Diane Esser earns Chartered Federal Employee Benefits Consultant℠(ChFEBC℠) Designation

Direction Financial Management is committed to working with Federal employees to ensure they understand their unique benefit system and retirement plan options. A ChFEBC℠ (Chartered Federal Employee Benefits Consultant) is a prestigious designation for Financial Advisors, CPAs, Attorneys, and certain employees of the Federal Government, who have successfully completed an intensive training course and passed a rigorous examination covering all federal employee benefits. The training consists of a 17 module assignment curriculum. The ChFEBC℠ course covers all federal employee benefits including: • CSRS and FERS annuities (pensions) • Health Insurance • Thrift Savings Plan • Social Security • Life Insurance • and much more. This designation requires an annual examination on federal benefits. They are required to stay up-to-date on the ever changing Federal Government Benefits Programs. They have extensive knowledge about FERS, CSRS, and Special Provisions (LEO, FF, ATC, CBPO, MRT).

Diane Esser earns Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®) designation

Candidates for the RICP® designation must complete a minimum of three college-level courses and are required to pass a series of two-hour proctored exams. They must also have three years of experience, meet stringent ethics requirements, and participate in The College’s continuing education program.

The RICP® educational curricula is the most complete and comprehensive program available to professional financial advisors looking to help their clients create sustainable retirement income. The rigorous three-course credential helps advisors master retirement income planning, a key focus area not fully covered in other professional designation programs. From retirement portfolio management techniques and mitigation of plan risks to the proper use of annuities, employer-sponsored benefits and determining the best Social Security claiming age, the RICP® provides a wealth of practical information for advisors.

Using the most current techniques, RICP®’s identify retirement income needs and objectives and evaluate a client’s current situation relative to those goals. Individuals who earn a RICP® can provide expert advice on a broad range of retirement topics including income needs and objectives, estate issues and other risks to the retirement income planning, Social Security, health insurance and housing decisions, and income taxation.

The American College is the nation’s largest non-profit educational institution devoted to financial services. Holding the highest level of academic accreditation, The College has served as a valued business partner to banks, brokerage firms, insurance companies and others for over 86 years. The American College’s faculty represents some of the financial services industry’s foremost thought leaders. For more information, visit TheAmericanCollege.edu.

Garrett Planning Network & Hourly Fee-Only Planning Recognized by President Obama

Dear Clients,

This year will mark my 3rd Anniversary as a member of the Garrett Planning Network.  The shared philosophy of all members of the Network spearheaded by Sheryl Garrett, the founder, is that financial advice is best made available on a fee-only hourly basis by advisors willing to take on a fiduciary duty to their clients.  This idea was unique and controversial 15 years ago, but I’m excited to say it has become recognized as important to the financial health of our country even if it remains unloved by the giant financial services companies.

On February 23rd, while speaking at the AARP Headquarters, President Obama both recognized Sheryl Garrett for her work and quoted her.  I wanted to share this short clip with you.


I appreciate the opportunity to serve you and look forward to the work we will continue to do together.  Collaborating with my colleagues in the Garrett Planning Network will help me continue to do the best helping you.



What Do You Value?

What do you value?  What does your spouse value?  When is the last time you really thought about this, if ever, and created a plan to make it happen?  Most of the pre-retiree clients I meet with have goals other than purchasing material things.  Spending more time with family, cutting back on work hours, traveling, watching the grandkids grow up and giving back to community or spiritually are the answers I hear.  Values are not centered around material things, they are centered around what makes you tick.  Some of the values involve a plan for your finances and some can be done TODAY!  That’s right, TODAY, without a lot of financial and logistical planning.  The White Coat Investor takes a look at these questions and answers here.  Are you ready to create and take action on your value plan?  Talk to your spouse to help create the value plan and  contact us to help with the value-based financial piece.  The White Coat Investor brings up a great point – financial planning is more than finding your “number” for retirement.  It’s about getting to know you and your goals and then designing a plan centered around those goals.  That’s our philosophy at Direction Financial Management, LLC.

No Financial Aid for Retirement

Financial Aid 101 As a financial advisor I see clients struggling with the decision to save for their child’s college expenses and/or their own retirement.  The Wall Street Journal Experts answer the question “What’s the biggest mistake you see people make when it comes to financing their kids’ college education?” here.  Do you need direction with your own situation?  Contact Us.

