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Not Just Numbers: Honest Conversations with a Financial Advisor (and Lawyer!) Podcast Ep.7

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.

Do You Need a Trust? What Are They? Feat. Liz Young, the Owner of CommonPlace Reader


Madison: Hello, everyone, and welcome to the 7th episode of ‘Not Just Numbers, Honest Conversations with a Financial Advisor and Lawyer’. I’m Madison Demora. I’m here with Mike Garry. Mike is the founder and CEO of Yardley Wealth Management.

Mike: Maddie, good to see you.

Madison: Good to see you, too, Mike. So last time we talked about estate planning basics, what would you like to talk about today?

Trusts and Social Media

Mike: So today I’d like to talk specifically more about trusts. We get asked all sorts of questions about them, and I think most people just don’t understand them. Quick question for you, Maddie. I know you probably go on social media once in a while. Do you ever see people talking about trusts on TikTok or Instagram?

Madison: Not usually.

Mike: That’s good, because I have had people come in and say that they have, and they describe trust as having all sorts of magical properties and they are the ticket to intergenerational wealth. And it’s not really that. Anyway. If you do see an influencer on TikTok and they are not a CFP, a CPA, or a lawyer, then maybe you take what they say with a grain of salt. Because if they are a CPA, a CFP, or a lawyer, they’ll be regulated by the state or the government or their regulatory bodies, and they’re less likely to make extreme claims that are not grounded in reality.

Madison: Okay. I will make that note. I guess we should start off with, what is a trust?

What Is a Trust?

Mike: So, a trust is a different sort of estate document. It can stand on its own or be part of somebody’s Will. In fact, the most common place you see trust language is in a Will for people who have either children or grandchildren or expect to have them or might have them. So you would put a trust in your Will You know, if you die prematurely. Before at a point where you don’t think your kids could handle their money. My three children are all adults and in their twenties , and we still have trust language in our Wills for them. So if something were to happen to my wife and me, the girls wouldn’t just get buckets of cash. They would have trusts managed by their Aunt Jennifer. And they would get what Aunt Jennifer, an adult, who’s been around for a while, thinks is appropriate for them. So a trust is a legal document, and they’ve been around for hundreds of years. And they have some similarities, and there are a lot of differences. So in each case, there’s a grantor or trustor who sets it up and puts the money into it or property into it, because you could put property, not just cash, you could put stocks or bonds or property. And then there’s a trustee who manages the money or property. And then there are beneficiaries who either get income from it or ultimately get the property or the benefit of the money or property. Now, in a lot of cases, those three can all be the same person. So if you do a revocable living trust and you set up a trust when you’re going to put your stocks in it, you could be the grantor, the trustee and the beneficiary. After the trust set up in Wills, the next most common is the revocable living trust. And they’re set up like that, with one person being all three, grant or trustee and beneficiary. Usually it’s a good practice to have contingent trustee and beneficiaries to take place if either the grantor becomes incapacitated or dies, or if any of the beneficiaries become incapacitated or dies. It’s funny, we call them revocable or irrevocable, and that’s what lawyers call them. But it would probably make way more sense if we called them, and this is the other pronunciation, revocable or irrevocable, because then people would understand what it means. Revocable is not a word that people see all that often. What a revocable trust is, it means that the grantor can change it. So if you set up your revocable living trust and you have different things in it, and your situation in life changes, you can change your trust as long as you have the mental capacity to do it. So as long as you are of sound mind. Though, there are also irrevocable trust, meaning that you can’t change it. Even those, you probably could change it, but you might need a court to intervene. But anyway, they are much less common and we’ll talk about them in later podcasts when we talk about more advanced estate planning techniques, they’re there to reduce inheritance and estate taxes.

Who Should Consider Creating a Trust?

Madison: Okay, so I know you said you have a trust because you said your kids are younger. Aunt Jennifer is going to make sure who gets what. So who else or who should consider creating a trust as a part of their estate plan?

Mike: Sure. So in addition to those kind of trusts, you might want to have a revocable living trust if you are in a state where the probate process is lengthy or expensive, because anything that’s in a trust doesn’t go through probate and that might speed up the time and reduce the cost for you. A lot of states, probate is not really actually a big issue, but in some states it really is. If you think you might need help managing your affairs, if you’re starting to get up there in years and you realize that one day you’re either going to pass or not be able to take care of things. It might make sense to set up a trust because having a successor trustee or a co trustee with you, it’s a lot easier to manage those affairs than it would be if that person helped you with a durable power of attorney. I think those are big situations. And another one is if you’re famous or otherwise subject to public scrutiny and want to avoid that, a trust might be a good idea.

