Steve Gaito – Director of My Retirement Education Center

[quote style=”boxed”]First wake up every day excited about what you do. Second concentrate on what you do well and third let others do what you do not do well. You will enjoy life more and be more fulfilled.[/quote]

Steve Gaito is the director of My Retirement Education Center which launched in July 2012. Steve is a Certified Financial Planner practitioner CFP® with nearly 20 years of experience in the financial planning industry developing retirement plans for nonprofit organizations, companies and individuals.

Earlier in his career, Steve served as a retirement plan specialist and financial advisor at VALIC, the senior vice president of camping at YMCA of the Triangle and a financial planner at LPL Financial. In July of 2010, he stepped away from the brokerage business to focus on providing affordable personal finance guidance, founding Fee Only Planning NC, LLC, a registered investment advisory company that offers advice exclusively on an hourly only basis.

Steve is active in his church, serving as treasurer, and regularly travels internationally to provide business consultation and financial expertise to nonprofits. With his wife Madalyn, who he has been married to for 24 years, Steve also serves on the Appalachian State University Parent Association Board. He is passionate about teaching and connecting people, and loves spending time with his wife and three children, Meg, Smith and John.

What are you working on right now?

Last spring I started My Retirement Education Center to offer unbiased, educational classes for people of all financial backgrounds to learn about the basics of retirement planning so they can move forward with confidence and peace of mind. Through the center, we offer classes specific for people close to retirement age, those in the early to mid-stages of retirement planning and companies looking to offer employees retirement education sessions. We cover everything from 401Ks, estate plans, probates, equity income strategies, taxes, insurance best practices prior to and during retirement, and more.

To provide individuals with a well-rounded and unbiased look into the retirement planning process, I assembled a team of leading professionals skilled in explaining the various components of retirement planning, representing fields such as Certified Public Accountants® (CPA), Chartered Financial Analysts® (CFA), Certified Trust and Financial Advisors® (CTFA) and Attorneys (JD).

Where did the idea for My Retirement Education Center come from?

I started My Retirement Education Center after noticing a need in the community for retirement information without a sales pitch. My goal was to create a resource for individuals, of any age or professional background, to learn the fundamentals of retirement planning and be empowered to move forward with peace of mind that they’re taking the right steps for their retirement.

What does your typical day look like?

I usually start my day with quiet time and reading several articles on retirement and financial planning. From there depending on my schedule, I’ll either prepare for a financial planning appointment, work on existing plans, or review material for a later class. I’ll repeat this process throughout the day while addressing anything new that comes up. A typical day for me is different every day and that’s why I love what I do.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I am a dreamer and want to do everything I can to help others by educating them. I find my most creative times come about while I’m behind the wheel driving. The challenge is then to get it to a point where it is useful to others. One of these methods is the classes that I teach. I get a tremendous amount of satisfaction knowing that I have helped others make wise decisions or helped them understand something that they did not before.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

It is more of a concern and a desire to help people avoid a common mistake. As baby boomers start to enter the retirement phase of their life a big decision is how and when to take Social Security. According to the statistics 45% of people choose to start at age 62 while 1 to 2% choose to take it at age 70. With the average lifespan increasing this is a decision that needs more education to help people make an educated decision and they need the tools and facts so that they can understand what they need to do. The My Retirement Education Center classes that I developed is designed to do exactly that, give them the facts to make a wise decision.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

I have been blessed with several jobs and can honestly say I have not had a bad job. I have had difficult bosses, challenging circumstances, and low pay, but at each I have learned valuable life lessons that have impacted my life. The one task that sticks out of one of my favorite jobs was when I was the operations director at Camp Sea Gull right out of college. I was responsible for the waste treatment system and over a break while everyone else was gone the red flashing light went on and our maintenance director needed help to “clear the problem.” While a nasty job, it provided a bonding experience and some funny stories.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I don’t know what I would do differently because I have learned so much from all of life’s challenges. I would probably invest upfront in marketing and public relations, as well as some staff. It is a challenge to do it all yourself and most of the time there is someone that is better at something than yourself.

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

First wake up every day excited about what you do. Second concentrate on what you do well and third let others do what you do not do well. You will enjoy life more and be more fulfilled.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Teach others what you know. If we share knowledge our knowledge will continue to grow.

If you could change one thing in the world, what would it be and how would you go about it?

Politics. Not just government but doing stuff because it may benefit you. The solution is to serve others without an agenda.

What are your three favorite online tools or resources and what do you love about them?

Google because it is easy to find things. Blogs because they expose you to different points of view and ESPN Scoreboard because I can keep up with my favorite teams.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Halftime by Bob Buford is one of the best books for understanding what to do in the second half of your life. It helps you define what your legacy will be and how you have been given the tools to succeed.

When was the last time you laughed out loud? What caused it?

My son received a story about a chili contest in Texas and as he was reading it he was laughing so hard he was crying. To this date every time we have chili I think of the story and laugh out loud.

Who is your hero?

I have three heroes

1. Jesus Christ

2. My Father Ken Gaito

3. Ronald Reagan

Why do you love to do what you do.

I have always enjoyed serving others and helping educate people. I have been fortunate to have spent 20 years helping people prepare for retirement and now I want to help them make wise decisions about their options in retirement through My Retirement Education Center. I am encouraged each time I teach a class and someone comes up to me and says thanks and that they feel confident they can do it now.

What is special about your family?

I have been blessed with an incredible wife for almost 25 years and three great children (Meg, Smith and John). We love to travel, spend time together and worship together. Faith is the backbone of our family. It is never perfect but usually fun.


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