Introducing Sandi Martin (A Fee Only Financial Planner)


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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  1. Miranda on July 11, 2013 at 8:56 pm

    Awesome. Looking forward to reading your stuff. You had me at Terry Pratchett.

    • Sandi Martin on July 12, 2013 at 6:10 am

      Excellent. It usually takes people until “butter”, but I can see we’re kindred spirits.

  2. Echo on July 11, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    Welcome aboard, Sandi! We’re really excited that you’re part of our team and I know your posts will offer a lot of value for our readers.

    • Sandi Martin on July 12, 2013 at 6:11 am

      Thanks, Robb. I appreciate your confidence in me, and the opportunity to write for a different audience than my own.

  3. Elizabeth on July 12, 2013 at 4:40 am

    Welcome! I’m looking forward to your posts too. I think I’ve reached a point where I need some financial help (beyond my parents and friends!) so it will be nice to see posts from your point of view.

  4. Robert on July 12, 2013 at 7:25 am

    Hi and Norman Bethune to you too. Hard to think of a place more quintessentially Canadian and lovely than Gravenhurst. You ought to consider selling all the boomers here on the idea of retiring there.

    I think your approach is refreshing – one reason I never used a financial advisor is that I could not find one based on fee rather than commission. I can see where the “echo” crowd should be excited about your arrival.

    Terry Pratchett does not ring the faintest bell in my head (your favourite author maybe?). But liking a time traveller has to be a plus even with the extra cholesterol.

    • Sandi Martin on July 12, 2013 at 7:46 am

      Bless you for your love of Gravenhurst, Robert. You mean all the boomers there aren’t retired here? By the middle of July it certainly feels like it 😉

      If I get nothing else from meeting all the lovely B&E readers, introducing you to Terry Pratchett will be enough to let me die happy. Read “Guards! Guards!” and see what you think.

  5. Gary on July 12, 2013 at 7:32 am

    What about bacon Sandi — lol. I have never used an advisor other than the bank which I now take with a grain of salt. Trying to do it ourselves but sometimes I feel the need for someone to bounce ideas off. B&E are the closest I’ve come to independent advice. I will definitely check out your site in the near future. Right now we are enjoying our new grandson born last night!

    • Echo on July 12, 2013 at 7:35 am

      @Gary – Woohoo, congratulations on the arrival of your new grandson!

      • Gary on July 12, 2013 at 7:42 am

        thanks robb! we are very excited and blessed. that makes 4 — 2 of each.

        • Boomer on July 12, 2013 at 12:01 pm

          @Gary: Congrats on the new baby. We are both in a similar situation, I also have 4 grandkids – 2 of each. The most recent grandson was born just three weeks ago (that long already!).

          Now if only they’d all live in the same place 🙂

          • Gary on July 12, 2013 at 7:17 pm

            congrats to you as well marie. we are very fortunate; 3 live 15 minutes away and the new addition is only 1-1/2 hour away. do you think they will look after us in our old age — lol.

    • Sandi Martin on July 12, 2013 at 7:47 am

      Hooray! Baby boys are just about as awesome as bacon. Congratulations!

      • Gary on July 12, 2013 at 7:52 am

        thank you very much!

  6. Potato on July 12, 2013 at 8:50 am

    They make you put two spaces after the period? Those maniacs! Take it from an AMWA-trained editor: that’s wrong wrong wrongity-wrongo (unless the blog is in Courier). It’s so wrong HTML will try to automatically correct that anachronistic habit. You have to manually put in non-breaking spaces to force it to do that (or have your WYSIWYG editor do it for you), which makes weird things happen at line breaks, like leading spaces. Which, BTW, is happening in this very post with “lots of butter”. Robb, Boomer: let the poor guest authors write like human beings. Double-spacing after a period is a dark, dark part of our past that we have collectively left behind, and even the most traditional style guide is now embarrased to even mention it.

    I bet they’re also responsible for cutting the paragraphs apart in Toronto Star “style” so that each senetence (or sometimes maybe as many as two together) gets its own block. Hold tight, Sandi.

    • Robert on July 12, 2013 at 9:03 am

      Someone had too much caffeine this morning?

    • Echo on July 12, 2013 at 9:23 am

      Dear Potato,

      Forgive me for committing such a heinous act and for offending typographers across the globe.