Madison: So what does fame have to do with it?

Mike: So when you die, your executor goes to your county to probate your Will and it becomes a public record. Everyone can see what’s in your Will. Now, no one might care about Mike Garry’s Will, but when famous people die, it’s always stories about what is in their Wills or what is missing from their Wills. I’m sure you’ve heard that. I think when Prince died, it was a big thing. Other famous people, either they have strange things in their Wills, or you find out that they didn’t have a Will. And that’s mind boggling that somebody worth tens or hundreds of millions of dollars doesn’t have one. But that happens. So if you dispose of everything by trust, no one sees that. Dispose is the proper word, even if it thinks we think of trash or garbage.

Potential Drawbacks or Risks of Using a Trust

Madison: So is there any potential drawbacks or risks of using a trust?

Mike: So there aren’t a lot. It costs money to set it up a trust, and you need to choose wisely when you choose your trustees, trustees are legally obligated, tacking your best interest as a fiduciary to you. But of course, not everyone does what they’re supposed to. The biggest drawback I’ve seen is that people create documents and then don’t sign them or don’t fund them. We see that actually all the time. People will set up a revocable living trust, and they’ll come in when they update their estate plans. And I say, “Okay, that’s great. It looks like you have this trust done and everything looks valid and it’s signed, so what do you own in it?” And they just look at me kind of with a blank stare, and I’m like, so the trust doesn’t have anything, so it’s not doing anything for you. And I think that usually is there’s a lack of communication between the lawyer who drew it up and the client. Or maybe the lawyer did a good job of explaining, but then client got busy with the rest of their life and didn’t get a chance to finish it. The other big thing is I’ve seen a lot of those where the client never actually got around to signing them. And so, again, if it’s not signed or funded, it doesn’t really do anything for you yet.

Madison: So why do you think that is? They take the time to get it created and everything. What’s the holdback?

Mike: Well, so it’s either that the client or the lawyer or both. And I think it really depends on the situation. A lot of these documents can be very complicated. People don’t see them in their ordinary life. I mean, you see them all the time, right? I see them all the time. Most people don’t. And so people probably aren’t sure of the process. Right? Like, “Hey, does this take effect because we got it emailed to me, or does it take effect now because we talked about it?” It takes effect when it is signed in front of two witnesses and a notary. But then it doesn’t actually help you for a living trust until you put something in it, and that’s when it happens. But, yeah, estate planning is a hard thing, Maddie, because you see a lot of people don’t do it. I’m sure you’ve seen statistics, or listeners have seen statistics about the percentage of adults that don’t have Wills, and it’s a high percentage. Maybe half of people don’t have them. And for a lot of people, even who do have them, they’re hopelessly outdated, like their beneficiaries or executors or trustees are dead. They haven’t needed guardians in years, or they got them when they really were just starting out in life and really didn’t have that much. And now they do have a lot. And maybe they have kids who are divorced or they have grandkids and there’s a lot. It’s something where you really do need to set aside the time and the money to do it. And it’s not all that time consuming or expensive, but there are both of those cost. And then you have to make sure that it’s in, you know, once people do that, like, I wish we could video that, because when people do it, you see how happy they are and relieved. They often will leave here and have, like, a celebratory lunch or something. Yeah, it’s tough, Maddie. I don’t really know for sure. I think another part, though, is the lawyers, they tend to be busy, backed up on time, and they’re probably not real great about reaching back out to clients to make sure stuff gets done. It’s actually been a learning experience for us to figure out how to get that done. Like, I used to send drafts to people and then I wouldn’t hear back from them. And then we switched it so that we don’t send drafts. We see a summary if something needs to be changed while they’re in the office. And it takes a few minutes. Well, it’ll take a few minutes. It’s rather spend that extra time than have somebody not sign something because they don’t get around to the second appointment. And it’s kind of funny that you have to plan that way and figure it out. But we do the best that we can to try to get people to update and have what they need, and that’s what works for us. We set the appointment for them to come in, we’ll take care of everything. One out of ten times. Maybe I misspelled something, or once they see it in paper, they don’t like the idea and say, “Oh, no, let’s make it even among our kids.” And it’s an easy enough thing.

