Niraj Chhabra: Planning for Your Law Firm’s Financial Future

In this episode, Steve Fretzin and Niraj Chhabra discuss:

  • How law firm financial planning is different from the average person.
  • Building a relationship on education first with your financial advisor.
  • Avoiding outgrowing your income.
  • Understanding your expenses now to know what you need for the future.
  • Thinking about and planning for long-term care.

Key Takeaways:

  • Attorneys need more than just retirement planning, but it is often overlooked.
  • Your savings should increase in proportion to your income and everything else.
  • If you think creatively, there are ways to use time and money to your advantage for the future that isn’t taxed.
  • Everyone considers monthly costs, but many do not consider seasonal budget items like traveling expenses or holiday budgets.

“Whether you make $100K per year or $1M per year you have the same limits on how much you can put into your 401K and defer on your taxes. So we got to find creative ways to get that money to work outside of the bank account, we have to find creative ways to defer taxes and take advantage of vehicles that other folks may not be taking advantage of.” —  Niraj Chhabra

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About Niraj Chhabra: Niraj Chhabra is the Managing Director of SideBar Advisors. Before launching the firm in 2022, he was an advisor with Ameriprise Financial since 2005, concentrating on clients in the legal profession. His central focus includes family finances, tax and estate strategies, retirement, and financial planning for small businesses. His goal is to help attorneys navigate their unique tax challenges and modify their financial plans as their careers evolve. He does this by offering attorneys holistic financial planning and complimentary educational workshops.

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Show notes by Podcastologist Chelsea Taylor-Sturkie

Audio production by Turnkey Podcast Productions. You’re the expert. Your podcast will prove it.


[00:00:00] Steve Fretzin: Hey everyone, if you’re already a strong business developer or rainmaking managing partner, here’s the chance to step off your proverbial island and audit one of our exclusive Rainmaker Roundtable groups in the month of April. These groups consist solely of top level lawyers who believe in continuous learning and improvement.

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[00:00:37] Narrator: You’re listening to Be That Lawyer, life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Each episode, your host, author and lawyer coach, Steve Fretzin, will take a deeper dive in helping you grow your law practice. Law practice in less time with greater results. Now here’s your host, Steve Fretzin.

[00:00:59] Steve Fretzin: Well, hey everybody. Welcome back for another exciting and fun episode of the Be That Lawyer podcast. This show has been around for almost four years and we’re coming up on 400 episodes. Uh, Raj, can you believe that 400 episodes in four years? That’s impressive as a podcaster, right? It’s, it’s quite a, it’s quite a, I guess quite a feat, but I’m, I’m just happy about it.

[00:01:19] Steve Fretzin: I’m just happy to get to meet great people and interview awesome people like you. And, um, welcome to the show, by the way. Thank you. Appreciate it. Yeah. Yeah. We’re going to have some fun today talking about a subject. We don’t normally bring up very often, really looking at the financial side of being a lawyer and how you plan for your future and all of that jazz.

[00:01:36] Steve Fretzin: We do, of course, love to start with our quote of the show. Now, this is in, This is one I’ve heard many times, and I just didn’t remember who it was from, but James Dean, Dream as if, is this from a movie or is this something he said on his own? I don’t know. I’ve read it. I don’t think

[00:01:48] Niraj Chhabra: it’s some, I think it is something he said on his own.

[00:01:50] Niraj Chhabra: Okay. So not like a movie line or something. I’m not like a huge fan or anything. I just came across it.

[00:01:56] Steve Fretzin: All right. But it’s a good one. It’s Dream as if you’ll live forever, live as if you’ll die today. I mean, that sounds like a movie line, but okay. We’ll give it to James Dean for coming up with that. Uh, but welcome to show and talk a little bit about that quote and why that’s the one you wanted to put forward.

[00:02:09] Niraj Chhabra: Yeah, I think it’s important to, to have big dreams, whether it is personal, professional family, you know, you want to try to get the most out of your life, but it’s important to realize it could all be taken away in a second. And, you know, you have to appreciate the here and now. So, uh, that’s why it was kind of stuck out to me.

[00:02:26] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. And I’m definitely a living proof of that. If, you know, folks don’t know, right. You know, when you have a near death experience, whether that’s a car crash, you know, cancer, in my case, a plane crash, like you, you have one shot at this, this thing. Right. And so it’s not that I make every minute count, right.

