Dunston Financial Group Featured In Chicago Life on How to Prepare for Retirement


At Dunston Financial Group, we work with pre-retirees and retirees on a daily basis. If you’re preparing for retirement, here’s a really helpful article from Tom Groenfeldt, writing on behalf of Chicago Life Magazine, that features some of our own thoughts from the team here at Dunston Financial Group. This is a digital magazine, and you’ll find the article on pages 34-35.


Originally Posted on: Dunston Financial Group Featured In Chicago Life on How to Prepare for Retirement


Dunston Financial Group Welcomes Stephanie McElheny, CFP®, ChSNC®, EA to the Team

Stephanie McElheny, CFP®, ChSNC®, EA 

Director of Financial Planning

Dunston Financial Group would like to welcome Stephanie McElheny to the team! A Certified Financial Planner™ professional with more than seven years of industry experience, Stephanie is passionate about identifying opportunities and implementing comprehensive financial planning solutions for both individuals and businesses. As a Chartered Special Needs Consultant™ and an Enrolled Agent, Stephanie’s specific expertise includes special needs planning as well as individual and business taxation.

Prior to joining Dunston Financial Group, Stephanie was the Manager of Financial Planning, and an Assistant Vice President, at PNC Investments. She led a team of 13 professionals who provided financial planning services and solutions to more than 750 advisors across the country. Previously, Stephanie acted as both the Assistant Director of Financial Planning and a Registered Investment Advisor for Hefren-Tillotson, a mid-size wealth management firm. During her tenure with Hefren, Stephanie was responsible for reviewing and auditing financial plans for accuracy and completeness as well as acting as a lead content creator for the blog, newsletter, and radio spots.

A Pittsburgh native, Stephanie served as President and Symposium Chair of the Pittsburgh chapter of the Financial Planning Association (FPA), among other roles. She also spent time on the pro-bono committee, offering financial literacy education to seniors, veterans, and underprivileged families.

Outside of work, Stephanie enjoys spending time with her husband, Steve, and their dog, Myron. She is an outdoor enthusiast who loves hiking, camping, cycling, and snowboarding. Stephanie also takes great pride in cheering on her hometown sports teams and alma mater – the Pittsburgh Steelers, Penguins, and Pirates and the Penn State Nittany Lions.



First Posted on: Dunston Financial Group Welcomes Stephanie McElheny, CFP®, ChSNC®, EA to the Team

New Additions to the Dunston Financial Group Team

Ryan Bowman, CFP®

Associate Wealth Planner

With more than five years of experience helping individuals, families, and business owners with their unique financial planning needs, Ryan thrives on creating customized financial plans that help clients meet their financial objectives. Ryan strives to develop strong, trusting relationships with every client he serves, and he views every relationship as an opportunity to serve.

In addition to being a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ practitioner, Ryan is a graduate of the University of Missouri, St. Louis, and holds a BSBA in Finance. During college, Ryan worked as a research/planning intern at a small registered investment advisory firm, and he developed a passion for personal financial planning. Ryan later went on to become a key team member for an investment advisory firm that managed more than $16 billion in client assets.

Prior to college, Ryan served four years in the U.S. Army as an Infantryman. Serving two deployments in Iraq, Ryan earned the Combat Infantryman Badge. Because of his service in the U.S. military, Ryan is passionate about working with military and veteran families.

Ryan loves spending time with his wife, Stephanie, and their pets: Blue (dog) and Buttons (cat).  Ryan also likes the outdoors, and especially enjoys skiing, hiking, and cycling. He is an avid St. Louis Blues fan and, like all native St. Louisans, he enjoys Cardinal’s baseball. Ryan is also a free agent football fan (former St. Louis Rams’ fan) and is excited to now live in Broncos Country.

Rosanna Sabian

Administrative Assistant

Rosanna brings 10 years of business administration experience to the Dunston Financial Group team. Prior to her move to Denver she was an office manager at a CPA office for the past 7 years. Her love for client relations and servicing makes her perfect for her role. Rosanna strives to provide clients with the highest level of customer service and to form lifelong client bonds. Since joining Dunston Financial Group her goals are to help grow the business and assist her team in accomplishing tasks and projects.

As a recent new resident of Denver, Rosanna loves to spend time with her husband, Kosal, and exploring their new hometown. Rosanna is also a major foodie, and she’s excited that she has a plethora of new places to try. She is also looking forward to experiencing all the seasons, including living in a state with snow, and doing a lot of outdoor activities.

Originally Posted right here: New Additions to the Dunston Financial Group Team

Moving to Be Near the Kids in Retirement: Dunston Financial Group in Kiplinger Magazine

“The majority of retirees don’t have to move to get more face time with adult children: More than 50% of older households live within 10 miles of at least one child, according to the Health and Retirement Study, sponsored by the National Institute on Aging. But for those who live farther away, the arguments for and against moving closer to them can be equally persuasive.” Read more…

Originally Posted here: Moving to Be Near the Kids in Retirement: Dunston Financial Group in Kiplinger Magazine

Should You Invest in Cryptocurrency? Dunston Financial Group Featured in CNBC

“Last spring, a man walked in to Dunston Financial Group in a jubilant mood. He told the firm’s founder, Lynn Dunston, that he’d put all of his savings and retirement funds into cryptocurrency, the digital tokens that can be traded from person-to-person anywhere in the world.