The Connection Between a Trust and Estate Taxes

Madison: Great. So what’s the connection between a trust and estate taxes?

Mike: Sure. So in most cases there is no connection. So if you just leave your stuff to your kids in trust, like, what would happen? The trust under mine, Rachel’s Wills, and the kids get them. It doesn’t save us anything in taxes. If you set up a revocable living trust, it’s in your tax ID number. It doesn’t save you anything in income, inheritance, gift, or estate taxes. So most don’t save taxes. In order to save estate taxes, you need to give up some little bit of control. My professor in law school was great about that. You have full control, you pay full taxes. Give up some control, you reduce your taxes. It’s really a connection there. So the most common ones to save taxes are trusts for your spouse in your Will and irrevocable life insurance trust. So there are a number of different trusts that you can use in your Will to try to save estate taxes. The one that we use most common is called a disclaimer trust. And so the reason we use that is it’s optional. And the surviving spouse can decide when their spouse passes whether they need to take advantage of it or not. So I’m going to use a simple example. Okay. So let’s say that a couple is each worth $5 million, right? So the husband’s worth $5 million, wife is worth $5 million. And at the time, the time when the first one of them dies, the estate tax exemption has gone back down to $5 million. Now, a few years ago, $5 million was the estate tax exemption, and before that, it was always lower than that. Right now, it’s about $13 million, but it will go back to 5 million in 2026 if Congress doesn’t change it. And since Congress is ineffective at doing anything else, maybe it’ll go back to $5 million. So when someone passes and they’re married, the spouse pays no estate tax or inheritance tax on anything they receive. Right. So your husband dies, leaves you $5 million. You have $10 million. There’s no tax there, but there’s tax when the second person dies. Estate tax is 35%. If it goes back to 5 million, it’d be 40%. So using that same example, it’s 40%. So husband dies, leaves $5 million to his wife. She’s got $5 million of her own, so she has $10 million. $5 million is exempt because there’s a $5 million exemption. So $5 million is taxable. The 40% tax rate. That’s a $2 million estate tax. Right? $2 million. That’s a real number. If instead, they set up using a disclaimer trust. So, in your Will, all of the stipulations and the rules for the disclaimer trust are in there. And what it says is if the spouse disclaims any assets of mine, they go into a trust, and that trust would be available for her health, education, maintenance, and support, and she could also take the income from that, and the income in Pennsylvania is imputed to be 3% – 5%. And so if instead of just taking that $5 million and putting it all in the wife’s name, she disclaims it, and it’s a one page form you file in your county when you file the inheritance tax return, that $5 million, instead of being in wife’s name, it’s in trust under the Will of husband. So it’s a little bit less control. Right. She can’t just sign a check just to sign a check. That $5 million from that, she could take whatever is necessary for health, education, maintenance and support. And so that is the standard of how she has lived her life is the standard. Right. So if I always joke about this when I explain them to clients, she can’t, after her husband’s funeral, fly her new boyfriend to Paris from that trust. Right. But she could pay her household expenses, go on vacations with the kids and grandkids, do whatever’s part of her normal life with money from that trust, and take the income from it. And when she passes, since that trust was not in her name, that trust goes to the next generation beneficiaries outside of her estate. And so there are no estate taxes on that. So in that example, when husband passes, wife disclaims $5 million, $5 million goes in trust, wife owns $5 million, the money that’s left over in trust there’s no tax on, the $5 million that the wife owns has a $5 million exemption. So that $10 million all goes to the next generation without any estate taxes. By doing the planning, taking the time to see that lawyer, paying a little bit of money to the lawyer to set things up, it could save a whole lot of money in taxes.

Choosing a Trustee to Manage Your Trust

Madison: Okay, so now that we understand trusts, so how do you pick a trustee to manage your trust?

