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Not Just Numbers: Honest Conversations with a Financial Advisor (and Lawyer!) Podcast Ep.6

By March 19, 2024March 29th, 2024No Comments
Michael Garry and Madison are seated at a wooden desk, preparing for their podcast session at Yardley Wealth Management in Yardley, Pennsylvania. Michael wears a dark blue polo shirt, while Madison opts for a burnt orange sweater, her long blonde hair cascading down. Positioned in front of them are a computer and microphone, poised for recording. Their dynamic partnership sets the stage for engaging discussions on financial matters at 'Not Just Numbers,' reflecting the ethos of Yardley Wealth Management.

Not Just Numbers: Honest Conversations with a Financial Advisor (and Lawyer!) Podcast Ep.6

Introduction

Understanding Basic Estate Planning

Madison: Hello everyone, and welcome to the 6th episode of ‘Not Just Numbers, Honest Conversations with a Financial Advisor and Lawyer’. I am Madison Demora, and I am here with Mike Garry. Mike: is the founder and CEO of Yardley Wealth Management, a firm he founded in 2006. We are located right outside of Philadelphia in Yardley, Pennsylvania, which is in Bucks County. So, Mike, let’s jump right into it today. What are the key components of basic estate planning, and why are they so important?

Key Components of Basic Estate Planning

Mike: Hey, Maddie. So most people need to have at least a Will, a Durable Power of Attorney, and an Advanced Health Directive. And most people should probably have a HIPAA waiver to go with the Advanced Health Directive.

Importance of a Will

Madison: So what is a Will, and why is it important to have one?

Mike: Sure. So, a Will is the document wherein you give away your stuff at your death. And in that Will, you also name people who will make sure that your wishes are followed. So in addition to giving away your stuff, you will name an executor. And the executor is one who’s responsible for going to your county to say, “Hey, Mike passed. Here’s his death certificate. Here’s his Will, and this is where he named me as the executor”. You also will have, potentially, a guardian if you have minor children, right? So who will take care of them. And if you have a guardian, you probably also would need a trustee. You also would need a trustee if you have estate planning in your Will. And most people have even modest estate planning. And so you really need to think when you’re going to get your will. You need to think of who you want to get your stuff. Ordinarily, for a lot of people, that’s easy, right? It’s their spouse or significant other, and then maybe their children. But that’s not everybody. A lot of people really need to think this through. And then you need to think about who would you trust to carry out your wishes. And why is it important? Well, there are a couple of good reasons. There might be tax savings for your beneficiaries If you do your Will properly. It will make things much easier for the people who survive you, especially if you have a significant other and children that could save them a lot of time and anguish. And the short answer is, if you don’t create a Will, then your stuff gets distributed according to state law, and that might not be how you want it, right? So the state decides who gets your stuff. And then if you have minor children and haven’t named a guardian, the state decides who raises your kids. Especially if you have kids, I can’t think of a better reason to get a will than actually making that choice. Now, it’s possible that the state would pick someone that you would want, but why not go ahead and make sure it’s who you’d want? It’s really like a fundamental decision as a parent who would take care of your family if something happens to you. Those are the reasons that everybody needs at least a basic estate plan. It’s not just for rich people to move billions of dollars around. It’s really to take care of their family.

Madison: Okay, so where do you go to get your will done?

Selecting a Lawyer for Estate Planning

Mike: So you need to find a lawyer who practices estate planning. And so you could probably Google that easily enough. And most counties have bar associations where they have lists of who practices in what area. But you really can’t just go to someone who says they’re a jack of all trades. You can’t just go to the lawyer in town who does everything, because it can be a lot more complicated than that. So you need to find someone who practices. In the past, I’ve had a lot of people over the years come in with wills who were done by a lawyer, but not by a lawyer who practices in estate planning. And they’re woefully inadequate and incomplete. So you need to find a lawyer who works in your state, who’s local to you, who practices estate planning. It’s a great question, Madie, and people don’t think about it that often.

Madison: Yeah, so it’s funny, I was watching tv the other day, and I noticed there’s a website now that you can create your own Will. How do you feel about those?

