Gregory Knight, CFP® Engage Advising

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About Gregory Knight, CFP®

I am the founder of Engage Advising located in Oakland, California. My interest in financial planning dates back to my ten years living in Japan. I needed to learn about managing my own finances and investments while living abroad. I love working with folks who want to engage with their finances to improve their well-being. I live in the diverse community of Oakland, California with my husband, Randy, and it is a great place to live. We have a ton of wonderful restaurants, museums, and the East Bay Regional Parks. I love to hike, travel, fly fish and enjoy visiting the wine regions around California. Spending time volunteering for non-profits is also a favorite past time. You never know, you may see me pouring wine at a fundraiser, taking a course through a favorite non-profit or joining a group hike. Keep your eyes open!

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Recently Published

Ho Ho Ho, It’s Christmas in July

July 16, 2019

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Christmas 2019 is just 23 weeks away as of this writing. My gift to you is some advice on how to handle that extra expense. Not everyone celebrates Christmas but for a large number of families this is a major holiday and a very big expense. Christmas can be fun, but it puts many folks into a financial tailspin and creates unnecessary stress. So, how do you prepare for the expense in your budget to avoid the tailspin and reduce stress?

First of all, don’t wait until December to “find the money” or worse, default to putting all of your charges on credit you can’t afford. That’s how we get into a financial tailspin. Here are few ways to tackle Christmas saving and spending.

Create a separate sub-category in your annual savings budget and save for Christmas like you would for a larger, long-term goal. Set a goal amount of total spend and break it down by weeks or months until Christmas. The sooner you start in the year the easier it will be on you.

Next, determine an amount per person per category. For example, allocate more money per person for your children, another amount per person for extended family and friends that you buy for, and finally, a lower per person amount for those you have to buy for such as service personnel, co-workers, educators, coaches, etc. Don’t forget to include an amount for extras such as shared meals, travel, donations and other non-gift cash expenses. If you always provide the wine or the goose for a family gathering, you have a historical record of what this cost you so be sure to include that expense.

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Open a Christmas Club account and banish the credit cards! These accounts are not as common as they used to be, but lots of credit unions still offer Christmas Club or holiday accounts. Credit unions would be happy to help you start an account so check with your credit union to see what they offer and what the terms are for the account. Use your Christmas Club account funds and put those credit cards on ice!

Shop early. When you see something on sale that is perfect for someone, go ahead and buy it. It’s one less person on your list to shop for and it spreads your shopping and spending out over the next several months. Just keep track of who you have bought for so you don’t overspend.

When it comes to credit cards, use the card that gives something to you. This is either cashback, miles, or points. Whichever is your best card for a bonus or refund, and hopefully lowest interest rate, is the card to use.

Here are a few survival tips:

Set a budget amount and stick to it!

Start early in the year saving weekly or monthly.

Open a Christmas Club account and banish the credit cards.

Avoid Black Friday but shop sales from Labor Day through Christmas.

Take advantage of Cyber Monday for must have items.

Group online items and buy from sites that offer free shipping.

Finally, buy something for yourself!

You can take the stress out of Christmas shopping with a little foresight and planning. As an independent Certified Financial Planner™, I can help you set an appropriate spending goal and layout a plan for Christmas spending that won’t put you into a financial tailspin. Contact me and let’s get started! #talktometuesday#Hireaplanner#Christmas #Christmas2019#budget#ChristmasClub #CFPPro #budget


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Mother Nature Reminds Us: You Need Earthquake Insurance!

July 9, 2019

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With the 7.1 earthquake July 5, 2019 in Ridgecrest, California, Mother Nature reminded us yet again that you do indeed need earthquake insurance. The 7.1 quake shook an area that had just the day before been shaken by a 6.4 earthquake on the July 4th. holiday. The result of all of this is that many homeowner’s suffered cracked walls, collapsed foundations, loss of water, power, and in some cases, loss of use of their home.

