Figure Out Your Financial Future with Traverse City’s Brian Ursu

Brian Ursu, author of “Now What: A Practical Guide to Figuring Out Your Financial Future,” is not only a financial advisor with his clients’ futures in mind but also a dad who worries about the futures of his five kids.

Featured in 2020 Estate & Financial Services, a special publication within Inspired Life. Read the full magazine here.

Ursu, who has been helping clients reach their financial goals for more than 30 years, decided to write a financial advice book after realizing the resources just weren’t out there for his daughter, who was newly managing an income. “I looked at the 32 years of experience I had and realized if I got hit by a bus, my kids wouldn’t have the benefit of everything that I’ve learned and that I’ve given to my clients,” Ursu says. The more research he did, the more he realized that the millennial and Gen Z generations have a lack of financial understanding, but are passionate about what they do and want to make a difference with their investing. “I felt like this book would help satisfy what it is they were after,” he says.

We caught up with Ursu to talk about what it was like to write his book, and what tips he would share with young adults about preparing for their financial future.

What was the book-writing process like?

I write a blog every other week, so I enjoy the process of writing. I did this in the mornings from 4:45 a.m. until 6 o’clock, so the house was quiet. I am a morning person, so this was my jam and I could just start writing. It came together perfectly in terms of the flow. I broke it down into three sections: Part 1 – the boring stuff (the fundamentals), Part 2 – the practical stuff, and Part 3 – the good stuff (investing). It flows logically—you have to start with a basic understanding of the terms and the principles.

What have you learned along the way?

Well, I learned, and this is going to sound horrible—kind of like the shoemaker’s children who had holes in their shoes—I was guilty of not passing this information along to my own kids. I had a lot more guilt than I thought I did.

What is the central idea you’d like your audience to walk away with after reading?

Finance isn’t a mystery, and it’s not rocket science. If you follow these practical steps, you’re going to put yourself on a path to financial security. It is doable. I would like the reader to feel empowered and not intimidated.

What do you think young people generally misunderstand when starting their financial journey?

I feel like they’re often paralyzed by the student debt they have, and they’re trying to figure out, “How do I get out from under this? I can’t even think about retirement or any kind of investing until I can get out from under this debt.” They look at it sequentially—once I get this debt paid off, then I can start paying attention to my finances. I feel like you have to do it all at the same time. That’s what I think the book will help them understand.

What type of impact do you hope to have on those new to managing their finances?

I wrote in the book that if this helps one person put themselves on a path to financial security, I will have done my job. (And if you are that one person, email me!) And I believe that. I really want to help people who want to help themselves.

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Tips for Managing your Finances

  1. Compound interest is magical. The money that you put away when you’re young has the most impact on your financial security. So be sure to start as early as possible (even if it is a small amount).
  2. What we’re seeing right now with this pandemic is that it’s really important to have an emergency fund, which amounts to three to six months of your living expenses. It gives you freedom from worry.
  3. Pay yourself first. You will likely not receive a pension. Social Security will need to dramatically change due to demand. The lifestyle your future self will enjoy is based on what steps you take right now.
  4. Invest with a purpose. Align your unique social concerns with the way you invest money. Money has power—you can use it for good.
  5. Avoid credit cards like COVID-19. They are dangerous if used improperly. Every time you think of using your card, imagine yourself taking a cruise with strangers in the middle of a pandemic.

Brian Ursu has been a financial advisor and wealth manager for 32 years. He pens a blog almost weekly and is the author of “Now What: A Practical Guide to Figuring Out Your Financial Future.” Visit BrianUrsu.com for more information and to download a free monthly budget worksheet.