[00:02:43] Steve Fretzin: There’s downtime and there’s things that are stupid that I do, or, you know, uh, you know, some simple tasks in life, but. I don’t want to take for granted that things could end at any moment. And I want to, you know, try to make sure I take care of you and my family and my clients and and everybody that’s in my life to maybe leave this place better than I, than I found it.

[00:03:03] Steve Fretzin: But, uh, but that’s a great quote. Welcome to the show, man. Norosh Chhabra, you are the managing director of Sidebar Advisors. You and I have known each other for a few years, but more recently kind of came back together and doing a little networking, doing a little pod swap, uh, that type of thing. But give everybody a little, uh, flavor of your background too, leading into your Be That Lawyer tipping point.

[00:03:22] Niraj Chhabra: So I started my career, um, not intentionally. It’s not like I went to school thinking I was going to become a financial advisor. But, uh, when I went to college, uh, this was really during the dot com era. And, uh, everybody was kind of making money hand over fist with these, you know, a lot of fly by night company stocks.

[00:03:39] Niraj Chhabra: And. My mom was not. She was a single mom, essentially, and putting two kids through college. She was a nurse, you know, and all she understood were CDs. Uh, that’s what she was comfortable with back in India. That’s what she knew. Uh, so she was missing the boat and I saw this firsthand. I see her working double shifts and, uh, you know, really working hard to put the kids through college 15 years, which was impressive in itself, given the interest rates were double digits at the time.

[00:04:05] Niraj Chhabra: So I came across this flyer on campus that said, learn about. Investing or mutual funds, something along those lines. And at the time, I was reading like investments for dummies and things of that nature. I think it was right. Just of it is it was sponsored by something called the financial management club.

[00:04:20] Niraj Chhabra: And I attended a meeting. I ended up becoming president of the club. And then it led to somebody reaching out to me and say, well, your job is to you’re doing. You’re providing education to the student body on different ways to handle their finances, whether it’s paying off student loans, get your first house, learning about investments.

[00:04:40] Niraj Chhabra: Why don’t you do this as a career? I didn’t know it was a thing. And eventually it became my thing.

[00:04:47] Steve Fretzin: Well, it’s interesting how we fall into, you know, I got, I fell into sales. I started selling shoes when I was 16 at a store that most people wouldn’t know called The American shoe store. Remember Kenny’s?

[00:04:57] Steve Fretzin: Were you, are you old enough for that? No, you’re not. Okay. Well, they were partners with, but I think eventually they got absorbed in whatever. But, uh, I think their partner company was Footlocker, which everyone knows Footlocker, wearing the stripes. But, um, I got in and I started selling shoes and then I found, oh, wait, I’m getting like 1 percent commission on a pair of 35 shoes.

[00:05:16] Steve Fretzin: Okay. I mean, I just made 35 cents. Like that’s insane. Right. And, but you get 5 percent on purses and socks and slip pads for the bottoms of, of slippery shoes and all that. And I started really focusing on the cross sell and the upsell and all that. And I was then getting competitive with the other part timers at other stores and my manager really got me into it and the whole thing, but, and I think it stays with you, right?

[00:05:39] Steve Fretzin: When you learn something about a profession or something about, um, a particular part of the world, like finance, the financial markets. And you start to kind of realize, wow, there’s, there’s something here. So that’s one thing to become a financial planner. How the heck do you get involved in like focusing on attorneys?

[00:05:57] Steve Fretzin: And I’ve got people know my story, but I mean, I’d love to have you share a little bit about that.

[00:06:01] Niraj Chhabra: I’m going to go off on what’s going to sound like a tangent, but it’s going to come back and you’re going to be like, okay, now I connected that. Okay. Also, when I was in college, uh, during the summer, you know, I need to kind of work for some additional dollars.

[00:06:13] Niraj Chhabra: So I took a job through a temp agency. For an organization that provided continuing medical education for position. So my job was to take this list. Cold call hospitals across the country and tell them that we are able to provide their physicians with their continuing medical education requirements. We will fly out the doctors free of charge.

[00:06:33] Niraj Chhabra: We will provide the credits. We will provide lunch, et cetera. Um, fast forward to, you know, the earlier stages of my career. And a friend of mine, you know, we were chatting and she was talking about how I should learn how to teach continuing legal education. At the time, my firm was very big on providing the the continuing for accountants.

[00:06:54] Niraj Chhabra: But in the state of New Jersey, that was a really new requirement for the attorneys just a couple of years old. So. Essentially, what I did was I applied that exact same model that I was doing with the continuing medical education company and applied it to the law. So I figured out how to get accredited in the state of New Jersey, and then I would literally cold call law firms and I would target firms between 10 and 30 attorneys because that’s where you’re going to get the decision maker on the phone.

