Why Should I Choose Thrive?

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Our mission at Thrive is to take the time to learn your personal financial situation and history so that we can help you develop a personalized retirement strategy. Whether you’re just getting started or are ready to retire, our team is here for you every step of the way!


David, Karen, and Bret discuss reasons that separate Thrive Financial from other financial advisories. Other topics include navigating and implementing your retirement plan, along with aligning it to your particular goals. 

[smart_track_player url=\”https://soundcloud.com/livewiththrive/why-should-i-choose-thrive\” ]

David we will start with you today. Meetthrivefinancial.com is the window into getting to know you, Karen, and Bret. It\’s was created with that purpose in mind to ask our readers and ask people who have an interest.

Yeah, absolutely. That is exactly what it was designed for. It\’s not really your typical financial planner, financial advisor website. We have one of those at thrivefinancialservices.tyl16lnm-liquidwebsites.com, which shares all of our concepts and more about the company and all that. But this new web page was just to give people a peer into getting to know Karen, myself, and Bret. It will help visitors understand where we come from, why we do what we do, and what we do. It\’s a nice five-minute tour of it, with a great video at the beginning of it. So, if you get a chance go visit meetthrivefinancial.com, I think there\’ll be a lot of benefit to that.

I want to take a moment just to extend a huge thank you to all of the members of the Thrive army, who Continue to spread the word, and continue offering out referrals to Thrive. I think it is a tribute to the message, those who are coming to the workshops, those that are reading, those that are reacting, and even those who haven\’t done anything yet. I believe they\’re enjoying the education and the dialogue.

We\’re completely passionate about just spreading that message of financial education, advocacy, and empowerment of the people. We want to help them understand what questions to ask, and how to find the right answers to those questions. We\’re going to continue to deliver what we hope is a lot of value and a great message. We’re going to get better and better as time goes on.

[bctt tweet=\”We\’re completely passionate about just spreading that message of financial education, advocacy, and empowerment of the people\” via=\”no\”]

Bret, we\’ve reached the point here in 2018 where it is time to start to look ahead to what\’s going to be in 2019.

Yeah, absolutely. Crossing over the past couple of weeks, we\’ve been talking about some of these changes come into Medicare and also Social Security. We\’re going to go a little bit deeper into Social Security and some of those changes that we can expect in 2019 and beyond again. In a couple of weeks, we\’ll be talking about New Year\’s resolutions and all that good stuff. So again, some foundational pieces that we can start planning around for 2019 years.

Karen, you started this trend where you\’re focus is in on mistakes that women are making around retirement. It\’s a process where women are either in the know or not in the know, and we continue to do that on a weekly basis.

Right, and there\’s definitely issues that women face, that men don\’t necessarily deal with. And I actually have a financial empowerment checklist to review today.

So, we\’ll talk about that with Karen coming up later on. But first, I wanted to talk a little bit about the workshops. We do a lot of inviting of people out to the workshops and I just feel as though for any person that comes to the workshop, whether they ever make it back to the office or not, I feel as though they leave more educated.

I think you hit the nail right on the head. One of the things that we actually say during the workshop is if we never meet again, we hope that we\’ve brought value. Hopefully we told you things that you could walk away with that were worth your time for coming out. Almost unanimously, every single time, people raise their hands and say that they were educated at an event. So, we\’re very happy about that and that\’s our goal. Again, this isn’t new for us. It isn\’t about just driving people and turning the numbers. This again is about really impacting people with value. And hopefully, again, whether they visit with us, or not, they made something out of this presentation.

Now, I want you to outline some of the reports that are provided once you get to a point where you get into an initial consultation, because that\’s where there\’s even more meaning. There\’s even more information.

What I\’ll do in my last segment is actually go through the Thrive Retirement Roadmap Reviewand give people some insight to that. We\’re very blessed in our business, our lives, and everything else. But every once in a while, you kind of get a reminder that life is also fragile. Two of our family members, my Mom and Dad, had a very, very challenging week last week. My Dad had knee surgery and was in the process of rehabbing and recovering from knee surgery. And during that my Mom actually had a massive heart attack.

