I bank my money, why is it important to have a financial advisor?

Banking an emergency fund (3-6 months of expenses for most) is a good practice. But for long term savings, retirement, college funding, even a major purchase that is far into the future, utilizing an advisor can be very beneficial. There is a whole world of investment offerings and they can help you sort through what might be a good choice for you. Trying to go it alone can be overwhelming, and well, it’s worth asking an expert. I often get new clients after they have done it for a while on their own and they are dissatisfied with the whole process. I love investing, but it’s not everyone’s idea of a great hobby.

Is my money at risk when investing?

Yes. If you are invested in the stock market there is risk involved. There are ways to spread the risk out by using a mutual fund that has several companies represented as opposed to investing in one company’s stock.

There are also fixed rate investments that are much lower risk, CDs in a bank for example. Those will offer a lower return generally than the potential return in the stock market.

How bad is it if I don’t pay off my credit card every month?

It’s bad if you aren’t able to over a reasonable amount of time. A few months for example. You don’t want to pay interest on everyday expenses and budget items, but many use their credit cards regularly and pay them off every month to reap the rewards. I think this is a good example of using credit well, and it’s important to pay it off monthly in that situation.

If you only use credit cards occasionally, an unexpected car maintenance bill for example. That’s generally something you would want to pay off in a few months, and it highlights that you may need to reevaluate if you have enough in your regular budget for maintenance items.

Is all debt bad? What is good and bad debt?

No, you must establish credit to qualify for a mortgage for example, that is good debt. Educational debt isn’t considered bad either, although sometimes the payments can eat up a large portion of income. I caution against having too much depreciating debt; vehicles, travel trailers, and credit card debt. It can easily become overwhelming and get out of hand.


Light at the end of a pandemic tunnel: Found Money – Found Time

For most financial advisors, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused extraordinary disruptions that have truly upset the financial apple cart. In an instance, the traditional ways of providing financial advice ground to a halt and to me, many advisors appeared to have difficulty adapting.

Once the pandemic had infiltrated and lock downs were imposed, I began to reimagine the future of the industry. It was an entirely frightening prospect trying to visualize how businesses would look and function going forward. With my background as a financial planner, reorganizing and repurposing comes naturally to me, and this brought with it an honest realization of my circumstances.

As a financial advisor, time and money have always been commodities in short supply, and I quickly realized that those key elements needed to be maximized in these uncertain times. For financial advisors to survive in this industry, necessary adjustments were vital to navigate through such unchartered waters.

Saving on expenses

In an instance, I found myself having much more time on my hands whilst working from home and had to figure out how to manage my money effectively to sustain my business. Essentially, I had to look at how I could transform and adapt in this rapidly changing financial landscape.

When looking at ways to cut down my expenses, it was obvious that paying high rental in a downtown office was unnecessary with the lockdown creating a ghost town. I immediately worked on moving my office remotely knowing that I could still be in touch with my clients.

This age of digital transformation has accelerated since the pandemic with businesses being forced to adapt to such extraordinary circumstances. I was fortunate to have the ability to conduct virtual meetings when necessary. Even when that was not possible, I could still meet with clients physically with many conference rooms available downtown. My procrastination on building a website all of a sudden become a very real need. Considering that, I decided that the money saved from office rental would be channeled towards my digital marketing and advertising, thus giving me an online presence to operate my business.

Another major expense that I cut out was transportation costs that could easily amount to hundreds of dollars each month. Through saving on transport expenses, I invested that money on improving my virtual skillset by enrolling for courses that would help me to increase my digital presence. Eating and beverage expenses were eliminated during this period too, as I was no longer on-the-go meeting clients and business associates. My savings from there were invested in necessary hardware upgrades for my home office, such as a powerful webcam, an office-grade printer, and improved internet connectivity that made my increased online presence more efficient.

Working from home also brought with it incredible savings on miscellaneous expenses that were not required under lockdown. Although these did not apply to me, many contacts in my network had told me of ways in which they had saved money whilst working remotely. For instance, there was no need to go to gym any longer as exercise was done at home, so many people saved on gym memberships. Similarly, the need for business lunches was no longer there and as such, there were savings on lunch outings and its associated costs. All these savings contribute towards the digital transformation of many peoples’ businesses ensuring that the adaptation process was seamless.

Optimizing time

Another key element of working from home was how I would optimize my time. In order to be as efficient as possible, I had to carefully strategize how to repurpose my time in order to maximize my potential in this new financial climate. I was surprised at how much of time was available just by working from home.

It never dawned on me how much of time we spend in the course of our ordinary day in traffic, in the elevator, the lobby, waiting rooms, in the meeting before the meeting, and even stepping out to grab a quick coffee. All these little wasted periods amount to valuable time being lost each day as we are not as productive as we believe, leading to a false impression that we are moving towards our goals.

It quickly became apparent that time blocking was essential to improving productivity, and sticking to scheduled appointment times was vital to achieving tangible goals. Working from home means being disciplined in terms of time management and the rapid advancement of technology goes a long way in helping to manage time.

