Financial Women





Americans now owe $1.5 trillion in Student debt (second only to mortgages) U.S. Education Secretary, Betsy DeVos, declared late last year that student loan debt was now a crisis. Others have stated that we are not at crisis levels yet. Regardless, a better understanding of financing options, the complexities of the loans, scholarships, etc. should help to minimize the negative effects of this daunting situation.

Much of this burden is falling on the shoulder of parents. In many instances, parents are not funding their retirement plans and focusing on paying college costs. In my opinion, even if it means the student will need to take out more debt, the focus should be saving for retirement for the parent.

Perspective students and parents should consider all options, such as; scholarships, grants, loans, and gifts, work study. One option to minimize the cost of college is to go to a community college and transfer to a four-year program. The savings are well worth it. Above all, an important consideration, is to look at the earning potential of the chosen career and whether it is worthwhile to attend a particular school knowing that the potential income will not be able to cover that loan.

FAFSA – (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) Most students are required to fill out. It is not the easiest and requires time. This form will determine how much aid a student is eligible for and what the Expected Family Contribution is. NerdWallet reports that in the 2016-2017 school year, more than 1.2 million high school graduates didn’t fill out the FAFSA, and of those, 648,191 of them would have been eligible for a Pell grant. This left a total of more that $2.3 billion on the table of unclaimed, free money to put toward tuition bills.

SCHOLARSHIPS – Students should apply for as many scholarships as possible. There are thousands available – it just is a matter of finding them. Many of them are Merit based not based on financial need. A good place to start is scholarships based on the student’s area of concentration, those from groups such as trade organizations, Rotary, etc. In addition, local and professional civic organizations. I know a student who made it their career to apply for scholarships that she had her entire college cost paid for.

AWARD LETTERS – Students and parents should familiarize themselves with the terms in the letter. Know if the student is receiving a grant, scholarship, a subsidized or unsubsidized loan. Obviously, the less out of pocket from the family the better.

The key is to start planning early, not only financially using college funding options such as 529 Plans, but; making sure the student is involved in extracurricular activities, sports, volunteer work, etc. Colleges look for well-rounded students.

In many cases trade schools are an inexpensive alternative.

Parents should talk to their children early on about how college cost will be funded, what is expected from the student setting realistic goals.



Pat Grenier is a General Partner with BRP/Grenier Financial Services in Springfield, MA. Securities and Advisory Services offered through Cadaret, Grant and Co., Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor and Member FINRA/SIPC. BRP/Grenier Financial Services and Cadaret, Grant and Co., Inc. are separate entities.
Pat can be contacted by phone at (413) 736-6712, or email her at


Financial Women

Financial Responsibility Teaching From an Early Age

Br: Pat Grenier, Contributing Writer

As parents we have a responsibility to protect our children and provide for them. That means we make sure they have secure shelter, food, clothing and education. We are not required to provide many luxuries and perks. We should, though, teach them financial responsibility from an age where they can reason. This will be a life lesson that will save them many headaches, provide financial security and independence.
I believe an allowance is extremely beneficial as it teaches them how to decide between what they want, what they need, how to save and prioritize and most importantly how to live within their means. Call me old fashion, but, I believe they need to work for an allowance.
MSN Money Talk News recently had an article entitled “19 things you should make your kids pay for”. Here is a synopsis of some of it:
1. Designer clothing and accessories. We all want to be “in style” that is a given. Kids, as they get older certainly want to fit in and follow the trend with the latest, fads, name brands. Allowing your child to pay for these expensive items is a lesson they will remember for always. They soon will realize how expensive it is and decide for themselves if they really need it.
2. College. This is a controversial topic. Granted, college is extremely expensive and, if possible, we do not want them burdened with tens of thousands of dollars in debt. On the other hand, saving for our retirement is just as important if not more. MSN in their article says it better than I can. They say “college is key to unlocking future earning potential, and kids should contribute to this investment in their future success. More importantly, they’ll be more likely to make the most of their college years when they’re paying for it themselves.”
3. Toys and Games. There are times that we absolutely want to purchase these items that bring so much joy. Letting your child decide what to buy with his/her own money does not seem like much but it is such a valuable lesson in so many ways. The pride that they have with what they purchased, how they care for it and the process of prioritizing their spending is invaluable.
4. Gifts for friends and family. It is not about the gift but the thought that counts. Allowing your child to save for that special gift, make that special gift is a far greater lesson then the money they spend on the gift.
5. Replacement for Items they broke. Accidents can happen to anyone. Letting them pay to replace the item, even if it is just the deductible, teaches them responsibility to be careful and to take good care of their possessions. A life lesson.
6. Donations to charity. Teaching your kids to be kind, considerate for the less fortunate and teaching them to donate to causes that they believe in and are worthy teaches them to become good global citizens. We all need to do our part, starting at an early age becomes second nature.
7. Late fees and surcharges. I don’t think this category needs explaining.
If you implement these strategies you are well on your way to raising a financially responsible adult.

