Paula McMillan, CFP®, CPA/PFS, CGMA is a recognized national thought-leader in navigating financial wellness, retirement readiness and the unique financial challenges of women. Paula is passionate about helping people balance living a desired lifestyle today with accumulating the savings needed for tomorrow. She helps answer questions like “Do I have enough?” and “What strategies can I employ to have more?” through helping solve complex financial life planning challenges, creating customized roadmaps to financial independence and developing investment strategies as a Senior Financial Advisor with Stearns Financial Group.
Paula has been published and quoted in national and local publications, including CNBC, US News & World Report,The TaxAdviser, Journal of Accountancy, Kiplinger’s,The Business Journal, How Stuff Works and more. Additionally, she created two national AICPA podcast series on retirement planning and women and wealth and is a TEDx presenter on the topic of Retirement: Longevity and Security. Furthermore, Paula regularly delivers presentations to national, regional and local audiences on financial life planning related topics.
An active leader in her profession, Paula is the Investment Subcommittee Lead on the AICPA Advanced Personal Financial Planning Conference Committee and a member on the AICPA Personal Financial Specialist (PFS) Credential Committee. She is on the Board of the Society of Financial Service Professionals and Chairs their Foundation Board. To advocate for the unique savings challenges faced by women, Paula founded and chairs Plenteous Financial Forum and the NCACPA Triad Women’s Initiatives Group. Paula is also an active member of the Greensboro Estate Planning Council and NAPFA.
Outside of professional endeavors, Paula advocates for families in crisis in her local community as a member of the Family Service of the Piedmont Guild and the Northwest Guilford Women’s Club. She lives in Summerfield, NC where she enjoys being outdoors and biking, hiking, running and kayaking with her husband Zach, son Zahn and pound puppy, Johnny Cash.
Financial Wellness Strategies by Stage: While the best time to put a financial life plan in place was twenty years ago, the second best time is today. Outside of winning the lottery or receiving a lofty inheritance, most people don’t just wake up one day with a healthy nest egg. It happens over time. It comes with doing the right things – at the right time. Since challenges and opportunities can vary greatly based on stage of life, let’s identify specific behaviors and actions to be taken now, and going forward, to be on (or get back on) a solid path to building or maintaining financial independence.
Financial Wellness and Your Workforce (For Employers Only): Lackluster retirement savings, caregiver demands, college debt and more can lead to significant financial stress. This burden often comes with employees to work, impacting productivity, creativity, absenteeism, turnover and more. Whether due to concern about employees, the bottom line or both, more employers are offering financial wellness programs to increase the employee’s financial well-being and positively impact company financials. Let’s talk about specific behaviors and actions that are most critical to take by stage of life to be on (or get back on) a solid to path to building or maintaining financial independence.
Financial Wellness Return on Investment [ROI] (For Employers Only): Studies show over half of workers say they’re stressed out about finances. How much does this impact productivity, creativity, absenteeism, turnover and more? Whether due to concern about employees, the bottom line or both, more employers are offering financial wellness programs to increase the employee’s financial well-being and positively impact company financials. Let’s talk about what they are doing and why, how they are measuring results and how you might take steps toward financial wellness in your organization to potentially impact retention, productivity, absenteeism, team morale, employee satisfaction and more.
From Tax Return to Financial Plan: Most people spend more time planning their vacations each year than they do on financial planning. If you’re looking for a good time to start or revisit your financial plan, jumping in just after completing your tax return could be ideal. Having the return, investment statements, debt statements and more handy can make the document gathering and analysis much easier. So, if you are ready to embark on a plan that gives you peace of mind, don’t file and forget the documents. Use them! I’ll show you how.
TEDx Retirement Longevity and Security: Will you have enough money in retirement? In other words, will you be able to weather thirty years of inflation, taxes and market volatility with no paycheck? If not, you are not alone. After all, retirement systems that provide retirees with financial support have changed.
AICPA Retirement Podcast Series: Take a moment to dial into the Retirement Podcast Series to better understand key challenges, opportunities and solutions in retirement planning tackling issues such as:
Amid Uncertainty, Financial Planning Clients Stick with Long-Term Plans – Journal of Accountancy: With financial plans built for the long term, major adjustments shouldn’t be necessary. Advisers who know their clients well and had already been doing the appropriate level of planning have been able to focus on identifying strategic opportunities rather than significant changes. After all, part of the reason we plan is because you do not want to be trying to fix the airplane as you are flying through the air.