[00:07:21] Niraj Chhabra: The one that knows that they’re reimbursing their employees for attending classes. The one that, you know, understands that they’re losing billable hours, traveling back and forth. So I would reach out to them directly and just tell them that we have these programs. They’re free of charge. Their attorneys don’t have to leave their desks and, uh, it was a win for everybody.

[00:07:39] Niraj Chhabra: So that’s kind of really what, you know, catapulted, uh, my, my experience in the legal industry. Then I started to go make my rounds in all the different bar associations and teaching continuing ed for them as well.

[00:07:50] Steve Fretzin: Okay. And then. At this time, you’re not a financial planner, right? You’re in a CLE making money space, right?

[00:07:58] Steve Fretzin: That is for free. I was doing this for free. Okay. But what was your profession? What was your profession at the time?

[00:08:03] Niraj Chhabra: I was a financial planner. So this, okay.

[00:08:05] Steve Fretzin: So, okay. So this is while you’re being a financial planner, you’re doing CLEs and getting all that done. Okay. I’ll get it together one of these days.

[00:08:11] Steve Fretzin: Um, and by the end, again, I think you and I are in a similar camp that had tell you the funny thing. I, I got into doing CLEs. And again, when I started working in the legal space, But to get a CLE accredited in Illinois was super hard because business development and marketing are absolutely taboo. And the CLE, the MCLE board, like I had to use such interesting and sort of weird language to get anything across the table.

[00:08:39] Steve Fretzin: I had to use things like ethics, words like ethic, not for ethics, like credit, but like just ethically, dah, dah, dah, dah, dah, to get like the language so that they would say, Oh. Yes, this is, you know, because sales and marketing is not legal education. That was their, their mindset at the time. And now I think it’s come full circle and it’s, it’s easy to get things approved, but I was dealing with some struggles to try to get those CLEs together back in the day.

[00:09:02] Niraj Chhabra: Yeah. And every jurisdiction is so different that, you know, you have to cross those hurdles wherever you’re trying to do the program.

[00:09:08] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. Okay. So you just ended up specializing in attorneys and how are attorneys different than doctors or different than other groups as it relates to. Financial planning.

[00:09:18] Steve Fretzin: Sure. Um, I can’t say

[00:09:19] Niraj Chhabra: it’s meaningfully different than a doctor actually. Um, but compared to how about from normal humans from other people. Okay. Other people. All right. Fair enough. Um, attorneys are typically starting off their careers very much like positions with significantly more student loan debt than other folks, you know, lead the hundreds of thousands of dollars.

[00:09:38] Niraj Chhabra: So, They’re starting off their careers with this monkey on their back and, uh, they’re trying to figure out whether they should be putting money into their pre tax 401k or their Roth 401k. Uh, everybody’s telling them to open up and Roth IRA, but they don’t qualify. Uh, they don’t get the interest deduction on the student loans the way other professionals do.

[00:09:56] Niraj Chhabra: They’re not sure should they focus on retirement, should they focus on their, uh, student loan debt. Their kids are not qualifying for financial aid. Everybody’s trying to pitch them life insurance and all this other stuff. And they just don’t know what to do. They’re starting off their careers paying more in taxes than other professionals, and they’re just lost.

[00:10:12] Niraj Chhabra: And nobody really educates them on this in law school, or even after the fact, a lot of them are first generation attorneys. It didn’t necessarily come from this type of wealth. So, uh, they’re lost, you know, and it’s just tough to, to navigate that environment. Everybody who, not everybody, but a lot of financial professionals really focus on retirement planning, but attorneys need so much more planning other than the retirement that, uh, that they tend to overlook.

[00:10:36] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. And I mean, my background going, you know, 20 years back and networking with financial advisors, there’s all different types and I’m not going to name any names, but like, you know, there’s the some that are very aggressive, right. And their job is to sell you whatever the soup of the day is and, and, and put, you know, a, a, a, a round peg in a, in a square, you know, hole and, um, Hey, and by the way, give me 10 names of, of your family and friends I can call.

[00:11:02] Steve Fretzin: Right. Right. So, I mean, that’s, that’s unfortunately why. Some financial planners or some people are turned off by financial planners because there’s been some bad actors and apples out there to talk about that. Is that is that what you’ve seen in your exploration of this industry?