Pat Grenier is a General Partner with BRP/Grenier Financial Services in Springfield, MA. Securities offered through Cadaret, Grant and Co., Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. BRP/Grenier and Cadaret, Grant and Co., Inc. are separate entities.
Pat can be contacted by phone at (413) 736-6712, or email her at

Financial Women




Submitted by: Pat Grenier, Contributing Writer

This is a topic we hate to discuss (no one wants to be old) but need to have with ourselves and our parents. Alternatively, the option is not good!!!!

Myself and many of my contemporaries are facing the difficult task of caring for our aging parents. From experience I can tell you it’s daunting. To make matters worse, if one or both of your parents are diagnosed with some form of dementia, the task of caring for our loved ones can be monumental!!! For most, the situation starts off with our aging parents losing interest and in some cases the ability to do some of the things they loved and were very capable just a few years back. We may notice a small thing here and there that is not quite right. We may ignore it at first – perhaps not wanting to face what is happening or just thinking that it is a fluke.

In my case, it started with my mom getting lost for over an hour when she had to pick my dad up one day. She was familiar with where he was and had been there numerous times. We attributed it to the fact that she always had a poor sense of direction. Then it was asking me to pick up an ingredient for a recipe she was preparing. All the while she had already purchased the ingredient and placed it in the refrigerator instead of the freezer causing it to seep and make a mess. Those were just little things, but they were occurring on a more regular basis. Finally, I asked her if I could go with her to visit her Primary Care Physician? To my surprise, she had already mentioned it to him that she was getting forgetful. That was the start of our journey.

I wish I had done some things differently and prepared sooner for the inevitable. I can share with you some of the things I have learned with the hope to make your journey easier:

• Start the conversation early – It is important to ask your loved one how they want to age, how they see themselves in their later years, where they want to live and how they want to live?
• Where will they age? Keep in mind that 90% of people plan to age in their homes.* Many people are confident in their ability to age in place (65% of adults 65 and older say they feel younger than their age – many see themselves 10 to 19 years younger*) but the reality is that many homes are not ready and safe.
• Put together a plan for care. Assess the needs to properly care for them. If need be, hire professional help to advise on the services required, how the services can be used and where to procure them.
• Hire help or divide the workload amongst other family members. You must think of everything, such as: who will take care of the meds, housekeeping, laundry, hair appointments, do they have enough shampoo – personal grooming, doctors appointment, rides, paying their bills, etc. The list goes on and on.
• Make sure their estate planning is complete. Do you have an updated Will, Power of Attorney and Health Care Proxy? Do you know their end of life wishes?
• Don’t delay in accessing their Long-Term Care Policy (if they have one). If they do, thank them over and over because it will lessen the financial burden, ease the stress of taking care of them and allow you to spend more quality time with your loved ones.

I know the roles of parent/child are reversed but I would not do it any other way.
*Pew “Growing Old in America; expectations vs Reality.” 6/09, most recent data available.

Pat Grenier is a General Partner with BRP/Grenier Financial Services in Springfield, MA. Securities offered through Cadaret, Grant and Co., Inc., Member FINRA/SIPC. BRP/Grenier and Cadaret, Grant and Co., Inc. are separate entities.
Pat can be contacted by phone at (413) 736-6712, or email her at

Do It Yourself, Financial Women



John Holt, President/CEO & Contributing Writer,

Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union

This is the time of year that many Connecticut homeowners start dreaming of gleaming granite, custom cabinets or a beautiful bathroom. But before nailing down a new remodeling project, the loan specialists at Nutmeg State Financial Credit Union caution homeowners that their financing plans may need a redesign.

“Rising interest rates have made many homeowners reluctant to lose their low mortgage rates by selling and purchasing a new house, so they are spending big on home improvements,” explained John Holt, President & CEO of Nutmeg State. “However, they should keep in mind those higher interest rates will increase their cost of borrowing.”

Holt notes that the Federal Reserve raised its key short-term interest rate on March 21st and forecasts a total of three hikes this year. This will have a big impact on homeowners with adjustable-rate mortgages or home equity lines of credit that are nearing the end of their draw period when payments switch from being interest-only to including principal as well.

