Create a Financial Lifestyle that Meets Your Goals

Saving money is important, but it’s not the only aspect of financial wellbeing. Health and self-sufficiency are also important. Sitting down with a financial advisor who looked at the holistic picture helped Sarah Dunn, vice president of CG Schmidt, Inc., gain confidence in her financial decisions.

Joanna Burish’s strategy is to figure out what’s most important to her clients and work backwards to identify risks that threaten that lifestyle. That idea — and the help of a fellow woman — fundamentally altered Dunn’s financial outlook, allowing her to create a path all the way to retirement, and beyond. Burish asked Dunn about how their financial planning conversations have helped her.

Q: What is your biggest strength, and how do you think that propelled you to where you are today?

A: Finding a job where I can capitalize on my strengths. I’m a firm believer in focusing on people’s strengths rather than their weaknesses, because people excel much faster when they’re doing things that come naturally to them.

My dad taught us to think outside the box in how you approach things, and he would make you figure something out yourself.

That’s something I’ve brought with me into my professional and financial life as well.

Q: Who did you learn most from when it comes to your own financial planning?

A: That would be you. The thing you’ve instilled in me is, it’s not just saving or investing your money. It’s really looking at a holistic approach and planning for the future, which can include owning a home, being faced with a disability, looking into long-term care and life insurance. I’ve worked with other financial planners, and they don’t take that overall, comprehensive approach.

It’s really how you have developed your practice and one of the things that’s helped me the most.

Q: How have you seen that play out in your life?

A: I took a vacation to Costa Rica, and I shattered my leg on a jet ski. After that happened, you and I had a conversation about disability insurance being more than a policy you have through your employer. It was really eye-opening because I have it through my employer, but it was really taking it a step further.

Q: Does that translate into your professional life?

Yes, in that I’m well prepared for retirement, and my kids won’t be responsible for supporting me. That’s a personal goal: I don’t want my kids to feel like they’re going to have to take care of me financially.

Also, taking into account all my assets. You’ve helped me keep traveling down that right path to achieve my personal and professional goals, from owning a home to vacations that I want to take to helping my daughter buy a house.

It’s helped me spend my money wisely, but also on the things that truly have value to me, too.

Q: If you could go back to your 20-year-old self, what advice would you give her?

Embrace the challenging roles and opportunities that push you out of your comfort zone. Always take care of yourself. When I set out to get married, I didn’t think I’d get divorced, and I did. You have to rely on yourself.

Q: How has holistic financial planning changed your strategic outlook?

If something were to happen to me, I know that I am covered. I’ve identified every risk and every threat, thanks to you. I know no matter what happens, if I were to become disabled, pass away — my kids are taken care of. If I decide I want to retire, I can retire right now.

There’s a lot of comfort in knowing I don’t have to worry about my financial future.


Contact Joanna Burish directly at 608-658-3482 or [email protected]

Northwestern Mutual is the marketing name for The Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Company (NM) (life and disability Insurance, annuities, and life insurance with long-term care benefits) and its subsidiaries, including Northwestern Long Term Care Insurance Company (NLTC) (long-term care insurance) and Northwestern Mutual Investment Services, LLC (NMIS) (investment brokerage services), a registered investment adviser, broker-dealer, and member of FINRA and SIPC. NM and its subsidiaries are in Milwaukee, WI. Joanna Burish is an Insurance Agent of NM and NLTC.

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