As a young woman, Laura K. Schilling, J.D., CPA, CFPTM, CSA®, founder of Financial Innovations, LLC, followed the advice of her mentors and discovered a career that enables her to enhance the financial health of those around her.
What inspired you to pursue this field?
I have had amazing mentors my entire life. I had a high school teacher who told me, ‘Get your certified public accountant (CPA) and law degree. You will always have a job and you will fulfill your passion for helping people.’ I followed her advice and earned my CPA and law degree. In law school, I had a professor who suggested that I open a law practice focusing on estate planning and a financial planning/wealth management practice and that is what I did! I was able to combine my passion for numbers and for helping people.
How do clients bene t from you being both a CPA and having a law degree?
I offer estate planning, including wills (simple and complex), trusts, financial powers of attorney, and advance directives for health care. In addition, we offer financial planning and wealth management for people who want a financial roadmap or a financial checkup. Having my CPA, practicing law in Georgia and Florida, and having my Certified Financial PlannerTM designation (CFP®) and my Certified Senior AdvisorTM (CSA®) certification enables me to assist clients even further and help them make informed decisions about their future because I have a background in taxes, law, and financial planning as well as in eldercare.
If I’m over the age of 40 and I just started saving for retirement, is there a specific strategy I should employ?
Every situation is different, so this is general advice. First, you should pay off all debts except your mortgage (sometimes paying off your mortgage is ideal too). Once you pay off debt, you should minimize spending and maximize savings. If you have a retirement plan at work, maximize that plan but don’t stop there. You should also make sure you have a rainy-day fund equal to six to 12 months of cash spending. Once you have this set aside, start saving into a brokerage account every month. Just saving into a retirement plan at work is not typically enough. Take baby steps. Challenge yourself to save more each month! Make it fun!