Jim Ludwick

A retired Air Force officer and hospital administrator for most of his military career, Jim transitioned to civilian life as the assistant administrator of a small hospital in Santa Barbara, California. The hospital merged with a larger competitor and Jim went off to financial services, first as a commercial real estate broker, life insurance agent and then two bank trust departments in business development positions. Jim passed the Certified Financial Planner comprehensive exam in 1999.

A money manager brought Jim to the East Coast in 2001, but timing in the stock market was not in his favor of finding new clients, so Jim decided to start his own financial planning company. He found Sheryl Garrett who had set up a network of like-minded advisors and a training effort for those wanting to do hourly, advice- only planning.

Jim founded MainStreet Financial Planning in the fall of 2002. Jim’s wife Carol helped him in this business and still is the chief financial officer meaning she does the company accounting. Together they have two married sons and five grandchildren, most of who reside in Santa Barbara. Mr. Darcy, a Boston Terrier, is the company dog and greets guests and clients in our Odenton office.

ARTICLES FROM Jim
Sad to Glad: Helping Kids with College Expenses

Recently, another financial blogger I follow, headlined that the kids were on their own when it comes to college, and saving for retirement was her priority. I guess the children didn’t come in at priority 2 or lower when reading her posting. I was sad to see that, but it made me think of my experience.

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The Worst Ways to Pay for College

Paying for a college education is daunting. Unless you’re able to catch a free ride at a military academy and pledge your life for six or so years of duty to country, then funding education becomes an onerous task for parents and students alike.

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Conflict? Saving for Retirement and College

One of the most perplexing issues confronting parents is how to save for their children’s education and their other financial goals including retirement. Both retirement and college expenses require huge amounts of future capital.

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6 Popular Online Investment Tools for Everyone

Everyone? That seems overly broad for a title. Well, almost everyone is online to some extent and all sorts of companies and websites have tools for investors. Some of those tools are designed to show you that you need professional (read paid) help. As a financial adviser that doesn’t sell products or manage money, my role is to provide unbiased advice. Here are six, relatively easy to use and popular online tools for everyday investors:

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Observing Investor Biases

They call it Behavioral Finance. I call it common sense led astray by experience or lack thereof.

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Investing in the Rear-View Mirror

These days it’s easy to find out what mutual fund or index fund is doing good, performance wise. Providers like Morningstar and Lipper produce ratings for free, or at a nominal cost for more detailed information if you are an investor or potential investor.

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Back Up Those Travel Photos

As a frequent traveler and budding photographer, I face the same challenge most tourists do by taking lots of digital snapshots because the cost is almost nothing (that is called a sunk cost and don’t ask me how much was sunk).

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The 7 Best Tips for Travel

Recently I wrote about the 7 biggest mistakes I’m made during travel, mostly international, but not exclusively. This episode will cover the best decisions, in my humble opinion, that I’ve made that greatly contributed to a fun and exciting travel experience and the lack bad outcomes.

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Is Travel Worth It?

Travel can be expensive, can’t it? Just go online to Expedia.com or some similar website and see what it costs to visit Niagara Falls, NY if you live in Southern California. Or even travel to Orvieto, Italy where I’m writing this blog now from Las Vegas, NV where I live.

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My Top 7 Travel Mistakes

June is a good month to plan travel at the last minute. For me, I’m usually planning summer travel around the Christmas holidays. Making plans at the last minute offers you the benefit of seeing last minute flight and hotel promotions, but it can lead to mistakes. Here are my top ten last minute travel mistakes:

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International travel tips

· Obtain or renew your passport way in advance. At least three months in advance. · Obtain or confirm that the two credit cards you will take with you do not charge currency transaction fees.

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This year’s advice for HS and College Grads

It’s that time of year for high school and college graduates - a new phase awaits. It’s called a job. Transition to the workplace is one of the most difficult tasks many high school and college graduates face this time of year.

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Doing the Flip: Saver to Retirement Spender

One of the biggest transitions in life is to go from worker to retiree, or from saver to spender (call it decumulation or spend downer if you like). Today I’m addressing an issue faced by those who have managed to save through most or all their working careers and now find it’s time to begin using some of their savings in consumption. After all, those savings, in most cases, are deferred income they put away into retirement accounts.

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Helping Incapacitated Loved Ones

Recently, I’ve been helping two relatives since I’m the family member closest to them with both financial skills and healthcare experience (retired hospital administrator married to a retired nurse). Both relatives exhibit signs of incapacity with diminished functioning on some level. So now I must brush up on my communication skills in addition to my background and experience in helping others in financial planning.

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Correction is Coming?

The correction is coming, the correction is coming. Do I sound like Paul Revere announcing the British? Well, yes, that’s my intention. Now I wrote this same introduction three years ago. Not much has changed. I am saying the same thing:

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Goals Are Important

We are in the goal business. Helping people define, refine and achieve their financial goals. What does it take to achieve and surpass financial goals?

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Time to Give It Away

Have you looked at the holdings in your individual or joint brokerage accounts lately? Do you see lots of gains as you look through the portfolio of your taxable accounts? Would you like to avoid recognizing those capital gains and save on your taxes too?

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The No-Drama Approach to Personal Finance

Our daily lives are constantly bombarded with drama, courtesy of the media. Drama, in headlines, stories and videos, gets attention and helps content creators get their message across in a cluttered media landscape. As a financial blogger, I confess that I’ve attempted to do that, too, believing that a little drama will increase the chances of you hearing my advice and, in my opinion, my helping you achieve your financial goals and live a more fulfilling life.

