Mary Ballin

Mary Ballin, CFP®, CDFA®, is an advisor who works to build strong client relationships. Mary runs the Mosaic Women's Circles with Liz Revenko.
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Recent Posts

Divorce: What are QDROs and how do they work?

Mary Ballin / Aug 21, 2018 / Financial Planning / Divorce

You may hear the acronym “QDRO” used quite a bit in the process of getting a divorce, and for good reason: a qualified domestic relations order (QDRO) may play an important role in your resolution.

Finding a fair settlement utilizing a QDRO as a tool is naturally the goal, but it isn't always easy.

Don't underestimate the plan administrator's power, how QDROs are constructed, or the importance of specificity. Let's take a closer look at these and other considerations.


Divorce: 5 Money Tips for the Financially Passive Spouse

Mary Ballin / Jul 26, 2018 / Financial Planning / Divorce / Saving, Budgeting and Debt Management

Often, in many marriages, one of the spouses assumes the role of “financial lead.” This person manages the couple’s money, pays the bills, works on the taxes, and understands where all of the important papers and assets are located.

So long as the couple remains together and are happily married, this arrangement can work fine. Unfortunately when there is one spouse who doesn’t participate actively in financial decisions, they put themselves at a disadvantage in a divorce situation.

The non-financial spouse can quickly feel very vulnerable, like they are at a noticeable disadvantage. 

What happens to this spouse in the event of a divorce?



Divorce: Taking a special needs child into account

Mary Ballin / Jul 5, 2018 / Financial Planning / Divorce / Kids and Money

Divorce is one of the most stressful life transitions a person can go through, but that stress isn’t the same for everyone. Your divorce can be significantly more stressful if children—particularly those with special needs—are involved. 

Children should always be a focal point of any divorce proceeding. But children with special needs change how a divorce should be negotiated, so let’s break down some of the unique considerations that need to be taken into account if a special needs child is part of a household that is divorcing. 


Circle Roundup: The Smart Guide to Charitable Giving Policies

Mary Ballin / Dec 21, 2017 / Women's Circles / Charitable Giving

Tis the season of giving… and in our fourth-quarter Women’s Circles, aptly titled “A path to giving,” we discussed aligning our desire for giving to charity with our core values, covering ways to clarify which charities to choose, and ways to give that are a little better for everyone involved than just giving cash.

Read on for some great tips and interesting research rounded up from our recent Circle into a handy guide—and you’ll learn how to craft a charitable giving policy that you can rely on.



Efficient Ways to Give to Charities

Mary Ballin / Dec 14, 2017 / Financial Planning / Charitable Giving

As an advisor, what method of charitable giving would I recommend?

The most effective practice depends entirely on your situation, and on your intent. To help guide your decision, here’s a breakdown of some different ways to give to charities, along with pros and cons of each, including tax considerations.


Circle Roundup: Investment Risk & the “Sleep at Night” Factor

Mary Ballin / Aug 25, 2017 / Women's Circles / Investments

Another successful Women’s Circle rounded out our financial understanding. This time, the Circle focused on tackling investment risk in a way that is optimal to reach long-term goals while still feeling comfortable with your everyday choices.

Market volatility can feel hard to experience emotionally, even potentially keeping you up worrying at night.

This can be overwhelming.

Risk is taken every time an investment is made, but what is the right level of risk for you, as an individual?

This post rounds up a few key tools, terms, and takeaways shared by Circle participants that can help bring you clarity.



Money Advice from Mom: Learn Self-Reliance

Mary Ballin / May 13, 2017 / Women and Money

As busy as women are, they should not completely abdicate the responsibility of making financial decisions to their significant other.  This “traditional” thinking needs to catch up with the times. 

Both parties need to be in the know” because you never know what life will throw at you, leaving you to handle it all yourself.

I look back on my life and I realize that my mother was a strong influence on me.  She was a Depression era woman, born in 1925. She came from a family where daughters weren’t educated because they were simply expected to get married and have babies.  She married my father at 19 just before he was sent off to fight in WW2. It all worked out fine for my mother.  As a couple, they had a typical division of work for their generation.  Daddy took care of the family financially, and Momma took care of the house, my siblings and me.  I am the youngest of four children and my parents had been married for 66 years when my mother passed away. 