Mike: I bet I feel exactly how you think I’d feel about that, Maddie. So technology can be a great thing, and it’s possible that you could do a Will with legal Zoom or any of the competitors. But I’d say that the cost savings probably aren’t worth it because I’ve seen some documents done by people use those things, and they’ve been so far woefully incomplete and inadequate, and the people don’t know what they’re signing. I think the big thing that the lawyer provides in this context is actually context. So you know what the repercussions are of the different decisions you make. So the lawyer can explain to you what is the trustee and what are their duties? Or if your guardian has these issues, can they still be the guardian, and should they also be the trustee, Or maybe not? So there’s a lot of nuance to it, and they’re really important decisions, and it doesn’t cost all that much to have a Will done. In most parts of the country, especially if you’re talking about basic estate plan, most people who go through the process are very happy that they’ve done it. So I don’t think this is an area where you could save some money with technology.

Reviewing and Updating Your Estate Plan

Madison: So once you go and you get your Wills done, should you review it after a certain amount of time, or update it?

Mike: I think you should probably look at the summary every three to five years to make sure that it still makes sense to you. The biggest thing for most people is that their lives change and people that are important to them at one point are no longer important. Or maybe somebody else has become more important. So if you go through like a divorce or something’s going on with you or somebody in your family, that may impact your estate plan, those are usually the reasons to see whether it makes sense to update. And then occasionally, if you have enough money, sometimes changes in the law make sense for you to update things, and then you may not figure out what that is. But once you have everything up to date and you have a basic estate plan and you read about some change in the law, give your lawyer a call and say, “Hey, I heard this. Does this affect my estate plan”? And then they should be able to let you know pretty quickly whether it will or not. And then maybe you make an update or maybe you don’t need to.

Madison: Okay. So if an update was needed, like you said, things change. That’s who you reach out to, your estate lawyer?

Mike: Yes. And then they can make the change. Sometimes it’s just a codicil, right? So say I wanted to change from one sister to the other sister to be my trustee. It’s one page form. It doesn’t take that long, and it’s easy. If you have more elaborate changes or a bigger change, you might need a new Will or other documents, but your lawyer can let you know.

Madison: Okay. So when we have clients come in, when they get their Wills done, you do the Wills, and then we schedule an appointment for them to come in so you can explain everything to them. And then I’m the person behind the scenes who puts the wills together. So I do see how the Wills are laid out. So there is a Power of Attorney in there. What is that?

Understanding the Power of Attorney

Mike: Sure. Yes. It’s a lot of printing you have to do and a lot of staples. It’s a lot of paper. So a Power of Attorney is a document where you give someone the ability to make financial decisions for you in case you are not able to, whether you are incapacitated, you no longer can do things for yourself, or you’re out of the country, or you just need help. Lots of times we go through periods in our lives where we need someone to help us. A Durable Power of Attorney is a document that allows someone to step in for you. Now, there’s two different kinds, two main kinds. One is a springing one, which means you would have to be incapacitated, and then the person could take an action. Or the ones that we typically advise people to use are ones that will exist right away. Now, sometimes, that makes people a little uncomfortable because they think, “Well, I don’t want them to do anything now, I only want them to do anything in an emergency”. And so we have the conversation. Well, sure. You talk to your loved one who has that power, and let them know when you’d want them to use it and not to use it in other cases. And I think that, for the most part, that works well. The problem with a springing one is that your agent would have to go to a court and say that you’ve lost capacity. And who wants to have someone stand up in their county courthouse and say, “Oh, by the way, Mike lost his marbles”. I don’t want that to happen. I would rather trust that my spouse or my sibling or my child will be able to handle the task and take care of it. Does that make sense to you?

Madison: Yeah. So you said there’s the springing one, and then what was the other one called?

Mike: You know what? For the life of me, I can’t think of it right now. But it’s not springing. It takes effect immediately. Once you sign it and you have it in place, then it is effective. Now, your agent might not ever use it, but it is effective immediately.

Madison: All right, so next, what is an Advanced Directive, and why is it important to have one?