[00:11:17] Niraj Chhabra: Yeah, absolutely. And, you know, But also not going to name names, but some firms will focus on, you know, insurance products.

[00:11:24] Niraj Chhabra: And if that’s what you do, that’s all you sell. Then of course, everybody, you know, should be buying X, Y, Z products. So when we try to, uh, when we do these CLE programs, we try to educate our audience on, okay, well, this is how you determine whether or not you actually need life insurance to begin with. This is how you determine the appropriate amount.

[00:11:42] Niraj Chhabra: And this is the way that you determine the appropriate vehicle. Here are the pros. Here are the cons. Nine times out of 10, the vehicles that are being pitched to the attorneys and you’ll literally hear the phone ring from one office to the other to the other as these, uh, these sales people kind of go down the line are not appropriate for the individual, you know, and, uh, they sound great.

[00:12:01] Niraj Chhabra: They do a lot of fun stuff. So, um, but they’re not appropriate for that particular attorney at that moment in their career. So we try to almost. Unsell them from those type of products whenever product whenever possible. So it’s really about education. A lot of the times it’s just making sure that you’re not getting trapped into something that you shouldn’t be in.

[00:12:19] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. It’s like, you know, when all I have, it’s a hammer, everything seems like a nail, you know, and, and that’s not the reality. So, you know, I know what I try to do is like, I’m, I’m obviously focused on business development and helping people either become Rainmakers or, or if they’re existing Rainmakers take the next level.

[00:12:34] Steve Fretzin: But the next thing I do is if I find out that they’re not in those boats, how do I get them to you? How do I get them to a recruiter? How do I get them to a marketing? How, you know, even, even other coaches, and I’ve got, you know, four or five other coach friends that do things differently than I do them.

[00:12:49] Steve Fretzin: And I try to move them on to, because it’s what’s best for the individual. It’s not what’s best for me, but I don’t know that that, but that doesn’t pay the bills for some people.

[00:12:58] Niraj Chhabra: Perhaps. Yeah, I mean, it’s certain industries. It could be a volume game. Uh, for us, we’re able to kind of walk that ethical line, I think, because.

[00:13:07] Niraj Chhabra: We’re not aggressive, you know, we’re kind of, um, by teaching these CLE programs, even when we do them, you know, we have a box that says, you know, uh, reach out for a complimentary consultation. But at the end of every program, I always write, if you’re, if you do not want to hear from me, just write, do not contact in big, bold letters, and I promise you, you’re not going to get.

[00:13:24] Niraj Chhabra: You know, we’re not reaching out to you. So typically when people are coming across us, you know, they, if they want to meet with us, they’ll meet with us. If not, we’re not being aggressive about it. So we have a good relationship and it’s typically not going to be salesy.

[00:13:38] Steve Fretzin: Well, and the other thing that I’ve identified and observed from you is that you’re really doing the best you can to put, put out value for people.

[00:13:46] Steve Fretzin: That could be value for me as a, as someone that you’re networking with value for the lawyers who come in content contact through networking and podcasting and the things you do talk, talk a little bit about that mindset.

[00:13:57] Niraj Chhabra: So prior to the pandemic, we were hosting, you know, attorney events at our office.

[00:14:02] Niraj Chhabra: After COVID, we kind of shifted that virtually. Uh, you’re right. We’re trying to not just help the attorneys personally, but also help them professionally. So if we have law firms that are hiring, we will post on our LinkedIn, you know, the, the job openings. If we, once a month, we’re hosting these virtual networking events for attorneys, whether it’s for women lawyers, whether it’s for, uh, new associates, whether it’s general attorneys, et cetera.

[00:14:29] Niraj Chhabra: Uh, we do that once a month and we’re starting to do that in person as well. Okay. Uh, we do the CLEs, we try to make sure that, uh, we keep that podcast going and attorneys that deserve some sort of spotlight, um, are getting recognition for some of their accomplishments. So we’re, we’re trying to, you know, like I said, help them professionally, not just personally.

[00:14:47] Steve Fretzin: Well, let’s continue that, uh, with some tips and ideas of, uh, How attorneys can better manage their finances because I, I run into attorneys that are absolutely flush with cash and money and saving, you know, like they’re, they’re, they can retire tomorrow and they’re 45. Like there’s, there’s some attorneys that are just so advanced and so far ahead on their rainmaking and their ability to sock money away and all that.