Tax Considerations for Self-employed Consultants

Mary Ballin / Apr 11, 2017 / Tax Planning / Retirement Planning

Nearly 15 million Americans were self-employed in January 2017, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics

Being a self-employed consultant means you can work for more than one company, direct your own work, balance your own books, manage your business and be responsible for all of your own business expensessuch as technology, transportation, office materials, and the likepretty much, the buck stops with you. You are the employee of the month. Every month.

Under these conditions, the IRS would consider you a self-employed independent contractor.

But before taking your well-honed list of contacts and embarking on a new career as a consultant, you’ll want to understand the tax implications involved. The differences between your tax obligations as an employee and as a self-employed consultant can be significant.

A little knowledge and preparation now can save you a big headache down the road. Let's look into what you need to know.


Circle Roundup: The Power of Personal Financial Policies

Mary Ballin / Jan 24, 2017 / Women's Circles / Mosaic News

A lot of us start the New Year by setting resolutions based on goals we’ve been meaning to get around to achieving.

You know the goals Im talking about: “I will lose weight,” or “I will save more money.”

Unfortunately, every year, many of us lose track of such goals quickly because something derails us from committing.

We have to ask ourselves: is this a goal that we really value and want to attain, or is it a goal because it is something we have been told we “should” do?


Deciding What to Do With the Family Home After Divorce

Mary Ballin / Nov 15, 2016 / Financial Planning / Divorce

The family house is where you create and store memories. Family gathers for the holidays, babies come home from the hospital, children and pets rampage through the backyard and much more. It is the place that we retreat to when we are tired or sick. It is home.

But when a couple decides to divorce, they must figure out what to do with the house. You must weigh the pros and cons before making a decision that could be financially harmful to you down the road.

Here are key financial issues you must consider when deciding what to do with the house:


Women's Circle Roundup: Thoughts About Estate Planning Safety Nets

Mary Ballin / Oct 13, 2016 / Women's Circles / Estate Planning

Another successful Women’s Circle series rounded out our September.

Over lunch, we discussed the top estate planning documents, also known as “docs that are underestimated until they are actually needed.”  We are proud of our participants, about the actions they planned to take after the discussion, and of what they taught us about interpreting the process of estate planning, and of financial planning for women in general.

Five safety nets that are not insurance:

  1. Will
  2. Trust
  3. Power of Attorney for Financial Matters
  4. Advanced Health Care Directive
  5. Master Document to Guide Your Survivors 

Do you need these? Not if you are okay with the plan that the state of California has for you. You also don’t need them if you are alive with full physical capabilities and the mental capacity needed in order to make financial and health care decisions for yourself—and if you know you will always stay that way forever.


Mosaic Women's Circle - East Bay, May 12, 2016

Mary Ballin / Apr 27, 2016 / Women's Circles

You are invited to our upcoming Women's Circle in Walnut Creek.



Women: How to keep divorce from ruining your financial future

Mary Ballin / Mar 29, 2016 / Financial Planning / Divorce / Women and Money

Divorce is usually traumatic for everyone involved — well, except the divorce attorneys — but ample research shows that in many ways it’s harder on women.

Women who divorced at least once in their life were 24% more likely to have a heart attack than women who stayed married, according to a 2015 study by Duke University researchers, and divorcing more than once pushed the risk to 77%. Even after remarriage, women’s risks remained higher. Conversely, men’s risks increased only after two divorces, and remarrying wiped away the higher heart attack potential.

Within a year of divorcing, more women than men live in poverty and receive public assistance. They earn less money and are less likely to be able to afford to live independently, according to 2009 U.S. Census Bureau data. Divorce can hurt not just a woman’s income but her credit standing and retirement savings as well.

It’s important that women understand how these issues are likely to affect them, so they can prepare themselves as they transition into the next chapter of their lives.



Mosaic Women's Circle - East Bay, March 8, 2016

Mary Ballin / Mar 1, 2016 / Women's Circles

You are invited to our upcoming Women's Circle in Walnut Creek.


Female Caregivers: Care for yourselves, too

Mary Ballin / Feb 11, 2016 / Women and Money

It’s not just a stereotype or tradition that casts women in the role of caregivers — it’s life. Women provide the bulk of care needed for children, spouses, relatives in ill health, and aging parents. About 60% of the 43.5 million American adults who provided unpaid care in 2015 were women, according to a study by the National Alliance for Caregiving and AARP. Yet, too often the women who are so adept at caring for others fall short of adequately caring for themselves.