Category: chatham county

Divorce is About Making Good Financial Decisions

Divorce is About Making Good Financial Decisions

By Sam Hubbard
Principal, Coastal Divorce Advisors

While you’re in the midst of a divorce, you’re going to have to weigh a lot of financial choices while dealing with the weight of strong emotions. You can minimize emotional stress by anticipating what decisions you have to make and understanding what’s involved in making them.

Below are common hurdles that people who are divorcing need to be aware of and the factors they need to consider to make confident, constructive decisions.

Can you afford to keep your home?
While you may have a personal attachment to your house, especially since your kids call it “home,” it is ultimately a huge expense to maintain year after year. All too often, the spouse who wants to keep the house only analyzes whether he or she can cover the mortgage and the property taxes, but fails to consider the “oh no’s”: “Oh no, the built-in refrigerator broke,” “Oh no, the HVAC system needs to be replaced, “Oh no, we have termites.”

Unforeseen expenses can cost thousands of dollars and could cause you to lose your house, or worse, push you toward bankruptcy. While a house is an asset, it is ultimately an expense. Make sure to take all homeownership costs – anticipated and unexpected – into account and try to remove emotion when deciding whether you can afford to keep the house.

Should you divide your property down the middle?
When you begin a divorce, it’s only natural to think “all our assets should be split right down the middle.” But since no two assets are created equal, this type of thinking may put you at the short end of the stick.

In a divorce, it’s common for spouses to divide property by what they see as equivalent value. For example, if one spouse gets the house, the other spouse may get the investment accounts, both valued around the same amount.

But tread carefully. Some assets, like certain pensions, may be completely illiquid and cannot be sold or transferred to a spouse. Others assets may have significant tax implications from a low-cost basis or may have large transaction fees (like the sale of a house). Make sure you initiate a complete analysis of the assets before making any decisions.

Do you want to tackle debt before your divorce?
If your spouse ran up balances on your credit cards during your marriage, in the bank’s eyes, it’s a shared responsibility, no matter who did the spending — even if the court decides your ex-spouse is responsible for it all.

Banks can still come after you for payments your ex-spouse didn’t make, jeopardizing your finances and damaging your credit score for years. Making the choice to pay off as much debt as possible before you finalize the divorce is often a good one.

Should you protect yourself from unanticipated events?
If you will be receiving alimony and child support, what happens if your ex-spouse passes away or becomes seriously disabled? Would you be able to support yourself and your kids if you no longer receive these payments? Consider purchasing life and disability insurance specifically tailored for divorce so support payments continue if something unforeseen happens to your ex-spouse.

Should you evaluate your settlement agreement from a current perspective?
When looking at a settlement proposal, what may seem like a great deal now could quickly turn into financial ruin down the road. You need to make sure you don’t evaluate your proposed settlement by your current costs or budget but by how your finances will look in 5 or 10 years.

Projecting your cost of living will help you determine the long-term consequences of a settlement option and whether you’ll be financially well-positioned years after the divorce. Make sure you have accurate projections on-hand and do not rush into signing a proposal just to be done with it.

Can you be disciplined to make financial decisions in unison, not one by one?
When going through a divorce, looking at any single financial aspect in a vacuum and not seeing how it relates to others could cost you. The division of assets and liabilities, tax consequences, inflation, alimony, and child support are all pieces of the settlement puzzle that need to work together to help ensure the most favorable settlement agreement. For example, if you have income from your job and agree to take a large alimony payment, you may be pushed into a higher tax bracket than if you were to increase the amount you receive in non-taxable child support.

Take a careful, comprehensive approach to your finances to have a better chance of coming out ahead.

Sam Hubbard Coastal Divorce Advisors Savannah

Sam Hubbard

Sam Hubbard, MBA, CFA, CDFA is the principal of Coastal Divorce Advisors, LLC, (CDA), a firm specializing in helping clients understand their financial situation and options throughout the divorce process. CDA is an affiliate of Coastal Capital Management, LLC. For additional information, e-mail, call 912-234-3657 or visit This article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author, who is not an attorney. If you require legal advice, please seek appropriate legal representation.

