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Make Money Work

Lifestyle Asks David Adams About Smart Work-Life Balance

What attracted you to the finance industry?

When I was around 12 years old, I started a yard business cutting lawns. I got used to making money and saving it. When I was about 16, I also started doing some investing in the stock market. It just came naturally to me.

Why is it so important for people to have financial advisors handle their money?

The advantage of working with a professional is that we're going to ask the right questions and build a custom plan. We've been through this thousands of times with different families, and there's so much more to it than just choosing stocks and mutual funds online. It's complicated. This is your money and if you make a mistake, it's gone.

What do you think differentiates you from many other certified financial planners?

We have a very unique vibe in our office. We're very casual and approachable. My office used to be an art gallery, and I’ve made it into a place that feels like a home. My dog, Jolene, is here every day. She's our director of stress management.

I also have a patented Retire While You Work philosophy. I wrote a book, Currency of Time, and also have podcasts and a radio show centered around it. I became passionate about this philosophy after seeing hundreds of clients working themselves to death until 65, saving up money and not really having a purpose or a life.

So, I started coming up with ways for people to use money to help them do the things they love with the people they love and really utilize their time better. I’ve helped clients do some really cool things mid-career, while in their 40s and 50s, versus working a job 60 hours a week until they’re 65.

Another big impetus was seeing what happened to my father. He had worked 40 years in retail, and was working 60 hours plus a week when he had a near stroke at age 63. He wasn't ready to retire and thought he needed more money. I had this moment with him where I said, “Dad, I'm not losing you to retail. You're going to retire and we're going to figure this out.”

What is the Three Bucket Approach?

It’s the backbone of Retire While You Work. To make it simple, the first bucket is for emergencies and short-term needs. This is money that's in the bank. People should have at least six months’ worth of expenses set aside, plus money for any big expenses coming up in the next year.

Jumping over to bucket three, that's long-term money, think retirement (IRAs, 401(k)s), and money that you can't touch until you're 59 ½. This is money that may be invested aggressively in the market.

And then that middle bucket is the fun one. That's for all the life that happens between your 20s until you retire. That's where you are starting a new business or buying your dream home or vacation home, sending the kids to college -- all those dreams are coming out of this bucket. We invest in a combination of the stock market, but also bonds and things that are conservative. We build this bucket that's growing at a moderate rate, but it’s also super liquid so you can have access to it and not have to pay penalties.

What feedback have you received from clients about this philosophy?

Some of the stories have been life-changing. There was this couple who were high-profile doctors working 70 hours a week. They were making tons of money, but they rarely saw each other. We came up with a plan where they actually gave all that up in their 40s to open a very unique hobby business. Now, they're enjoying life.

Being in Nashville, you represent many people in the music industry. What are some of their unique needs, and why is it critical to have an advisor who understands a particular industry?

We work with everybody, but that's our biggest niche. A lot of times, they’re working their tails off writing songs for 10-plus years and never knowing if they're going to have a number one hit. When they do hit it big, they need people like us to help them invest their money and come up with a lifetime plan in case they never write another big hit.

So, we have to be really specific because they have irregular incomes. During COVID was the perfect example. We had clients that went from making millions a year touring to all of a sudden making nothing for two years.

When you’re not working, what do you like to do?

I live in Nashville, in Green Hills, and I’m very passionate about a couple of nonprofits. One is called AncoraTN, which was formerly End Slavery Tennessee, and we’re trying to eradicate human trafficking in Tennessee. I'm on their board and the chair of their capital campaign committee.

I'm also involved with the Alzheimer's Association. My mother just passed away after a four-year fight against Alzheimer’s. Since I love to travel, I took my dad on his first-ever international trip to Spain. We had a great time. The silver lining has been getting really close with my dad and making the best of our time together since we couldn't help my mom.

Another thing I love to do is renovate houses and do interior design. I've done five pretty large scale historic and mid-century modern home renovations in Nashville.


David Adams
Certified Financial Planner and CPA
Founder and CEO of Adams Wealth Partners

1 / Awards

  • Barron’s Top US Advisors List 2023.
  • One of the top 40 under 40 independent financial advisors in the U.S. by and REP magazine.
  • Forbes Best-In-State Wealth Advisors for the state of Tennessee five straight years.
  • Recognized by Raymond James as part of Chairman’s Council for the top 1-2% US advisors.

2 / Lifestyle

  • Avid tennis and pickleball player, wake surfer, snow skier, and yoga and bootcamp enthusiast.
  • World traveler.
  • Dog lover.
  • Home renovator/interior designer hobby.

3 / Volunteerism

  • On the board and chair of the Capital Campaign Committee for AncoraTN.
  • On the executive committee for the Nashville Walk to End Alzheimer’s.
  • Served on the board of the Onsite Foundation.
  • Wish grantor with Make-A-Wish of Middle Tennessee.