Let’s clear up some common misconceptions right now. Your standard homeowner’s insurance policy does not cover damage from earthquakes (stated as “earth movement” in many policies). If you are unable to use your residence due to a quake, you are on the hook for repairs and the cost of displacement (paying to stay somewhere else). Your policy may however cover fire after an earthquake. Renters, you are not safe either. Your renter’s policy does not cover earthquakes. Many renters think they are covered by their landlord’s policy. Surprise! Your landlord’s coverage does not cover you! So, don’t think your landlord’s policy will cover replacement of your valuables or for you to stay in an alternate dwelling (displacement) during reconstruction. 

If you don’t believe me, call your insurance company and ask them. Be sure to ask your agent a few different ways: am I covered for earthquakes? does my policy cover displacement due to quakes? does my policy cover repairs if my house slips off of its foundation due to a quake?  Going without earthquake insurance is very risky in places such as California that have frequent quakes. Even small quakes can cause expensive damage to a home’s foundation or infrastructure.

Damaged home, near epicenter, in Trona, California, US. (Photo: Reuters)

Damaged home, near epicenter, in Trona, California, US. (Photo: Reuters)

Many folks remember the days when earthquake insurance was unaffordable to most. Times have changed and you can structure a policy to fit your needs through the California Earthquake Authority. You should start by getting a free estimate from CEA. By walking through the CEA estimator, you can craft an affordable policy. Here are ways to make your policy affordable:

Consider a higher deductible and self-insure for a larger amount. Hopefully you have your emergency fund in place and a quake would definitely be an emergency!

Reduce personal property coverage. Really assess what you need and what’s not worth insuring.

Ask CEA about discounts for retro-fitting already done (i.e., shear-walling, anchoring, etc.).

Reduce breakable items coverage unless you have very expensive dishes, glassware, and collectibles.

Renters, your focus will likely be on displacement coverage and personal property replacement given that you are not the dwelling owner. A renter’s earthquake policy is very affordable given that you may need to find a new home.

This brings me to a final point that I wrote about during the firestorms. Make sure you have all of your vital documents ready and available in a grab-n-go binder or folder that is easy to locate and portable. You can read more at Do You Have a Special Grab-N-Go Emergency Binder.

As an independent Certified Financial Planner™, I can help you plan for the unexpected to mitigate risk.Contact me and let’s get started. #talktometuesday #education #Hireaplanner #Ridgecrest #quake #earthquake #risk #insurance #safetyfirst #California #CaliforniaEarthquakeAuthority


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Save Money, But Don’t be Cheap

July 2, 2019


Happy 4th. of July! Given it is a holiday week and many folks are enjoying some well-earned time off, I’ll keep this post fairly short.  As planners, we often harp on saving money, and while that is very important, it’s not always the best approach. Confused by that counter message?

What I am getting at is that when it comes to spending money, you need to take the Goldilocks approach: not too much, not too little, just right! Most Americans are conditioned through marketing to buy more than they need. Go ahead, all the extras are only a few bucks more! Act now and get a second free! That thinking and manner of spending can get you into hot water over time.

Your goal should be to strike a balance of quality, cost, and fulfillment. When shopping for something, make sure you are not buying at such a low price that the item you need is of low quality and will in the end cost you more because it needs to be replaced multiple times. Conversely, don’t overspend and buy features and services that you really will not use and simply don’t need.

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Gym memberships come to mind. Salesmen will quite often get you to buy the ultimate package pitching it as convenience, cost savings, and value because you deserve it! But how many times are you really going to go to the gym? Do you need 24-hour access? Towel service? If you are only going a few times per week, you likely will not need the top-tier service.

Here are some tips to keep in mind when it comes to spending your money. Don’t shop for an item based solely on price. Compare features, quality, and read reviews with a critical eye. Don’t fall for zero percent, low-down/no-down offers. Be aware of hidden backend fees on leases, special offers, and promotions. Be careful with rewards credit cards and balance transfers – they may cost more in the end! A brand name does not always guarantee high quality and value for your money so make sure you know the item or service before parting with your money.

Ultimately, take your time and do your homework when spending your money. Research your product or service and match it to your actual need and budget. Shop smart! As an independent Certified Financial Planner™, I can help you plan for purchases and services.Contact me and let’s get started. #talktometuesday #education #Hireaplanner #stressfree #savings #cheap #dontbecheap #spendmoney #CFPPro #savemoney #spendwisely


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Ideal Clients

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  • Gen X

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