My first passion is to put God first in all that I do! I’ve been on that journey since 1995. My second passion is my wife Julie and our blended family! Married in 2011, Julie and I enjoy spending time with our kids and grand kids. We always have something going on during the weekends! Our kids’ careers range from Nurse Practitioner, Electrician, Occupational Therapist, IT Specialist, Air Force Avionics specialist, and one still in college studying Music Education. No dull conversations here!
We are also involved at our church and FamilyLife® Ministry. We both felt the calling to help couples navigate the every day challenges of married life and blended children with solid biblical beliefs. Together, we lead marriage classes at our church and in the community, such as the “Art of Marriage”.
We started with FamilyLife® in 2011 by attending a Weekend to Remember event. Yep, we’ll never forget! It started our journey toward Marital Oneness that now has a public Facebook page here. Feel free to follow us there. In 2020, Julie and I joined the FamilyLife® team as “Affiliate Staff” (volunteer, unpaid) to promote healthy marriages throughout Michigan.
My Financial Planning Journey
My financial journey began one Sunday afternoon in the early 2000’s, browsing the bookstore in my church lobby and discovering a DVD-based program called “Financial Peace University.” After taking the program and subsequently leading others through it, I felt the calling to help people with their finances. In 2009, I wrote a book on budgeting that is still available today on Amazon, “Get a G.R.A.S.P. on Your Budget and Your Cash”. Then in 2016, I completed a Master of Science in Finance (MSF) degree from Walsh College. My goal: To help people with their financial goals as an educated consultant, not a salesperson working on commissions.
As a former engineer-type and Information Technology professional, I have the analytical skills and the tools to serve you at or near retirement (55+). I help analyze the complex “what-if” scenarios, develop an income and distribution strategy, and help answer the difficult questions:
- How long will my investments last into my retirement?
- How will I fund my Long-Term Care expenses?
- Which pension option should I take?
- How do I maximize my Social Security benefits?
- What is the most tax-efficient way to withdraw from my accounts?
- How do I protect all the children in my blended family scenario?
Imagine your desired retirement lifestyle and legacy goals. Then we use our expertise and Collaborative Financial Planning tools to develop your personalized roadmap to help you get there.”
– Mike Kastler, MSF
Why I Chose to be a Fiduciary Financial Planner
After many disappointing experiences with my own financial “advisors” (salespeople) over the years, I decided to take a consultative, fiduciary approach, never taking commissions or referral fees and always putting the client’s best interest before my own. This is called the “Fee Only” compensation model.
By combining my real-life experiences, analytic skills, and academics, my aim is to bring unique value in developing your personalized financial plan – without the bias or pressure of selling products on commission. I believe this is the best way to provide objective financial advice that is in your best interest.
Education and Credentials
- Master of Science in Finance
- Studied business at Harvard Business School (non-degreed program for IBM Certified Client Executives)
- Bachelor of Science in Mathematics and Computer Science
- On-going education in Personal Finance and Retirement Income Planning
The Backstory: A History of Serving Clients
I really like team theory, so I’ll use Bruce Tuckman’s model developed in 1965, “Forming, Storming, Norming, and Performing” to describe my personal growth path and how that led me to serving others with personal financial planning.
Forming the Foundation
Ever since the young age of about 12, I’ve been at work serving others in whatever capacity I could at the time. At that young age, it was starting a neighborhood door-to-door car wash business with a friend. We quickly expanded to the local police department! It was a great start to a life-long entrepreneurial journey of serving others!
I started college at 17. To pay tuition, I turned a drafting talent, inherited and fostered from my father, into a summer income and ultimately a full-time job while going to college part-time. It took eight and a half years to finish college, but it got me started in the automotive machine tool design business. I also learned a good work/study balance and the value of a good paying job!
At 22, I bought my first home and became a landlord, a condominium, at 13.5% interest. I felt blessed, as mortgage rates soared to 16.6% shortly after. I rented it out to a woman with 2 small children. Entrepreneurial. Serving. The life-long pattern was taking shape.
With a degree in Mathematics and Computer Science, it was only fitting that I would turn my analytical abilities and automotive job experience into working as a programmer for a large computer company – serving in one of the Big 3 manufacturing plants. It didn’t take long for me to grow into the job and work with the manufacturing executives on their technical requirements, processes, and then lead the technical team to implement technical solutions.
I then moved to another large computer and Information Technology company, the largest in the world at the time, and began a 24+ year journey of serving automotive and supplier companies with Information Technology (IT) solutions. As an Account Manager, Manager, and ultimately a Client Executive, I thrived on serving my clients well. It abruptly ended in 2009 with the economic implosion resulting from the 2007/2008 financial crisis. My key client had gone bankrupt. And I was out of a high paying job.
Storming through a Crisis
Now I had a financial crisis of my own. In 2009, in Michigan, you couldn’t even get a job at McDonald’s. How would I survive on unemployment? – Which amounted to about 90% less than what I was previously making. Fortunately, I had taken the Financial Peace University program and even led many other small groups through it. I knew how to budget, I had saved for emergencies. I had the cash to live on for about a year. I took that unemployment year to write a book on personal finance and it is still available today on Amazon.
2010 came fast and I had about $900 left in my checking account. I found a job! Whew! Now I was making about 80% less than my previous salary. Woo Hoo! Better than unemployment! Now came a big financial decision. I did what most people didn’t. Most people in my situation were cashing out their 401(k)’s, retirement plans, etc. to keep their lifestyle going.
I felt differently. I felt a nudge from the Lord. I chose to change my lifestyle. I sold out. I sold the big home and one of the cars. I sold 2/3 of my belongings. I moved into an apartment for the first time in my life. The hardest part for me was telling my son that I couldn’t send him to a 4-year college (right now). But he was fine with that! Amazing how things work out.
Norming the Ship
I was happy. I made it through a big mess. Even though I had lost $820,000 from lost/reduced wages and equity in my home, I still had all my retirement funds in tact. The market was coming back. Fortunately, I knew that selling during a market crash was a very last resort.
The next 5 years, the economy improved, my income slowly grew back and I was back in the field of IT supporting automotive clients. However, I decided to change careers. I wanted to expand my knowledge of finance and turn it into a valuable service to help people reach their goals and avoid their own financial crisis. While still working in IT, I took college courses at night to obtain Master of Science in Finance, including a 6-course track in Personal Financial Planning.
It was during the early part of this time frame that I met the woman of my dreams! I couldn’t afford to date her in the traditional sense. So we dated by going to church events where there was little to no cost! It was great! We got married. Now we’re in marriage ministry with FamilyLife® Ministry.
Performing a Passion
In 2015, I started Kastler Financial Planning, an office of Garrett Investment Advisors, LLC, a fee-only financial planning firm, as a Financial Planner and Investment Advisor Representative. I chose the “fee-only” approach because I wanted to serve my clients as a fiduciary and give them consultative advice without product sales or commissions.
In late 2019, I formed Kastler Consulting Group, LLC as a registered investment advisory (RIA) firm, still using Kastler Financial Planning as a brand name. My personal goal is to build a team of high quality and diverse finance professionals throughout the industry to serve my clients for years to come!
I believe God got me through all this and is using me, through the skills and passion He has given me, to truly help others. I work for clients only – never receive a commission or referral fee from anyone! Only about 5% of the Advisor community work on this strict fiduciary model.