Wealth Building & Managing Personal Finances: A YPN Breakfast Recap

On Wednesday, May 31, 2023, we hosted our monthly YPN breakfast with the topic “Wealth Building & Managing Personal Finances” at our home base, Manny’s Deli. We loved getting together in person, connecting with our peers and devouring advice from a panel of local experts. You can stay up-to-date on upcoming YPN events by following the YPN Facebook page!



Our guest speakers Sheena Baker, COMPASS, Grace Kaage, COMPASS, Ryan Douglas Wells, Keller Williams ONEChicago and YPN Advisory Board Member Kinga Siek, @properties | Christie’s International Real Estate, shared tips to help you build a smart financial strategy that’ll diversify your income, help increase your savings and make strides toward creating generational wealth.


Each of our panelists agreed the first step to getting better about your finances is to one, identify where and what you’re spending money on, and two, fully understand your expected income.

Ryan creates a comprehensive financial forecasting spreadsheet to plan his finances 6 to 12 months ahead. He asks himself how many deals he expects to complete each month and how much income those deals may generate; he then uses that to set cash flow expectations. This approach is a great way to anticipate potential shortfalls and also serves as a powerful motivator.

For Grace, this meant reviewing her monthly expenses and identifying what expenses are essential and non-essential. She then used that information to decide how she wanted to create and separate her bank accounts be it a household, business, savings or flexible account. This approach is a great way to help you decide what percentage of your income is going into certain bank accounts and helps you get more intentional about where your money is going and why.

Connect with an accountant ASAP! Grace and Sheena have an S Corp for their real estate businesses but an LLC for their separate businesses. The tax specifications for each differ depending on your unique goals and situation, so utilize an expert on how you should register your business.


  1. Save as much as possible from the start. Grace would set aside 40% of her paychecks and divide it into a “don’t touch unless it’s an emergency” fund and in a second savings fund she intends to use for future large expenses.
  2. As an S Corp, Sheena gives herself a set salary which has helped her to save money, eliminate debt and invest in a life insurance policy with benefits. Your future self will thank you!
  3. Diversify your savings and investments so not all your eggs are in one basket. From real estate to life insurance to stocks to cash savings, when you set these up, make sure your payments into these accounts are reasonable and consistent.
  4. Ryan utilizes phone alerts from his bank to immediately notify him when his credit card expenses exceed the 50% mark of the card’s limit. This gives him a real-time view of his spending, allowing him to make timely budget adjustments, especially if he is exceeding what he should be spending that month.
  5. If you’re working towards paying off debt, that’s okay! Recognize that your financial wellness is a journey. When prioritizing what debt to pay off first, consider targeting liabilities like credit card debt.


Sheena advised envisioning your current and future home as a valuable income stream. She was able to get a 70% return on investment on her previous residency! Ask yourself, is the home in a good location, are there any value-add opportunities, what are the financing options and costs? Understanding the market conditions and how they might fluctuate now and in the future is key!

Grace LOVES real estate. She uses that passion to deeply research investment opportunities that may take longer to “flip” or turn around but still offer huge, strategic potential. It means less frequent transactions, but she sticks to markets that match her passion (luxury markets) and sets strict investment goals (a minimum 25% return).

As you diversify your income and consider starting a secondary business or side hustle, be honest with yourself about bandwidth. Your most important asset is yourself! Stay true to your values and recognize that growth is a process.

7 Quick Questions With Our Panelists

  1. How is your business registered? Is it a sole proprietorship, LLC, S Corp, etc.
    1. Grace: I was an S Corp, now I am registered as an LLC
    2. Sheena: S Corp
    3. Ryan: S Corp
  2. What system do you use to track expenses?
    1. Grace: We have an amazing accountant
    2. Sheena: Quick Books
    3. Ryan: Quickbooks, Excel (also have an accountant, but only for taxes)
  3. How often do you pay taxes?
    1. Grace: Yearly but I am W2, different from realtors who are 1099 Independent Contractors
    2. Sheena: Quarterly
    3. Ryan: Monthly
  4. What bank do you use for your business account?
    1. Grace: Chase
    2. Sheena: Credit Union
    3. Ryan: Chase
  5. What’s your favorite business credit card?
    1. Grace: Chase Ink
    2. Sheena: Chase
    3. Ryan: Chase Ink
  6. In terms of overall diversification, what wealth-building investments do you have in your portfolio?
    1. Grace: Real Estate, Stocks, IRAs, Life Insurance, Start Ups
    2. Sheena: Real Estate, life insurance, cash savings
    3. Ryan: Real estate, Roth IRA, Traditional IRA, SEP, Life Insurance, Cash
  7. Do you have a financial advisor?
    1. Grace: Yes
    2. Sheena: Yes
    3. Ryan: Yes


Jumpstart your financial wellness journey with these resources:

Your Chicago Benefits

Additional benefits & Resources

The National Association of REALTORS® designed the Center for REALTOR® Financial Wellness to help you save for retirement and create a succession plan for your business.

  • Complete your free wellness assessment!
  • Use the Financial Journey tool to forecast your long-term goals.
  • Consult the Wellness Essentials section to get a comprehensive list of the things you need to begin and sustain your business.