[00:15:09] Steve Fretzin: Then there’s other ones. You know, I haven’t paid myself in 2 years. Or I, uh, you know, they’re again, they’re just, they’re living beyond their means. And I think it’s, it’s part of that is because no one has sat down with them to like help them with, with how they budget or how they work there. So what, what are some things that people should be doing either on their own or with you as a professional to get.

[00:15:31] Steve Fretzin: organized with how they can start planning ahead. I think it boils down to taxes and

[00:15:36] Niraj Chhabra: time. You know, those are the two biggest culprits that prevent attorneys from, you know, accomplishing everything at all or as efficiently as they should be. Unfortunately, they don’t teach any of this. Even if your listeners are listening to this.

[00:15:49] Niraj Chhabra: If I were to take a poll and say, how many of you were actually taught anything about financial planning in college, law school, the job, the answer is probably, I don’t know, 5 percent may have, uh, so they just don’t teach it, you know, but there’s a lot to it. And I think that the 1st thing is just understanding what your, what your household expenses are.

[00:16:08] Niraj Chhabra: We had a meeting yesterday, actually, where, you know, the attorney was like, I can’t believe I’m making the salary that I’m making and you’re telling me I have to cut back on my expenses. Well, the reality is that as people grow their salaries. What happens their income went up their taxes went up their expenses went up, but their savings stayed flat So, of course, you’re gonna outlive outgrow your your income You know, the idea is the number one as your career evolves to make sure that your savings is increasing in proportion to everything else.

[00:16:37] Niraj Chhabra: And that doesn’t typically happen. You know, there’s a lot of keeping up with the Joneses, you know, and it’s, it’s valid. You know, you start to make more money, you, you work really hard to get to this stage of your career. You deserve to spend more. You deserve to travel more. You want to provide more for your kids.

[00:16:50] Niraj Chhabra: You want to, you know, have a couple of treats for yourself. That’s all well and good. As long as your savings went up proportionately and that doesn’t always, you know, correlate.

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[00:18:54] Steve Fretzin: and I’ve become like I, there was a time where I wanted the biggest house. I wanted the second house. I wanted a boat. I want all these, like I was thinking about, you know, all these motivational speakers and like, you know, and again, I’m not, I’m not saying, you know, I’m not motivated to, you know, produce and create a great living for me and my family and all that.

[00:19:12] Steve Fretzin: And I become obsessed with socking money away, like instead of the, of the extra mortgage, instead of the extra toys that I feel might leave me now that I’m more mature and older, I like, I feel like I’m, I make better decisions. And one of the best decisions is how am I enjoying life, but also socking money away and making that a priority to save.

[00:19:31] Steve Fretzin: And, um, and, and, and turning away some of the. Things that other people, I think, get over their skis on, they, they, they’re in a mortgage that’s too big. Their taxes are too high. They’re doing private schools. And that, again, that’s what they want to do. And that’s why they earn a big living. But then, of course, I think they find themselves in a, in

[00:19:49] Niraj Chhabra: a bubble that’s about to pop.

[00:19:51] Niraj Chhabra: Yeah, oftentimes that could be the case. And, you know, there’s plenty of attorneys that aren’t in the same boat that you’re describing where they are socking away the money and they’re doing the responsible thing. But where time kicks in is the money typically just sits in the bank account because they just don’t have time.

[00:20:05] Niraj Chhabra: To do something else with it, you know, when you think about an attorney, this is where I was talking about Simon taxes, whether you make 100 K a year or a million a year, you have the same limits on how much you could put into your 401k and differ in your taxes. So, what ends up happening, you know, you max out your 401k.

[00:20:23] Niraj Chhabra: Where’s the rest of the money going in your bank account? Let’s assume you’re doing the right thing and you found an account that’s earning 5%. You’re still paying taxes on that money. So we got to find creative ways to get that money to work outside of a bank account. We have to find creative ways to defer taxes and take advantage of vehicles that, you know, other folks may not be taking advantage of.

[00:20:42] Niraj Chhabra: So that’s what I mean by tax and time, you know, those are the two biggest buffers for attorneys.

[00:20:46] Steve Fretzin: So give me, give an example of, of one of those alternative ways that people can sock money away without having to, you know, take care of uncle Sam right away. Okay.

[00:20:58] Niraj Chhabra: So some of it is going to be contingent on the firm that you work with.

[00:21:02] Niraj Chhabra: You know, maybe you have access to something like a deferred compensation program. Essentially, what that allows you to do is literally put away tens of thousands of dollars away per year into your firm’s vehicle, into your firm’s account, which is not an ERISA plan, typically, but it does minimize your tax obligation.