Mike: Well, that can be difficult, Maddie. For some people, it’s easy. Right. For me, my sister’s a little bit younger than me. She’s a lot thinner than me, so her life expectancy is probably longer. And we get along great. And she’s fantastic. For other people, though, it’s harder. Ordinarily, people pick either a family member or some sort of bank or corporate trustee, and there’s pros and cons to each of them. So if you have a trusted family member, it’s more likely that they’ll look after your interests. Right? Like my sister is going to take care of her nieces to the extent that she can, but not every family member can handle that. Right? If you’re going to leave money in trust and if you have life insurance and all of a sudden you have some small children and $3 million, most people would have a hard time with that. Most people are not equipped for that. On the other hand, if you have picked like a bank or a corporate trustee, well, you could feel pretty confident they’ll know how to manage the money. Maybe not perfectly, but they’ll do a good job. They’ll make sure the taxes are paid, and they’ll follow your wishes to a t, make sure all the legal and accounting requirements are followed, and they’ll make sure they have good lawyers and accountants to make sure everything is good. But they might not handle the personal aspects as well. Right. So

say one of my kids needs special procedure or wants to follow a dream of going to grad school. Well, Aunt Jen will probably know that Emma has always wanted to get her doctoral degree, and Aunt Jen will pay for that out of the trust. The corporate trustee. If we had, like Wells Fargo or some demon bank, like, know, they might say, like, no, it doesn’t specifically say in here that you could go for your doctoral degree, so we’re not going to pay for it. And so in that instance, the family trustee could probably handle that better than the bank trustee. So. Yeah, it’s complicated for sure.

Common Misconceptions About Trusts

Madison: It sounds complicated. So what do people get wrong about trusts?

Mike: Well, I think that most common mistakes are that they think all trusts reduce your taxes. I think, you know, like we said at the beginning, people on social media think that trusts are like shortcuts for generational wealth. They can be great estate planning tools and they can really come in handy. I think more people should have them. If you have minor children, I don’t know how often I’ve seen this, but people have minor children and they have their accounts, like their 401K set up to go to their spouse and then to their kids. Well, your eight and ten year old sons are not going to be able to manage that money. That money is going to be tied up by the orphans court, or whatever it’s called in your county, in your state, and it’s going to be a protracted legal battle. Your state is going to have to hire lawyers. Take the time to get your Will set up, have a trust in your Will for your kids, save everybody a lot of time, money and heartache, because unfortunately, not everybody lives to a nice, ripe old age. Sometimes bad things happen.


Madison: Okay. So is there anything else we want to talk about trusts?

Mike: No, I don’t think so. I think in a future episode, we’ll talk about more advanced estate planning techniques for people who have money that would potentially be taxable estates. But I think for most people, more than 99% of people, I think this is what trusts are sometimes important and necessary and might always be a good idea.

Madison: Okay.

Mike: Thanks, Maddie.

Interview with Liz Young, Owner of CommonPlace Reader

Introduction and Background

Madison: We are joined here today with Liz Young. Liz is the owner of the bookstore Commonplace Reader, which is here in Yardley. Liz, would you like to explain to our listeners what commonplace reader is, how it came about, and a little background about it?

Liz: Sure. Commonplace reader is a general bookstore. It specializes in books for adults who like fiction and nonfiction, new books. And we also have a pretty substantial children’s collection for both toddlers, mid readers, and young adults. And then what we focus on is the particular interests of our local community. So we have a local author collection, as well as, in our gallery, we have local artists that are on display for a couple of months at a time. So I think the other part of your question was, what do we focus on? We focus on reading. We have a phrase called “Connect, inspire, explore.” And the purpose there is to connect people to other readers and connect them to books that they’re interested in, inspire further reading, further connections with people, and then explore new places that they’ve never been.

Mike: That sounds great.

Madison: Yeah, that’s awesome. So are you from this area?

Liz: I’m originally from Massachusetts. For my growing up years, I went to school and college in Boston, but moved here about 30 plus years ago, and I consider this my home.

Madison: So what made you open, Commonplace Reader?

Liz: Well, I always wanted a bookstore. For many, many years, I wanted to do something with reading or libraries or bookstores. But I had other pressing needs in terms of my financial needs to take care of my family, get them through school, and do some other things. So I kind of tabled that dream and worked for a company called Johnson & Johnson. I worked in finance and I.T doing big projects, global projects, and I learned a lot. So it was things that were helpful for me later, of course, and held off and then retired and then said, I give myself two years to figure it out and start a bookstore in Yardley.

Mike: Well, that’s great. Seems like you figured it out pretty well. I remember when the building was being redone. I thought it was beautiful and really a lot better than it had looked before. And I was like, “oh, maybe I’d be able to rent in there.” And then I saw your sign go up, and it’s like, okay. That’s a better spot.

