Currency Corner

By: Lorri Gifford


Here is the second in a new monthly series that will address myriad issues of personal and business finances.  Lorri will interview various local financial resources as well to glean their expertise.  If you have particular questions,  or issues you want us to explore, please email

Are You a “Do-It-Yourselfer”, Collaborator or Delegator?

This month we will focus on relationships: your relationship with money and the possibility of establishing a supportive relationship with a Financial Advisor who can guide you in realizing your life values and goals while helping you set up a roadmap for future success. The first part of this article will explore your day-to-day relationship with money while the second will explore a bigger picture view. Before you can set up any course of action it is important to become more aware of your personal relationship with money.


Last month’s article presented an exercise designed to start that process. The first essential step in building a strong relationship is looking at a real life snap shot of how you are allowing money to flow in and out of your life. Last month’s exercise consisted of journaling all of your expenditures over a 30-day period. I asked you to do that rather than listing a table of expenses first and having you guess or estimate. The goal was to take your real life spending habits and use that as data to fill in a Monthly Expense form. Once you see what you are spending you can see where you can shift the allotment of your resources.


For example, when I did this exercise years ago, I realized that I was spending close to $100 per month on coffee drinks. When I saw that, I thought “If I could cut that amount down to $30 per month, I could save $840 in one year and put that toward a vacation. Was that worth buying a coffee maker and travel mug and reducing my Starbucks visits to once a week instead of 6? Yes!


When you see the amounts that you are spending in black and white it is easier to create solutions. It is amazing how our little expenses can add up and we don’t think much of it because at the time it’s only a few dollars. And just think, I was only getting plain coffee not a grande mocha latte with soy…


Of course if you chose not to do the exercise you can still estimate and plug in the amounts into the following chart. But, I urge you to get a “real time” view of your spending first. And I agree, some of the amounts you will list remain the same or only vary slightly. (rent, cell phone, a mortgage payment, etc…) It is about discovering which ones can be fine-tuned.


Take a moment now to fill in the chart on the right. Doing this exercise can help you re-create your current monthly budget.


The second part of Last Month’s exercise was to become aware of how you felt while you were spending money. What did you notice? Were there feelings of guilt, anger, euphoria or relief? Did an unexpected expense pop up (car, doctor, dentist, pet)? How did that make you feel? For me, unexpected expenses can cause an initial feeling of anger because it does not fit into my neat and controlled little picture.


How do you feel if you receive an unexpected windfall? Remember, the feelings and thoughts that you attach to circumstances do affect the quality of enjoyment of your life.


I get the opportunity to look at my thoughts and feelings in regards to money whenever I work at my massage job. As a massage therapist I either receive gratuities or I don’t. I have to admit, I have expectations of receiving one. Probably because in my line of work, I receive a percentage of the fee charged to the client and I count on the tip to help bring that amount up. In most cases I do receive a tip and sometimes a generous one. It is in those moments that I don’t that I have an initial internal reaction of angst. Then I have to remind myself that perhaps the clients may not understand that massage therapists, like wait staff, come to depend on their tips to make their living.


What I have done to make it more fun when I do receive tips is to give the money a destination to flow to. Each week I choose a destination for my tips. Recently I got some really beautiful envelopes and labeled them with different “causes”. Half of them were practical (credit cards, etc.) and the other half fun (vacation, self pampering). I did this because I realized how easy it was to fritter them away and lose track of $10-$40 here or there. It was when I started putting them in together that I saw how quickly the amounts could add up.


Understanding your relationship to money includes understanding how the little amounts can truly add up. It is only when you have a picture of your own personal budgeting habits that you can choose to transform them and create a roadmap for bigger goals.


Some of these bigger goals may include: a vacation, retirement, college plans for your children or the purchase of a house. With bigger goals in mind it is important to be able to step into the world of wealth accumulation: mutual funds, stocks, bonds or real estate. When it comes to managing your money you need to decide if you are a “do-it yourselfer,” collaborator or delegator?


“There are only 168 hours in a week, no matter what your age, how much money you make, what you’ve invested, how attractive you are, or how much information you can access on the Internet. No exemptions. Your quality of life is a function of how you choose to spend that time.“ Bill Bachrach, author of: Values-Based financial Planning: The Art of Creating an Inspiring Financial Strategy.


If you are not interested in getting a degree as a Certified Financial Planner, chances are you are more of a collaborator or delegator. In that case, you may want to begin a relationship with a Financial Planner or Advisor. A Financial Planner is someone that will help formulate retirement, college or tax plans according to a clients needs. A Financial Advisor deals specifically with the investing side of things and can guide you on how to best invest your money according to the plan that you created with a Financial Planner. A majority of Planners and Advisors do both.


I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Laura McCue, president of White Oak Financial Management, Inc. Laura has more then 20 years experience in financial services and has worked for both small and large firms. White Oak Financial is a Registered Investment Advisor. This company focuses on financial guidance in all areas and they also manage their client’s money.


The thing that stood out most about the approach at White Oak Financial is that it starts with encouraging the client in understanding themselves and figuring out who they are and what is important to them regarding their relationship with money. Sound familiar?


Their approach is based on the book Values-Based Financial Planning: The Art of Creating an Inspiring Financial Strategy by Bill Bachrach. When a client makes an appointment with them they are sent a copy of the book and asked to read it prior to meeting with Laura or Kevin Martin. Kevin has worked with Laura since 1993 and is the other Advisor at White Oak Financial.


Laura started using this book with her clients after she flew to California and heard Bill Bachrach speak. That, combined with reading his book, was life changing for her. When she came back she knew she had to “fire” some of her current clients. She got clear that she wanted clients that were willing to delegate.


