and making the time and space for them to do that on their own times.
A lot of it is patience, compassion, and remembering that this isn’t about you. You’re helping them.
This is the role reversal because when they were parenting you, it was all about you.
It gets to be all about them and you get to be compassionate and hold their hand through this whole thing because this process can be very emotional for them.
Acknowledging that it’s stressful for them. Trying to take some opportunities to if you can do some work and then reduce the stress in some way. Mix it up a little bit. Seeking help with it too if you’re not an expert or you don’t love organizing either then you get your parents some help that someone who is enthusiastic about it, it might make it fun.
Before we move to EXTRA and the three rapid-fire questions, could you tell everybody how they can reach you?
You can get ahold of me through my website which is Simplify-Wealth.com. My email, everything about me, my team, and my contact information is all on there.
I know that you have a free gift for my audience. Why don’t we talk a little bit about that?
I have a life organizer tool. When you’re collecting information about your parents or your own life, people ask, “What should I be collecting?” If you go to my website, this tool is best viewed on your desktop versus on mobile. If you click on the top upper right next to my blog, there’s a thing that says Life Organizer. If you click on that, there’s a seven day free trial for the life organizer website which is a working grid on all the things you need to collect to get a handle on your finances. All of the things I talked about and all those passwords. It’s intended to jog your memory on what you need to collect. If you are looking it on mobile, you go all the way down to the bottom of my website.
Thank you for that. That’s valuable. I know that a lot of times when you think about your finances, there are so many moving parts, it can be intimidating. Having a list of all the things that you should be looking for, that would be helpful. Ladies, go and take a look at that at Simplify-Wealth.com and then go to the area that says Life Organizer. Are you ready for our three rapid-fire questions?
Yes, I am.
Normally, we talk about these in terms of real estate investing but I’d like to change them to creating or simplifying your wealth and finances. Let’s do it from that perspective. You answered those questions before.People need a purpose and a reason to get up in the morning. Click To Tweet
I’ll accidentally give the same answers. That would have happened.
We’ll do something a little different. Keep it spicy. Give us one super tip on how to get started in managing your finances and your wealth.
I would say start inventorying what you have. Start and get a partner or a personal CFO. If you’re helping your parents, partner with your parents if you’re doing this for them. Get some resources like the Life Organizer or something to start tackling it. If it’s stressing you out, the stress isn’t going to go away if you don’t start somewhere. There is some relief and tackling some chunks at it but also don’t feel like you have to do it all in one day.
What would you say is a strategy for being successful in that whole process?
I would say a strategy would be, be proactive so that you’re not having to do this when you’re under stress because something has happened to your parents or in your own life. Have a system to be organized whether you’re using a checklist, you’re tracking it in a spreadsheet, or you’re using password managers. You’ll come up with some system that once you gather the information, you’re keeping it somewhere that’s organized. Otherwise, you’re having to deal with it twice.
What would you say is one personal daily practice that you use that contributes to your personal success?
I started meditating every morning. For anyone who knows me, it was like, “She’s meditating.” I found a meditation recording if you will whenever I listened to. I have a good morning routine now. I work out, I do my meditating and it puts me in a good place to be in my zone and set my intention for the day. That state usually lasts five minutes until my life gets crazy. That’s been good practice for me.
That’s good that you added that in. It’s surprisingly important. You wouldn’t believe how many people on this show are successful, multimillionaires and that’s the thing that they say is they find a way to be mindful every single day. Angela, this has been amazing. Thank you for sharing this information with my ladies. In the next portion, we’re going to do a deep dive into how to get specifically involved in your parents’ finances and what to do. A little bit more about that conversation and what you need to collect and all that stuff. We’ve got a lot more from Angela coming in EXTRA. If you ladies are subscribed to EXTRA, stay tuned. We’ve got more coming. If you’re not subscribed to EXTRA but would like to be, go to RealEstateInvestingForWomenEXTRA.com. You can subscribe there. You get seven days for free.
You can test up the content, make sure you love it. You’ll be getting your EXTRA set portions of the show wherever you are reading this blog. You don’t have to have a new app. You don’t need to go anywhere else. Once you’re subscribed, it will be downloaded directly to you. For those of you that are leaving us now, thank you for joining Angela for this portion of this show. I look forward to seeing you next time. Until then, remember, goals without action are just dreams. Get out there, take action, and create the life your heart deeply desires. We’ll see you next time. Bye.
Angela Alvig is a Personal Wealth CFO for her clients – a trusted advisor who is intimately familiar with their financial situation, values and priorities. She is a passionate, results-oriented CPA who possesses a unique combination of technical expertise and interpersonal skills, with a proactive, action-oriented approach. With over 20 years’ experience in finance, accounting and the family office industry, Angela is Founder and President of Simplify Wealth LLC and leads a team of 10 professionals.
Angela and her team provide a suite of financial and organizational services for their clients, giving them time and life freedom. She effectively leads the strategy and implementation of her firm with vision and heart, to ensure she and her team deliver optimal results for their valued clients.
Moneeka Sawyer is often described as one of the most blissful people you will ever meet. She has been investing in Real Estate for over 20 years, so has been through all the different cycles of the market. Still, she has turned $10,000 into over $5,000,000, working only 5-10 hours per MONTH with very little stress.
While building her multi-million dollar business, she has traveled to over 55 countries, dances every single day, supports causes that are important to her, and spends lots of time with her husband of over 20 years.
She is the international best-selling author of the multiple award-winning books “Choose Bliss: The Power and Practice of Joy and Contentment” and “Real Estate Investing for Women: Expert Conversations to Increase Wealth and Happiness the Blissful Way.”
Moneeka has been featured on stages including Carnegie Hall and Nasdaq, radio, podcasts such as Achieve Your Goals with Hal Elrod, and TV stations including ABC, CBS, FOX, and the CW, impacting over 150 million people.