Services at Ideas By Mike

If you’re looking for a financial partner in your life to get you to and through retirement, you’ve come to the right place. The client experience starts simply: We listen. We learn about your story, your resources and your ideas. Then, as a completely independent financial advisor, we create a custom plan solely for you, designed to help you achieve the future you envision. Here are just a few of the services we offer.

Financial Planning

Buying a home. Saving for college. Retirement planning. We all have financial goals, but often have no idea how to make them happen. A financial plan is something that is necessary for individuals, as much as it is for small businesses to multinational corporations.  A plan is often the lynchpin that determines financial success or failure. It’s been said that “people don’t plan to fail, they fail to plan”.

Financial planning provides meaning and direction to your financial choices. By clearly identifying and prioritizing your personal financial objectives, you can better understand how each financial decision impacts other areas of your finances.

Every financial plan has several key elements that should include:

Cash Flow: This is certainly the most obvious aspect of financial planning. No planning is possible without taking cash flow and budgeting into consideration.

Emergencies: One needs financial resources to protect oneself from the unexpected. The planning has to be for unseen emergencies such as accidents or illness. Because interest rates fluctuate and markets are volatile, it’s important to hold liquid emergency assets in safe and accessible accounts while securing the highest returns possible. We can help with that.

Wealth: This is about anticipating how much savings would amount to over a period of time and developing an investment strategy to build wealth for the long-term.

Taxes: Tax becomes a major consideration as one’s income goes up. So, a key element of financial planning is to invest money with the aim of optimizing tax returns. It’s also a critical element of retirement planning, especially if you hold most of your retirement assets in taxable accounts like traditional 401(k)s.

Retirement: Retirement planning for individuals can mean the difference between success or running out of money. Planning for reliable retirement income, health care costs and Social Security benefits is essential, and it’s best to start early, especially in the five to 10 years leading up to retirement.

Insurance: Insurance policies have changed drastically in the last 20 years, with many improvements. Make sure your family is protected, and investigate all the tax-advantaged opportunities permanent insurance now offers.

You may not always know what the future will hold, but with sound financial planning you can breathe easy knowing that good or bad, you and your family are going to be able to weather the ups and downs of life.

College Planning

If you haven’t worked out a savings plan for your child’s college education, you’re not alone. According to Sallie Mae, although 9 out of 10 people feel college is important, less than half have saved anything to help fund the cost. College costs go up every year which means you’re saving to pay for a cost that is yet to be determined.

As one of the three most important financial decisions in a family’s life—home purchase, retirement, college costs—we are in a borrowing crisis with college funding. In 2021, we have $1.6 trillion+ in college loans outstanding for those entering the workforce. That number is growing exponentially.

There are a number of financial actions you can take to help family members entering college come out debt-free or with debt that is lower than expected. College planning is more comprehensive than just FAFSA planning; it involves aligning the student’s goals with parents’ goals. That’s where we come in.

The Conversation: Do your children expect you to pay for their college education? Bring them into the conversation early on. This is something you can work together to achieve.


Savings: Share financial responsibility for college education with your child early on. Set up a savings account for them when they are young, and help them save a portion of the money they make to help pay for college.


Mortgage Payoff: If you have a mortgage it may be a good idea to take care of that first depending on your situation. Paying off your house will bring you mental peace and financial stability that will help when college costs start rolling in.


Scholarships and Grants: The most sought-out scholarships for college funding are grants because they do not need to be repaid. Grants are highly competitive, so apply early to maximize your chances of winning. The first step in applying for grants is filling out a FAFSA, which generates an Expected Family Contribution (EFC). The EFC determines what the government expects from you financially. The EFC will be phased out for the 2023-24 school year when it will be replaced by the Student Aid Index.


529 Plans: A 529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan designed to encourage saving for future college costs. 529 plans, legally known as “qualified tuition plans,” are sponsored by states, state agencies, or educational institutions and are authorized by Section 529 of the Internal Revenue Code. There are two types of 529 plans: pre-paid tuition plans and college savings plans. Each state has different rules regarding tax deductibility and other benefits.


Planning ahead for college is crucial. Professional guidance can save you time and money!

Tax Strategies

Once December 31st has come and gone, your tax liability for that tax year will pretty much be set in stone. Ongoing tax planning presents unique year-long opportunities to lower your tax bill because there may be deductions or credits available which you may not be aware of. Meeting with your financial and tax advisors is an investment in time well spent. By taking certain steps each year, you can reduce the size of your tax bill long before you file next year.