Understanding the Advanced Directive

Mike: So, an Advanced Directive is a document that really incorporates two different things, a Living Will and a Healthcare Power of Attorney or agent or naming of a proxy. So the Living Will part is where… So, first, this document doesn’t take effect unless your doctor thinks you have no realistic hope of recovery, and you can’t advocate for yourself. Right? You can’t speak for yourself. And so think of, you’re in a vegetative state or a coma or you’re unconscious, and your doctor, knowing your history, knowing what’s going on, now thinks that there’s no realistic hope of recovery. That’s when the document would take effect. So it’s not like you get in a car accident and they say, “Oh, well, she doesn’t want fluid, so she’s going to die of thirst or whatever”. This is, you’re in the hospital. You’ve been in the hospital. They’ve been trying, and they’ve come to the conclusion that there’s no realistic hope of recovery. In that event, in the Living Will, you will have made decisions. When you’re lucid and you’re not in stress, you’re at a table surrounded by loved one and an attorney, and you decide, like, “Hey, if I’m in that case, I do or don’t want nutrition or hydration or CPR”. And you make those choices so that the whole thing, without the advanced directive, someone could be kept alive indefinitely and incur all the human cost and the family cost and the medical cost. And the Advanced Directive is a way of handling that in advance. And so in the first part of it, the Living Will part, you decide what things you’d want or not want to happen should you be in that state. And in the second part, you need someone to make decisions for you and advocate for you. And so that person is typically a spouse or a child or a spouse and then a child if you’re the second spouse to go. And one of the funny things, in Pennsylvania, in our document, you decide whether the agent has to follow your instructions or if they’re just guidance. And people feel differently about that. I personally feel like I want them to have to follow them because I don’t want the child to have to make that case. But maybe it’s different if your spouses and the spouse can decide what they think is best for you. Anyway, it’s a personal decision, and it’s for everybody to make. And I think it’s a really important document so that you again, make things easier for people at the end of your life, just like the Will will make things easier for your loved ones when you pass the Advanced Directive will make things easier for them. Maybe right before that.

Madison: Yeah, it sounds like a lot of important stuff, a lot of personal decisions. So what are the potential risks of not having a basic estate plan in place?

Mike: Sure. So there’s lots. If you don’t have a Will, as we said before, the state decides who gets your stuff, or the state law decides that, a court will decide who raises your minor children. If you have them, you could pay more in estate taxes or fees. You could have all kinds of things, just from not having the Will. From not having a Durable Power of Attorney, you could be in a situation where somebody could really help you, and then they can’t. Or they have to get a court involved to help you with financial decisions. With the Advanced Directive. If you don’t have that spelled out in advance, then again, your family might have to get a court involved, or you may wind up in a persistent vegetative state for months or years. There are bad cases out there. So it’s not that hard to do. It’s not that expensive. It really makes sense to get that in place.

Understanding the Risks of Neglecting Estate Planning

Madison: Okay, so how can someone make sure that their estate plan is legally valid and will be effective in carrying out their wishes?

Mike: Yeah. The best way is to hire a lawyer who works extensively in estate planning and follow up to make sure you sign it. And your signature is witnessed by witnesses and a notary, none of whom are related to you and none of which has a financial interest in your affairs.

Ensuring Legal Validity and Effectiveness of Your Estate Plan

Madison: So how can someone ensure that their beneficiaries are protected and that their assets are distributed according to their wishes?

Mike: Well, that’s a tough one. You need to have faith that you have chosen a lawyer who understands what you want and fiduciaries that will carry out your wishes. That isn’t always going to be the case, but you just have to choose wisely and hope that it works out.

Madison: Okay, so how can someone ensure that their privacy is protected and their estate isn’t subject to unnecessary public scrutiny?

Mike: So, in that area, using trust is the best way to go about that. When you die, your Will becomes a public record. For most of us, that isn’t a big deal. But if you really want to stay out of the spotlight, you should use trust. So, a lot of times, we’ll see that celebrities die without a Will. And there’s a lot of speculation about what’s going on, but typically, if that public scrutiny is something that’s important to you, what you’d do is you’d have a Living Trust that owns most of the things that you have, most of the things that you own, and what’s called a Pour Over Will, where it’s a Will, but it’s kind of a short one, and it directs that everything that you own that’s not in your trust goes to your trust. And that way, the contents of your Will don’t specify what happens to your yacht or your mansion or whatever. It just says, hey, it goes to your Trust, and then no one knows what’s in the trust other than your trustees. And so it’s a way to keep things private.