Men and Finances: 5 Myths Revealed

money people In honor of Father’s Day let’s take a look at some myths about men and finances.  Who handles the finances in your household and why? Join Kathleen Burns Kingsbury’s post about this topic.

Do I Have Enough to Retire?


Questions Mark-Text


The number one question pre-retiree clients ask is “do I have enough to retire?”  The answer is – IT DEPENDS.  It depends on how much you want to spend and how much you have saved to cover those expenses.  Retirement is a time of transition and spending will likely vary year to year.  Family vacations, a medical event, and charitable or family gifting are just three items that can throw your retirement budget out of order.  Then we have  three areas that affect everyone yet we are not able to control – tax rates, inflation and the market.  Income sources are limited in retirement so spending becomes the one area you can control.  The Wall Street Journal Experts chime in on this discussion here:



How to Use Your Money FAILURES as Money LESSONS



When I read this post from financial therapist Bari Tessler Linden I couldn’t agree more.  We all wish we could have handled a money situation differently in the past.  This post digs deeper and explores how change can take place only when we allow it to – We do not fail our way into change, shame our way into change, or unconsciously react our way into change. We can only love ourselves into change. We learn our way into change.  Read on for more about developing a healthy relationship with money and money lessons.



When’s the Right Time to Reset Goals?

When’s the last time you reviewed your goals?  I mean those goals you’ve been holding on to for years.  Today’s post shares insights about goal setting and how those goals change as you mature and priorities shift.  Carl Richards, author of “The Behavior Gap” shares his thoughts about this cycle of ever changing goals and how priorities drive change.

In the U.S., the upcoming long weekend over the Memorial Day holiday marks the unofficial start to summer. But that’s not how the holiday started. Originally known as Decoration Day, it was meant to honor both Union and Confederate soldiers. Over time, the honor was expanded to include all who died in military service. I know that today many of us also use this holiday to remember and celebrate all of our loved ones who’ve died.

Memorial Day is a perfect example of how something that starts out meaning one thing can grow and change to become something else just as meaningful, but different than the original. I think about this concept a lot in the context of setting goals.

I think it’s happened to everyone. You set a goal in your 20s or 30s, but by the time you reach your 40s, that goal has had to adapt to the changes in you and around you. But we aren’t always very good or graceful about admitting how those goals have changed. Often we get so caught up in the idea of the original goal that we miss seeing the opportunity in changing our minds.

For instance, let’s say you set the goal in your 20s to buy a house in your 30s, take a three-month vacation around Europe in your 40s, buy a boat in your 50s, and retire in your 60s. But you reach your 30s and you travel a lot for business. So even though you set the goal of buying a house in your 30s, does it still make sense to stick with that goal if you aren’t around to enjoy it?

Then you reach your 40s and you’ve got the goal of spending three months in Europe, but you spent most of your 30s traveling for business. Do you force yourself to still take the trip or is finally the right time to buy your dream home? In your 20s, you were convinced you’d love owning a boat in your 50s, but then the day arrives and you realize that old saying is true: The two happiest days for a boat owner are the day he buys the boat and the day he sells the boat.

Finally, we reach your last goal of retiring in your 60s, but the reality is that you’ve still got lots of opportunities and you enjoy your work. Do you still retire?

In some ways, it would have been really easy for Decoration Day to slip into the past as all those connected to the Civil War died. Instead, over time, it grew into something more.

What would happen if we showed this same adaptability with our goals? What if instead of tying ourselves to things we must do, we start thinking in terms of things we can do? To be clear, I’m not advocating aimlessly wandering through life. Instead, I’m encouraging you to be open to possibility, to be open to the reality that what you wanted 10 years ago may not fit very well with the life you have today.

A Bad Cycle

And with that acceptance comes the opportunity to break the cycle of beating up on ourselves for not checking more things off the list. Maybe, like just about everything else in life, we need to give our goals time to grow up and become what we really need as opposed to what we thought we needed however many years ago.


Help Your Adult Children Get Their Financial House in Order

Are you struggling with how to help your adult children become financially independent?  This article provides guidelines for you to share with your child to ensure they are on the right track:


Work with your child to create goals and have an annual check up with them to see how they are progressing.  Want to learn more?  Contact Us for more ideas on how to establish a plan for your child.