[00:21:18] Niraj Chhabra: If you are a PI attorney, there are things such as structured settlements where you could literally say, don’t pay me. Pay this insurance company. And this insurance company is going to pay me not now, but in the future, or rather than giving me my full boat right now, they’re going to pay me over time. If you work for a big corporation.

[00:21:37] Niraj Chhabra: Maybe you have access to something called an after tax portion of your 401k, which is above the 401k limit. You could put that money away, transfer to a Roth IRA, and this money grows tax free even though you didn’t qualify for a Roth. So, there are different vehicles available depending on where you work and what kind of, uh, what vehicles you have access to.

[00:21:58] Niraj Chhabra: That could shell, uh, shelter quite a bit of money from taxes. And in certain cases, literally hundreds of thousands of dollars of income from your taxes.

[00:22:07] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. And it’s, it’s not that we don’t want to pay the government. It’s just, we want to try to limit, you know, the, the, the, the total overhead that of paying the government every nickel and dime.

[00:22:18] Steve Fretzin: Where we’re not maybe able to do. We’re not looking at all the available options.

[00:22:23] Niraj Chhabra: Absolutely. So let’s use the P. I. Attorney as an example. You know, let’s assume that they have a million dollar case settled in in this particular year, and they collect hypothetically a third. You know, that’s okay. 300 grand in income.

[00:22:33] Niraj Chhabra: What happens when they have two cases settle in the same year? You know, they’re not used to living off of that income. That’s 600 grand salary. They’re comfortable where they’re at, so they don’t really need that money. But what did that extra case do for them? It bumped them up into the highest tax bracket.

[00:22:49] Niraj Chhabra: You know, they have to pay tax on a higher tax bracket to put the money into the bank account and then rinse and repeat all over again. Whereas potentially they could defer the taxes, uh, the income until when their kid goes to college and they actually need the money or until they retire and slow down their practice and they’re not taking on as many cases.

[00:23:06] Niraj Chhabra: You know, so it’s not, you know, they’re not doing anything unethical. They’re not doing anything wrong. They’re just being they’re controlling when they receive their income

[00:23:14] Steve Fretzin: Really really great stuff. And what’s another tip? Maybe one that helps people start to understand kind of where they like where they are Like I know a big part of what you do is like Where are you now and where do you want to be and how do we start?

[00:23:27] Steve Fretzin: Planning for that in an effective way talk to that a little bit

[00:23:31] Niraj Chhabra: So I think the first step to figure out where, you know, what you need to be doing for the future, you know, um, I remember Fidelity used to have these commercials, uh, probably about 10, 15 years ago about what’s your number. And they would show everybody with, you know, how much money they needed to retire.

[00:23:45] Niraj Chhabra: What people don’t realize is that there was a lot of emphasis on that. Okay, I need a million bucks. I need 2, 000, 000 bucks, et cetera. But the reality is everybody’s number is going to be different and their number is going to be contingent on their lifestyle. So if we don’t know how much you’re spending today, it’s impossible to figure out what that number is going to look like in the future.

[00:24:01] Niraj Chhabra: So we need to really buckle down on what your expenses are. Now, what people oftentimes forget about if we’re doing a household budget is everybody accounts for their mortgage. Everybody accounts for their groceries. Everybody accounts. For their utilities, you know, but do you know now that we’re recording this in March?

[00:24:18] Niraj Chhabra: How much did you spend on the holidays last year? How much did you spend on anniversary gifts last summer? How much did you spend on travel Broadway shows? These are seasonal items that don’t come up every month and therefore are not on your budget. But they literally add up tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands of dollars throughout the year, you know, and that’s overlooked.

[00:24:36] Niraj Chhabra: So when you’re trying to stick to a financial plan, you’re not going to because you don’t have those things in your budget. When you come up with your retirement number and think about how much you need to save for retirement, it may not be the right number because we’re not accounting for the stuff that you want to do.

[00:24:50] Niraj Chhabra: You don’t want to sacrifice those things once you retire. So we need to make sure that we’re planning ahead for those.

[00:24:55] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. I mean, I know one thing that I want to do with my wife, she’s retiring from it from being a teacher and she’s going to get paid this great pension, but I want to go like live somewhere for a month and then another place different for a month.

[00:25:06] Steve Fretzin: And, you know, I want to travel, but I, I, that’s going to, there’s going to be a cost to that. I mean, there’s going to be a cost to, to move it around and doing that, having that kind of a lifestyle and working from, you know, remote, remote locations that could be in, in Europe and Central America and U S whatever.