Her mission (and the mission of her company) is to build and maintain relationships with clients who are delegators rather than do-it-yourselfers. They must believe in professional relationships and be passionate about realizing their life goals. They are people looking to work with a “trusted advisor.”


“I’m a believer in delegating what you can delegate and you can’t delegate exercise, massage, playing with your kids, hiking, reading. There are so many things that you love to do that are good for you but you can’t delegate. But you can delegate your finances if you find someone that you trust.” Laura McCue, president White Oak Financial


As I mentioned earlier, the Advisors at White Oak Financial base their approach on the values of the individual. They explore the question “What’s important about money to you?” and once the values are determined they set goals with you. After this they take a look at your current financial reality. Once they have this information they help you create a financial roadmap and encourage you to either educate and implement it yourself or seek a “trusted advisor” to guide you in implementing your plan. A holistic and grounded approach to finance? Fascinating!!!


“Education doesn’t make your investments perform any better. It’s understanding yourself first and what’s important to you.” Laura McCure, president White Oak Financial


White Oak Financial is a fee-based firm. What that means is that, if you are a “do-it yourselfer” you can meet with Laura twice, develop a roadmap, pay a fee and go on your merry way. If after the two meetings you decide to delegate this area of your life to White Oak, you will be charged a percentage of the worth of your assets each quarter. Because their monetary success is directly attached to your monetary success they work hard at either accumulating or preserving your wealth.


To do this they use two methods of analysis. The first method is Fundamental Analysis. This analysis determines if the investment is fundamentally strong. It studies the company and its place in the corporate world. Just because a company is well known does not guarantee that it’s a great stock. An example of this is Yahoo, it is well known but the stock isn’t really doing anything. Fundamental Analysis tells Laura and Kevin what to buy or sell.


The other key thing to understand is the “when” behind buying or selling. Understanding the “when” allows the Advisors to shut out the noise of the media. (One voice of the media will say it’s the end of the world while another says it’s a good time to buy stocks.) This is where Technical Charting is crucial.


“The when to buy or sell is what is missing from so many plans.” Laura McCure, president White Oak Financial


Technical Charting studies supply and demand of the investment. While I was sitting with her, Laura brought out a chart to explain this process to me. It was in that moment that I decided I was definitely a delegator. I had no interest in spending my time analyzing this data and making decisions. Laura does it AND she enjoys it. She is constantly monitoring the market with these two systems because it is important to find an investment that is strong in both Fundamental Analysis and Technical Charting.


If Laura is not doing a roadmap or review (she meets with clients a minimum of every 6 months) she is managing the firm’s assets. The decisions she makes are based on whether the economy is in a wealth accumulation or wealth preservation period. And because White Oak Financial is a Fiduciary firm the decisions they make for their client always have to be in the best interest of the client.


There is also a new service being offered by White Oak Financial that Laura is really excited about. Let’s say that a person has another 401k account through their job that they can’t or don’t want to move. The advisors at White Oak Financial can still offer guidance. All they need to know is the current choices being made with the allocation in the 401k. When they are given this information, they can feed it into their system and let that person know how to optimally allocate within that fund.


To make this easy, White Oak Financial’s web site will soon have a page with different company logos on it for different company retirement plans. For example, if you work at Ingles and click on the Ingles logo it will show you how you can best allocate your funds in your 401k.


“It has to matter to them more then it matters to me.” Laura McCure, president White Oak Financial


The ideal customer for White Oak Financial is not just someone with pots of money. They manage accounts ranging in value from $3000-$1,000,000.00 +. Their ideal customer is optimistic, happy and someone that cares passionately about realizing their life goals. They are receptive to professional relationships and are willing to delegate. She has to feel like she’s making a difference in the lives of the people she’s working with or its not rewarding.


The first face you will see when walking through the doors of White Oak Financial is Priestley Cummings. Priestley is the other partner in the firm and also Laura’s sister. She serves as the Operations Manager. Laura feels blessed to be working with her.


“Priestley’s incredible. I can’t imagine working with anyone else ever again.” Laura McCure, president White Oak Financial.


White Oak Financial opened its doors in March 2003 and has been going strong ever since and I understand why. Although I originally went there with only the interview in mind, I left with some much needed education. The information was presented in a clear, concise and caring manner. Laura’s love for her job was evident and during the interview she gifted me with a copy of the book she gives to her clients. As I left I knew that I would be reading that book and returning to create my own roadmap with Laura at their location on 1270 Hendersonville Road.


Monthly Expenses
a. Gas:
b .Electric:
c. Water/sewer/trash:
d. Internet/Cable/Land Line:
e. Cell phone:
a. Food:
b. Household products:
c. Personal Care:
Coffee/snacks/meals at work:
f.  Gasoline:
g. Maintenance:
h. Parking:
i.  Loan/Lease:
j.   Auto:
k.  Medical:
l.   Life:
m. Renters/Homeowners:
Credit Card:
Health club/gym membership:
n.  Restaurants:
o.  Movie tickets:
p.  Rentals (netflix, etc.):
q.  Concerts/sporting events:
r.   Hobbies:
s.  Cigarettes/tobacco:
Self care:
t.   Supplements:
u.  Massage/acupuncture, etc:
v.  Hair & nails:
Vacation fund:
Charitable Contributions:


Lorri Gifford has been reading Tarot Cards since 1986. While living in California, she worked at The Chopra Center for Well-being as their Spa Director and a Lead Educator. In 2009 her intuition guided her to move to Asheville. Lorri enjoys writing, giving readings, coaching and helping others develop and deepen their intuition. She can be reached at or 828.505.4485.


Sandi Tomlin-Sutker
Written by Sandi Tomlin-Sutker