Tax planning is not only about what is happening at the federal level. Addressing changing circumstances in your life has always been an essential aspect of tax planning. What you planned for at the beginning of any given year may not be what you are faced with now. Changes in your employment status, family, or investments can dramatically impact your tax bill.

Important steps you may need to take:


  1. Max out retirement contributions
  2. Take capital losses to balance gains
  3. Max out your HSA
  4. Use you FSA
  5. Make tax-free gifts
  6. Charitable donations

Don’t pay the IRS more than you have to. Contact us for an appointment to discuss.

And remember, as you get closer to retirement, it may be advantageous to start shifting some money out of taxable accounts like traditional IRAs and 401(k)s into tax-free Roth accounts. These rollovers are taxable events and they have to be done carefully following all IRS rules, because they cannot be undone. Let’s make a plan.

Retirement Income Planning

Many people approaching retirement or are already retired often wonder: “How can I have more income in retirement?” When we work, there are raises, promotions or opportunities to change jobs for a higher income. Why can’t you have that in retirement?  Let us complete a “Retirement Income Performance Review” for you and your family. You deserve a raise and we can help you get it.

No matter how well we plan for retirement, managing risk should always be a consideration. After saving all those years and watching your investments grow, the focus in retirement planning evolves from “asset accumulation” to “asset preservation.” Here are some issues you will want to address as you get five to 10 years away from retirement:

Income: You made it to retirement. Now you have to create a paycheck without a job. It’s easy if you have $10 million set aside; just put it in Treasuries. The return is low but the money is safe. Safety is the key here. The goal is to protect your assets and create a sustainable income as efficiently as possible.  Living to 90 or older is common now and many haven’t planned for 30 years of retirement income. There are strategies that can utilize a portion of your portfolio to create an income stream that will never run out. These products can also provide other advantages and benefits in retirement, such as long-term care expenses should you need long-term care.


Emergency Fund: It’s standard practice to recommend setting aside the equivalent of six month’s living expenses while you’re working to cover emergencies. The same is also true in retirement. It’s necessary to have the funds available outside of your retirement accounts to cover the unexpected.


Downsize: The cost of maintaining a house is usually your biggest expense. Saving money by selling your home and moving into a smaller dwelling can have a profound effect on expenses. Along with the windfall you may receive from the sale of the home, you may also cut down on property taxes, utilities, maintenance costs, HOA fees and more.


Portfolio Review: If you’ve enjoyed the bull market of the past 12+ years, it may be time to rebalance your investments. Most likely your risk tolerance has changed and the goal is to protect everything you’ve saved. Your advisor can tell if you are overexposed in stocks and determine a strategy. You can’t afford to have your portfolio drop 40% from a major market correction like the one in 2008.


Healthcare: Maintaining your health gets more expensive as you age. The average couple age 65+ can expect to pay $300K or more to cover healthcare expenses during retirement according to Fidelity. This is another reason to have an emergency fund, because contrary to popular belief, Medicare only covers a portion of healthcare costs. Not only that, but since living longer is the new norm, the need for long-term care at some point is almost a certainty for most.


Taxes: Taking distributions from traditional IRAs and 401(k)s requires that income taxes be paid, while capital gains taxes are required on other investments. Depending on your provisional income, even a portion of your Social Security can be taxed! Good planning will maximize your income and reduce taxes as much as possible. Make an appointment with your accountant and your financial advisor who can work in tandem to mitigate taxation in retirement.


The big message…the retirement income planning process done in advance can help you navigate the retirement challenges that lie ahead.

Health Coaching

How can you live a great, abundant life if you don’t have your health? Our health coaching services include one-on-one sessions with one of our certified health coaches. Together, you will discuss goal setting, nutrition, exercise, habit forming behaviors, and so much more! We have various packages for purchase. Your coach will be with you every step of the way to guide your choices, develop a resilient mindset and set accountability resources. Ultimately though, you are in the driver’s seat – leaving you with lasting habits that will better your health and lengthen your life!

Our health coaches build a partnership with clients to prioritize their goals and integrate healthy practices and goals into everyday life. Learn the true meaning of what it means to be “Wellthy!”

Multigenerational Wealth

Asset building stops when your life ends, unless you plan for tax-efficient wealth transfer in order to leave a legacy. Planning for your child(ren) or grandchild(ren) now will bring envisioned futures to life, which is truly what legacy is about!

Dreams often are like oxygen. When you have enough oxygen, you are free to live life; take oxygen away, and your only focus becomes breathing and you leave other thoughts behind. Two things that help dreams become reality are planning and money. Let us help you create an environment for your family where we breathe life into your child’s dreams. Set the base for their planning early in life and with the creative minds of our youth, see savings multiply across their lifespan.