Personal finance is just that: personal. Everyone’s needs are special to them and every financial plan needs to reflect those individual needs and goals. But we all share many of the same milestones in life. We face similar challenges— buying or renting, saving for college or retirement, how much to spend on the wedding or that dream vacation—and have to cope with the same unfolding demands and decisions: raising children, staying healthy, helping aging parents.

I’ve been there. And now my passion is helping others to deal with similar challenges and decisions in a way that supports their short-term and long-term goals and allows them to focus on what matters most in their lives. As I work with clients to define their goals and map out a path to achieving them, I often reflect on how my own journey and life experiences, in addition to my academic training, inform our conversations. Here are some the relevant highlights of that journey.

Early in my career, I was a young, single woman in tech, navigating an array of Employer stock options, ESPPs, and 401Ks, and trying to plan for a future retirement that seemed very far away while living in San Francisco and paying down student loans. My financial goals at that time were focused on finding some financial stability and seeing the world.

As soon as I could afford it, I took a sabbatical that took me to a dozen countries in as many months, traveling low to the ground and learning to make my savings last. Now, looking back, I realize it was a bit risky to walk away from a good job to explore the world, but I have no regrets. (I think I had a net worth of -$500 when I returned from that trip. Fortunately, being broke in your twenties isn’t a big deal —I had lots of company.)

When I returned, I focused on my career once again. I developed my professional skills and advanced in my career. As I became more senior, I noticed that I was dealing with different demands on my time, attention, and resources. Life in general, and finances in particular, became more complicated.

I saved up and bought a house in my early thirties. Though going from renter to owner was somewhat terrifying in the beginning, I soon realized that it was worth all of the stress. A well-timed. well-chosen real estate investment can be a great contributor to wealth-building: Buying my first house allowed me to ladder up to larger homes later on, to accommodate my growing family.

I got married and suddenly what was mine became ours. And then we had kids, the most rewarding decision—and expensive investment—ever, and I can’t imagine life without them and their many needs.

After many years of pondering a move into financial planning, I changed careers, going from upper level management in tech to learning a whole new field and branching out as an entrepreneur. Being your own boss has many risks and rewards, but I wouldn’t change a thing.

Now I’m dealing with aging parents, collaborating with my siblings as we try to help our folks make the best decisions for their health and well-being on the later side of life.

Does any of this sound familiar? It should—and probably will as the years go on. While none of these life shifts are driven solely by money, they all require resources and some well-considered decision making. And since money is probably not your day job, it’s really helpful to have a knowledgeable partner to help you assess your situation, outline your dreams and goals, and stick to a plan to help you achieve them.

Solid financial planning can help you prepare for the challenges—and take advantage of the opportunities—that life presents. We can work together, laying the financial groundwork for navigating all your life milestones and building your resources so you can live your best and brightest life.

Let’s talk about how I can help.

Contact me here.

After a successful career in high-tech, Sheila McGinn, CFP® followed her passion and became a fee-only Financial Planner, where she helps clients navigate complex financial decisions and reach their financial goals.

Disclaimer: This content is provided for general information and illustration purposes only. Nothing contained in the material constitutes tax advice, a recommendation for purchase or sale of any security, or investment advisory services. For advice specific to your situation, consult a financial planner, accountant, and/or legal counsel. Reproduction of this material is prohibited without written permission from Brightview Financial Solutions, LLC, and all rights are reserved.