The folks at Doylestown Hospital, Cardiac Division did just an amazing job. My Mom\’s already home, she\’s already back to herself. If you come to one of our workshops, you either are going to meet my Mom and Dad, or you\’re going to hear from them on the telephone for confirmation. So, I want to tell them we love them dearly can\’t wait for them to get back to the office and a speedy recovery.

Well said. We love them here at Thrive, and we will all keep them in our thoughts.

t really puts into play what really matters out there. A bit of good news over the past couple of weeks, was when we talked about how Medicare stayed flat for 2019. There were some minor changes that happened there. But the good news of Social Security, is getting those increases. So, we\’re going to dive in a little bit deeper. We do workshops completely dedicated towards Social Security, but rather recently, David, Karen, and I have been doing a lot of on the tax changes. Again, what happened with those Trump tax changes from 2018 and moving forward with some of those adjustments in 2019. I just wanted to specifically talk about Social Security a little bit.

Again, it always seemed so basic. Just take it at 62, 66 or 67, whatever your full retirement age is. But now, I guess the point I want to get across about Social Security is that we need to manage it like an asset. So many people describe it to me as the greatest Ponzi Scheme in United States history of Social Security. When you factor in how much you put into the system and how much you pull out, 6.2% of our income goes towards Social Security. It’s almost like a forced 401(k) plan or like a forced pension plan.

The government says you have to take 6.2% out of your paycheck that goes into a pool of money, and then here\’s your roles. You have deal with it, whatever you want. Again, people don\’t think of it like that because they think it\’s almost like you\’re being voluntold, which you are. The government\’s telling you exactly what has to happen, and you can\’t even do anything about it. It comes right out of your paycheck at the end of the time or the day. If you\’re a self-employed person, you have to pay yourself. But starting to think of Social Security like an asset, meaning when we start making these decisions as it relates to Social Security, how many chances do you think you get to make a Social Security choice? Not a trick one.


Yes, that’s right.


 When would I make that decision?

There\’s 96 months that we can choose between 62 and age 70. 96 different months that we can choose when we want to start it. But again, we get one choice to figure out when the date that we want to start it. So, we need to start making these most rational decisions possible. So, let me go through the 6 Social Security changes for 2019. I\’m going to go through them and then talk about some of our everyday conversations that David, Karen, and I have on a weekday basis. So, 2.8% increase to Social Security. For 2019, the 67 million Social Security beneficiaries, will see a 2.8% cost of living adjustment.

Again, it\’s to help keep up with inflation or the government uses something that\’s called CPI-W, which stands for the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers. And what we\’re looking for is year over year, third quarter over third quarter. What we saw was the third quarter of 2018 versus the third quarter of 2019. I had initially guessed at 2.7%, but it went up a little bit higher. And that\’s how inevitably we came to 2.8% when we looked at how much things cost in the third quarter of 2018 versus 2017. Those costs of those goods went up by 2.8%. That\’s why we ended up getting that raise from Social Security. So that’s a 2.8% bump in 2019, last year it was 2%.

This 2.8% increase the largest increase since 2012. That\’s good news for the average Social Security recipient. This 2.8% raise, however, only equates to $39 per month. Why? And again, it\’s a little bit of what we\’re going through. So many people take that benefit at an early age, don\’t understand how to manage it like an asset.

Again, a great thing about Social Security, that a lot of people\’s pensions don\’t have, is this cost of living adjustment that happen on an annual basis. I know my mom, being a retired school teacher, is getting a great pension. But guess what? She retired 15 years ago. There hasn\’t been a cost of living adjustment since then. And inflation is a silent killer for everyone\’s retirement plan because of what something costs today.

The fact that Social Security can get a cost of living adjustment is a big deal in why we need to manage that bucket of money, like an asset.

Okay. The second one is maximum taxable earnings will increase to $132,900. I started off talking about how Social Security\’s like a forced 401(k) or pension plan, because the government\’s making us take 6.2% out of our paycheck that goes directly into the Social Security system. Last year you had 6.2% of your check up to $128,400 taken out. Now they\’ve increased it because we saw that increase in the cost of living adjustment. They have increased the cap, also.