Protecting Beneficiaries and Safeguarding Assets

Madison: So when it comes to your estate plan, some people have life insurance policies and retirement accounts. How can someone ensure that their estate plan is coordinated with things like that?

Mike: Yeah. So that is a really important thing. Really important question, Maddie. And that’s not easy. I think know you need to make sure that you ask your lawyer if you need to update any account documents because of your estate plan. But we see that happen all the time. First, we see people come in, they say of their trust, and they set up a revocable living trust, and it’s never been funded. It doesn’t own anything. So it’s as if it doesn’t exist. And then we often see people with their 401K or their IRA’s, and they have trust set up in their Wills, but then they have their minor children as beneficiaries of the account, and that shouldn’t be the case. If you have a trust for your children in the event that you pass while they’re minors or young, that needs to be on those documents because your Will has no effect over your IRA account or your 401K or your life insurance. You need to specify in any kind of account that has a beneficiary designation. You need to make sure that that is tied together with your estate planning documents. So if the trust is the beneficiary, if something happens to you, you need to make sure that you have it on your account documents. I can’t tell you how often we see that and unravels the whole estate plan.

Madison: Okay, so what do people get wrong about estate planning? Like, what are common errors they make?

Mike: Well, first, they don’t do it, or they start it and never sign it. We see that a lot. A lot of people come in here with draft documents that are from years ago and they’ve never finished. The next biggest thing is they don’t update it. So again, people come in here in their 50’s and 60’s. And if they have a Will, often, it was done within a year of their oldest child being born. And it still might be the right document for them. But likely some things have changed and they’ll need updates. The next thing, which we see all the time is your last question, they don’t coordinate with their account and the insurance. So we see all the time people with trust in their Will for minor children. And then on their IRA accounts, they list their little kids as contingent beneficiaries. And that is not what you want. You do the trust planning so that you can avoid giving something outright to a minor children. And let me say, most people are very relieved when they have completed up their plan and they know everything is in place. I wish that we could video the smile on people’s faces or the stress that is gone when they come in and they take care of this, because it’s a real thing. It’s a tangible benefit.

Madison: Absolutely. So is there anything else you wanted to add to that?

Mike: No, I think this was great, Maddie. Thank you.

Introducing Special Guest Heather DiPrato

Madison: We are joined here today with Heather DiPrato. Heather is the publisher of Yardley Living and Newtown Neighbor magazine. Heather, would you like to explain to our listeners what Yardley Living and Newtown Neighbor magazine is and how it came about? A little background?

Heather DiPrato: Sure. I’d be happy to. Yardley Living was our first publication, and we are actually approaching our 6th anniversary, believe it or not. So we got started in early 2017 when I had a career transition. And because of some things, non competes and such, I couldn’t go back to my old industry, so I had to find something new. And I loved the community I was living in. And I had been introduced to these magazines maybe six months prior and thought it would be cool to have one here. So I started to explore creating one and with some hard work. By about June. So I guess about this time 2017, I had gotten enough commitments from the community sponsors, which are the businesses who advertise, that we could get it off the ground and start mailing. And our first issue was August, and so our 6th anniversary is this next issue that I’ll be working on. Newtown Neighbors came about, really, because a lot of our advertisers wanted to hit that market. So when we got Yardley off the ground and people were getting calls and they were interested in seeing if we could extend it further, several asked, “Hey, are you going to do a Newtown version”? And at first, I was a little like, hey, one is hard enough. Should I really do more? But what I found was, it’s not really that much harder to do two. And there was a market for it. So when I launched Yardley, there were people who said, “Well, if you ever do a Newtown version, hit me up”. The Newtown version came out 18 months later. So as of today, I guess I have mailed 124 versions of the magazine over the last six years, and I’m really quite tired. I’m just kidding. But it is a labor of love. We’ll call it that.

Mike: Heather, do you have enough advertisers, or do you still need more?

Heather DiPrato: We’re all full. No, I’m just kidding. Of course, every publication always needs more advertisers, more sponsors, and that’s probably, I think, the number one challenge is balancing finding those people and finding good quality people who you want to recommend to your neighbors. Because that’s how they see it then, you know, balancing that with bringing in all of the content. And we’re small operations, my husband and I.