Q&A: Please Meet Mike Hughes

Q&A: Please Meet Mike Hughes

Please Meet H. Michael Hughes Ph.D.
Bethesda Academy

Q: When did you join Bethesda?
A: I started my service as President of Bethesda Academy in the summer of 2016.

Q: What is your experience in education and how long have you been an educator?
A: Prior to accepting the position at Bethesda, I served as headmaster for 5 years at Antilles School in St. Thomas, which is considered to be one of the finest independent schools in the U.S. Virgin Islands. I also led Riverside Military Academy in Gainesville as its superintendent (president) during a six-year comprehensive rebranding period from 1999 to 2005. I taught college for eight years at West Point, and also served as Director of the Center there. I have been a teacher for 31 years and earned graduate degrees at the University of Virginia and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Q: What motivated you to get into education?
A: I was inspired by Thomas Jefferson’s vision for his final years to establish an institution of learning for those who follow us. I thought that becoming a school leader to inspire and develop young people would be a very meaningful, intrinsically satisfying way to end my working career. And it has.

Q: What did you do before becoming an educator?
A: After graduation from West Point, I proudly served our nation as an Infantry officer in the United States Army during a 22-year career. My service included assignments in California and at Ft. Benning, GA; as well as with the U.S. European Command in Germany and in the Middle East. I also served as an infantry rifle company commander along the DMZ in Korea and culminated my military career as a tenured associate professor at West Point.

Q: What is your most meaningful contribution as a teacher/mentor?
A: As a teacher of leadership and counseling for eight years at West Point, I taught hundreds of cadets and had a life-changing impact on an entire generation of young men and women who would become superb Army officers. I take pride in celebrating the successes of my former students, whether they become community leaders or represent our Country in leading the global war on terror.

Q: What sets your leadership style apart?
A: My leadership style is very intense, focused, hands-on and engaged. During my numerous experiences as a leadership instructor at West Point, MIT, and the Army, I learned the key lesson that leadership skills can be learned if taught in several modes including theory and practical skills combined with an opportunity to learn from other successful leaders from many areas of life.

Q: What are your most memorable awards?
A: Truly, my “most memorable” award was the privilege of working with America’s finest young men and women at West Point, the United States Army, and in fine schools like Bethesda Academy. When I retired from active duty in 1999 as a Lieutenant Colonel, I was humbled to receive the Legion of Merit for my contributions to the United States Army and West Point. Also, during my doctoral studies and formal training at the University of Virginia, I was selected as a lifetime member of the prestigious Raven Society for my contributions to the University of Virginia and the Charlottesville community in leadership and community service.

Q: What is your vision for Bethesda Academy?
A: I believe Bethesda will become a transformative leadership academy that provides a superb academic and preparatory experience, both college and vocational, to help each boy reach his potential. To achieve this, we have renewed and strengthened our mission to teach meaningful leadership skills to each Bethesda boy and created a new curriculum to support it.

Q: What are three things you want the community to know about Bethesda Academy?
1) Founded in 1740, Bethesda Academy is the oldest child-care institution in the United States. That being said, we are no longer an orphanage. Now we are a private boarding and day school for young men in grades six through twelve and are accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools.
2) Bethesda Academy is an all-male school, and as such, we are fiercely proud that 95 percent of our students graduate on time, and 85 percent of our students go on to college.
3) Bethesda Academy is formalizing an organizational structure to build an effective leadership team and beginning the transformation to a leadership academy.

Q: What are the benefits of an all male school?
A: Founded on a belief in God, Bethesda nurtures boys through competency-based, flexible instructional programs and work preparation so they will grow into responsible citizens. Bethesda offers an education in a smaller, supervised, supportive environment. The 650-acre campus features a variety of athletic teams, a wildlife management and organic farming program and STEM curriculum.