Online resources and software make it easy to arrange your day with calendar scheduling tools that help to maximize your minutes. Such convenience has made a remarkable difference in the way that my office operates as I find clients engaging with me more often. Typically, a client can book a 15-minute session where I help them with quick queries along with the option of booking longer sessions should they require portfolio reviews and assistance. All-in-all, the convenience of technology has enabled me to provide a better product and service offering to my clients whilst working remotely.

Final thoughts

With the internet so readily available, clients are finding it easier to educate themselves on financial markets and services online. Due to this ease of access, there are a growing number of people who have more confidence in digital platforms for their financial service needs. It was with this in mind that I chose to grow my digital presence in the financial services industry.

Whilst the uncertainty of this pandemic had many financial advisors gripped with fear, I decided to focus on elements of my business that I could develop and conform to these extraordinary circumstances. My intention was to create a robust and efficient working environment that was able to adapt to changes in a short space of time.

I found that by readjusting my budget and channeling my money into avenues that would help me to improve and adapt, I was able to conduct business more efficiently. Moreover, my seamless adaptation made me more productive and helped me make the best of the resources at my disposal. Looking ahead, my business will continue to adapt and evolve as I constantly re-evaluate my objectives and improve the level of service that I provide in this dynamic financial climate. Make sure to get in touch with me and let’s look at ways to maximize your financial portfolio.

Scarlett Vogel-Ham

Financial Advisor for Eagle Strategies LLC, A Registered Investment Adviser and New York Life company.


Don’t Get Retirement Wrong!

I don’t expect people to work a 40+ hour week forever. You don’t want to work forever. At some point you will probably want to retire. I think where we missing the mark is we see retirement as a finish line. Focusing on the vacation image, like golf or lunching with friends; but can you do that every day? Probably not. A few times a week sure, but not every day.

With medical advances, you may live another third of your life in retirement. That could be 25 years. What will you fill your days with for the next 25 years? What do you like to do? What gives your day purpose? What gets you out of bed in the morning? If you have a great day, what makes it great?

“Retirement is not what I thought it would be.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard this from clients generally 6 months to a year into retirement. It’s heart breaking. If it’s hard to hear this, try living it.

Personally, I can be out my routine around 5 days before I start to miss work. I like my routine. Feeling I accomplished something, helping my clients, seeing their success. I am not alone. My husband is a high school teacher. The first couple weeks of summer he is catching up on rest, doing things around the property that he hasn’t had time to do. He loves to take a nap in the afternoon. But after a couple weeks, he is ready to go back to teaching. We are fortunate that we both have a profession we really enjoy. I know that isn’t the case for everyone.

So again I pose the question…..what makes you feel accomplished? Ok, so start doing it. I know you might have a day job, but add in the thing you think will be your “retirement thing”. Try it on. What if you only like it in theory? Or for a short period of time? I know from all the years of chatting with incredibly talented and diverse clients, we are all unique. We have different talents, and Ideas of a “best life”.

Debunking the common answers


I often hear “in retirement I will finally be able to travel”. What kind of travel? Luxury resorts, or camping? RV excursions? There are several ways to travel and they can fit a variety of budgets. I would recommend trying them while you are working. I have many couples that liked the RV for a couple trips and then they were done. It wasn’t what they thought. There are always exceptions, but it isn’t a long-term lifestyle for very many people.

Hobby or Passion

Maybe it’s a hobby…. again, try it. If you do it every day, will you still enjoy it as much? Can you incorporate it more into your life now? Can you make your living doing that? Will you try to in retirement? I am always surprised when I find out after a client retires, that they have this incredible talent they were just sitting on until they could afford retirement. I always think they might have more satisfaction if they earned their living that way. It’s not always possible to follow your passion in your career, maybe making a living and supporting your family rightfully took priority. Is retirement the time when you will have the financial freedom to try it?

Home Improvement Projects

Another common response when I question people about this is, “I have so many home improvement projects, I will be busy doing those”. I encourage you to really question for how long you wish to do those projects. Do you really enjoy them? If so fantastic, incorporate them now. If it’s just a project or two, what about when those are finished?

Retiring Happy

Out of all my clients the happiest retirees I know are those who have created a new purpose for themselves. I have a client that works at Target because she likes the employee discount. Another client writes baseball articles for different news sources. I have a handy man who is often paid in “trade” or baked goods. One lady makes beautiful jewelry and learned to sell pieces online. A few clients found a charity they really love, and quickly became involved with fundraising and leadership.

Maybe they aren’t even getting paid other than in satisfaction but that provides them with a purpose. It’s the feeling essential, vital, and important in some way. Making an impact.

Financial planning allows us to plan for most life events that can really impact a retiree’s finances. I think the most overlooked piece is this; the planning each individual must do to really know what will fill the hours they were commuting, working, commuting again and worrying about work. Some may be able to incorporate more of their “best life” lifestyle before retirement. I can only imagine that would be more beneficial in long run mentally, maybe even physically.

Scarlett Vogel-Ham, LUTCF, CLTC

Financial Adviser

1 S. Church Ave, Suite 2200
Tucson, AZ 85701

(520) 270-4306