      I’m sure our posts would be enjoyed just as well if they were published in 10 pt font with a single space between periods and no paragraph breaks to disrupt the flow of content.

      PS – Do you write for Slate?

    • Sandi Martin on July 12, 2013 at 10:36 am

      I only just trained myself to stop double spacing, so you can imagine how confused my fingers are.

  7. Kathy waite on July 12, 2013 at 9:08 am

    Hello Sandi, i am fee for service , only one in wide open Saskatchewan! My clients read boomer . I look forward to seeing your posts

    • Sandi Martin on July 12, 2013 at 10:49 am

      Hi Kathy! We should chat sometime – I’d love to hear more about your approach, and I’m always glad to meet other fee for service advisors.

  8. Bet Crooks on July 12, 2013 at 10:42 am

    I’m sorry but I can’t recommend your financial advice to others until you provide details about WHICH Dr. Who you like best. I’ve found there’s a direct correlation between which Who and what type of advice a planner recommends. For example, if Tom Baker is your favourite, you probably recommend a well balanced portfolio of fixed income and growth assets with a few dashes of ingenious small cap stocks that startle everyone by becoming 10 baggers overnight. If you prefer Peter Davison you probably use couch potato index investing for most of your clients but always buy them shares in one independent brewery that creates a magnificent ale and also pays a handsome dividend.

    For now I am using my fallback analysis based on your recommendation of Guards, Guards over the Rincewind books. But that could actually reflect your interpretation of what the client would prefer to read rather than yourself, so it’s not a truly reliable indicator.

    Either way, I look forward to reading more about you and your work.

    • Sandi Martin on July 12, 2013 at 11:31 am

      1. Chris Eccleston (GASP!) Go on then, analyze.

      2. Guards! Guards! was the first one I read and fell in love with, and so is always my first recommendation, because I assume everyone else in the world is exactly like me. Even though I like to Always Start At The Beginning, I’m not sure Colour of Magic would have won me over.

      2.a) I love them all, but have a seriously soft spot in my heart for Sam, Moist, Susan, and – of course – Death.


      • Boomer on July 12, 2013 at 11:58 am

        @Sandi Martin: I’d like to give a big welcome to you, Sandi and I’m honoured and excited that you will be writing for our blog and giving a fresh perspective to our readers, even though we don’t share the same taste in TV programs and authors 🙂 – but I do like lots of butter.

        • Sandi Martin on July 12, 2013 at 12:23 pm

          Thanks for allowing me to invade a little, Marie. Butter is the universal language of friendship!

          • Robert on July 12, 2013 at 1:00 pm

            I was just in Savannah. There is a local celeb chef there named Paula Deen who has a million butter-laden recipes for you if you like it southern style.

      • Bet Crooks on July 12, 2013 at 6:06 pm

        My analysis is complete: I will recommend your services to all of my friends who have money. : )

        PS My husband totally agrees about Colour of Magic.

  9. Sandi Martin on July 12, 2013 at 1:02 pm

    Oh boy, Robert. That’s loaded. 🙂

  10. Neil Murphy on July 13, 2013 at 10:56 am

    Good Luck Sandi, I wish you all the best and look forward to your writings.

    Neil Murphy,

    • Sandi on July 13, 2013 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks, Neil. I’m certainly enjoying yours.

  11. The fiscally fit on July 13, 2013 at 11:42 am

    Hey Sandi. As you are a fee only financial “planner”, I assume you have your CFP designation. I ask not because I am skeptical about your ability to provide value (as I am interested in what you have to say) but because I believe like yourself that terms like advisor and financial planner get thrown around a little freely 🙂

    • Sandi on July 13, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Nope, I haven’t earned the designation (yet).

  12. My Own Advisor on July 16, 2013 at 4:40 pm

    Welcome Sandi!

    Gravenhurst is a nice town.


    • Sandi Martin on July 16, 2013 at 5:45 pm

      Thanks Mark. I’m kind of fond of it 😉

  13. Kathy Waite on June 6, 2014 at 12:07 am

    Came across this old blog , doesn’t time fly !

    • Sandi on June 11, 2014 at 4:04 am

      It does indeed 🙂

  14. kathy on January 16, 2015 at 12:25 am

    And here we are again

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