Q: Does Bethesda offer any special programs?
A: Students in grades 9–12 spend one class period of their schedule each day in one of our Campus internships. While the experiences are all unique, students are taught and expected to demonstrate solid work ethic skills. Student interns are currently managed by peer mentors in the following areas: athletics, athletic training, wildlife sanctuary and preserve, dining services, office assistants, development marketing and hospitality, introduction to digital media, teacher’s aide, cattle and beef program, farm and gardens and maintenance.

Q: How can the community get involved?
A: The community can help by providing funding support and opportunities for internships, as well as externship experiences.

Q: How many employees do you have?
A: We have 40 staff members.

Q: Who is your favorite author and what is your favorite book?
A: I first read “Once an Eagle” by Anton Myrer in 1976 when I was an infantry commander stationed in Korea. It is both a military book and a leadership book and a great study in character, contrasting the lives of two officers. One takes care of his soldiers and serves his country. The other man serves himself only, always seeking a higher rank. A valuable lesson I learned from reading the book is always to get on the ground and see what’s really happening with the people you lead.

Q: Tell us about your family and what you enjoy doing when you aren’t working.
A: My wife Donna and I love it here in Savannah. During my military career, I spent time at Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield and developed an appreciation and love for the Savannah area, so it felt like coming home when we came to Bethesda and Savannah. Donna and I have three grown children, two daughters and a son, two of whom are teachers, and one who is an attorney. I like working out by weight lifting and exercising on a tread-climber. I also enjoy spending time with my wife, along with outdoor activities such as hiking, fishing and exploring.

Bethesda Academy President H. Michael Hughes, Ph.D.

Bethesda Academy President H. Michael Hughes, Ph.D.

Contact information:
Location: 9520 Ferguson Road, Savannah, GA 31406.
Call: 912.644.4376

Junkluggers of the Coastal Empire Announces Holiday Food Drive for Second Harvest Food Bank

Junkluggers of the Coastal Empire Announces Holiday Food Drive for Second Harvest Food Bank

(SAVANNAH, GA) The Junkluggers of the Coastal Empire, Savannah’s eco-friendly and caring alternative to traditional junk removal, is holding a food drive to benefit America’s Second Harvest of Coastal Georgia food bank.

“We chose this as The Junkluggers’ first official charity event because we are drawn to the synergy between organizations with the same purpose – helping those in the community,” said Trevor Hess, owner and president of the local franchise. “Our family has participated with and volunteers for Second Harvest, and it’s a charity we believe in and want to support.”

During November, Hess and his wife, Misty, who is also his business partner, will be asking customers to participate by donating non-perishable foods at the time of service. They hope to raise $2,400 and collect 15,000 food items.

The Junkluggers will then deliver the donations to the Second Harvest food bank on Friday, Dec. 8. The warehouse and distribution center serves more than 300 non-profit and faith-based agencies throughout 21 counties in Coastal Georgia.

“The food bank distributes more than 12 million pounds of food throughout Coastal Georgia to help relieve hunger each year,” Hess said. “Not only does this help families in need, but it also rescues truckloads of food that retail businesses might otherwise discard into the waste stream.”

It is estimated that food procured by Second Harvest represents a savings of greater than $19 million dollars in food costs for its partner agencies, which allows them to provide other services to those in need.

“Our mission is similarly aligned to the food bank’s in that we believe in donating first, recycling next and avoiding landfills as much as possible,” Hess said. “As an eco-friendly, caring alternative to traditional junk removal, our goal is to protect the community we live in by sorting everything we put on the truck for donations, recycling and disposal, with the landfill always being the last stop for any items removed.”