Liz: Yeah, you got a better spot, too.

Mike: Yeah, no, it’s good. Scott did a great job with this building. We really like it. I love being here, love being in town, walking across the Wawa or going to Pana or any of the local places. It’s nice. And I only live four minutes from here, so it’s not too bad of a commute.

Liz: Right.

Mike: And one of the things that I said when we opened is everything I needed to open the store was locally right within walking distance. Yeah. It’s great.

Liz: It is great. Yes.

Mike: We live in lower Makefield, not in Yarley Borough, but we moved in 18 years ago today and love it. My wife and I are both from Philadelphia, and our oldest daughter had a swim meet at LMT, and I was working in Princeton at the time, and I thought, this is lovely. And we cut my commute in half, and so we started looking and couldn’t be happier. It really is a great community here.

Business Growth and Challenges

Madison: So how’s business going, Liz?

Liz: I would say business is strong. It’s an uphill battle. A local independent bookstore is not an easy venture from a financial perspective, from all other perspectives, it’s my dream, because I have daily contact with people I’m interested in and who are interested in books and who are community members and care about the things that I care about. The hardest part is how do I want to say it? The setup or the structure of the publishing industry, which requires me to sell the books that I sell with the price that’s printed on the book. So the margin is therefore guaranteed, but it doesn’t take into account some of the costs that are fluctuating and or rising over time. So it’s a very small margin business, and the best way to be successful is to turn your inventory, which is not the easiest thing to do, because every book that I get in the store, I think, is a good book and has a home waiting for it someplace. So it’s hard to return books and constantly turn them over.

Mike: Spoken like a true finance professional there. I love that.

Madison: So how did the pandemic affect your business?

Liz: Well, the pandemic, we opened in September 2019, and the pandemic, as you know, hit March 13 / 14th, we were considered designated a nonessential business. So we were asked to close by the governor on Saturday, March 14. So I had very few. I probably had ten or twelve online orders, and I didn’t even really know how they got there. Like, I didn’t understand my customers knew how to do it. All ten of them knew how to process an order, and I had no clue. I just knew sort of the results and what I had to do. And usually there was a special order so I could figure out what to do next. So on that Monday the 16th, I called up my tech team, who is a company in British Columbia, Canada, and I asked them “What do I do? How do I set this up and make sure that I have the right things in place?” So we spent about a half an hour on the phone, and they explained to me what my choices were and what I could do and what I couldn’t do. And then from there, I figured out the process that I had to follow for pickup and delivery. The good news was the distributor that we use across the countries, basically the biggest and only book distributor called Ingram Publishing, and they had what they call a direct to home program. So I signed up for that and was off and running. Didn’t have a lot of business, of course, because people hardly knew we even existed. But at least I figured out how to handle the business I had online. So really, within a day, I was up and running and trying to figure out how to tell people that they could still get books.

Mike: So it sounds like a tough challenge from a timing perspective. Six months in and then having to pivot to the whole technical thing. It’s great that you have a good team there, and you and they were able to get things set up so quickly. Then trying to get people to know, right.

Liz: It was really amazing. It was not the problem that I thought it would be or could be. The biggest problem, it’s still my problem in terms of making sure people understand. There’s a bookstore in Yardley, and this is what we do, and this is how you can take advantage of it to the customer. So hence some of my involvement in Experience Yardley, because I really believe that the foot traffic and the community, if they knew more about what Yardley had to offer, would actually result in different types of engagement with the community.

Mike: Right. I totally agree with that. I think that for a lot of people, it’s hair salons, realtors, and financial advisors down here, and there’s actually a lot of other businesses. It’s just hard to get noticed with so many down here. But the last three years, walking around down here, you see so many people. I think in the suburbs, you drive to your destination, say, oh, I’m going to Vince’s, because it’s been there for 100 years, and don’t think of the other six stores along back there. But, yeah, that’s great. That Experience Yardley is working to improve that. And I don’t know, I feel like it’s pretty busy, but could certainly be much busier, which is great.

Experience Yardley

Madison: Yeah. So I heard you mention Experience Yardley. What is Experience Yardley?

Liz: Experience Yardley is a 501(c)(3) company, and its purpose is to engage the community of residents and the community of businesses together. So it’s not a business association, and its purpose is not to serve only businesses and, quote, unquote, customers of that business. Its goal is to engage the residents in a joint community and a place to live and work and enjoy what we have to offer together. So that’s an important distinguishing feature from something like the YBA. So the Yardley Business Association’s focus is on fundraising for activities for businesses. If I can make it any clearer, tell me how.

