Cynthia Meyer, CFA®, CFP®, ChFC®
Welcome! I'm Cynthia Meyer. I'm a real estate investor and financial planner, who founded Real Life Planning to mentor a new generation of real estate dreamers.
How I Became A Real Estate Investor
My husband, Steve, and I formed our rental real estate company as a side hustle during the Great Recession. We had already included real estate funds as part of our investment mix for many years, but we wanted the adventure of trying direct real estate ourselves. Over a few years, we built a successful rental business with single family and small multi-unit homes in great neighborhoods.
When opportunity knocked, we were ready.
We’d witnessed some friends succeed and others fail in their real estate attempts, so before we bought our first rental, we made sure we were financially prepared to handle the risks of direct investment. We built our cash reserves, ran the numbers again and again and read everything we could get our hands on for first-time landlords. Those actions helped us get off to a strong start.
The Power Of Financial Habits
As a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, I’ve worked with thousands of people to lift their personal finances to a higher level. One key thing I've observed over my 22 years coaching people to master their financial habits and build financial independence, is that people who have real financial freedom aren't the ones with the flashiest lifestyles.
These “millionaires next door” live below their means, spend only on things important to them and use their savings to build assets. Those assets, such as retirement accounts, brokerage accounts, businesses and real estate, offer multiple sources of income and diversification. It’s not rocket science, but it does take a mind shift to treat your income as a tool for investing, not just to buy more stuff.
Our Marriage Dividend
My husband and I are financially independent, but it wasn't something that happened instantly. It's something we cultivated throughout becoming a blended family, having two more kids of our own in our forties and moving abroad for five years. We forged a strong economic partnership, in addition to the emotional and spiritual partnership we already had.
Declaring Financial Independence
Like many Americans, I started off in my twenties with student loans and debt. At age 34, I'd had enough. I declared my financial independence. I did whatever it took to pay off debt – even giving up my car! – and build up my emergency and retirement savings. It didn't happen overnight, but, in a few years, I had a stronger financial foundation and solid financial habits.
A Calling, Not Just A Career
I was not only personally transformed – I now had a vocation. I switched careers in 1996 to become a financial planner. I earned my CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) designation in 2001 and Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC) in 2003. In 2014 I earned my Chartered Financial Analyst ® (CFA), the highest level of distinction in the investment management profession.
Financial Wellness Advocate
More recently, I spent four years at Financial Finesse, delivering unbiased financial wellness programs to employees from all walks of life. As a member of the firm’s Financial Wellness Think Tank, I co-authored nationally recognized research on topics such as workforce financial stress, employee retirement preparedness, the ROI of workplace financial wellness programs and the gender gap in financial wellness. On the media page, you'll find links to articles where I was quoted, as well a my Forbes column from that period of work. While I left Financial Finesse to pursue entrepreneurship, I remain profoundly grateful to them for how they are building a financially healthy society.
I’m the parent of an awesome middle-schooler and a teenager, and the stepparent of an amazing 30-year-old. We live in central New Jersey now, about an hour from NYC. When I’m not working or driving someone to sports practice, you’ll find me hiking, at the yoga studio, or playing Scrabble™.
Certifications & Professional Organizations
The CFA Institute is the premier global organization for investment management professionals. The CFA® designation is the highest distinction in the investment management profession, and demonstrates a strong understanding of advanced investment analysis and real-world portfolio management skills.
The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) is the country's leading professional association of Fee-Only financial advisors—highly trained professionals who are committed to working in the best interests of those they serve.
CFP Board is a non-profit organization acting in the public interest by fostering professional standards in personal financial planning. Only those financial planners who have fulfilled the CFP Board's rigorous requirements and adhere to strict ethical standards can call themselves a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®) professional.
The Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®) designation from the American College of Financial Services is comprised of coursework and examinations on the essentials of financial planning, behavioral finance and specialized planning needs.
Regardless of your age or assets, fee-for-service XY Planning Network advisors are dedicated to working in your best interests. XYPN planners hold the CFP designation, are sworn fiduciaries and offer virtual financial planning.
The Fee Only Network is a national online resource for finding Fee-Only, registered investment advisers.