For anyone who\’s earning up to $132,900, so that works out to be about a $4,500 increase. An additional $4,500 of wages up to a $132,900 will now be taxed at that 6.2%. Now what comes with that? So, as a taxable maximum increases, so does the maximum amount that somebody can get from their check. So many times, David, Karen me, and the rest of our team, when we meet people going through that Thrive Retirement Road Map review, David will talk about the very first report to Social Security report. We see some pretty significant numbers, and what people are going to be able to get at their full retirement age. It should be a little bit of a breath of a fresh of air that we have for our everyday clients that come into here.

Back to the question that you posed to me, how many chances do you get? You only get one and you already have me in a process where I\’m trying to process everything.

Be rational.

Yeah. That\’s where it gets confusing.

That\’s it. In 2018, the maximum benefit for work or retiring at full retirement age was $2,788. In 2019, the maximum benefit will increase $73 to $2,861. So new person in 2019 retiring at full retirement age. The maximum now they can get is $2,861. That\’s a good thing. We just need to make sure we\’re taking it at the right age. Here\’s the next one, number three. Full retirement age continues to increase. We talked about this during our workshops quite a bit. So, what\’s happening for people in 2019 that are now turning the age of 62, or full retirement age for people who turn 62 in 2018 were 66 in four months.

Now it\’s 66 and six months. Full retirement age goes till age 67, so we have a pocket of people that are turning the age of 62 for the next couple of years. In 2019, 2020 and 2021, we\’re going to see 66 in six months being full retirement age. It\’ll be 66 in 8 months and 66 in 10 months in 2021 and now, we\’ve gotten to all those people born in 1960 thereafter. Now full retirement age will be age 67.

If you delay collecting Social Security past your full retirement age, you can collect more than your full payout. In fact, if you put off claiming until age 70, you will receive a 76% higher annual payout than if you started receiving at age 62. That\’s such a dramatic figure.

That\’s Dramatic. It\’s too much.

They actually may have given it a little bit more of a buffer for people because we talk about how you\’re penalized if you work and collect Social Security at the same time before your full retirement age. Remember, full retirement age just went to 66 and a half. It\’s a big change. Prior, you could earn up to $17,040 and for every $2 you earn greater than $17,040, you add a benefit dollar of Social Security taken away. So they\’ve increased that by $600 a year. So now we\’ve gone from $17,040 to $17,640. In addition to that, the increase, if you can wait until the calendar year in which you turn your full retirement age, they\’ve increased that number from $45, $360 to $46,920.

You need to manage Social Security like an asset. It\’s the very first thing that we talked about with people during that Thrive Retirement Roadmap Review. Again, whether you meet us at any of our workshops, you can come visit us at meetthrivefinancial.com, or you just want to simply call us at the office at 800-516-5861. Again, we\’ll make sure that we treat Social Security like an asset.

Great stuff from Bret Elam. A lot of numbers, a lot of scenarios, a lot of things to process when you start to think about your retirement age and delayed retirement of Social Security. A lot of moving parts and as Bret mentioned that is the importance of that Social Security report, which will help you see and help you put things into categories. Karen, I think that\’s so important in this.

I encourage anybody reading to take a look at our website meetthrivefinancial.com. That\’s the tip of the iceberg when we do our Thrive Retirement Roadmap Review. It\’s just part of your full retirement analysis, so it is confusing and there are so many more ins and outs.

One of the areas that you focus in on and you\’ve been doing so for the last six weeks or so, is your focus in on women and retirement. Women understanding retirement. Women are making mistakes in retirement. Women not knowing about retirement, It\’s a lot. We talk about the Thrive army and the growth of the Thrive army. My sister-in-law is now a part of the Thrive army who doesn\’t quite understand it and hasn\’t paid much attention to it. I\’ve shared so many times about my mother-in-law and my wife. I think that your message is starting to resonate.

I\’m happy to hear that. Women definitely have unique retirement issues, so that\’s what we\’re trying to focus on. I started with a list last week, actually the top three issues that face women. There are women out there that are in many different stages of life, and it tends to be focused on women and retirement. But if you\’re a young woman, there’s some really good advice out there to start doing things now to prepare for your retirement.