Mike: Okay. Are they the same advertisers in Yardley and Newtown, or do you have any differences?

Heather DiPrato: There are differences. There are quite a number that are in both, the really powerhouse kind of businesses that care about these communities. We have Shoprite and Capital Health and Jammer Doors and companies like that that really care about this area are in both larger presence. And then I have somebody who trains dogs, and she is fantastic. But she really wants to focus on the Newtown market because that’s where she’s comfortable traveling and she’s been a great sponsor. So I have very small businesses who are kind of niche oriented but care about that market that we’re serving, which is an affluent reader who has discretionary income and has needs. So this is a great way to reach those people because you even mentioned that you read it. And you probably don’t read everything that comes to you. You might, but most people don’t. Most people toss a lot of direct mail, but because this is about the community they live in, they’re curious. I want to know about the people. I want to see if there’s something going on this weekend that I should go to. And I think that’s the part that’s the most fun for us.

Mike: Sure. So I know what’s in there, but explain to our listeners what they could find if they open up one of your magazines.

Heather DiPrato: So the majority of our magazines focus on stories about people. Every now and then we mix it up a little. Like this month, I did a story about the Yardley Ducks, which are the fiberglass, these giant art installations. The people who help bring that to light. But it was probably only my second cover that didn’t prominently feature people. And what’s inside is going to be a feature story about somebody who lives and possibly works in the town. It’s going to have information about upcoming events. My husband, that is kind of his baby, and he spends a lot of time every month finding cool concerts and fireworks shows and things like that that people might be interested in going to. We have expert contributors. Those are businesses who write about topics of interest for the community in a non sales related way, so more educational. And then we just have human interest stories that are sent to us from the community and occasionally pet interest stories and things like that, or shout outs to people who are graduating or just anything you can think of that people in the community might be interested in. It’s really not our magazine. It’s their magazine. We want it to reflect the community. And we always try to include budding young writers and things like that and include as much as we can in a really upbeat, positive way. I see this more as social media, right? I see it as a social media tool, but it’s delivered in print and that’s a little bit different. It’s not stodgy old print advertising where it’s a bunch of ads and a couple of press releases. This is a curated social media application where when you read it, you’re going to learn something, you’re going to feel good, you’re going to feel like you know more about the town that you live in and you’re going to look forward to the next month. And that just from a business perspective, when you do that right, then you have people who really do look forward to seeing it. Occasionally I’ll get calls. “I think my husband threw it out” or “I was saving it because I wanted to read the story about the team that my son is on”. We did get a lot of engagement from the community and we know the day it hits and it kind of hits over the course of several days, we can tell because we start to get people asking questions and sending nominations. Asking about advertising and so forth.

Mike: I like that it’s always positive and I love the little stories about people in the community doing things. It’s nice. I do really enjoy it.

Heather DiPrato: Yeah. I think there’s so much in this world today coming at you that may not be. It’s either pure advertising, like buy from me, buy from me, or it’s on social media. It’s just constant pop ups. And if you’re scrolling, I’m scrolling with my fingers, but there’s so much coming at you. I think they say you’re exposed to about 5000 ad messages a day. Now. Most people have gotten really efficient at tuning out things that get in the way of their enjoyment. But when you’re reading something like a magazine, the ads never get in the way of your enjoyment. And we find people actually read the ads too. So that’s the power, I guess, of something like this.

I know personally, I see so much electronic media and have to read so many things on my computer that I love print media and we get four newspapers every day and I have tea, my wife has tea. We sit around with the dogs and I just enjoy it. It’s a break from all the electronic and digital stuff. And you’re in a different place in your mind. I think when you’re more relaxed and you’re able to, from a neuroscience perspective, you retain that information more when you’re looking at it in a print form. That’s just how it works. So that is why we send it that way. A lot of people ask me, “Wouldn’t it be cheaper to just email it to people”? Well, maybe, but nobody would read it. We know what works, and what works is we mail it and people really do love it.

Mike: That’s great.

Madison: So are you from Yardley? Have you been from Yardley your whole life? What’s your story behind that?