Junkluggers is committed to presenting monthly donations to local charities and is developing partnerships with several local causes and non-profits. For more information, please call 912-712-0227 or visit

The Junkluggers of the Coastal Empire, owned by Trevor and Misty Hess, serves as an environmentally friendly junk removal company for Chatham, Effingham, Bryan and Liberty counties in coastal Georgia, plus Jasper and Beaufort counties in South Carolina. The company offers same day and next day appointments. Specializing in both residential and commercial clean-outs, Junkluggers accepts everything from furniture to construction debris, including office equipment, heavy machinery and appliances. All luggers are background-checked and professionally trained, and the company is insured with 100 percent property damage protection. The company is committed to partnering with local charities in service to the community as well as providing public education on issues such as recycling, donating and repurposing. For more information, please call 912-712-0227 or visit

Trevor Hess
The Junkluggers of the Coastal Empire

Cynthia Wright
Carriage Trade Public Relations®
Cecilia Russo Marketing

Savannah Man Elected National President of AMBUCS

Savannah Man Elected National President of AMBUCS
Kevin Sheehan to Serve as President of the Nationwide Organization

(SAVANNAH, GA) Kevin Sheehan, a local businessman and former president of Savannah AMBUCS, was elected to serve as president for the National AMBUCS organization during their recent convention in Osage Beach, Mo. Sheehan’s term, which began in October, runs for one year.

AMBUCS is such a wonderful organization, making a real difference in the lives of individuals in so many ways, and I am honored to serve on the national level,” said Sheehan.

Kevin Sheehan of AMBUCS

Kevin Sheehan

The National organization was founded as American Business Clubs, a membership organization dedicated to helping people with different abilities. In 1961, the organization shortened it to AMBUCS. The club now has more than 5,000 members in 159 chapters in 35 states. The non-profit’s mission is to create mobility and independence for people with disabilities.

Since 1955, the National organization has donated $8.8 million in scholarships to students pursuing physical, occupational and speech therapy degrees; donated almost 30,000 three-wheel bicycles, known as amtrykes, for children and adults who cannot ride regular bicycles; and coordinated a variety of community service projects to raise funds and awareness for the organization.

To learn more, visit For more information on the local organization, visit

Speakers Sought for 2018 Encourage Health Series

Speakers Sought for 2018 Encourage Health Series

(SAVANNAH, GA) Healthy Savannah and enmarket are accepting speaking nominations for the 2018 Encourage Health Educational Series. This marks the fifth year for the health-focused series, which features speakers on nutrition, fitness and tips for living a healthy life. As the event is centered around offering health education to the Savannah community, all speakers are volunteers and do not receive financial compensation for their speech.

Program topics have covered a wide range of subject matter discussed by respected experts in the health field. Popular themes have included training tips for running a 5K, the golden healers of ginger and turmeric, the correlation between heart health and a healthy lifestyle, acupuncture practices and many more.

Anyone who has an idea for a health-oriented educational program should submit the concept to Paula Kreissler at The deadline is Thursday, Nov. 30.

Applications should include the presenter’s name, title, company and contact information, along with the proposed topic and a short description of what the audience would learn. Please attach a bio and headshot. All submissions will be reviewed by the Encourage Health advisory board.

The selected speakers will be announced in February. The 2018 lunch and learn series will kick off on Tuesday, April 17. The other lectures will be held on the following Tuesdays: June 26, August 28 and October 30.

Encourage Health Education Series

Founded as Interstate Stations in 1963 by Robert Demere, Enmark Stations, Inc., operating as enmarket, is a family-run business committed to offering its customers top-notch service and superior products. Today, the Savannah-based company, which celebrated its 50-year anniversary in 2013, operates 60 stores in Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina. Enmarket’s mission is to Enrich Life! Stores offer freshly prepared food and healthy snacks, high-quality double filtered gasoline, beverages, lottery services and more. Enmarket customers can save up to $.10 per gallon by using the company’s Cash Card, a reloadable stored-value card that can be used directly at the pump. Coupons, promotions, and a location finder are available on the free mobile app. For more information on enmarket, please call 912-236-1331 or visit Follow enmarket on Twitter at @enmarkenjoy.

Matt Clements
Director of Marketing

Cynthia Wright
Carriage Trade PR
Cecilia Russo Marketing