Last week, we talked about how women earn less. That\’s something that we deal with. We live longer and we have fewer years of earned income, which we talked about Social Security.

If you don\’t have the right amount of earned income, or higher earned income for the years, your Social Security check is going to be a lot less. So, I\’m going to go on a few more areas that affect women. One, I noticed, it\’s a list here I have in front of me, which I actually did not make, but it is something out there that is noticed by a lot of financial advisors. Women start investing later. So, if you\’re a younger woman, they say the average age a woman starts investing for her retirement is age 28. Where a male starts at 26, which doesn\’t sound like a lot, but the earlier you start, the better it is for your money\’s going to grow and it makes a big difference. It\’s a big impact on your financial future.

Women are less confident about their personal finance and investing skills. They are less aggressive investors, which I\’ve definitely seen when women come in on their own. There\’re either single, never married, or divorced, and they think they\’re doing the right thing, but there\’s definitely a distinct gender difference between asset allocation. A lot of women think, “I\’m going to be safe and just put a lot of my money in cash. I don\’t want to get affected by the downturns of the market, or I\’m going to put my money in safe areas like bonds.” It\’s not always the best plan. So again, come on in. We\’re here to help you out. We\’d love to meet with you if you have any questions or just give us a call.

Again, look at our website meetthrivefinancial.com. Something I found very interesting is that women are less satisfied with financial advisory services.

I think that\’s true because we focus on the couple as a whole. Male and female couples come in and we notice that our goal is to educate. We try to make things clear and understandable and we want both couples to understand what\’s going on.

You understand the importance of partners being cohesive in terms of the conversation. Sometimes that\’s not easy to do when you start talking about finances, or you start talking about who\’s going to make that decision. I think that\’s a challenge.

Our goal is to make it understandable. Again, our goal is educational, so we\’re not going to sit there and tell you everything that you need to do and bridge you, we\’re going to educate you so that you really understand. This is why we were doing that, and we want you to both understand the plan. I\’ve been with my husband at different types of presentations, and they tend to try to focus on the male. Half the time he doesn\’t even know what they\’re talking about, depending on what it is. So we\’ve learned that lesson early on. It\’s very important and that\’s something that we always do.

And Karen if I may, sometimes we actually get into coaching. Sometimes you will have a couple where both parties aren\’t on the same page, and this conversation is bringing up a lot of emotions. So, sometimes acting as kind of a coach mediator, we\’re able to solve situations that a couple may not have been able to solve on their own. It\’s not just the financial education part of it, but it\’s working as that cohesive unit towards kind of a mutual goal. So we find ourselves sometimes involved in that aspect as well.


I will say there are decisions that are out there. Should we keep that house down the shore? Should we continue to rent the property? Should we get rid of that and take all of our equity out of that? I may feel one way, but my wife feels another. Now ultimately she may win in the conversation, but there\’s still need for clarity.

The husband says, “I should take a single life pension and go buy a life insurance for my spouse.” I mean, talk about people being at polar ends of a decision right there. So again, a lot of times it becomes counseling or coaching.

Karen, back to you.

Again, number one when I started with the list, is that women tend to live longer, right? So women are statistically likely to die single, divorced, or widowed. So there\’s a few things here. Just basic financial empowerment, things that you should know. You should have some basic numbers. Be sure that you know your household\’s income, know your expenses, know the assets, and know your liabilities. Women should have access to all online account information including bank accounts, credit cards, loans, and life insurance policies. This instance has just happened with my mother-in-law out of the clear blue. You could be happily married couple, and your husband just passes away. It\’s important know all that information. You should know how to get into your checking account. If your husband knows the logins and you don\’t, then you\’re lost.

Investments. women must know where all their investment accounts are, what investment strategies are being used, and what asset allocation has been implemented.

We know our couples that come in here, they know that information. If they don\’t, we\’re here to help them. Know where all your documents are, know the locations of wills, and crazy things like that. If you have a safe deposit box, know that information. You should have a retirement analysis done. If you don\’t understand the retirement analysis, come meet us, or visit meetthrivefinancial.com. We\’re here to give you all the ins and outs. Again, we tackle taxes, inflation, health care, Social Security, anything you want to know, we can educate you on. We can definitely give you a clear goal of how retirement\’s going to look for you.