Heather DiPrato: So we moved to Yardley in 2011. We had lived in Morrisville Borough for about ten years prior. We moved here for the school district. My son is autistic. My daughter was about to be born when we bought this house, and we moved in about a week before she was born. So that was fun, and it’s been great living here. And prior to that, I grew up in Bucks County. I grew up in Snowball Gate in Levittown. I’ve been local my whole life.

Mike: That’s excellent.

Madison: So, switching gears. So how’s business going?

Heather DiPrato: It depends on which measure you take. I think it’s going really well. I mean, I’ve never had more engagement from the community than I have the last couple of issues I’ve done. I feel like we’re really getting people to send us things and they’re excited about what’s going on in the town. I mean, the duck issue is a little worried about doing something without people on the cover and I think I had more people follow our social media from that issue than anything I’ve done so far. So you never know. I would like certainly more sponsors because there’s categories we don’t have that we should. We need a lot more home improvement. During the pandemic, what we found was everybody was so darn busy, they didn’t feel like they needed to market themselves. And now we’re reaching back to those people, now that the situation has gotten a little different for a lot of them, which is they need those affluent residents who have budgets for work to know about them. So slowly, we’re making some headway, but I would like to make more headway there.

Madison: So that was my next question. How did the pandemic affect the magazine?

Heather DiPrato: It was very interesting. I mean, I am super grateful because I remember the week before it all shut down, right. And I was a little nervous and I didn’t know. I thought it might be a month or two. And then the day they shut everything down, I probably got like four calls from people that were like, I have to stop advertising immediately because the sky is falling. And I started to panic inside a little bit. Like, oh, my gosh. Well, I mean, how many days can I take calls like this, and can we survive as a business? But then something interesting happened, which is everybody was at home. And then I had people reaching out to me who I had tried to work with before who said, “Alright, we got to get into people’s homes, I want to work with you and put together a campaign where we can reach people”. And so it balanced out and we were okay. And I actually think that up to that point, the pandemic year was technically our best year. Which, in a million years, I never would have guessed that that would be the case. But for every bad thing that happened, something good counteracted it. And I think people also were looking for that kind of thing to feel good about. There were so many things on the news to make you not super excited and happy, and then you read a story about your neighbor and the good they’re doing and the way they’re raising money for people or giving things to nurses or whatever it was at that time, and you can kind of say, “I live in a nice community and everything’s going to be okay”. Yeah, we made it through, but there was a couple of weeks there where I was seriously like, oh, my gosh, what the heck?

Madison: Yeah, that’s very interesting. So why do you think the businesses reached out to you after everything shut down?

Heather DiPrato: I think it’s because they knew that we reached people in a place that they were going to be, and they started to think, well, let’s give it a try. I still have a lot of them. There were some who were very clear, I’m going to do this for a year. I just want to get through this next year, and we’re just going to try it. And there were others who, I feel like they wanted to do something and they were getting this in their home and they were reading it and they thought, “Well, why not try this”? And like I said, a number of those people, I still have. I also have people who left that panic week, who came back, which has been really gratifying because they weren’t unhappy with what we did. They were just scared. And that, I think, is perfectly reasonable. I was.

Mike: Yeah, I think everyone was. It was a scary time, for sure.

Heather DiPrato: Yes, it was. But better times now.

Madison: I feel like a lot of things are going up now, finally over that bump in the road, just gradually going up. So what do you like best about what you’re doing?

