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Common Cents

Elliot Pepper, CPA, CFP®, MST
Elliot grew up in Atlanta, GA and graduated from Baltimore's Ner Israel high school. Following Yeshiva, Elliot attended the University of Maryland, College Park where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and the University of Baltimore for graduate school. After stints at both Ernst & Young, and Brown Advisory, Elliot formed Northbrook Financial, a financial planning, tax, and investment management firm. With a strong tax technical acumen and deep understanding of personal financial behavioral habits, Elliot connects with people by providing objective and actionable advice in relatable layman's terms. He has developed and continues to teach a popular high school financial literacy course in Baltimore, MD.
Year-end Money Moves Year-end Money Moves

As 2021 draws to a close, now is a good time to consider smart money moves. “It’s a marathon, not a sprint” may be an overused phrase, but behind every overused cliche there is some element of truth. The majority of financial outcomes are a function of consistent actions and behaviors as opposed to stellar […]

Inflation Got You Down? I Bonds to the Rescue! Inflation Got You Down? I Bonds to the Rescue!

Inflation: What is it and why are we freaked out by it?  Inflation is a decline in the purchasing power of a given currency, and is measured by the rate of change in the average price level of goods and services over some period of time. In simple English – inflation means the things we […]

Taxes Today, Tomorrow, or Never! A Discussion on Tax Savvy Long Term Investing Taxes Today, Tomorrow, or Never! A Discussion on Tax Savvy Long Term Investing

Imagine two builders, both tasked with building identical, structurally sound, and physically comfortable homes in the same general location. The only difference is that one builder is working in the year 2021, with all the technological advancements and knowledge available, while the other house builder is working in the year 1821. The tasks are the […]

The Great Mortgage Debate The Great Mortgage Debate

Politics and religion – two topics to be avoided at work, social gatherings, and if you are looking to stay away from unwinnable discussions with soon-to-be former friends. I might add “mortgage advice” to that list. The real estate market has been on quite a tear recently, and with rising house values and historically low […]

Cut Through the Jargon Part II: Mutual Funds, ETFs, Diversification, and Fees Cut Through the Jargon Part II: Mutual Funds, ETFs, Diversification, and Fees

Imagine going to the supermarket with a simple goal: purchase food for the week. Easy enough, but of course there are the food allergies, the 6-year-old-child-turned-Michelin-star foodie, and the M&M impulse buying at checkout. A bit dramatic, but the point is distractions impact the success of even the simplest goals. The stock market is a […]

Cut through the jargon: Stocks & Bonds Cut through the jargon: Stocks & Bonds

A 2018 BBC article noted that “there are an estimated 171,146 words currently in use in the English language.” We have a lot of words and the financial services industry is not shy about complicating straightforward concepts by creating, recreating, and confounding us with an endless alphabet soup of words and acronyms. We discussed setting […]

So you are ready to invest, great! Now What? Investment Account Basics So you are ready to invest, great! Now What? Investment Account Basics

Classically defined, investing is “the outlay of money, usually for income or profit.” In personal finance, investing can be found at the crossroad of human knowledge and human behavior. We are inundated with information about financial investments and naturally are attracted to promises of quick, low risk, high returns.  If the “gurus” are right and […]

Personal Debt & Credit: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly Personal Debt & Credit: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

The role of debt in our lives is an important concept in personal finance. I previously described the principle to “spend less than you make.” Therefore, it is important to understand how debt, an option that allows you to pay for something with more money than you have today, works, and how to harness it […]

Emergency Funds: More than just a Savings Account Emergency Funds: More than just a Savings Account

A recent survey from Bankrate.com found that only 39% of Americans have enough cash saved to cover an unexpected $1,000 expense. While the past year has brought tremendous challenges, the survey’s results have been consistent for years – the majority of us simply do not have enough savings to protect from the unexpected. Building an […]

Cash Flow Management: An Easier Way to Budget Cash Flow Management: An Easier Way to Budget

The importance of “financial wellness” has increased in popularity in recent years. According to the University of San Diego, “Financial wellness is an on-going process and combination of increasing awareness of your current financial state, strengthening your knowledge of Financial Literacy, making well-informed decisions, and taking intentional and mindful steps towards achieving a healthy financial […]