And to your point, Karen, I always find myself with a reference to my mother-in-law. But, my mother-in-law at the time was 68 years old and my father-in-law unexpectedly passed away with pancreatic cancer. He went into the hospital and never came home and up until that point he managed the restaurant. Essentially, he managed everything, and at that point my mother-in-law had to be educated. So, the process for her was in the very beginning stages. So, to your point, it’s very, very important to get or to continue to have dialogue and to get educated. meetthrivefinancial.com is the website. Thank you very much Karen. David Bezar will weigh in for our final segment.

Absolutely. So, Joe I think I\’ll take just a short departure for a second. I wanted to give people a little bit of insight. This meetthrivefinancial.com website. One of the things that\’s on the website are 20 things you didn\’t know about Karen, 20 things you didn\’t know about Bret, and 20 things you didn\’t know about David. So, I thought I\’d just cover a couple of them, so maybe that\’ll entice people to go take a look.

They need to be shared.

So, there are 20 questions on there and then we gave responses to those, So I\’m just going to highlight a couple of them. On Karen, “What are the three words people use to describe you?” This is interesting, because a lot of the calls that we get in from our radio show are actually requesting to have a conversation with Karen. I think that\’s due to Karen\’s three words; kind, friendly and honest. When you meet her, you absolutely know that to be the case. And then Bret, “what are three words people use to describe Bret?” Dedicated, educator and integrity. When people meet Bret, you\’ll easily see that as well. Then mine were caring, humble and driven. So I don\’t know what to comment on that because I can\’t self-compliment so.

Well, you\’re allowed to self-compliment, but I think it\’s spot on. I think it\’s accurate.

I mean we\’re our own biggest critics of ourselves, but I think they are all accurate.

What were your words again, David?

Caring, humble and driven.

I say when people don\’t follow through on his recommendations about his passion, he gets behind it. It’s that empathetic steward that\’s been out there. So that\’s true too.

And Bret, I will say on the three words used to describe you, that if you\’re the smartest person in the room, you\’re in the wrong room. But I will tell you when you\’re in the room at the workshop, you are the smartest person in the room. You have a great handle on the numbers and on the specifics. There are so many different formulas and equations and things to know. Honestly, candidly, I don\’t know how you do it, I just don\’t know how you have a handle on all of those scenarios.

[bctt tweet=\”If you\’re the smartest person in the room, you\’re in the wrong room.\” via=\”no\”]

Because the good thing is that we\’re balanced. So you get to see a couple of us speak. So, we appeal to pretty much everybody, which is awesome.

For Karen, name one thing not many people know about you. Are you ready for this one? \”I know the entire dance routine to Michael Jackson\’s thriller.\” I\’ve seen her do it actually and we\’ve been together a long time. So in one of the dance troupes that she was in, she did that.

That\’s going to be on the live television show.

Yeah, we can do that live.

I don\’t think so.

And now I’ll actually move on to Bret. “What book has influenced you the most and why?” Bret\’s book was, \”Think and Grow Rich. It taught me that we need to open our minds and realize that it is possible to achieve everything we want in life.\”


It\’s a good recommendation. For my question about my favorite quote I actually used a quote from that book. “Great achievement is usually born of great sacrifice and is never the result of selfishness.” And I think that\’s really indicative of what we do here at Thrive.


I know sometimes at the Thrive office in Fort Washington, when you walk into the main entrance, up on one of the monitors sometimes there\’s a quote up there for the audience. I don\’t remember what was up there this week, but it had something to do with success and failure, with the point being relevant to us.

We always try education from every angle. Another one from Karen was, “if you could have dinner with any one person living or dead, who would that person be and why?” Karen\’s person was Oprah Winfrey. \”She is very driven and focused and really seems to enjoy life to the fullest.\”then Bret\’s was Albert Einstein. Go figure! \”I have always been interested in all of his theories and discoveries.\” And mine was my younger self. Think about it. If you could have dinner with your younger self, you could easily become the smartest person in history. I hope that didn\’t sound too egotistic.