[00:25:22] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. And I think that has to be played into the plan for the future, because if not, and again, is that a given or guaranteed thing? No, but it’s, it’s something my wife and I have talked about and I think we’re interested in.

[00:25:33] Niraj Chhabra: Yeah. I mean, we’re in the same boat. We are very much interested. We are literally thinking about over the summer, renting a house in Costa Rica and I’ll continue to work from there for a month, but it, is it an added expense?

[00:25:44] Niraj Chhabra: Yes. Yes. But compared to other places that we could potentially travel to. Maybe it’s not a big expense, you know, maybe it’s not as expensive as even going renting a shore house. You know, it’s cheaper than that. So, you know, it may not be as expensive as people think, depending on, you know, a lot of factors,

[00:26:00] Steve Fretzin: any other, uh, I’ve got 1 other question, but, but any other tips that you want to share that people can kind of DIY before they even think about talking to a financial planner, or maybe to consider, you want I

[00:26:12] Niraj Chhabra: think a lot of people who are attempting to do these things, they do it on a piecemeal basis, so they have one person to handle their taxes, they’ll have another person for insurance, maybe they sit down and put together a budget, um, but a lot of these pieces interact with one another, and you really want to look at everything comprehensively, so we go back to the life insurance product that we were talking about earlier.

[00:26:33] Niraj Chhabra: You know, these things could potentially be used for education planning for retirement planning for tax planning for death benefit. They do a lot of cool stuff. So they sound great in isolation. But when you think about the contents of your overall financial situation, when do you need life insurance when you have a family to protect, but you also have a mortgage, but you also have to put your kids to college and they need new shoes every other week, et cetera.

[00:26:51] Niraj Chhabra: So maybe it’s not affordable. So we want to look at alternative options. So the advice I would say give is look at things comprehensively. Don’t just look at things in isolation when doing a financial plan for yourself.

[00:27:03] Steve Fretzin: I mean, one thing that, that I did in the last year or two was, um, update my, my life insurance to include a long term care rider.

[00:27:12] Steve Fretzin: And again, if your insurance person isn’t bringing that up to you, well, for shame, because I’m not so concerned about my wife’s future. If I die, I’m definitely concerned if I become incapacitated and I need her to take care of me and spend, go through our tear through our savings because we didn’t have that rider in place.

[00:27:29] Steve Fretzin: So, And if your insurance person hasn’t brought that up to you, you know, again, for shame and you need to either talk to them or find someone else. I think same thing for financial planners. If somebody hasn’t said, let’s look at your business, let’s look at your numbers, let’s look at your household, let’s, let’s like take everything and put it together.

[00:27:45] Steve Fretzin: And they’re just kind of throwing a graph at you occasionally or getting together with you once a year to say, how’s it going? Like that may not be the best financial planner for you.

[00:27:54] Niraj Chhabra: Yeah. And I’m glad you brought up the long term care. Those riders typically cost a couple hundred dollars a year to add up, uh, add on.

[00:28:00] Niraj Chhabra: Yeah. You know, it’s negligible and, you know, you, you talk about the long term care. One other tip I will give you is that it’s something that’s not oftentimes addressed. You know, if you think about attorneys, they’re in a unique situation, even if you’re younger, you need to be thinking about long term care because there’s a good chance you have a parent that you’re either going to be physically or financially responsible for taking care of what is their plan?

[00:28:23] Niraj Chhabra: Because as an attorney, there’s a good chance, even if you have siblings, the understanding is going to be, well, Steve’s an attorney. He has the means to do to take care of mom and dad. So he’s going to do it. And if you’re a woman attorney, it’s a double whammy because 75 percent of caregivers are actually women in this country.

[00:28:38] Niraj Chhabra: So you’re a woman and an attorney, you know, we need to plan for these things because this could completely derail a financial plan that you have for yourself. It could also derail your marriage. You know, how many times have you seen families just kind of. You know sputter because of the fact that they had to have somebody live with them that they weren’t accounting for it.

[00:28:54] Niraj Chhabra: So yeah Um huge impact.

[00:28:57] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, it leads to a to murder suicide if it’s my mom. I’m just kidding mom. I love you Um, awesome, man So really really great stuff and i’m just um again thrilled that you’re on the show and sharing your wisdom. Um, last question is If somebody is interested in evaluating their current financial advisor looking to, to evaluate a new one, what are like one or two things they should consider as points of forward movement versus maybe possible hesitation?