The Cheapskate’s Guide to Retirement-Kiplinger: While there are many paths to wealth, most people who stay wealthy have a healthy respect for money – and can be very resourceful in their frugality. Paula enjoyed working with Kiplinger’s Retirement Report Editor, Mary Kane, on this engaging, informative piece!
Social Security: Now or Later?-Kiplinger: In claiming Social Security, delaying benefits will increase the size of your checks. However, it’s not the best strategy for everyone. It was such a pleasure to work with Sandra Block, Kiplinger Retirement Report Editor, on this engaging, informative piece!
To Be Retirement Ready, Plan Now: Will I have enough to support myself in retirement, when paychecks stop coming, but inflation, taxes and market volatility don’t? Will I be able to afford my future healthcare and long term care costs? Will I run out of money and become a financial burden on loved ones? Maybe these are concerns you have had. To put them aside and sleep better at night, by planning now. Not tomorrow – now… The earlier you make positive changes, the more options you will have and the less you will need to do and the least effort will be required. So, move into the driver’s seat and take control.
Inflation, Tax Volatility and No Paycheck: How are you planning to manage thirty years of inflation, taxes, volatility and no paycheck? We all have a retirement plan. However, would yours fit better on a Post-It Note or in a three inch binder? Unfortunately, most people tend to procrastinate. Let’s walk through an example financial life plan. So, where do you begin? Is there a process? And, how do we make sure all major challenges and contingencies are considered? Let’s see how the financial decisions you make, or fail to make, compound over time. You will find this compounding has a tremendous impact on the type of retirement you will be able to afford and enjoy.
Strategic Social Security Planning: You’ve heard about Social Security solvency concerns for years. You want your fair share of Social Security benefits without leaving money on the table. Social Security can be more complicated than you may realize. This can be especially true when coordinating different types of benefits (retirement, spousal, and survivor) to maximize your cumulative lifetime income. Decisions you make now can have a tremendous impact later. So, let’s explore some of the key rules and strategies for claiming Social Security benefits.
Investing and IRA Planning for Boomers: Nearing retirement, your investment strategy should be revisited, like at every important transformational time. You want to be sure you understand the important aspects of investing and IRA planning. You start looking at your various types of assets, whether they are invested appropriately for retirement and how and when to turn them into income streams to live on in retirement. While there were some rules to know when contributing to retirement accounts, there are many more rules and strategy when retiring and planning to withdraw from them. Let’s review them to help you maximize your investments and minimize your taxes.
Managing Healthcare Costs in Retirement: Now is the best time to start planning for healthcare costs in retirement. Find out what you need to do to obtain the coverage you need and protect against rising costs. Starting with an overview of Medicare and ending with a discussion of long-term care. This discussion will open your eyes to the way healthcare works in retirement and what you need to make now to prepare. This workshop is geared to those over age 60, even if you are already on Medicare.
WOMEN AND MONEY
AICPA Women and Wealth Podcast Series: Take a moment to dial into the Women and Wealth Podcast Series to better understand key challenges, opportunities and solutions in advising women tackling issues such as:
Women Taking the Reins: Women are already the breadwinners or co-breadwinners in 2/3 of the American households. In 40% of couples, she earns more, in another third, she earns the same amount. Of the tremendous intergenerational wealth transfer, 70% will pass to daughters, likely creating more breadwinner decision-makers. 95% of women will be responsible for family finances at some point. Is she, the breadwinner woman, ready?
Financial Wellness for Women: Planning to live one’s desired lifestyle now, and for 30 years of retirement, with inflation, taxes and market ups-and-downs is not simple for anyone. However, financial wellness for women, specifically, adds another layer of planning nuances. Women retire with 2/3 the money of men. This is primarily due to a longer life expectancy, caregiving responsibilities, less earnings and investing less and later. Since challenges and opportunities can vary greatly based on stage of life, let’s identify specific behaviors and actions to be taken now, and going forward, to be on (or get back on) a solid path to building or maintaining financial independence.