No it didn\’t. That\’s interesting.

I thought you\’ve lived the life and now you go back and talk to yourself and tell her about all the mistakes and everything else.

That\’s kind of what I try and do with my boys.

They don\’t really listen a lot of the time, do they? then lastly, Karen, “if you could have the answer to any one question, what would that question be?” Hers was, \”What is my dog actually thinking?\” That\’s a pretty deep one, right?

I literally just had that conversation. I think it was with my daughter. She was at school and she brought it up. She\’s said, \”I wonder what Ranger is thinking about right now in that picture.\”

They\’ve seen the good, the bad and the ugly.

Yes they have.

Bret\’s answer is a popular one. If you could have an answer to any one question, \”When will be my last day alive? That way I can plan around it.\” Always planning.

I\’m always planning.

That is the true example of being self-aware.

Well, you\’re going to see the exact opposite of self-aware with my answer, because what question could you get answered? Mine was, “how many licks does it take to get to the tootsie roll center of a tootsie pop?

Okay. Do you know the answer?

I do not.

I do appreciate how you guys at Thrive Financial come across as relatable people, each with unique personalities.

We\’re not stuffy, we\’re real people. You know what I mean? We grew up in Philadelphia! We love the Eagles, love the Sixers, the flyers and we love our Phillies. But, we really love helping people in the community. We\’re not this nose up in the air, white collar, stuffy financial planning group, although we know as much, if not more than most of those people. We want to get real with people and help them navigate retirement successfully. We hope people will get a sense of that from us.

Well, I hope they do. The one thing that you\’ll find on meetthrivefinancial.com, when you go there, is you\’ll have an opportunity to download an eBook when you go there. I think the topic, if I remember correctly, was how to retire worry free.

Yes, exactly.

It’s just another piece of information for the Thrive army that will help you start to think about the process. I think that\’s the best place to start. Get people to think about it.

Typically, when you download something like that, you\’re going to start getting emails and phone calls and all that type of stuff. Folks, if you go to our websites and you ask for information, you\’ll get it.

Some of that information you\’ll download on your own. You won\’t get a phone call from us. We\’re waiting for you to raise your hand and say, \”Hey, give me a call.\” We don\’t want to intrude on your time. Sometimes It might not be the right time. You might be at the early stages of doing your research on retirement and you want to go meet with a number of different advisors, and we have people now that came our workshop a year ago who are now looking to conduct business. I received a text message the other day from somebody to whom we gave advice. It was about solutions to issues that they had, and quite frankly, we provided them information but were careful not to be too pushy. We have a sense of respect.

But, they requested information over the course of the year from us, and I just received a text message that said, \”Hey Dave, I\’ve been doing the final stages of my research. What you shared with me is the information I was looking for; how do I get back involved and engaged with you guys?\” So again, we\’re blessed. We have plenty of business, plenty of clients, plenty of people who are interested in becoming clients. We\’re in an abundance mode. We\’re not an advisor who\’s starving and trying to figure out where their next client is coming from. So take your time with us, look at our information, develop your questions, look at the things that you want to find out information about. And if you want to come visit us at one of our workshopsdo it, if you want to go to meetthrivefinancial.com, you can do that. If you want to go to our regular website for more information, thrivefinancialservices.tyl16lnm-liquidwebsites.com, or you can call us at 800-516-5861.

Lastly, I\’m going to talk about sounding the bond alarm.

Talk about volatility in the markets and talk about providing a retirement roadmap plant. It’s an actual deliverable report that identifies what\’s good in your plan. If you have issues or concerns with your plan, we can tell you what you can do to remedy those situations and achieve the objective that you want. That is a complimentary report that we provide is called the Thrive Retirement Roadmap Review. If people want to learn more about that, I\’m going to talk about that on our next time, but they could also go to our website, request a consultation to come in, and we\’ll be happy to do that for them.

Well done, and well said. That\’s going to do it for this week\’s edition of Roadmap to Retirement, on behalf of David and Karen Bezar, Bret Elam and the Thrive army, Thank you for tuning in!

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