When it comes to Financial Success (or Survival), You Need Good Partners
August, 2008 - Issue #46
The world of finance - whether you're running a small business or trying to manage the business of running your home - can be a minefield. The good news is that help is available - you just need the right partner. Here are a few to consider.

The Local Bank
"The most important thing is to create a strong relationship with your bank," says Tamara Gurney of Mission Valley Bank. "Obviously, these are tough times. If you're having trouble, it's important to call and just say, 'This is where I'm at.' We can help."

Mission Valley Bank, which has been serving individuals and small businesses in the Santa Clarita Valley for years, can assist in a variety of ways. "We work closely with small businesses," Gurney says. "We help with start-ups to recapitalizing businesses to succession financing."

Another local banking option is SCVBank, which focuses on small to medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs. "We have a wide array of business products and services to meet those needs," says SCVBank's Kris Hough. "We handle commercial real estate loans, SBA loans (we are a Preferred Lender for the SBA), business loans and lines of credit, checking and savings and on-line banking." SCVBank also offers something new: Remote Deposit Capture, which gives businesses the ability to make deposits right from their office.

The Credit Union
Another possible financial ally is the credit union. Credit unions differ from banks in that they are privately owned and controlled by credit union members. Some offer better interest rates, for example. Some can offer less-expensive loans. Many, such as Lockheed Federal Credit Union (LFCU), are open to everyone. You just need to apply.

"Santa Clarita residents are eligible to take advantage of money-saving services through Lockheed Federal Credit Union," says LFCU Director of Sales James Davis. "Lockheed offers exceptional service and is rated 5-stars for financial strength. As a not-for-profit organization, Lockheed offers attractive rates on money market accounts and mortgage, home equity and auto loans."

The Insurance Agent
Consider this scenario: You are at fault in a traffic collision with a car carrying five passengers. Each of those passengers sues. In the end, you are hit with a $2 million bill. Your car insurance liability, however, only covers you up to $200,000. Where does the balance come from? The alarming answer is your personal and business assets. The right insurance agent can protect you.

"The average settlement awarded by a jury in an accident is $400,000," says Tina Purwin of Purwin Insurance. "Nobody is exempt from liability lawsuits. You protect your home against fire, why not against law suits?"

Purwin is an expert at analyzing various types of insurance and spotting areas of exposure. For 15 years, she's been helping SCV residents protect their families and their finances. For her, it's a mission. "I want people to be informed and educated," she says. "Do you know how many liability lawyers are out there? And they're all making money."

A good insurance agent can also help shore up gaps in medical coverage, too - without killing your budget. "Health insurance is out of control," says Allstate & Blue Cross agent Loreen Worden. "Supplemental health insurance can save you a lot of money."

Here's how it works. Individuals and small business owners who are paying for their own insurance may opt for a higher deductible - for example, $5,000. In such cases, patients pay out of pocket for routine visits and minor health concerns.

The exposure, however, lies in major health concerns like cancer or a serious accident. This is where supplemental insurance comes in. "You can keep your deductible high and just add supplemental insurance to cover those major events," Worden says. "You don't have to change your health insurance (and go through all the paperwork). You just find the supplemental plan that fits your family." Better yet, let Worden find it for you. That's what she does. "I'm an advocate for my clients," she says. "Just tell me what you need and I'll help lay out your options."
Another insurance option for SCV residents is Shepard Insurance Agency. Shepard has more than 60 years of experience offering insurance ranging from business, auto, home, life, health, disability and long-term care. This is a one-stop shop.

What's unique about Shepard Insurance is its guarantee. "We back all this experience up with our 15 for 15 pledge," spokeswoman Jill Mellady says. "If you dial an extension at our office and the phone isn't picked up in 15 seconds, you receive a $15 gas card. After two years of this program, we have yet to give out a gas card. We treat our clients as we would like to be treated... As a family-owned business for 63 years, we strive to treat our clients just like family."

"One of the most VALUABLE ASSETS to your financial future
is a trusted, experienced adviser."
The Financial Adviser
One of the most valuable assets to your financial future is a trusted, experienced adviser. Scott Alexander of Alexander Financial Group has earned a reputation for that kind of service.

Need to roll over an old 401k? Planning your child's college fund? Looking to diversify your portfolio? Alexander, a SCV professional since 1995, can help.

"When we sit down together we want to know about who you are and what is important to you," says Alexander, a registered investment adviser. "We want to discuss your goals, objectives and aspirations on a personal and financial basis. This is the best way for us to gain insight as to where you need to go financially."

A good adviser will ask to see all your financial documents. He or she will consider your current plan and weigh your options moving forward. "There are no secrets. Only things that you don't know yet," Alexander says. "One of our clients recently mentioned that she never leaves our office without learning something. We consider that a great compliment."

The Attorney
It's not uncommon to find yourself dragged into legal wranglings. Perhaps you face a property dispute. Maybe you have an issue with an ex-employee. Maybe you just need a legal eye to review a contract.

Valencia attorney Susana Tolchard offers a wide array of legal services to SCV residents - everything from real estate to family law, estate planning to probate to bankruptcy. When facing legal issues, it's tempting to cut corners and try to do things yourself. Beware. The money you "save" trying to do it yourself is usually a mirage. Good lawyers make for great investments.

Attorney Louis Esbin, for example, is a highly-sought expert at helping locals navigate the murky waters of bankruptcy law. Considered one of the top attorneys in the field, Esbin combines wisdom, experience and action. As the only Certified Bankruptcy Specialist by the State Bar of California practicing in Santa Clarita, as well as the current president of the Central District Consumer Bankruptcy Attorneys Association, it's easy to see why other attorneys turn to him for the most up-to-date methods for practicing bankruptcy law.

If you are seeking relief from collection harassment or are struggling with foreclosure, his law offices can help. Small business vendors can find a silver lining with Esbin, too. The lawyer is very familiar with little-known provisions in bankruptcy code and uniform commercial code that can protect vendors when a client files for bankruptcy. According to Esbin, there are also methods small business vendors can utilize to identify and address potential problems before a client files for bankruptcy. Long story short, you want this guy on your side.

The School
Knowledge is power, right? Not quite. According to Jim Shafor of the Total Money School (TMS), "knowledge acted on" is power. "All the education in the world will not do you one ounce of good if you do not put it into action," he says. "Learning is only effective with implementation."

To that end, Shafor and the Total Money School offer ongoing courses to help SCV residents learn how to manage finances. "Small business owners today are not frustrated or exhausted with the technical part of their business," Shafor says. "They're frustrated and exhausted from having to manage the 'back end' (accounting, advertising, web presence, customer service, new business, personnel, etc). Total Money School handles that by teaching business owners how to keep the 'main thing' the 'main thing' and how to delegate or pay someone to do the rest. You don't save money by doing something that's not your core expertise."

TMS teaches budgeting and investing. It teaches a class called "Money Rescue." It also teaches balance. "Success is not having 'all the time in the world' or 'more money than you spend,'" Shafor says. "Time plus money equals success. If you have a million dollars and no time with the people you love, you're broke! If you have all the time in the world with people you love and no food or shelter, you're broke. Success is the balance of time and money."

For More Information...
Alexander Financial Group 295-8338
Law Offices of Louis J. Esbin 254-5050
Law Offices of Susana Tolchard 287-9986
Lockheed Federal Credit Union
Mission Valley Bank 775-4111
Purwin Insurance 255-8843
SCVBank 255-9250
Shepard Insurance 295-4624
Total Money School 254-7283
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