Debra Brede

Hard Work Pays Off: My Story of Personal Growth

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you probably know a bit about my career and my commitment to helping my clients meet their goals and live purpose-driven lives. But it is impossible to fully appreciate the seriousness with which I approach the work I do—the degree to which I hold myself accountable for helping my clients succeed—without first understanding how I grew up.

Everyone starts somewhere, and I certainly wasn’t born knowing how to navigate the financial landscape. Quite the opposite, in fact. 

My parents were just teenagers when I was born. There were four of us by the time my mother was twenty-three. And, as you might imagine, that put a lot of strain on my parents’ relationship. Most of my memories from growing up are of my parents fighting—always about money, because they had none. 

When my dad left my mom for another woman, it was up to us to help pay the bills. My mom signed my older brother Bruce and I up for paper routes, since we were too young to get them on our own. I was five and he was six. Then, she signed us up for second routes. For years, the money we made delivering the paper was our family’s sole income, bolstered by the other odd jobs I did for my customers—like taking their trash cans to the curb and shoveling their snowy sidewalks.

My money lessons began back then, when I was five and responsible for covering the cost of the newspapers if my customers didn’t pay. I’d leave them handwritten notes when they didn’t answer the door, and after three notes, I’d cut them off. While they’d complain about me to the newspaper office, I had already learned that I couldn’t afford to give them something for nothing.

Eventually my mother applied for food stamps, but she was too embarrassed to use them herself, so she sent me in her stead. Bruce and I were the family cooks, and we’d put together a grocery list. I’d then have to take the bus to the store, pick out the groceries, calculate how much I’d be spending (all I had was food stamps; so I definitely couldn’t go over that amount), and check out in the time it took for the bus to complete it’s route and circle back to the grocery store. 

In my childhood mind, “if we only had money,” became a common refrain. Back then, I dreamed of a different reality—and I certainly wouldn’t wish what I experienced on anyone—but it also made me who I am today: resolute, driven, entrepreneurial.

My early experiences continue to fuel my life’s work. I don’t want anyone who reaches retirement to wonder what could have been if only they had money. I do everything I can to keep my clients from knowing the struggles I did, and encourage proper estate planning so that they can protect those they love too. For more information, visit

Couple looking at tablet at cafe

How to manage your wealth during retirement

After working hard and investing your wealth strategically for most of your life, you’ve made it—retirement. Welcome to your Golden Years. Now that you are here, ensure your retirement is comfortable, relaxing, and fulfilling by managing your wealth well. Here are my top 5 tips to ensure you are smart with your finances during these years.

  1. Consult with a financial advisor. Up until this point, you’ve likely worked with a financial advisor to build and grow your assets as you prepared for retirement. But now your financial advisor can still help you plan how you will use your wealth. We can also give you more specific advice, including how to be smart about taxes, how to continue growing your assets, and more.
  2. Consider how you will allocate your funds year to year. Even though you have reached retirement, you should keep planning how you will use your wealth year to year, even month to month. Budgets will remain useful so your funds won’t deplete sooner than you anticipated. Of course now is the time when you can take your dream vacation and spend your hard-earned money, but make sure you have a plan.
  3. Continue a dialogue with family about finances. Hopefully, you’ve already been talking with family—especially your spouse—about managing your wealth. Having these conversations before retirement will help you transition more smoothly. Unfortunately, there are many couples who disagree about lifestyle after retirement. Some want to travel, others may want to downsize the family home—it really varies couple to couple. Talk about your goals and what you want from retirement. It’s wise to be in agreement before making big or indulgent purchases. Chatting with the rest of your family, like children or other beneficiaries, is also useful. They certainly don’t need to dictate how you spend your money, but it is wise for them to know your plans.
  4. Spend on yourself. You worked hard your entire life and planned for a comfortable retirement. Enjoy it! If you plan to spend money on your family—adult children, grandchildren, your parents, etc.—make sure to budget those expenses. But prioritize spending on yourself. You deserve it.
  5. Keep planning! The plan you start out with at the beginning of your retirement can, and probably should continue to change as your circumstances change. In fact, there are often different phases in most individual’s retirements. In the beginning, you may be more active, traveling and spending more. Then you may want to settle down, spending more time at home, close to family. During this time, you likely spend less. As we continue to age, medical expenses may increase, which can cause another spike in spending. Keep assessing your budget and wealth, and adjust your plan accordingly. A financial planner can help you with these plans as well.

Retirement is a wonderful time during your life. Following these tips can lead you to manage your wealth wisely. For more information and advice, please visit