If We Could Teach Only One Financial Lesson

At Sentinel Financial Planning, we understand what it’s like to have questions about your finances and not know where to get answers to your questions. The founder, Mark, dealt with this type of uncertainty and had to navigate the financial journey on his own. That’s what ultimately steered him to become a financial advisor.

There were many lessons to learn, but because of these experiences, he understands the importance of both receiving sound financial advice and taking the steps necessary to actually implement it. That’s why if he could teach only one financial lesson, it would be: Have a Budget, a Plan, and a Strategy.


The Financial Pyramid is a helpful guide that can be used to work towards the three prongs of this lesson. Similar to the ancient structures in Egypt, the Financial Pyramid is built upon a sturdy and broad base.


The base of the pyramid is wealth protection or risk management. This comes in several forms including both insurance and proper cash flow management. The insurance component is rather straightforward. It’s important to have enough insurance to cover your income, health, and liabilities (e.g. mortgage or auto loan). Protecting yourself and your family from loss of income due to injury or illness and loss of assets due to damage or theft is a critical component of a comprehensive financial plan.

Wealth protection goes beyond just insurance though. It also includes cash flow management or budgeting. This is tracking expenses, spending at or below your means, and saving or investing your extra income. You can have all the insurance in the world, but without these strategies, you would struggle to keep your financial health in the green and you would not be able to move up the pyramid.


The next level of the pyramid is wealth accumulation. First, you’ll want to build up enough liquid assets (e.g. cash) to cover any emergencies that might come up, including job loss, unexpected maintenance or repairs, and short-term health issues.

Once your immediate financial needs have been met, you can start to plan for the future you wish to pursue. Start by outlining the short-term and long-term financial goals you hope to accomplish and categorize them based on time frame. Once you have an idea of what you hope to achieve, you can begin to design a plan to get you there.

Whatever it may be for you and your family, it starts with a solid financial foundation and then a plan.


Perhaps the most important aspect of the pyramid is investing. Safeguarding your assets and planning for the future can only go so far without a solid strategy in place. In this case, a comprehensive investment strategy serves as the mechanism by which other financial goals can be accomplished.

There are many strategies for investing, and your investments should be diversified. We believe the best investment strategy is identifying companies whose securities appear to be trading at a price less than their value. Ideally, the companies’ securities pay a dividend and offer capital appreciation potential. Each investment selection should be strategically chosen to make the most of both your time and your money.

If you’re beginning your investment journey, diversification is extremely important. As the proverb goes, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Your best approach is to seek investments that are tailored to specific styles and objectives. Invest your money in an effective and efficient manner that benefits you.


Working with a professional is a great way to get started on building a solid financial foundation and planning for the future. Find a financial advisor that will walk alongside you while you build your wealth and that has the expertise to advise you on four cornerstones, including investment management, wealth management, financial planning, and life planning. Be sure to align the advice, planning, and strategies you receive with your tax planning picture, goals, and objectives.

At Sentinel Financial Planning, we have the tools and experience to help guide you on your financial journey. It may be our advice, but it’s your future, and we take pride in walking alongside you as you make the most of it. To learn more about our comprehensive process, schedule a complimentary consultation by contacting Mark at (443) 906-1565 or mark@sentinelfp.com.


Mark Humphries, CFP® is the owner and financial advisor at Sentinel Financial Planning, a boutique, veteran-owned and operated investment management and financial planning firm. Mark focuses on helping federal government employees, military members, and business owners manage their investments and plan for retirement. As a former military service member and federal employee with over 10 years in the financial industry, he is familiar with the Federal Employee Retirement System (FERS) and the Thrift Savings Plan (TSP) and is uniquely qualified to serve his clientele.

Before working in the financial industry, Mark was enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1999 to 2003, during which he became familiar with the challenges military service members and their families face, especially during deployments. After seven years of working in the financial industry, Mark launched Sentinel Financial Planning to provide a better way for federal employees and small business owners to find reliable financial planning solutions. In addition to the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designation, Mark holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from the University of Central Florida and a master’s degree in personal financial planning from Kansas State University.

Outside the office, Mark enjoys boating, fishing, hunting, and collegiate sports. Additionally, he is a member of the National Association of Professional Financial Advisors, XY Planning Network, Anne Arundel County Pension Oversight Commission, Naval Academy Primary School Board of Trustees, and Warrior Events Board of Directors. To learn more about Mark, connect with him on LinkedIn.