[00:29:26] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, I

[00:29:26] Niraj Chhabra: think the 1st thing is, honestly, just Google what to look for in a financial advisor. There are so many great articles that will teach you great tips. Uh, you want to check if they’re a certified financial planner. You want to check how they bill. You know, does the billing model work with what you’re looking for?

[00:29:42] Niraj Chhabra: Are they comprehensive? You know, a lot of, you know, Advisors are going to focus on either an insurance product or an investment vehicle. And if that’s what you’re looking for, cool, you’re fine, you know, but if you’re looking for something more comprehensive, then you need to make sure that that’s part of their wheelhouse and not just something that they’re doing as an afterthought.

[00:29:58] Steve Fretzin: Yeah, spot on spot on in your game changing book, the power of less, let’s let’s do 30 seconds on that.

[00:30:05] Niraj Chhabra: It’s one of those books that I go back to at least once a year. Um, this time around, I didn’t finish it, you know, cover to cover, but, you know, I kind of get the gist of it after, you know, probably 10 iterations of it.

[00:30:15] Niraj Chhabra: It just basically talks about focusing on the things that are most important to you, kind of going back to that quote, you know, a lot of us are trying to multitask, we’re trying to accomplish so much, a lot of, you know, the people that are coming to you, they’re driven. They want to accomplish the triathlon and learn a second language and grow their practice and be the best mom or dad possible.

[00:30:30] Niraj Chhabra: It’s basically just saying, focus on the two or three things that you really want to accomplish. To do what that are most important to you, let every single other thing go and you’re more likely to accomplish it.

[00:30:42] Steve Fretzin: Really, really great. Hey, and quick shout out to our wonderful sponsors, of course, Lawmatics.

[00:30:47] Steve Fretzin: Helping you get your automation as a law firm to the next level, um, technology, automation, marketing. Uh, that’s what Lawmatics does for me every day and that’s what it can do for you. Of course, green cardigan marketing. If you want to not only spice up your website, but more importantly, drive leads in and get business and leverage your brand.

[00:31:06] Steve Fretzin: That’s what green cardigan marketing is all about. And of course, get staffed up. People think they just think I’m the best marketer they’ve ever seen. And that’s not true. If I had to take full responsibility myself, it’s a lot of it’s coming through Sergio. Who’s in Bogota, who’s through get staffed up and they manage him as an employee.

[00:31:25] Steve Fretzin: And of course I get to enjoy all the fruits of that, of that relationship. Um, just, just, just paying him as a 10 99. Neeraj, if people want to get in touch with you, they want to talk with you about their financial situation. Um, certainly this lawyer audiences is. Uh, ambitious, open minded and growth oriented.

[00:31:41] Steve Fretzin: So how do they reach you?

[00:31:43] Niraj Chhabra: Yeah, just go to www. sidebaradvisors. com. You’ll find information on setting up a consultation. You’ll find information on our upcoming CLEs. And you know, for this audience in particular, uh, networking opportunities, you know, again, we do a virtual event every month. So I’m sure you’ll find something in the next quarter or so that could fit your calendar.

[00:32:00] Steve Fretzin: Yeah. Well, rock solid, my friend. And again, thanks for coming on the show and just sharing your wisdom and giving people like a Professional understanding of the financial issues that they may be facing if they don’t start looking at the details. And then what does it take to, to, to work with a professional like you?

[00:32:18] Steve Fretzin: So I’m just appreciative of you, uh, in our networking and our relationship as well. Same here. I appreciate you reaching out and, uh, you know, having me on. Yeah, absolutely. And Hey, everybody, thank you for spending time with, with us today on the be that lawyer podcast. This is, uh, you know, we’re covering a lot of different, uh, subjects and, uh, one of them that we don’t spend enough time is the financial, you know, how are you really protecting your family?

[00:32:40] Steve Fretzin: How are you really preparing for the future? And you know, great, you’re making a lot of money as a lawyer, congrats, but how is that, you know, going to impact your ability to retire when you want or slow down or travel? That’s what this is all about. So, um, thanks everybody. Take care, be safe, be well, and we will talk again soon.

[00:33:00] Narrator: Thanks for listening to Be That Lawyer. Life changing strategies and resources for growing a successful law practice. Visit Steve’s website Fretzin. com for additional information and to stay up to date on the latest legal business development and marketing trends. For more information and important links about today’s episode, check out today’s show notes.