CFP®, MBA, CRPS®
As a Financial Advisor since 2000, my mission is to help my clients create a more financially independent and affluent financial future than they would be able to alone by providing objective, creative solutions to help invest and manage their wealth.
I achieve this by focusing on client education and trust as the cornerstone to my client relationships.
There is nothing more important than trust in the relationships I have with my clients. I pride myself on bringing intelligence (as evidenced by my CFP® and MBA) balanced with the human element to all of my client interactions. I develop a trusting relationship with my clients so as life’s transitions occur, both expected and unexpected, we are comfortable and honest with each other.
“Nanny’s Cold Cash” – A Unique Childhood Call to Financial Self-Sufficiency
This early ambition to understand money and build financial independence was shaped by many formative experiences in her youth- namely, a moment she refers to as “Nanny’s cold cash.”
Throughout her childhood, Debbie saw her grandfather being unable to work after suffering a back injury, leaving her grandmother as the sole provider for her family.
Debbie recalls standing in her grandmother’s kitchen at 6 years old and seeing her grandmother open the refrigerator, reach into the back of the bottom vegetable drawer, and pull out a roll of cash wrapped in tin foil. She peeled some of the money out of the roll, handed it to Debbie’s mother, and said, “Here, buy my grandchild something she will love for her birthday.”
In the midst of a hard-working grandmother, a refrigerator, and a roll of cash secretly stashed in the back of a vegetable crisper, two ideas were planted within Debbie that would inform the rest of her life:
Debbie and her Nanny
One, that she wanted to be financially successful so she could take good care of herself and her family like her grandmother did, and two, that she wanted a roll of “cold cash” stashed aside so she could also have the freedom to make the beautiful life choices that called to her.
This was just one of many experiences that created a desire in Debbie to become a financially self-sufficient woman, so that she could one day fulfill her childhood dream of becoming the proud provider for her siblings’ future children. “My family always knew that I wanted to have my own career and I was going to be ‘Rich Aunt Deb,’” Debbie says.
Debbie’s experience of her grandmother, along with other women throughout her life, also gave her a passion for helping women, whether married, divorced, or widowed, become financially self-sufficient by optimizing their savings in a way that allows them to take care of their loved ones without having to rely on a job in their later years or another person’s financial support.
Furthermore, Debbie’s life experiences also give her a personal understanding of her clients’ desire to build the kind of financial self-sufficiency that not only gives them the confidence they can always take care of themselves and their loved ones, but that also gives them the freedom to make the beautiful life choices that call to them without feeling limited- whether that’s having the financial flexibility to retire early, having the time to pursue a dream they’ve always wanted to, or having the ability to offer financial support to a family member in a time of need.
Debbie and her son, Chris
Building the Bridge from Financial Success to Freedom
Like many of the busy professionals and hard-working clients she serves, Debbie knows what it’s like not to have the sense of peace and freedom that true financial self-sufficiency can provide, despite having achieved a level of financial success.
Before becoming a financial advisor, Debbie held the position of Financial Manager at General Motors, where she experienced a thriving, high-level corporate career for 15 years. She also experienced all of the things that came along with it- long hours, moving to new cities every few years, and feeling the imbalance it created in her family life.
“I remember one day, I was racing home from work, talking on the phone to my husband about who was going to pick up our baby from daycare because we were both running late to get him. And I remember thinking, ‘I don’t want to live like this anymore. There has to be a better way.’”
That’s when Debbie decided to leave her career with GM and embark on the journey of building a bridge between financial success and true freedom in her life.
Her inherent skills and interest in finance along with her specific history of education- a BA in Economics from Kalamazoo College and an MBA from Northwestern University- all led to her discovering her true calling as a financial advisor. Building her own business also created a greater level of freedom that allowed her to make more beautiful life choices- growing roots in a town she loved, and, of course, having more time with her growing son.
But her twenty-plus-year career as a Certified Financial Planner™, culminating in the development of her Piece by Piece™ framework, is what has led her to a deep understanding of what it takes to create financial self-sufficiency for herself and her clients… and the key is building a savings that can last.
A Savings that Lasts
Each of Debbie’s clients, whether a couple entering retirement, a woman seeking to build financial independence, or a busy professional who wants to prepare for retirement, come to her with one primary thing in common- they’ve saved a nest egg of money that they plan to live off of, and they want to ensure it lasts throughout their lives.
