Episode 118: The 5 Big Financial Planning Concerns You’re Forgetting as an Entrepreneur with Ariel Ward

Episode 118: The 5 Big Financial Planning Concerns You’re Forgetting as an Entrepreneur with Ariel Ward

Episode 118: The 5 Big Financial Planning Concerns You're Forgetting as an Entrepreneur with Ariel Ward

Ariel Ward, CFP® joined Workable Wealth in 2018 as a Financial Planner and in March of 2019, made the move to Abacus Wealth Partners with me as a Financial Planner. She and I work closely together on our clients. She has 11 years of experience in the field of personal financial services and in helping clients develop financial clarity. She is passionate about helping professionals understand their financial lives and make better decisions with their money. She enjoys working with clients in the aviation industry to make the most of their employee benefits and map out a plan for personal financial strength. She is a member of NAPFA, the XY Planning Network and the Financial Planners Association.


  • The most common financial planning concern seen with entrepreneurs
  • The retirement plan options available to small business owners
  • Items to be aware of if utilizing a SEP IRA
  • Some of the numbers associated with an individual 401(k)
  • The best plan to start with if you have employees
  •  How much you should be saving into your retirement account
  •  The type of insurance a small business owner/entrepreneur should consider
  • How a disability policy works and why you need it
  • If you’re thinking group policy, here are some options as a small business owner
  • Why you should have life insurance and who you are protecting
  • The type of life insurance policy you should get
  • What a keyman insurance policy will do for your business
  • Reasons you should have a business continuity plan
  • The two big ticket items we see people and business owners drag their feet on
  • Why you should have professional liability insurance
  • The benefits of utilizing a financial planner through all these decisions




Episode 113: Align Your Career With Your Values

Episode 113: Align Your Career With Your Values

Episode 113: Align Your Career With Your Values

One of the fun parts of being a financial planner is getting to discuss some of the money moves we’ve made in our household knowing clients and readers are going through similar things. In these Work Your Wealth episodes I’ll be taking time to address how we approached the different money situations and the results of our decisions. Today I’m talking about what has happened since the merger with Abacus Wealth Partners, what Workable Wealth looks like now, how we’ve been getting through the pandemic and changes I’ve made to align my career with my values.


  • An update on where things are for Workable Wealth
  • Why it’s okay to pivot, even during a pandemic
  • Career details about my merger into Abacus Wealth Partners and how things are going
  • What prompted me to pivot and merge with Abacus Wealth Partners
  • What I recognized about my business and career to expand the value I was providing
  • Tools we built after the transition
  • What Workable Wealth has evolved into after the merger
  • What it looks like to make broader changes in the financial industry
  • The decision that was made to align my career with my values
  • How I felt I could make a bigger impact with clients and in the industry




What’s a SEP IRA and How Does it Work?

What’s a SEP IRA and How Does it Work?

Retirement planning for the self-employed can seem complicated and, often out of reach. Without a traditional workplace 401(k), many business owners and freelancers aren’t sure how to start putting money toward retiring someday. There are, of course, individual options available, specifically Roth and Traditional IRAs. However, their contribution limits may limit your ability to save effectively – especially if your goal is to save 10% or more of your total annual income. 

Enter: the SEP IRA. This specific type of IRA (Individual Retirement Account) opens up your options significantly when it comes to building your retirement nest egg. This retirement savings vehicle is perfect for small business owners or freelancers who are looking for a tax-efficient way to start saving. 

What’s a SEP IRA?

A Simplified Employee Pension Individual Retirement Account (SEP IRA) acts similarly to how a traditional IRA would work. However, there are a few key changes that make it extra-appealing for small business owners. First and foremost, the business owner makes all contributions to a SEP IRA. That’s right, the funds come directly from the business – not out of your paycheck. 

The other big change to keep in mind is that the contribution limits are notably higher than other IRAs. For example, both a Traditional and a Roth IRA have a contribution limit of $6,000 in 2020, or $7,000 if you’re over 50. A SEP IRA, on the other hand, allows contributions up to 25% of your earnings, or $57,000 – whichever is lower. 

This is impressive, as it even outshines the contribution limits of traditional workplace 401(k)s – $19,500 in 2020 if you’re under 50. For a small business owner who may be behind when it comes to building their retirement savings, this option is often an excellent fit. 

