Maximizing your Return on Life

Carleton McHenry of McHenry Capital shares how to get the most from your money

What is "Return on Life”?

Simply put, Return on Life or “ROL”, is using your financial resources to improve your life.  Not just grow your bank account, but improve every aspect of life from work to home, health to relationships and more. Money is only a tool and the more you use it to improve each area of your life, the greater your ROL.  

This concept came from a consortium of Financial Planners who realized that one of the most impactful tools people can use to increase their level of happiness is money.  Many people are so focused on financial return (ROI) that they lose sight of how they could use their money to make a difference in their lives (ROL).

How do you implement ROL in your and your family’s lives?

One of the biggest things we did was move from a big city to a small community. My wife and I got married in 2018 in her hometown of Woodinville. While driving back to Austin, Texas where we were living at the time, we stopped in this little charming town called Leavenworth. We loved the idea of being in a smaller community where we could get to know our neighbors and where people do many outdoor activities and you can walk to town. And voilà - we decided to move and have been living here since 2019.  

Another thing we’ve done to improve our ROL is our residence.  My wife’s father passed away and her mother had a stroke after we got married, and instead of selling their Port Angeles home, we fixed it up to rent out.  This has been such a fantastic investment for us not only financially but also as a vacation getaway for ourselves.  

We now have two young boys, and spending quality time with them and raising them in our community of choice where they can learn and achieve great things is inspiring to us.  We hope to instill in them the same work ethic and values we have, and help them improve all areas of their own lives.  

What is the background of McHenry Capital?

I started McHenry Capital in 2005 having worked for both Wall Street (Merrill Lynch) and Main Street (GWFC - a boutique investment firm).  I wanted to start my own shop that could bring the best of these two worlds together: Wall Street capabilities but with Main Street transparencies. Being a Fee-Only firm was a priority - we get paid by our clients and nobody else so there aren’t conflicts of interest. Myself and my team act as fiduciaries - we always put our client's interests ahead of our own. Our focus is working with families and helping them wrestle with their two biggest financial headwinds: Retirement and College Planning.

The cost of college continues to increase, so we work with families to not just save for college but save on it. This includes helping students determine both merit and need-based financial aid available for the school of their choice. We also help families compare previously overlooked schools that may offer better financial incentives for their child.  In addition, we evaluate how families can best save for college and position their assets to maximize opportunities for financial rewards and incentives.

In terms of retirement and financial independence, we help clients with everything from saving to investing, insurance to taxes and their estate. We make sure everything is in order for them to achieve their ultimate life goals.  

Any advice for people who are in the process of selecting a financial planner? 

Start with figuring out what you really need. Some people need expertise in one specific area like college planning. Others need a broader approach: Help with saving, creating a budget, and investing.  Seek out planners who are truly fee-only so you’re not second-guessing their advice and recommendations!  Is meeting in-person important to you or are you okay with virtual? Is working with someone local a must? Do they post all fees on their website for complete transparency? Ask for references.  Lastly, require a minimum certification of the Certified Financial Planner designation in good standing.  

If you are looking for help, feel free to contact me personally at  We offer virtual as well as in-person meetings at our Bellevue location on the west side or in Leavenworth or Wenatchee if you come over the Cascades.  

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