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USAA Financial Planning – Part 2

This entry is only about finance and not environment.
Review is based on services received from January-July 2007.
If you are new to the blog, start with Part 1, below.

Teleconference 2:
I will admit that though we were supposed to have our second meeting a month after the first one, we waited until our six month contract was almost up to have the second meeting. I had decided to change jobs in that time period and I wanted to get my entire new 403b and pension details from the new employer and incorporate that in as well.

In between our first and second meetings our FP suffered from a back injury and had to go on disability. We were assigned a new FP who called and introduced himself, explained the change, and apologized for the inconvenience.

In the second meeting we went over our revised document and the progress we had made on our six action items from our first meeting. We had a little more difficulty with this meeting. D. and I were considering overfunding our retirement funds in order to purchase a house (it was some crazy scheme that worked out on paper) and the FP had conflicting data on if this would work for us. He spent a lot of time looking up tax details. While it was good he looked up the details, it would have been better for him to have confidently known the answers.

We really hit an impasse with FP over life and disability insurance. I actually felt like he was angry at us for not having the amount he saw fit. He got very stern-fatherly in a way that didn't really work with my personality. I think this was exacerbated by the fact that we had had a similar disagreement with the first FP and got him to reduce it on our plan (and his approach was gentler). Finally, I had to tell the new FP to drop it and move on.
This call lasted about one hour.

With this call (and the end of our six-month contract), our service was complete. We were given an option to continue on at an hourly rate, but declined for now.

We look forward to a "tune-up" probably in two years or when we get ready for a major life change (buying a house or having a baby). In the meanwhile, I will use the information we learned through this process to monitor ourselves.

The Overall Good:
The best part is that I feel so much better about being on track for retirement and buying a house. I needed that expert opinion to tell me that my novice research and planning was (mostly) on target. Retirement was a bigger concern than the house, because I just could not, on my own, calculate with inflation, interest, etc. and figure out where we needed to be. The next best thing is that I didn't feel like I was being sold anything. I am wary of being sold a fund or product that benefits the FP more than me, and USAA is extremely clear on how their employees are funded.

The Overall Bad:
I thought the worst parts would be the lack of face-to-face interaction or value-incompatibility, but the FP's personality translated through the phone and the document kept us on the same page (literally and figuratively). So, the new worst is the time it took to get an evening appointment. (Also, if I have a question, I have to call the advice line rather than FP himself, but since their service is excellent, this isn't really a big deal.) The personality conflict was the second FP was trying, but I guess this is why we hire professionals: to tell us what is best even when we don't want to hear it.


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