How to Calculate How Much You Can Contribute

To know how much you can contribute to your SEP IRA, you have to start by calculating your earnings. If you have a Schedule C for tax filing purposes, start here. In general, you can contribute up to 25% of your net-earnings (per your Schedule C income report) minus any deductions. This may sound complicated, but the IRS conveniently outlines how to calculate your retirement contributions and deductions here. However, if you earn over $285,000 per year, your contributions are capped at $57,000. 

It’s also important to note that contributions do not have to be a consistent earnings percentage year over year. Theoretically, you could contribute 10% one year, and reduce it to 5% another year. 

If you’re a solo business owner, this flexibility is very important. When your income fluctuates, being able to pivot and save more (or less) toward retirement can give you more breathing room to pay your bills and save for other short-term financial goals.

Who Qualifies to Use a SEP IRA?

All businesses qualify to open a SEP IRA. It doesn’t matter if you’re a sole proprietor or a multi-million dollar corporation. However, it’s important to remember that almost all employees are eligible to enroll. In order to participate, they must:

  • Be 21 years or older
  • Earn over $600 per year
  • Have worked for the company for three out of the past five years

The rule is that the employer has to contribute the same amount for every employee who qualifies. So, if you want to contribute up to the full 25% limit to your account, you’d be on the hook for contributing up to 25% of everyone’s salary toward their respective SEP IRAs – yikes.  This rule may mean that the SEP IRA isn’t the best fit for you and your business at this time. 


All contributions made to a SEP IRA are pre-tax. In other words, you deduct the contributions now, and pay income tax on them when you withdraw in retirement. If you’re considering a SEP IRA, it’s in your best interest to reach out to a tax professional to help you maximize your deductions.

Are My Contributions Vested?

All contributions made by the business are immediately vested and available to employees.

How Do I Withdraw Funds?

You can’t withdraw funds from your SEP IRA until you’re age 59 ½ or older. If you do withdraw funds early, you’re subject to a 10% penalty and ordinary income tax on the funds. Let’s look at an example:

You have $10,000 in your SEP IRA. Of the $10,000 balance, only $2,000 is taxable. You’d pay ordinary income taxes on the taxable $2,000 and a 10% penalty for the full $10,000. 

Depending on how much you have saved in your SEP IRA, this could result in a hefty tax bill. Of course, there are a few withdrawal exceptions that help you sidestep the withdrawal penalty. These include:

1. Death or disability.
2. A payment plan of “substantially equal payments” over your lifetime.
3. Medical expenses that are non-reimbursed, and total over 7.5% of your annual income.
4. Medical insurance (under special circumstances only).
5. Qualified higher-education expenses.
6. Home purchase or renovation up to $10,000. 

However, if you are nearing retirement, you should know that while you qualify to take withdrawals from your SEP IRA at age 59 ½, you aren’t required to take them until age 72. This can help you extend the life of your savings, especially if you plan to continue working (and contributing) beyond age 59 ½. 

Rolling Over Your SEP IRA

If for some reason you join a company or stop earning self-employed income, you can roll your existing SEP IRA over to a Traditional IRA tax-free. 

Can You Contribute to Other Retirement Accounts and Your SEP IRA?

In a word – yes! Whether you have access to a Traditional or Roth IRA, or a workplace retirement account like a 401(k), you can continue to contribute to your other retirement savings accounts. However, if you’re planning to contribute to both a personal IRA and your SEP IRA, you may be limited when it comes to how much of your contributions you can deduct.

Having access to a SEP IRA means that, technically, you’re covered by an employer-sponsored retirement plan. This reduces the total income limit that allows you to deduct Traditional IRA contributions to $65,000 (single) or $104,000 (married filing jointly). 

When Would a SEP IRA Be a Good Fit For You?

If you’re a solopreneur or a small business owner with no other W2 employees, a SEP IRA is something you should absolutely explore. When you only have yourself to worry about, taking the deduction and funneling a large percentage of your earnings toward retirement is often a good financial move. 

This is especially true if you’ve spent a number of years as a freelancer or solopreneur without contributing toward retirement. Self-employed women, in particular, need to be thinking ahead when it comes to funding their retirement. Studies have shown that self-employed women face a 28% wage gap when compared to their male peers

Having a potentially lower income from the onset of your self-employment journey can negatively impact your ability to save effectively for retirement. This is true both because there’s less total income to contribute toward your retirement savings goals and because there’s often a lack of willingness to part with income because of other, seemingly more pressing, financial obligations.  