Mike: No, I think that’s good. So how long has Experience Yardley been around?

Liz: It’s been around, I believe, informally since about 2009. More formally, it was incorporated as an LLC in 2017 / 2018. I think they started the paperwork and finished it in 18. So it’s a small group. There’s a president, a vice president, a secretary, and a treasurer. Minimum things that you have to have and then a lot of volunteers. So what we do is we do probably two main things and Experience Yardley was pretty affected by COVID as well. So what we do is events. So we have something called Music off Main, where we have bands come in every Saturday night, select Sundays, and play music for the community, free concerts. And then, as one example, and then we also do things like what we call placemaking projects. And that’s where there’s a focus in a certain location. So the Greetings from Yardley mural is one of the first placemakers. And the reason we were able to do that or the reason that came about in particular, was because during COVID there was obviously no gathering. People weren’t supposed to come together, even outside in public places, everything was very restricted. But that was something that we could do and continue to move forward with our goals. Another example is the ducks. If you’ve seen the ducks around town those again we started during COVID and we could keep that project going without worrying about any of the restrictions on COVID based on COVID activities. So the biggest thing that Experience Yardley hopes to achieve is community, and I would say foot traffic. So the importance of people coming and visiting as a place to visit. We don’t have a lot of Airbnbs. We don’t have a lot of hotels or inns, but we can be a place for day trips. Yeah. So the other big thing that we do that’s very popular is Canaloween. That’s where we spend a week. We carve pumpkins, and then we have what we call a stroll, where people go up and down the canal and see all the pumpkins that have been carved and are lit each night for a week. That’s probably our most popular. Lots and lots of people have heard of Canaloween, and I think it’s pretty unique. I don’t think there’s anybody else who does it. And we are actually, as a result of being a little concerned about that, we’re trademarking the name this year and making sure that it will be just for Yardley.

Madison: That’s awesome. That’s so cool.

Liz: So we’re working with the Yardley Parks and rec just this week. We agreed that they would do a fun run at the same time as the. Yeah. So Experience Yardley is an important part of what I think the mission we have as downtown businesses. And one of the ways we help each other is to have a reason to talk and a reason to work together. So that helps with the entire focus of both my business and the business of a community.

Passion for the Job and Biggest Challenges

Madison: Yeah, absolutely. So with all these things that you’re doing, Commonplace Reader, Experience Yardley, what do you like best about what you’re doing?

Liz: I think I like best being in the store and having people come in and chat. I have a lot of quote unquote regulars, and I enjoy that part of the day. I love reading, of course, and I like looking for new books and finding new things for people to read and get excited about. But I think it’s the social interaction that I like the best.

Madison: Wonderful. With all the success you’ve achieved, what’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced or are facing?

Liz: I think the biggest challenge is the traffic and getting people, because every day I still have people come in say, “Oh, I never knew there was a bookstore in Yardley, or I never knew this is what it meant.” A lot of times, especially in the beginning, we had people coming in thinking we were a psychic reader place because there did used to be one across the street. But they saw the word reading or reader and they thought it was a tarot card reading spot.

Mike: Where did the name come about? How did you come up with that?

Liz: It comes from the concept of a commonplace notebook. And a commonplace notebook was something that was very prevalent in the late 17 18 hundreds. So people like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin had commonplace notebooks where they kept important passages or things that they wanted to have with them at all times, a poem or quotes from certain books. So they would write them these excerpts in their book, their commonplace book, and take it with them. So it was a way for them to refer to important things in their life with them at all times. And most people did not have the equivalent of a library in any way. Most people had three or four books if they were lucky. So they would copy these passages from other people’s friends or neighbors, and then they would have it for themselves.

Mike: Wow. So that’s really interesting. I like that. Yeah. In terms of the foot traffic, I can’t help but think it used to be all independent bookstores, and then you have those couple that were the giant chains, and now people buy so many online. I think it’s like changing people’s habits and letting them know and remember that it’s there. I know with my kids when they go to get something like it’s the library or go down to Main street, it’s right there. It’s a three minute drive from your house. It’s harder than just making a click, but you get to meet people, see people, support a local business. There’s a lot of good about it.

