it’s a phrase Alice Longoria has heard throughout her many years of practicing as a business advisor and litigator, “It’s not about the money!” Longoria says, “Often, I will encounter a client that says, ‘It’s not about the money,’ when the cold, hard truth of the matter is that most of our problems arise solely due to money.” Mismanagement or lack of funds, indecision on allocation of assets, whether to buy that vacation home in Tahoe, or any number of financial crossroads that are causing you concern, require careful consideration before action. If strategizing is not your forte, maybe you should turn to a professional. Not everyone is a millionaire with an investment banker on speed dial waiting to answer their every question. Longoria suggests that your initial thought should be, “Who can I consult with before I make a decision, so that I can feel good about the outcome?”
Longoria has a theory that any decisions should be predicated by first going to at least three people for advice. With the information you derive from those individuals collectively, you can then make your best decision on how to proceed. Longoria says, “We go through life with a team of advisors. During every stage of our lives, we have a different team-when we are in our teens, as we enter the workforce, while we are raising our children; all along the way we have trusted friends who we turn to for advice. Those advisors change as we do, and different situations require different team members. When someone comes to me, it’s because they have realized they need help and it’s not about relationship or job issues. If we are going to strategize a game plan for fixing their financial forecast, my job is to guide them to their ‘A-team.’ Together, we decipher their unique situation, and I will strategically plan their best mode of operation. I will get them referrals and put them in the hands of professionals that can best serve their needs.”
Longoria will be applying many years of providing online education and training skills when launching her new website that caters to women, called Financial Freedom Circle for Women. It is much more than a website, but a portal for providing education, financial and legal advice, masterminds, and referrals. There will be available office hours and members will be able to make calls directly to an advisor, take part in conference calls, or do virtual training. Members will also have access to online consulting and coaching that is a safe, cost-effective, and powerful space for helping women at every stage of their life. There is a very clear reason Longoria has chosen to support women with this format. Belief systems come from generations of demonstrated and taught behaviors. Young girls are conditioned to not share too much about family issues. Mothers may imply that it’s unacceptable to talk about money or share dynamics that are dysfunctional inside of a marriage. With all their efforts to become bread winners and take on the role of head of household, women still feel the need to be the caretakers of their families, immediate and extended. All these internal pressures tend to come to a head when put to the litmus test of also being in a financial tsunami of burden. Women need a place to turn, to unload their concerns and seek proper guidance. Help cannot be provided if transparent sharing of the facts feels uncomfortable.
“Women need a place to turn, to unload their concerns and seek proper guidance.”
Lessons learned from personal experience have brought Longoria to solid solutions she is eager to pass on to other women. Her story is one of self-realization, says Longoria, “I made my first million simply by being conservative. I read Think and Grow Rich by Napoleon Hill in my teens! I made it all the way to 45 without any debt, then I fell in love with a man that, on paper, was quite a catch. He came into the marriage with some financial baggage that I knew existed. I made emotional decisions based on fear and based on an obligation I felt to the man who was my partner. In retrospect, paying off his vast amounts of debt was a bad investment. Had I taken the time to consult with other attorneys or accountants, I may not have made a choice so out of alignment with my own values.” Longoria adds, “There is a certain amount of shame involved with going to close family members and friends. We tend to feel as though we will be judged. I want to provide that safety net, a place to flush out your situation. It takes a third party to buffer the emotions that come with some financial decisions.Doctors don’t do surgery on family members. Attorneys can’t work for family. You need an unbiased, experienced professional to assist in making an assessment and plan.”
Longoria shares the five “D’s” that can wreak havoc: debt, denial, divorce, death and disease. “Denial causes us to not talk about our challenges, and it’s the most unhealthy thing we can do. Being caretakers and trying to find balance between our careers and familial commitments, can lead to disease in our bodies brought on by constant stress. Beyond the basics, there is so much more to consider leading up to financial wellness. Making more than you spend and saving appropriately is important, but implementation of your wealth is key. Not everyone knows that student loans are a non-dischargeable debt, much like a tax debt. Some parents or grandparents become co-signers for their children’s student loans, thinking they are providing a way for their loved one to obtain a necessary education. They do not realize they are taking that monetary burden on themselves, forever.”
The psychological aspect of spending is one that Longoria examines intently, “Everything is a decision. Money is the best indicator of our priorities. Are you led to make a monetary investment out of admiring and aspiring or comparing and despairing? The keeping-up-with-the-Jones’s mentality needs addressed.” Longoria will work with clients to find a cost-effective measure to support their desires. She relies on persistent problem solving and strategic thinking to help develop solid solutions. The benefit of her counsel is the aid it provides in effectively deciphering motivators-Why are you choosing to make this purchase? Is it a sound financial decision? Is there a better, more frugal approach that will garner the same results? Her expertise is what is called for when planning your best path forward.
Photos by Casey Quist