Heather DiPrato: I have this interesting perspective about it where I meet with people I’m talking specifically about the stories we tell. So there’s two parts that I really like. I’m going to focus on the part that doesn’t make us any money because it is really gratifying when I do the stories about people and they see it come together and I deliver them their copies of the magazine and they have like tears in their eye and they’re telling me how proud their mom is of them or how they had worked their whole life and never gotten any recognition for it or things like that. I think sounds like a terrible analogy. But you know, the only time that most people get that kind of big recognition is usually when somebody writes an obituary about them. You write this glowing story, but they’re not around to see it. So this is like better than that because you’re not dead and you get to see everybody telling you, you deserve this. This is so great. How wonderful for you. Congratulations. And it didn’t really hit me before I had done it for a few years, how that would ripple over years for people. Where people tell me that I featured very early on, “People still mention that article to me”. “I still have that article”. “I saved that article for my kids because I know they’re going to want to read about what their mom did at one point in her life when they were little”. And so that to me, I do really enjoy that. And then the other thing I enjoy is I got a call, actually, two things in the past 24 hours. One of my clients said he got a huge commercial account. And it’s not who he’s marketing to commercial, but he’s in my Newtown market and he does car repair. And it was somebody who already knew him. But we had an article about a new technology that he brought into his facility that does car alignment and how it works and why it’s better. And so a commercial account who had used him for various things over time, who didn’t know he did it, is now going to get all their alignment from him. And it was just somebody who lives in the community who happens to be in an influencer position at that company, read that he had the equipment and went, wait, we like this guy. And now we don’t have to outsource it to somebody who’s just some corporation. We can get it done locally. That made me feel really good because he’s small business, a very successful business, but a small business. You love to see those people win. And then the other was just a brand new advertiser who texted me last night and she’s doing digital campaigns and print with us. And she was real nervous to get started because it was the first advertising she had really done. But she does a lot of business here already and she wanted to try to grow it. And she texted me and she said, “I got a call from somebody and I came in to meet with them and they pulled out the magazine article you wrote about me”. It wasn’t a cover story, it was just an article inside and said, “I called you because of this, and it sounds like you’re the kind of person we would like to work with”. And that, to me, is the power of what we do with the articles, that’s a little different than just a traditional advertising. We get to tell people’s stories. And as a small business owner who’s out there telling your story for you, I mean, you can only do it yourself so much in any given day. So that’s why things like this are so great, because your message gets further. Well, that’s what we’re doing for people in these publications that they couldn’t easily do themselves. We’re doing a lot more affordably for them than trying to do their own direct mail. And it’s consistent. So every month people are getting it. And eventually, when the person who’s reading it need aligns with that service, they already think of them as the person they would like to call.

Madison: It just sounds so rewarding. That’s amazing.

Heather DiPrato: No, it really is. I mean, you could probably tell I am genuinely excited when I see my clients have success, and I work very hard to try to create those opportunities, too. And highlight people and highlight new things they’re doing, that might be different because you just never know what somebody’s going to need who’s reading that, but again, when that need aligns with somebody they already trust, and, like, that’s when the business can happen.

Madison: That’s amazing. So with all the success that you achieved, what’s the biggest challenge you faced or are facing?

Heather DiPrato: I think one of the big changes in my industry happened last year, and it was the kind of extreme inflation that impacted the cost of paper.

Madison: Oh, wow. I didn’t even think of that.

Heather DiPrato: So what happened was the type of paper we use, which is a glossy paper, became a pretty tight supply, and it was difficult to get, and we work with a big publishing firm who they’re probably one of the biggest, and they were struggling to get it. So what that meant was not only were other costs going up, labor costs, so our design team and people like that just need to make more money. But also the cost of goods went up so much that that really puts a squeeze on your margins. So what it means for us is we really need probably 30% more advertisers. In order to be a break even of what we used to be. And that is a challenge, and it’s a challenge I’m still working through.  But I think that what we do is so unique, when people experience it and see it and enjoy it, they’re more likely to want to be part of it. And you realize we go to 7200 homes between the two markets, so we’re not hitting everybody. So it’s like a lot of those people don’t own their own businesses. So it’s like a hustle to get more people to know that you exist and how you can help them. But I do see it helping people every day. I see it helping the residents we go to, and I see it helping the advertisers. So I know that it was a good decision, and I just would like to get back to where I was at the end of the pandemic, where it was such a good year. I would like to get back to that same level, and I’m still working through that.

Mike: Okay, well, good luck.

Heather DiPrato: Thank you.

Madison: If you could be remembered for one thing, what would it be?

Heather DiPrato: I think if I could be remembered for one thing, it would be that I really cared and I really wanted to help people. Sometimes I think it’s my greatest strength, and sometimes I think it’s my greatest weakness. I’m involved in a lot of nonprofit work. I always try to give things when we can. We’ve probably given hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of coverage to small organizations that really need to get the word out. So I would like to be remembered as somebody who genuinely cared about the people that she worked with, whether that was businesses like advertisers, or just the community as a whole. And I continue to work towards that goal as well.