In addition to home loans, the amount that consumers pay to finance other debt like credit cards and car loans will rise. This means borrowers need to review all of their financial obligations.

“There are many ways to finance home repairs and our knowledgeable staff is an excellent resource to answer any questions,” suggested Holt. “The best method to finance all depends on how much you want to spend and how long you want to take to pay it off.”

Holt shares the most common types of loans:

HOME EQUITY LOANS– Home equity financing is best when making a larger home repair or improvement, like adding a deck or a pool. The interest on these loans typically has lots of tax benefits, but recent tax changes may have an impact.

HELOC (HOME EQUITY LINE OF CREDIT) – The tax benefits for home equity lines of credit have changed recently, but for many people, this borrowing option is still best because of the flexibility of its use. Homeowners can borrow and pay it down as they go, versus a loan which is one lump sum.

SMART-E LOANS – If a home improvement is related to improving the home’s energy efficiency, there’s excellent borrowing options. Some examples include oil-to-gas conversions, new windows, insulation, and new heating and cooling. These all qualify for special low interest-loans through the Smart-e program. The low interest is made possible because the government helps offset some of the costs.

HOME REFINACING – Another borrowing option that works for many people is refinancing the home. Depending on how much of the first mortgage is paid down, owners can refinance their mortgage and take advantage of a “cash out” option. This means there is still only one mortgage loan, but some of it can be used for home improvements or repairs.

CREDIT CARDS – Borrowing using a credit card is also the most practical option for many people. There are lots of smaller expenses that come up all year for homeowners. Credit Cards can be a great option, but be sure to use them wisely! Look for cards that have benefits like rewards or lower fees and take advantage of special promotions.

Holt wants to remind everyone that rising interest rates are actually good news for savers who may finally see interest on deposits increase. He notes savers are more likely to get a higher return at a credit union. Since a credit union is a member owned, not-for-profit, financial institution, they are able to return profits to their members in the form of excellent rates, programs and services.

“With so many factors impacting loans this year, I strongly encourage everyone to compare all of their financing options with us then consult with their tax professionals to make sure they choose the best one for their situation,” concludes Holt.

For more information you can contact Nutmeg at for more information.

Community Connections, Financial Women


While there is no magical Wall Street crystal ball, Connecticut investors will have the rare chance to learn from the most respected wealth managers in the industry. Four members of the CFA Institute are lending their expertise to the local chapter’s 2nd Annual “Putting Investors First” Conference and Networking event on Thursday, May 17th in Hartford. The CFA is a global not-for-profit association of investment professionals that distinguish themselves through their commitment to their clients and achievement of the highest distinction in the investment management profession.

“Our profession is responsible for managing trillions of dollars and growing wealth for investors around the world,” said John Fuller, CFA, president of CFA Society Hartford.  ”This responsibility starts with putting clients first. Advisers will only earn the trust of their clients by being transparent about fees and performance and demonstrating their financial knowledge.”

The speakers’ presentations will cover everything from the role of technological tools when creating a strategy, to how human emotions affect investing. The half hour seminars will take place at The Hartford Club at 46 Prospect Street from 3:00-5:00 PM, followed by a social networking hour from 5:00-6:00. Refreshments will be served. Sessions include:

The Future of Wealth Management

Investors’ needs are changing and so are the tools and resources available to them. Bob Dannhauser, who directs the global private wealth management practice of CFA Institute, will review CFA research on how wealthy individuals and wealth management practitioners see the value of advice changing, and how their views diverge. Based in New York City, Dannhauser is responsible for content and programs that address the most relevant issues confronting private wealth practitioners and advocating for best practices that uphold fairness and integrity.


The Human Brain on Investing: Exploring How Emotions Influence Decision-Making

Returns are often thought of as a purely quantitative product of markets, risk, timing, or expertise. Christian Newton with Dimensional Fund Advisors Investment, explains that for investors, the emotional experience plays an equally important role. He offers a brief “user’s manual” of the brain and the how even objective ideas are subject to individual perception and how money may influence cognition. Employing live audience-participation experiments, the presentation focuses on a behavioral view of how markets function and the role of the media. It can produce new perspectives on the client experience, and in turn help everyone become better stewards of their own wealth and future.
 Market Outlook

Douglas Coté, CFA, is the chief market strategist at Voya Investment Management. He is also the senior portfolio manager and founder of the Voya Global Perspectives Funds and separately managed accounts, a group of global tactical asset allocation strategies. Doug delivers hands-on interpretations of the forces driving capital markets and effective ways to respond. Doug is regularly featured on Fox Business’ Mornings With Maria Bartiromo, Bloomberg TV’s In the Loop with Betty Liu, CNBC Squawk Box, and other media outlets. A recognized authority on trading cost, impact and timing risk, he coined the term “Honest EPS” as a way of identifying high quality stocks. He holds the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation.