‘It’s a real concern when you hear about anyone putting all of their money into highly speculative investments,’ Dunston said.”

Read the rest of the story and our thoughts on bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies here.

Originally Posted here: Should You Invest in Cryptocurrency? Dunston Financial Group Featured in CNBC

4 Tips for Achieving Long-Term Financial Success

As I was working on a client’s financial plan today, I thought one of the recommendations might be helpful for others. Here is the redacted text that made up one recommendation in the cash flow and budgeting section of a client’s financial plan:

Our final recommendation vis-à-vis your cash flow and budget is the hardest to implement and the hardest for us to recommend. Successful financial planning ultimately comes down to cash flow planning. Over the years, our most successful clients have developed financial habits that allow them to live below their means. Living below one’s means can mean different things to different people, but it essentially comes down to a lifestyle decision whereby one embraces frugality and eschews the temptation to spend at one’s income level. Given various societal pressures, such habits are incredibly difficult to adopt. Some best practices to aid you in developing these habits are as follows:


  • Live on a set salary. For example, you could consider setting up your household budget so that you only live on your base salary, and you work toward saving all of your additional household income. 
  • As income increases, avoid the temptation to commensurately increase your standard of living.
  • Save heavily and regularly. One strategy here is to save raises and salary adjustments, and to continue living at your previous income level.
  • Save 20% of gross income, and maintain this savings rate as your income increases over time. One mistake people make is that they often max out retirement plans and think they’re saving enough. However, if maxing out a retirement plan only results in a 10% savings rate, then this is likely not enough.

Originally Posted here: 4 Tips for Achieving Long-Term Financial Success

7 Things to Consider before Improving Your Rental Property

In the context of comprehensive financial planning, our clients often want to know if it makes sense for them to improve their rental property. This is a really good question, and we think there at least 7 things to consider before making such decisions:

Obtain comparisons. Before making improvements, it makes sense to obtain comparisons from other rental units that have similar upgrades so that you can find out how much more you might be able to obtain in rent for making improvements. These comparisons can be obtained on Craigslist and other rental websites.

Get local advice. Have a local real estate professional who is familiar with the area come take a look at your property and provide you with her/his perspective on what improvements/repairs might result in higher rents. A local professional is often very familiar with surrounding properties and can be an invaluable resource. If the agent thinks there’s a possibility of gaining you as a client at some point, then you can often obtain their feedback at no cost.

Be careful not to make upgrades that your local market won’t support. Some people make the mistake, for example, of making high-end improvements in a rental market where those improvements won’t increase their ability to obtain higher rents or increase the value of the property. Personal knowledge and judgment is paramount here; some landlords maintain a strategy whereby they aim to keep repairs and improvements to a minimum, and they’re still able to attract enough in rents to make a profit. Others landlords, however, need to make improvements in order to get their rents to a place of profitability. Of course safety is always critical, and you’ll want to ensure that your property is regularly maintained in such a way that it will adhere to appropriate safety standards.

Focus on profitability. We recommend that you analyze your rental in terms of a calculation called a capitalization rate (cap rate). The cap rate is the ratio of Net Operating Income (NOI) to property asset value. For example, if a property was listed for $1,000,000 and generated NOI of $100,000, then the cap rate would be $100,000/$1,000,000, or 10%. This is an easy way to get a sense as to how hard your investment is working for you. If your cap rate is negative or is very low and, if you could earn a higher rate of return on your money elsewhere, then it makes sense to improve your cap rate or invest your money in a more profitable investment. Don’t forget that, at the end of the day, a rental is an investment like any other investment, and the goal is for it to be profitable.

Know that certain repairs will always be necessary. Paint and carpet are generally two expenses that will need to be incurred on an ongoing basis. Some landlords plan to do both every two years. Using personal judgement on how much money to invest in paint and what grade of carpet to use will depend on the types of renters you attract and how long they tend to lease from you. Generally semi-gloss paint is more durable, yet still looks professional, and a mid-grade carpet can be installed at a more reasonable cost than a more high-end carpet. 

Consider your broader finances. When it comes to making upgrades and repairs, you’ll want to think about how you’ll pay for the upgrades and repairs. If you’ll have to finance the costs, you’ll also be incurring interest charges, and this could decrease your overall profitability. If you’ll have to pull money from another profitable investment, then this, too, could diminish your net profitability. If, however, you’ll be using money from a low-interest savings account, then perhaps your improvements/repairs will result in increased rents and a better rate of return on your capital.

If you are going to improve your property, focus on improvements that will pay off. Kermit Baker, director at the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University, maintains that kitchens and baths are what tend to pay off the most, and sometimes these improvements can pay off by as much as 80%. 

Originally Posted on: 7 Things to Consider before Improving Your Rental Property