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Loving Your Elderly Parents

We recently interviewed Mr. Farr on our YouTube video series, Swim with Jim, where he told us about adult children who love their parents and want the best for them, coming to see him for advice and counsel. These elderly parents may not have planned and in fact, in many cases, don’t have much of an estate plan, if any.

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Love means My Will is Up to Date

Having worked for two bank trust departments and observed so many complex problems created by the lack of a will, I have always urged clients, friends, and family members to keep their estate planning documents up to date. Those documents include a will, durable power of attorney, medical power of attorney, and several other documents in many situations.

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Dow Hits 20,000: Now What?

Hey folks, it’s just a number. It has very little to do with your long-term investment plan. After all, it’s only 30 stocks that are mostly not industrial anymore. The media likes drama. In fact, other parts of our society like drama too. The purpose of marking these events has people reading, watching or listening to stories or posts that supposedly bring them insight into how they should live their lives or change their lives or habits. However, in my opinion, it lets advertisers entice you to click on an ad if you’re digital or glance at an ad in a paper format.

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Wellness Time

It's the beginning of the year. Did you set any goals last year, or are you like most of us who have those good intentions, but they seem to be mostly gone by February? My job as a financial writer is to inspire and educate you. Let's try inspiration and follow up with a little education. Here are some resolutions to consider for 2017 along with an idea of how you might achieve them to help yourself and others, too.

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Resolution Time

It's the end of the year. A new year looms in just a few days. Imagine that. Who would have thought last Christmastime we would be where we are now? Did you set any goals last year, or are you like most of us who have those good intentions, but they seem to be mostly gone by February? My job as a financial writer is to inspire and educate you. Let's try inspiration and follow up with a little education.

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Reverse Mortgage Line of Credit Could Fund Long-Term Care

There’s a 70% chance that people over 65 will need some kind of long-term care, including services such as home care, assisted living and skilled nursing, according to government statistics.

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Overcoming Obstacles to Achieving Financial Goals

We are in the goal business. Helping people define, refine and achieve their financial goals. What does it take to achieve and surpass financial goals?

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Holiday Gifts: Creative and Free (almost)

As the holidays approach and the budget is thin or you just need to be creative, why not start now to find creative ideas for gifts? These suggestions can keep on giving and demonstrate affection by being very personal. Here’s a collection of my favorites:

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Essential Traits of a Good Investor

Investors frequently make mistakes simply because they are human. Very natural and understandable feelings, like fear and desire for wealth, can cause us to behave in ways that actually harm our financial goals. Good investors, however, are able to resist the influence of emotion on their investing decisions and often can avoid these mistakes altogether. They also tend to see positive results from their investing efforts.

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Smart Steps to Plan for Retirement

Many people worry that Social Security retirement benefits and Medicare won’t be available to them in the future. Recent reports from the Social Security and Medicare trustees indicate that if Congress doesn’t act to better fund these programs, they will face shortfalls in the coming years. However, Social Security and Medicare are incredibly important programs that many people rely on heavily, so it’s hard to imagine that politicians won’t act to ensure their survival. Even so, while we hope Congress will do something, there are steps we can take on our own to plan ahead. To make sure you have enough savings to cover health care and other costs in retirement, here are some strategies you might want to consider:

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Divorce Doesn’t Preclude Social Security Spousal Benefits

Social Security retirement benefits are administered under a complicated set of rules that most participants don’t completely understand. Adding divorce into the equation can result in even more confusion.

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For Social Security Benefits, Timing Is Key

When to begin receiving Social Security benefits is one of the most frequently asked questions among those nearing retirement. The answer is complicated because there are so many factors involved, some of which are not easy to quantify or predict. For instance, you’d have to think through how long you’re likely to work, and even how long you’re likely to live.

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How the ‘Five-Finger Checkup’ Can Save Your Financial Life

Financial planning isn’t all that complex. Whether you live paycheck to paycheck or have considerable wealth, it comes down to planning ahead to avoid the financial ruin or distress that afflicts so many. I came up with a simple way to remember what you can do to reduce or eliminate debt, plan for the future, and live the life you want. I call it the “Five-Finger Checkup” — one question for each finger:

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The Internet is a Dangerous Place

You know it and I know it. The Internet is a dangerous place. It can help us do wonderful things not imagined a generation ago. But with the internet rewards come risk and that risk is getter worse.

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Do you need a will? What to know about estate planning

Do I need a will? How do I get one? The answer financial planners usually give is that it depends. But generally speaking, you should have an up-to-date will, as well as a durable power of attorney for health care, also called a health care proxy, and an advance health care directive, also known as a living will, for estate-planning purposes.

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A Personal Finance Crash Course For Recent College Grads

A wonderful set of parents recently sent their son to me for financial advice. He was a new college graduate and was about to start his first “real” job. Prior to this session,...

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6 Habits Of Highly Successful Savers

By Jim Ludwick, CFP Learn more about Jim on NerdWallet’s Ask an Advisor With the utmost respect and honor to Stephen Covey for my very similar title (Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly...

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NerdWallet – Insurance Help With Jim Ludwick

Question: I'm really confused about what type of life insurance coverage to purchase for myself and for my husband. Any advice? People buy insurance to reduce or eliminate the financial risk...

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