Getting a Plan: How I Found Out I’m Not a Financial Loser


Two years ago, I quit my day job to become a freelance writer. This is the third time in my life that I’ve switched not just jobs, but careers, choices that have not been without financial consequences. So I was excited at the opportunity to try out a new online financial planning service for women called SUM180, which promises a jargon-free personalized financial plan that provides three next steps to create a clear path to achieving your financial goals.

How does SUM180 work? SUM180 provides reliable financial planning advice without any accompanying hard sales of investment products. Your payment gives you a year-long subscription to the service, so if your situation changes, you can update your information and get a new plan or, if you’re a real go-getter and complete your three steps, you can tick those off and get three more.

The process is simple:

  • Prepare for your online interview
  • Complete your online interview
  • Receive your plan
  • Take action and update your plan as needed

Preparing for Your Interview. SUM180 gives you a comprehensive list of the documents you’ll need for your interview – information about income, expenses, taxes, assets, investments, and debt. The process requires some legwork on your part to get your paperwork in order. Think: “Getting ready to do your taxes” level of legwork. When SUM180 says you’ll need PDFs of your securities statements and your latest Social Security benefits info? You’re going to want to download or scan those files before you hop onto the online interview. You’ll also need to categorize your expenses and have those figures at your fingertips. Plan to spend an hour or two getting your ducks in a row.

The Interview Process. Once you’ve prepped, the interview itself is simple because you’re just plugging in numbers or uploading statements at your own pace in response to SUM180’s prompts. The process should take 30-45 minutes max.

Receiving Your Plan. I received my plan in about a week, but I didn’t look at it right away, feeling that trepidation you experience before turning over a test you’re pretty sure you didn’t ace. Finances are always at the top of my worry list, and I was worried.

But the very best part of the SUM180 plan is that its opens by listing your key accomplishments, which position you in comparison to others at your stage in life. As a writing teacher, I appreciated this approach because it’s exactly how I provide constructive criticism to my students. Tell them what they’re doing well, then gently make suggestions on how to do better.

So when I finally did study my plan, I was pleasantly surprised that despite a career path that has certainly not been designed to foster the accumulation or growth of wealth, I wasn’t the financial loser I had feared. I felt an enormous sense of relief that, at midlife, while I am by no means cushioned for retirement, I am still in the hunt. This was especially welcome news after a first year of freelancing when our family also faced significant unexpected medical bills.

After the key accomplishments, you get your three steps. Why just three steps? Because probably you’ll do them. I paid for a marketing plan once that sketched out a whole year’s worth of action items. I read it, experienced a mild level of panic, did one thing, and filed it away. Instead, SUM180’s three steps are clear, specific, and actionable so that you’ll actually, you know, accomplish them.

And I’ve already started. Now I have a plan to get rid of some nasty lingering consumer debt. I have a new way of thinking about the resource that is the equity in our home so that maybe we can build wealth with it and not just throw up our hands and call ourselves “house poor.” And I have specific cash reserve targets that will move me to the next level of financial security. Because beyond just giving you numbers and targets, the plan gives you detailed strategies to meet them. I didn’t need a degree in finance to understand it. I just need to complete my three steps.

And when I’m done with those? I can go back to SUM180 and keep growing, three more steps at a time.

The best part? SUM180 is offering a special promotion for a limited time! Just visit and use code SPRING50 to get 50% off the current product offer.

This post has been sponsored by SUM180. I was provided with product at no charge to sample in exchange for my review. The options expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with SUM180 and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.


About Cindy Reed

I hate pants.
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