Ahem.

Hi.  (Is this thing on?)

I’m Sandi.  I’m thirty-four, married, with three kids, a house, and no pets.  I drive a minivan.  I like Dr. Who, Terry Pratchett, and butter.  Lots of butter.

I live in the very small town of Gravenhurst, Ontario, where I operate Spring Personal Finance, a fee only financial planning practice.

Robb doesn’t know where Gravenhurst is, and neither – I suspect – do you, unless you own a palatial cottage on Lake Muskoka, in which case you’re probably on the wrong website, and can I come over tonight?  I like my steak rare and my beer cold, thankyouverymuch.

Fortunately, thanks to the magic of the internet, my practice isn’t restricted to the 11,000 locals in my immediate area.

I work with clients all across the country; ordinary people who haven’t built up enough net worth (yet) to attract the salivating attention of big wealth management firms, and who are left to choose between paying high commissions to a mutual fund salesman in return for being ignored, getting advice masquerading as sales from the bank, working with one of a handful of advisors like me, or – like many of you here – doing it themselves.

Like Boomer, I’m an ex-banker, which should explain my deep skepticism when it comes to the financial services industry.

What I realized in my years foreclosing on widows and orphans (I joke) is that what most ordinary people want is a planner who will roll up her sleeves and dig right into their statements with them; someone who will help them figure out exactly what they want their money to do for them, and them work with them to plan the smartest, simplest way to do it.

Related: 6 Steps To Creating A Sound Financial Plan

I forgive you for being wary of a financial planner who gives away free personal finance advice online.  We all know that my ultimate goal here is to write such intelligent, compelling, informative posts that you’ll be forced to retain me, and you’ll tell all your friends about the super amazing planner you found, and they’ll all retain me too.

While we’re sitting around waiting for that to happen, let me expand a little on what else I hope to accomplish here for all of you enthusiastic DIYers out there.

Financial planning – as much as the industry would like you to believe otherwise – isn’t rocket science.  The basics of personal finance are profoundly un-sexy, but they work.

You’re already familiar with them if you’ve hung around here for any length of time: spend less than you make, save aggressively, and eliminate debt.

What you might not be familiar with are the smaller details.  My job here at Boomer & Echo, and over on my own blog (where I’m much wordier and am allowed to use only one space after periods), is to give you the inside – and skeptical – scoop on the things you need to know if you want to be your own financial planner.

Practical information like what to do with that little lump sum pension you got from your last job, for instance, written in English for Non-Bankers.

In conclusion, a caveat: all the personal finance advice on the planet – no matter how brilliantly written – can’t replace discipline and a well-developed ability to delay gratification.

Related: My Best Financial Tip – Make More Money

If you can’t sacrifice in pursuit of your most cherished goals, then you and I aren’t going to be friends.

Sandi Martin is an ex-banker who left the dark side to start Spring Personal Finance, a one woman fee only financial planning practice based in Gravenhurst, Ontario.  She and her husband have three kids under five, none of whom are learning the words to “Fidelity Fiduciary Bank” quickly enough.  She takes her clients seriously, but not much else.


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