Combine that with the fact that only 6 out of every 10 self-employed individuals have retirement savings, and female entrepreneurs are at a notable disadvantage when it comes to building a nest egg for retirement. This makes the concept of a SEP IRA even more attractive to female entrepreneurs who are needing to play a bit of “catch up” with their retirement savings.

Setting Up Your SEP IRA

A SEP IRA is relatively easy to set up. You start by creating a SEP plan with a written agreement. The government even has an agreement template for you to get started

If you’re the only qualifying employee at your company, you can move forward with setting up your very own SEP IRA through a financial institution of your choice. If you have employees, you’ll need to distribute a copy of the SEP plan agreement you’ve written, and make sure they each open their own SEP IRA, and choose their own investments.  

Need help? Reach out to our team! Our team specializes in working with breadwinning women and entrepreneurs and would love to help you start making empowered decisions about your retirement savings.

Episode 103: Bookkeeping Strategies and Business with Greg Higdon

Episode 103: Bookkeeping Strategies and Business with Greg Higdon

Episode 103: Bookkeeping Strategies and Business with Greg Higdon

This week I sat down with bookkeeper, Greg Higdon to discuss the importance of having a bookkeeper and what working with one can do for your business.

Greg Higdon is the Founder of Grow the Books, a bookkeeping company for small businesses. With over 13 years of experience in education, he teaches his clients so they are empowered and armed with a clearer understanding of what their numbers mean for their business decisions. When he isn’t balancing books and helping clients you can find him roasting coffee, drinking coffee, and reading about coffee.


  • The importance of understanding your profit and loss statement
  • What a bookkeeper can do for you
  • The difference between gross and net income
  • How bookkeeping plays a part in your taxes
  • The tax challenges you’ll face if you don’t keep up with your books
  • Bookkeeping issues Greg tends to see when they come to him for help
  • Some of the terms on your income statement and what they mean for your business
  • The benefits of giving your business income and expenses subcategories
  • How to know how much your business should be spending in marketing, personnel, sales, etc.
  • How often you should be reviewing your profit and loss reports
  • Comparing hiring out versus doing your own books
  • What to look for when hiring a bookkeeper
  • If you want to do your books on your own, do this to make things easier on you




Episode 93: Understanding Breadwinning Women with Neela Hummel

Episode 93: Understanding Breadwinning Women with Neela Hummel

Episode 93: Understanding Breadwinning Women with Neela Hummel

This week I sat down with fellow Financial Planner and Abacus partner Neela Hummel to discuss what we see in breadwinning women.

Neela is passionate about women taking their finances to the next level. Women are increasingly out-earning and in control of more money than their male counterparts, yet many company policies and financial services are leaving women out. Her goal is to step outside the “paint it pink” model and tailor financial planning to the unique needs of different types of women. As any woman knows, different women have different needs, and She specializes in working with breadwinners, decision-makers, and young inheritors.

Neela is a partner with Abacus Wealth Partners. Since 2009, Neela has helped grow a firm that values and supports women through flexible policies, career advancement, and equal pay for equal work. As a consequence, 50% of Abacus’ advisors are women, in an industry were 20% is the norm. Neela was named as Investment News’ “40 Under 40” for financial advisors in 2016 and is a graduate of UC Berkeley.

Neela lives in Los Angeles with her wonderful husband, two adorable children, and two rescue dogs. She is an avid traveler and foodie, taking any opportunity to visit a new country, try a new restaurant, or hone her language skills (she peaks both Spanish and Italian).


  • Neela’s background and her path to Abacus Wealth Partners
  • The biggest challenge breadwinning women tend to face
  • The financial opportunities that benefit breadwinning women over men
  • Other factors to consider besides the dollars and cents when looking at your finances
  • Why outsourcing can be a crucial tool for breadwinning women
  • What it looks like for Neela being the breadwinner in her family
  • Why you should use a financial planner when talking finances with your significant other
  • Why you must separate out money for your financial goals
  • Why so many women are asking what is their enough
  • The benefits of being a breadwinning woman (or having one in your life)
  • The impact breadwinning women will have on future generations
  • What a family needs to be financially successful, regardless of who is the breadwinner