Liz: The biggest thing, I think, is the ease with which everybody has been able to get used to Amazon, that they don’t even think about doing anything differently because I had a conversation with one of my regular customers and he said know “What do I do? How do I change my habit?” I said, the best thing you can do is if you sit down at the computer and you say, “I’m going to buy this.” And you think, well, where did I buy it before? Say, ten years ago, five years ago? Where did I get what I need today before? And the answer is, you’d go downtown and you’d go to hardware store or the little mom-and-pop appliance store, but they still exist. You just have to find them or think about them and don’t take the easy way, which is just to click.

Mike: Right. It is very easy. And I think we all do it probably a lot too much. One of the great things about bookstores is you go in looking for something and there’s something else that you find. Spend a couple of minutes browsing, and you find something different than what you’re looking for, and you get them both, and you really can have a life-changing experience with a different book.

Liz: Well, and that’s the beauty of bookselling, is that we can tell people things that their neighbors may be reading. They don’t have to know which neighbors or why or whatever. But we say this is a book that’s resonating with people, or this is one that I think you’ll like based on your liking this other book. But having that conversation, explaining, you don’t get that in an algorithm.

Mike: Maddie and I have discussed some books this year, and my kids and wife and I all read a pretty good amount. I probably read more nonfiction now since being a business owner, than I read before. But, yeah, I think it’s a wonderful thing talking about what you like. My youngest was just graduated from Penn state, and her major was secondary education, English. So she reads all the time, and then she would discuss and she’ll talk about things that I just don’t get when I read it. And it’s fun. It’s cool. She teaches me a lot. Her and my middle daughter is also not as much now, but was an avid reader when she was younger. And they discuss things. I’m impressed because I’m like, “I missed that whole thing. What do you mean It’s about that.” But it’s fun to talk about. And then the next time I go to read something, I’ll try to read a little bit more carefully and see if there’s something else. So it’s good. It’s a nice communal thing, talking about, I don’t know, the plot twists or the themes. And like I said, Maddie and I’ve talked about some things that we’ve read in common this year, and it’s know, it’s a good.

Liz: One of the things I say to people, too, is if you listen to NPR, you should come to the bookstore and find a book because it’s the same type of experience. You can hear a story that you had no idea was important or happening, and it will trigger some interest on your part. And finding more about that is something that you can easily do right in a bookstore or find someone else who knows about it, too.

Mike: Excellent points.

Advice for Young Professionals and Legacy

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

Liz: I think it would be trust yourself and take a few more risks than you think you can. It’ll work out. You’ll figure it out.

Madison: Beautifully said.

Mike: Yeah. Great advice.

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

Liz: I think about being a caring person. I think that’s the most important thing. I care about my family, my friends, my neighbors, and I hope that it’s reciprocated. I mean, that’s what we all want. And I think that was the hardest thing about COVID for everybody, was not being able to demonstrate that or not being able to feel that and act on it.

Final Thoughts

Madison: We know your time is incredibly valuable, and we greatly appreciate you spending time with us. For those watching and listening and want to learn more, what is the best place for them to learn more about Commonplace Reader and Experience Yardley?

Liz: Our websites. So the Commonplace Reader website has book lists, suggestions, book clubs, things for kids, things for grownups. As I said, with book clubs, we have eight or nine book clubs. So those are for sustainability, people interested in climate change, people interested in romance, people who want to know more about mysteries and fiction. And we have one interesting group that is about social justice, which is one that we started with, the African American Museum of Bucks County. So we do several pretty hard knocking books about what’s facing the world and what we could do differently. So there’s a lot to find on the website as well as just browsing for books online. And then for Experience Yardley same thing. It explains what we do, what we have as our important programming in the next few months. And we’ve just redesigned. We have a great video of Yardley. So if you get a chance, go to And on the front page, just near the bottom, there’s a video done by a videographer who did a great job. It’s the one of three we’re going to do. We’re going to do one for Music off Main and then another one for Canaloween. But this is the broad shot of what’s Yardley.

Mike: I’ll have to take a look. Well, thanks so much for taking the time. We really appreciate it.

Liz: Well, thank you for having me. Thank you very much.

Madison: For more information on Yardley Wealth Management, you can visit our website at you can also follow us on socials at Yardley Wealth Management. This podcast has been produced by Madison Demora and Mike Garry with technical and artistic help from Poe Productions.

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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