Squeeze the Juice on the Florida Suncoast
I’m Jennifer Lee, AIF®, AWMA®, the founder of Modern-Wealth (a financial advising firm in Sarasota) and the author of “Squeeze the Juice: Live with Purpose, then Leave a Legacy.” But most importantly I’m a daughter, aunt, partner, and friend. Over my twenty-six years in the industry, I’ve realized that when it comes to finance the relationship between my clients and I is often more meaningful than the finances themselves. And the role of guide, confidant, and friend is what I’ve always strived to be. And that’s what this book is—a little bit of me to help you along your journey.
Now, I didn’t set out to write a book. Unlike many people who have their mind made up about telling their story, I was hesitant. I had started an outline for a book concept in September of 2019. Concept only. I was uncertain if I had a whole book in me. But I knew if I were to start anywhere with this book it would be with my father and the delivery of his love letter.
My father was an exceptionally important influence in my life. He was a financial planner (owning his own financial planning practice), extremely dedicated to his work, loved by his clients, and his family. As a child, I would go into his office, watch him work, and absorb my surroundings like a sponge; I was mesmerized at times. I even had the opportunity to attend a conference with my father. And while I learned many lessons the hard way, his work ethic and values permeated my being. I knew that my father was available in our lives, that he worked hard, and was passionate about his work. I wanted that fulfillment for myself. Who wouldn’t? After a three-year jaunt in the accounting world, I joined my father in his practice. I jumped in and have never looked back. My career in finance was a fit.
Growing up, my father would often say “Squeeze the Juice” rather enthusiastically. He was typically a serious guy, with moments of excitement where he would proclaim, “Squeeze the Juice!” Get the most out of it—whether it was a class, a trip, work, or an experience—live it to the fullest. I found myself adopting this phrase not just in my own personal life but with my clients as well. Being in the financial services industry for over 26 years and founding my own practice, Modern-Wealth, I have seen a lot. I have walked clients through multiple challenging life transitions and financial decisions. Together we focus on the desired outcome. What do they desire in life post transition? How will life be different? By focusing on their values and leveraging tools and financial instruments, we get the job done.
What drives me is getting to the root of their wants and needs, becoming an advocate for their most fulfilled life, and helping them get there. It is truly satisfying. Of course, there are financial concepts to explain, deploy, and execute. By understanding what drives clients, I can truly support and direct the focus of their resources especially when major life events occur. What better way to help them, then knowing exactly what makes them tick or what brings them joy?
I have found that most often the non-moneyed spouse (many times, women) is receptive to this approach of financial planning. Financial planning is simple, but for individuals who do not typically manage the finances in a relationship, it can feel downright exhausting. Add going through a divorce or losing a loved one to the mix and it can feel unbearable. Over the course of my career, I have observed this continuous theme when it came to how women perceived finances and their often disinterest in the topic. It was never about intellect, they were capable, had the education, and the aptitude. They were simply not that interested. Like a round of 18 holes of golf. I can do 9 and it can be fun. 18 and I am bored out of my mind. To me, it is not so interesting. Through my years of working with women in transition, I recognized the similarity in the way they viewed money. This is partly the motivation behind my book. I want money and financial concepts to be absorbable and applicable to every woman. And you won’t have to play 18, come to the course with your resources and your goals and we’ll handle the back 9.
During quarantine, first quarter 2020, I began flushing out the details of my stories. I added context and color to the outline I had initially sketched. I pulled out stories from my childhood and experiences from my career. The one that seemed to stand out above the rest was writing your love letter. For years, I did little talks and shared this idea with groups. It was an innocuous subject that allowed people to consider financial components of their life without the risk of them dozing off. My father never wrote his, he delivered it in person to us. He described the assets that my Mom would have, detailed his desires regarding his funeral services, shared his most impactful relationships and life’s joys, and he communicated his expectations of us, his children, in his absence. Who does that? Who receives a likely terminal diagnosis on a Friday and delivers, well triages his life, on a Monday? My Dad was unusual and pretty awesome! I shared his story repeatedly after my father passed. I believe that people needed to write their love letter, whether to their daughter, their business partner, or their spouse. We were fortunate to have received his. What if he had been hit by a bus? There would be no communication of values, expectations, and assets. Shouldn’t everyone take the opportunity to write theirs? And so, I wrote mine.
The stories in “Squeeze the Juice: Live with Purpose then Leave a Legacy” serve as excellent tools and reminders to encourage readers to reflect and absorb emotional financial concepts with ease. This book serves as a guide with a unique blend of my own life experiences, my many years of career expertise, and interactive, thought-provoking passages that encourage the reader to prepare for their financial future. It is my hope that this book will allow the reader a risk-free interview with Modern-Wealth and me. Readers get to determine if they would like to have a meaningful discussion, tackle major life transitions, articulate their values and wishes with their loved ones, and empower them to prepare sooner rather than later for their financial future. It’s all about squeezing the juice out of life.
Photos from Barrie Cohen