Mike: That sounds so nice.

Madison: Just from talking to you through this interview, I could definitely see that. That’s incredible. I love it. It’s awesome.

Heather DiPrato: Thank you.

Madison: If you could go back and give your 18 year old self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Heather DiPrato: You know what? I wish I had done that I think any young person should know. Now, I worked in corporate America from the time I was 19, and I loved it. And it was a great. I learned so much. But what I never did was I never created any side hustle. So a lot of my friends had things like that, but I never did because I was so busy and I didn’t think I needed to. When I got laid off, along with a number of members of my team, I think we were all kind of shell shocked. And I didn’t have an immediate go to, like something to do differently. And the other thing, and this really ties to Mike’s business. I wish I would have invested more when I was younger, because once you have children, there’s a propensity to say, well, “We need this or we need that”, or “I should put this money here”. And it’s easy to not save as robustly as you would have if you just put away everything you didn’t need when you were younger. So I think somebody tried to explain it to me and I was like, la, la, la, when I was like 20, like, no, we’re good. I got time. I got time, and time goes really quickly. And that is one of those things you just can’t undo. You can start now, but it’s not going to be the same as if you had done it when you were 18 or 19 years old.

Mike: Yeah, Heather, that’s one of mine, too, in my 20’s I was in  grad school and college and all that stuff. And then our oldest was born two weeks after I graduated from law school. And so then the next two came four and five years after that. And so in my 20’s and 30’s I really saved very little and makes it harder now.

Heather DiPrato: You wish everybody would listen to that. And I’ve told a lot of people that. Now is the time, and I’ve told my daughter that. But I think the benefit of going through it and not doing it the right way is you can teach your children a better path. Do as I say, not as I did. But my daughter, she’s twelve and she’s already talking about the business she’s going to start when she’s old enough to work officially in two years. She’s an incredible organizer. She’s going to organize people’s homes and she’s going to save like 80% of the money that she makes. But she’s writing for us now. I mean, she’s really an incredible kid. But she’s been listening to everything I say and she has a plan. And I like that because I might not have done it perfectly myself, but at least she’ll have that opportunity to do it better. And I guess that’s what we’re all here for, right? When we have these kids, we want them  to do things that we should have done but maybe didn’t.

Mike: No, that’s it. Right? That’s like the parents dream that the kids have a better life and do things a little bit smarter than we did. And yeah, it’s easier now with my two youngest just graduated from college last month and so now it is easier. I talk to them all the time about how hard it was in my 20’s and 30’s, how my professional life didn’t feel like it was good until I was in my mid or late 40’s so that they could be 20 years ahead of me that way. And hopefully they are. I mean, one started working, the other one just agreed to a job. So fingers crossed. And I’m sure they’ll make different mistakes, but hopefully there’ll be fewer of them than their mother and I made.

Heather DiPrato: Let’s hope. I’m sure we both did our best.

Madison: This has been amazing. I am so happy we got to hear about Yardley Living and Newtown Neighbors. So we know your time is incredibly valuable and we greatly appreciate you spending time with us. For those listening and watching and want to learn more about Yardley Living and Newtown Neighbors, where’s the best place for them to learn more about you?

Heather DiPrato: They can either go to www.enjoyyardley.com or www.newtownighbors.com and they’ll take them to the same place and they can learn all about it. They can nominate a story they can ask me about creating magazines in their community if they’re out in Texas or Arizona or wherever they are. And they say, “man, I wish I had something like this in my town”. That sounds really cool. I’d be happy to hook them up with the right people.

Mike: That’s great. Heather, thank you so much. We really appreciate it.

Heather DiPrato: Thanks, Mike. I appreciate it, too. And thanks, Madison. It was really nice to meet you.

Madison: Absolutely. Thank you so much.

You can connect with Heather at Yardley Living & Newtown Neighbors’ website: https://www.enjoyyardley.com 

Michael Garry Yardley Wealth Management

Author Michael Garry Yardley Wealth Management

Michael Garry is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner and a NAPFA-registered Financial Advisor. He is a member of the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) and the Financial Planning Association (FPA).

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