Estate Plans and New Taxes

Attorney Alfred Casella from Murtha Cullina LLP will speak about Estate Planning Strategies and incorporate highlights from the new tax legislation. Alfred Casella’s practice includes estate administration, probate litigation and sophisticated estate planning.

Space is limited to the first 60 people, so register today at  The cost is only $10 per person. CFA members can earn 2 CE educational credits for attending.

Financial Women


By: Tia Ross & Kris Miller, Contributing Writers

Experts Tia Ross and Kris Miller Share How Women Can Avoid the Gender Bias & Shift Their Legacy


It’s 2018 and we women are empowered, strong, and educated, yet there’s much more to do for gender equality. Confronting the female financial blind spot is the next step in the revolution. The conversation about the financial gender bias usually focuses income inequality, but another kind of discrimination has flown largely under the radar: It’s how we talk to our kids about money and the resulting blind spots women develop because of this.

 Over the past few decades, huge demographic shifts have reshaped the American family. Women today are the chief breadwinners and decision-makers for their families, yet many of us were accidentally deprived a financial education as kids. I know I was.

In my community and culture, girls were only taught to be financially reliable. I watched the women in my life do whatever they had to do to put food on the table and a roof over our heads. While this is to be commended, it is also unfortunate. Not only does fail to provide fundamental lessons about planning and goal setting, (which our brothers learned through entrepreneurial endeavors like their paper route,) it also teaches women to stifle their dreams. So, when Kris Miller, my genius business partner, came into my life I began to realize there was a whole different world of knowledge when it comes to money.  It is now my personal mission to break the chain of poverty in the lives of my family members and the communities I work in.

The structure of a family’s income has changed dramatically, so the way we teach girls about money needs to change too. This starts by having the missing conversations with their mothers. Women can avoid the gender bias by filling in the gaps for themselves.

Here is what you need to know:

1. Don’t confuse material possessions with wealth. Your worth is not your wealth!

2. Distinguish between want and needs. Truly look at what you are spending emotionally vs. essential needs.

3. Learn and appreciate compound interest and don’t get caught in the financial mistakes that people frequently make, such as under-saving and over-borrowing.

Remember to have real conversations with your daughters. Show them all you do to create wealth for your family. You are doing them a favor when you include them in the conversation of creating wealth and managing it for the family.

Empower our girls for success!



Tia Ross, (a best-selling author and speaker) and Kris Miller (a Legacy wealth strategist,) are activists for women’s financial rights and the founders of Legacy Shifters. Through their company, they empower women to change their families’ financial realities and create incomes they will never outlive.

For more information visit:

Financial Women

Three “GIFTS” the new tax bill gives to children


Ralph P. Guisti, President, Liberty Tax, Amherst

The tax bill recently signed into law by President Trump has many changes in store for taxpayers. Liberty Tax Amherst takes a look at three tax breaks that could help families with children.

Child Tax Credit: The $1,000 child tax credit has been doubled under the tax bill. The child tax credit, beginning in 2018, will be $2,000 per child under the age of 17. Up to $1,400 of the credit is refundable. That means, even if a taxpayer owes no tax, he or she still can receive a tax refund.

529 Plans: For years, taxpayers have been able to put money into a 529 account to save for college. Neither the earnings nor distributions in the plans was taxable at the federal level if the money was used for college costs. Under the tax bill, taxpayers can use up to $10,000 per child of their tax-advantaged 529 plans to pay for elementary and secondary schools and home school.

College and Taxes: Those paying for college will be happy to know that the American Opportunity Tax Credit and the Lifetime Learning Credit remain in place. The American Opportunity Tax Credit provides a credit of up to $2,500 for qualified tuition and expenses for the first four years of college. The Lifetime Learning Credit provides up to $2,000 per return. Also remaining in place is the up to $2,500 deduction for interest on student loans.

Liberty Tax Amherst reminds taxpayers that most of the changes in the tax bill do not go into effect until 2018 or later. A recent Liberty Tax poll* of more than 1,000 people found that about 78 percent were at least slightly concerned about tax reform affecting their 2017 tax return, which is due to be filed by April 17, 2018. Taxpayers heading to their local Liberty Tax office this tax season can rest assured that most of the changes in the new law will not affect their 2017 tax return.