“Don’t forget about you.” with Julia Carlson

Pay yourself first and regularly. Get in the habit of paying yourself first from every paycheck. Taking this further, invest those savings monthly into well-diversified low cost funds. As a part of my series about “Investing During The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Julia Carlson the Founder of Financial Freedom Wealth Management Group, […]

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Pay yourself first and regularly. Get in the habit of paying yourself first from every paycheck. Taking this further, invest those savings monthly into well-diversified low cost funds.

As a part of my series about “Investing During The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Julia Carlson the Founder of Financial Freedom Wealth Management Group, LLC.

She has been practicing financial planning for more than 20 years and specializes in helping people who are either retired or close to retirement. Julia is recognized as being especially knowledgeable on topics relating to tax strategies for retirement and distribution planning, as well as exit planning for business owners.

Julia is an Investment Advisor Representative and Registered Principal with LPL Financial, and has her Series 24, 7, 63, 66 Securities registrations held with LPL Financial, as well as her state Life and Health Insurance license.

Julia is a SmartVestor Pro for nationally syndicated radio talk show host Dave Ramsey. She leads our SmartVestor Pro1 team for southwest Washington and most of Oregon.

Julia has been identified as one of Forbes Top Women Wealth Advisors 2018–2020. She was also recognized as a 2018 Top Wealth Advisor Mom by Working Mother magazine and SHOOK Research. Furthermore, Julia provides her knowledge through a financial column in a local newspaper. She actively participates in her community as a Rotary member, Chamber member, and trustee for the Pacific Community Health District Board. Julia works from our office in the beautiful coastal community of Newport where she resides with her husband and their three children.

Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance industry?

Mypassion for business and finance started at a young age. In high school, I had an amazing teacher who taught me about business and finance. After my first mock stock portfolio, help from my Dad to set up my first investment account and hearing about stocks from my Grandpa, I was hooked on figuring out how to make this into a career. I knew entrepreneurship, personal finance and investing was what I wanted to do. When I was 19, and my friends were going off to college, I moved to a small town on the Oregon Coast and got married. I started working at a local bank. It only took about four years to hit the glass ceiling to realize that I did not have much opportunity if I stayed there. At the age of 23, I left the bank, joined my entrepreneurial spirit with my passion for helping people with their money, and started what is now Financial Freedom Wealth Management Group.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

Initially, what stood in my way was my own lack of confidence. I was 23 and didn’t have a fancy college degree nor a lot of experience. It was hard to convince people to trust me and hand over their millions for me to manage. Client by client I built my confidence and capabilities which led to win the clients’ trust and the referrals started to flow. In the beginning, I learned resilience as I heard a lot of no’s and had to keep going. Ultimately, my dreams were bigger than the rejections.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are working for more ways people can engage with us in a digital way. We are launching our 5-Day Retirement Ready Challenge (retirementreadychallenge.com/join) to help Americans gain clarity and confidence in their retirement strategy — post COVID.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

In 2013, my business had grown rapidly, and I was finding it hard to manage all the aspects of the business. Delivering the client experience and advising came easy to me but managing my growing staff proved challenging. I built my business from the ground up, but I knew that to take my business to the next level, I needed to bring on someone with management and leadership experience; someone smarter than me. This was unknown territory for me and had me outside of my comfort zone.

I hired Chandran Rajaratnam to take over management of the team in his role as President. Although giving up control was uncomfortable, it allowed me to elevate into a role that better utilized my strengths and passion; a role that allows me the time to work on long term strategies for our company. The magic of what we have been able to do over the past 7 years, utilizing each other’s strengths and staying inspired to delight our clients has been remarkable. We have grown from a staff of 6 to 15 team members and realized an annualized growth rate of 28%.

In 2019, Chandran wrote a book, “Catch the Arrows: Simple Steps to Inspire Leadership at Every Level,” and he has done exactly that. He has inspired and challenged me, as well as every other person on our team to be a better leader. When a team consists of leaders, the impossible can be accomplished. I am incredibly grateful to have him as a partner and mentor.

Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

Maintaining connection whether via phone or video conference is critical during these times. I also believe a handwritten note, or a little doodle or homemade artwork sent to loved ones can bring a smile to their day. I also think self-care during this time is important. Getting outside, walking in nature, and soaking up some sun can go a long way in making us feel more energetic.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know the stock market and the economy in general have become extremely volatile and uncertain. Many people “dollar cost average” and put aside a monthly sum into a long term savings plan for retirement, college, or a home purchase. If a loved one or a client came to you and said, “I have been saving and investing $500 every month in an S&P 500 index fund. Over the next few months until the dust settles, should I be doing something else with my money?”, what would you say to them?

If you have a fully funded emergency fund and no consumer debt, I recommend absolutely maintaining your investment monthly and in fact, if possible, double it. When markets go down and you are investing via dollar cost averaging, it allows you to buy more shares when markets are down. As the market recovers, as it always has (but no guarantees, of course), your investments will rise as you own more shares.

Eventually the economy will recover and rebound. Certain sectors, like travel and hospitality might be hurting for a while. But other sectors, like technology and healthcare, might do very well. If someone wanted to prepare today to take advantage of the future recovery, what would you suggest they do?

We recommend maintaining diversification across asset classes that are appropriate for your risk profile and then spread out your investments across all market capitalization and sectors. Chasing sectors, returns, or trying to time the market are all no-win scenarios.

Are there sectors that provide exciting and lucrative investment opportunities today, specifically because of the volatility and uncertainty?

We do not recommend going after “exciting and lucrative investment opportunities”. Investing in the breadth of the market automatically weights an investor to the sectors that are outperforming. For example, Technology is currently about 25% of the S&P 500 Index.

Are there alternative investments that you think more people should look more deeply at?


If a person in their thirties and forties came to you today and said that they have $10,000 that they want to put away today for a long term investment what would you advise them to do with it?

If eligible, I would encourage them to invest in a ROTH IRA up to the maximum, currently $6000, in an index-based fund. I would put the other $4000 in a Non-retirement investment account with same type of fund.

Ok, thank you! Here is a more general finance question. You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart investing what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?

“Be Fearful When Others Are Greedy and Greedy When Others Are Fearful” is a great quote by Warren Buffett. What it means is our emotions like to get involved with our financial decisions, but often we are 100% wrong if we make emotional decisions.

“This too shall pass” is one of my favorite historical sayings. Time is your friend in building wealth.

Pay yourself first and regularly. Get in the habit of paying yourself first from every paycheck. Taking this further, invest those savings monthly into well-diversified low cost funds.

Invest more when markets are down. Wealth is built in recessionary periods.

If you qualify, open, and fund, a ROTH IRA and keep adding to it year after year!

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

Abundance scoops from abundance and abundance remains. There is always enough, and Love is always the answer.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

My wish is for everyone to experience an abundance mindset. When we experience fear, anxiety, and feelings of worry, it leads to scarcity. A scarcity mindset leads to no progress and limited thinking. My advice is do not believe all your thoughts! Ask better questions of yourself, i.e. What if it were easy? How can I give value first? How do I need to look at this differently? Where is the good in this?

Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!

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