Reader’s Perspective: Question and Answer with Nannette Kamien, MBA, Principal with Inspiration Financial Planning LLC

By Paul Curley paul.curley@strategic-i.com | August 16, 2017
How did this fee-only financial planner find her niche in college financial planning?

This article features an interview with Nannette Kamien, MBA, Principal with Inspiration Financial Planning LLC. With the firm, Nannette is a financial planner that provides fee-only financial planning to Gen X families and singles. In addition to in-person meetings in the San Diego area, she also provides planning to families across the nation through virtual meetings via video chats. With her firm, Nannette provides comprehensive financial planning to “Generation X-ish” professional singles and families, including how to save for retirement, save for higher education, manage cash flow, reduce debt, manage large purchases and manage one’s career. With the industry, she is a member of XY Planning Network, Financial Planning Association (FPA) and the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA). Last but not least, Nannette earned her MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, Certificate in Financial Planning from Boston University and BA from DePauw University. You can learn more about Nannette and Inspiration Financial Planning LLC at the website of https://inspirationplanning.com/. Last but not least, thank you Nannette for your time, insight and support in working with me on the article and for your time on our call. Please read the question and answers to learn about her perspective on college financial planning, and hope that the article provides you with an opportunity to learn more from your peers.

Question 1 (Paul Curley, Editor of the 529 Dash): How and why did you first get started in helping clients with financial planning?

Answer 1 (Nannette Kamien, MBA, Principal with Inspiration Financial Planning LLC): I switched careers a few years ago after seeing how hard it was for my Gen X peers to find financial advice tailored to our challenges. We are balancing competing financial priorities like paying off our own student loans, saving for kids' college, and planning for retirement all at the same time. Most of us don't have significant assets to invest yet, and so we're mostly ignored by traditional "wealth management" firms.

Question 2: Based on your experience with clients, how has college financial planning changed over the recent cycle of student loan debt growth?

Answer 2: It used to be possible to save for 100% of college costs for your kids, or at least to pay out of pocket with a combination of student loans, student work, and cash flow. Now with college tuition so high, many parents feel the task is impossible. There's a lot of stress involved and families are paralyzed into not doing anything. Much of what I do is educate parents on tackling the items they can control to turn them into more informed consumers of a college education, without jeopardizing their retirement.

Question 3: What elements do you see as the key pieces to the college financial planning puzzle for clients?

Answer 3: I see three key elements, or steps as I call them. Step 1 is for them to understand how much college costs, what they can afford/save, and how much they WANT to afford/save based on their own philosophy. Step 2 is education on savings options, borrowing options, the financial aid process, and scholarship availability. Step 3 pulls it all together into the puzzle of how to actually PAY for college by making a financially smart choice of school, and putting together the plan to pay for all 4 or 5 years. It's not just a one-year puzzle. For clients with multiple children, the puzzle may last decades as they save and pay for multiple educations. In that sense, college financial planning isn't just about a short-term college planning problem. It's a comprehensive financial planning puzzle that takes into account all other aspects of their financial lives including retirement and tax planning.

Question 4: How can product partners and state agencies better support you

Answer 4: It would be great if there was one set of regulations/options instead of every state doing their own thing with college savings plans. I think it's extremely difficult for the average parent to figure out what's best for their situation. I personally believe that Advisors should have to provide education savings advice in the client's best interest, but sadly that's not the case today.

Editor’s Final Note: Thank you Nannette Kamien for your time and insight in the article and in our phone call, and much appreciated. Also, I would like to provide a special thank you to the readers of the article for learning from your peers, for your support and your engagement. Have the college financial planning discussion with your clients today.