From both Debbie’s personal life and her career as a financial advisor, she understands what it takes to build financial self-sufficiency; one, save diligently, and two, make sure that your savings is well-planned and properly invested so that it lasts.
Debbie personally understands how important one’s savings is, as the value of saving money was strongly instilled in her throughout her childhood. Debbie recalls, “It began with my mother making me save 10% of my allowance- that meant I had to put 10 cents away for the one dollar I was given each week.”
Clockwise- Debbie’s mother, Debbie, and her sister
Growing up with a respect for the practice of saving has shaped the way Debbie values caring for her clients’ savings. That is why she developed the Piece by Piece™ framework, which is designed to help you preserve and maximize your savings.
The very first piece of her planning process- “Income Today”- is focused on investing a portion of your savings in a way that creates interest and dividends that you can live off of, without cutting into the principal of your investment. The intention is to create monthly checks that come to you from those investments, essentially replacing your income without losing any of the initial investment.
Being as conservative with her clients’ savings as possible, Debbie’s framework also seeks to further protect your savings with the second piece of her planning process- “Income Tomorrow”- which invests a portion of your savings into low-risk investments that serve as a “back-up plan” for the first piece.
“A lot of my clients come to me with all the money they are going to have throughout their life. We have to do all we can to ensure it is preserved.”
Debbie’s family summer home in Florida
Beautiful Life Choices
It is the third piece of Debbie’s planning process that helps to create the freedom and flexibility to make the beautiful life choices she refers to.
To be able to afford unforeseen, important expenses or desires, Debbie’s planning process includes the third step- “Flexibility”- with the goal of investing a portion of your money for growth to create an amount that you can set aside as a “cushion,” should you need or want it.
“There are simply some things that come up that your monthly ‘income,’ or your monthly checks from your interest and dividends, won’t cover. So having this piece set aside allows you to make those beautiful life choices when they come up,” Debbie explains.
In her own life, Debbie appreciates the freedom she’s been able to build to make those choices, from taking her parents on a trip to Europe for their 50th anniversary, to buying her family a summer home in Florida, to, most importantly, being able to help one of her beloved family members in his time of need.
The heartbeat of her career, however, has been seeing her clients have the ability to make these kinds of choices for themselves and those they love.
Because while helping her clients build financial self-sufficiency is what she does, empowering them with the financial freedom to make the most beautiful choices for their lives and the lives of those they love is who she is.
Debbie’s History and Designations
- Raymond James: Branch Manager, Financial Advisor 2009 to present
- Smith Barney: Second Vice President, Wealth Management 2004 to 2009
- Edward Jones: Registered Representative 2000 to 2004
- General Motors: Capital Management Director, Oldsmobile 1984 to 1998
One of the beautiful life choices Debbie has valued since her childhood is giving back- not only did her mother instill in her the practice of saving 10% of her money, but also giving away 10% of her earnings as well.
Today, Debbie is a proud supporter and member of the Traverse City Economic Club, the Three Lakes Association, and the National Alliance of Mental Illness.
Debbie and her team hold a strong commitment to empowering their clients with financial education so they can truly understand their financial world and make educated decisions concerning their plan.
“Our clients tell us that one of the things they greatly appreciate is our ability to make complicated financial concepts understandable and approachable. We’ve found that the most valuable way to help our clients have real confidence in their financial future is to help them truly understand their financial plan and their financial world as a whole. When you understand how your plan works, you’ll have great confidence that no matter what happens in the markets, you’ll be fine. That confidence is key to being able to retire and actually enjoy it.”
You can begin receiving valuable education on a variety of investment topics immediately by visiting the Craig Wealth Advisors’ Youtube channel.
Education and Designations:
Debbie Craig holds a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from Kalamazoo College and a Master of Business Administration from Northwestern University. She is both a Certified Financial Planner™ and a Chartered Retirement Specialist™. She has been featured in several news publications sharing her knowledge on important financial planning topics, which can be found here:
- The Secret of the Dow
- Traverse City Business News June 2019
- From Real Job to Dream Job
- Grand Traverse Woman March 2018
- Your Last 8,000 Days
- Traverse City Business News October 2017
- What’s Important to You
- Traverse City Business News March 2017
- The New World of the Robo Advisor
- Traverse City Business News March 2016
- The New World of DIY Retirement
- Grand Traverse Woman March 2016
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