Frequently Asked Questions

Please click the questions below to discover the answers.

What is Financial Planning?

Financial planning is a multi-step process that provides you with two important things: (1) An in-depth review of your current financial situation, and (2) a roadmap that shows you how to achieve your goals and objectives for the future.  At Lodestar Financial Planning, the financial planning process consists of seven distinct steps (see 7 Steps to Financial Success for details on our unique financial planning process).  It is important to remember that financial planning is a process . . . not an event.

Isn’t Financial Planning just for people who have lots of money?

Any individual, couple, or family seeking financial advice can benefit from our services.  As a member of the Garrett Planning Network, we have taken a pledge to offer our services to all persons, regardless of their income or assets.  We welcome clients who simply want a one-time financial review or are interested in a second opinion before making a major financial decision.  We also welcome those of you  who want ongoing financial coaching and plan monitoring over a longer period of time.

Do you offer your services to businesses that would like to provide objective investment advice to their employees?

Any organization (profit, nonprofit or government agency) wanting to provide unbiased conflict-free advice and financial education to their employees can benefit from our services.  We can also provide financial advice and coaching to rank and file employees and/or senior executives on a retainer basis.  Your employees will appreciate the fact that you have engaged a financial planner who is part of an independent, fee-only firm, thus eliminating the possibility of sales pressure related to product sales or bundled services.  Call us for details at (719) 685-0600.

What is Fee-Only financial planning and why should that be important to me?

Fee-Only financial planners are paid only by their clients.  They never receive any commissions, sales incentives, bonuses, or special perks paid by insurance companies or other financial service entities for selling their products.  Lodestar Financial Planning is an office of Garrett Investment Advisors, LLC, a true Fee-Only financial planning firm.  Knowing this, you can approach us with the full knowledge that we will be bringing recommendations that are in your best interest only.  You do not have to worry that we will need to “sell you something” in order to be paid for providing advice.

How do I implement the recommendations you make for insurance or investments?

We will advise you on financial products such as investments and insurance, but we do not sell them or receive any benefit from their sale.  We can recommend ethical and competent insurance agents to assist you in addressing an insurance need, or we can help you to secure coverage through the services of a no or low-load Internet-based insurance company.  We can also assist you in establishing a brokerage account at a discount broker (Vanguard, Schwab, T.D. Ameritrade, etc.).  We can provide minimal or full support in helping you create an online brokerage account.  For more information on this service, call (719) 685-0600.

Does Lodestar Financial Planning provide only broad-based financial planning?

No.  Although a broad-based financial plan can provide the greatest benefits, we can limit our advisory services to your specific needs, such as cash management and budgeting, investment consultation or college education funding.

Can you describe your "7 Steps to Financial Success" Process?

The seven steps approach was designed to clearly communicate the way that we work with our clients and to clarify the roles and responsibility of the financial planner and the client.  For a full description, please go to our process page.

What types of securities do you provide advice about?

We provide advice for many types of securities, including mutual funds, stocks (as they relate to your portfolio holdings), bonds, bank deposits, variable and fixed annuities.  We also provide advice on mortgages, budgeting and cash flow issues, 401(k), 403(b), Thrift Savings Plan, and other retirement programs, stock options, life, disability and Long Term Care insurance, etc.  If it has to do with money and finances, we can provide advice, guidance, and/or resources for you.  Clients are encouraged to call us when they have a major life event, such as a new job, a baby, a marriage or divorce, or if they are planning to buy a new home or start their own business.  We also encourage our clients to call us with more common everyday questions, such as: "How should I invest within my 401(k), TSP or 403(b) plan?", "How can I reduce my taxes?", "What advice can you offer on refinancing my home?", or "How can I maximize my Flex Spending Account, Cafeteria Plan or Section 125 Plan at work?"

If I use Lodestar Financial Planning to develop a financial plan, am I obligated to purchase the recommended products?

Absolutely not.  We will offer recommendations that, in our professional opinion will meet your needs and objectives, but you are under no obligation to implement them.  In today's competitive market, it makes sense to shop around for the best available product or service.  For instance, if you need to obtain a life insurance or disability policy, we will suggest the kind of policy, which riders and what amounts may be best for you.  We will then direct you to a choice of companies that can provide a quality product at competitive prices for you. If you wish, we can help you purchase investments and/or show you how to set up your accounts with a third-party custodian such as a discount broker.

How do you price your financial planning services?

Our fees are based on the actual time involved in meeting with you in person or over the phone, researching and analyzing your current situation, and providing specific recommendations and implementation assistance (if appropriate).  Before you hire us, we will always provide you with a written quote of the full cost of the engagement.  We offer an initial consultation, up to one hour, that is complimentary to prospective clients. Following the delivery of our financial plan, if you have questions or need clarification on anything we recommend, please feel free to give us a call.  We will not bill for modest amounts of additional time spent during the 30-day period after we present our recommendations to you.

How much will my financial plan cost?

Financial planning fees are determined on a project basis; the total fee for a financial plan will vary from client to client based on the specific needs and complexity of your situation (please see our 7 Steps to Financial Success to learn about our financial planning sequence and the client service options available). An estimate is provided after the Get Acquainted meeting, where your personal needs are fully identified. Because clients may hire us for a very focused task or more complex financial plans, the fee quote can range from a few hundred to several thousand dollars. We fully disclose all of our feesbefore you engage our services. For more information see go to our fees page for examples of general fees.

Are your fees tax deductible?

Yes, they may be. Section 212 of the Internal Revenue Code permits an itemized deduction for tax and/or investment advice in the miscellaneous section of Schedule A.  It is subject to a 2% floor of the adjusted gross income on a personal tax return. For further information, please consult your tax advisor.

Once my financial plan is completed, will our relationship end?

Depending on your specific needs, the actual engagement of services may end, but the many of our clients choose to engage us for follow-on work and monitoring. Because financial planning is a process, not an event, we offer ongoing services, periodic reviews, and day-to-day consultation as requested and/or needed.

How can I get started?

The first step is an initial inquiry from you.  Call us at (719) 685-0600 or email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .  We offer an initial no-cost, no-obligation Get Acquainted Meeting, either virtually or in our offices. Get Acquainted appointments last about 45 minutes and are scheduled based on availability during regular business hours of 9-5, Monday through Friday.  Should you decide to engage our services, we can discuss which of our services is appropriate for you.