Christmas 2017 Message

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Christmas 2017 Message

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

The birth of Jesus Christ. There is something special about Christmas Eve Church Services. Maybe it’s the Christmas music; the church lit with candles or the smiles on everyone’s faces.

Whoever “they” are; say it’s better to give than to receive. I’ll continue to find others that have needs I can somehow meet; It might not be “big” for me, but being impactful for others is my goal. This is the year I’m going to get further out of my comfort zone in helping those who need it the most. I’m not sure what that means as I write this, but I suspect God will enlighten my heart to what that means. 
 
I’ve always been a believer, but this year I’ve faithfully attended church once or twice a weekend; once in person and then online to re-listen to the message. I’ve been attending Eagle Brook Church (no it’s not a cult; just a really big church) and I won’t miss a weekend message.  Maybe my heart has been more open over the past year, or Pastor Bob seems to know what I need to hear to continually make myself a better person here on earth.
 
If you’ve been searching for the meaning of your life, or just need a place to rest your soul, please join me on Saturday nights at Eagle Brook Church for the 6 p.m. service. Afterward, maybe Mrs. Anderson will buy all of us dinner…… For those of you reading this that are not in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area, the services are also live online, or you can watch the recording early Sunday afternoons.  I know I’m not the only one continuing to search or working on becoming a better person with the remaining time I have. What a great New Years’ resolution vs. saving more money or dropping a few pounds……

Over the past year, I have met and talked to so many families across our country that are suffering; this holiday season will be hard for them as well, missing their loved ones, struggling with their children’s mental illness and chemical dependence. I can’t believe how much comfort and wisdom can be found in those who have walked in your shoes. My phone is always on if you need someone to talk to.

With 2018 approaching fast, I can’t believe how quickly 2017 has gone.  I’ve never been so ready for a year to end and a new one to start.  I won’t miss 2017, but I know all the personal life experiences I’ve gone through will help others I meet along the way.  
 
If you’d like to attend the Christmas Eve Church Service with my family and me, let me know.  We’d be honored if you’d join us.  We’ll be going December 23rd at 6 p.m. in Woodbury.

Merry Christmas! and Happy New Year!

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Thanksgiving 2017 Message

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Thanksgiving 2017 Message

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

I’m sure we all remember the details of the first Thanksgiving way back in 1621 from our history classes in elementary school. We know they didn’t have Thanksgiving Football or even Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade when the first day of giving thanks began. From my research, turkeys weren’t a part of the main meal, and that’s surprising to me!

For me, Thanksgiving isn’t Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie and extra whipped cream. I prefer my pumpkin pie cold because it’s better that way. Sure, we have a 25-pound bird we order each year which is the most important symbol of Thanksgiving today, a couple of different types of stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean censorial and the delicious list goes on.

Every Thanksgiving my wife and I wake up early to get that big turkey in the oven. Washing and peeling all those potatoes, perfecting the gravy, setting the tables, cleaning the house and washing all those dishes once everyone has consumed 10,000 calories before 2 p.m.

Giving thanks for the bountiful harvest was the origin of this holiday. It’s the time of year for us to celebrate our “harvest” for the year. Today, it’s easy to forget how much more we have vs. others in our world. An attitude of thanksgiving for at least one day out of the year; wouldn’t it be powerful if every one of us could carry that all year long? Not an easy task.

Instead of one-day celebration, it started off as a three-day celebration. Today, it’s about a 6 to 8-hour event at my house, not including the cleaning (pre-& post-meal), preparing and prep. I’m going to work on going back to the three-day celebration with my family for Thanksgiving. It might not always be feasible, yet feasibility probably has more to do with minor sacrifices I will have to make to make that work. And not letting things like it’s too far to fly, or drive for such a short time, or I can’t believe how expensive airfare is, or you get the point, my list could go on.

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. It’s about a time to gather with friends and family and most importantly to give thanks for our harvest throughout the past year. 2017 has been one of the hardest years for my family and me. I suspect so many others have had a more challenging year than us. At times, I have to remind myself of what to be thankful for: a very supportive and understanding wife, my pup who is an entire bed hog even in a king size bed, pretty cool parents that I get to have over for lunch or dinner at my home on Sundays and two kids who can surprise their parents. It’s the basics that matter and give thanks for, each and every day.

Please know my thoughts and prayers are with each and everyone one of you. We all go through struggles, challenges and seasons in our life, at times it can be hard to have a heart and mind of Thanksgiving. I get it, and I’m there myself. I’m going to continue to try to have the heart of Thanksgiving every day.

Enjoy this day of Thanksgiving with your friends and family. Take a minute or two to share with each other what you are thankful for while breaking bread with one another. What a great tradition to start.

Happy Thanksgiving!
Brett

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Why is our measure of success still money?

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Why is our measure of success still money?

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

So, what do you call a billionaire, three failed marriages and five kids who won’t talk to him? A success. Just seems so wrong when I put it that way yet, at one time I’d agree with him being a success based on one factor, money. I was wrong.

The other day, I’m walking around a graveyard. I had no more of an important place to be on that day. I didn’t see any gravestones with someone’s balance sheet or their net worth.

What I do see are the dates of birth, dates of death, spouses being buried next to each other with their dates of marriage and images of their loved ones etched into the stone.

I know it runs counter-intuitive for someone in my industry to say money shouldn’t be a measure of your success. But you and I know deep down it’s true. So, let’s not pretend it is!

Money is manmade and I’m in no way saying its bad or not helpful. See my blog on, “What Does Financial Freedom Mean to Me.” Rather, we need to make sure we have the right perspective about money and how to use it during our time on Earth.

So, it got me thinking about what does God have to say about money? If you are a Christian and attend church or just a C & E attender, you’ve heard that God wants 10%. And to paraphrase God wants us to owe no other man, for the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

This one really gets to me on what’s in the Bible. Deuteronomy 16:16-17, “No man should appear before the Lord empty handed. Each of you must bring a gift in proportion to the way the Lord your God has blessed you.” I think of all the times I felt like I didn’t have money and let the offering plate go by. Please don’t judge me, I’m just being honest and real.

Tithing. For believers, I’d suggest for many that mean “giving.”

At a service recently, I was listening to Pastor Bob talks about how this 11-year-old girl told him this church changed her dad’s life. He needed help and needed to fill a gap in his heart. He needed the Lord to come into his life. I’m sitting there thinking about how cool is that! Here all those people had a hand in changing a person’s life. Not just the dad, but the mom and their four kids.

Life’s just darn hard today. Money seems to be one of those complications 99% of everyone, including myself, encounter struggles within one form or another. Yet, as I ponder this, I wonder if it is a struggle to help others? My answer is no. One way I can be impactful is by helping others fill the void in their life by finding Jesus. Now that is cool.

So many of us, including myself, find pleasure in “stuff.” We think stuff – material stuff – gives meaning and fulfillment in our lives. It may, but only short-term. Definitely not long-term pleasure. If you don’t believe me, let me prove it to you. When you purchase that new iPhone, how long does it take for the newest to wear off? Not long I suspect because I’ve been there myself.

I’m unclear what “value” the Kardashians bring to us but they earned according to Forbes $122.5 million in 2016. Somehow, I know I’m paying that but why are they worth it? Or Lebron James, a great basketball player, earning $71 million this year. A guy throwing around basketball around – an inflatable rubber thing. I don’t know how, but I suspect I’m paying for that too…. but so are you! It might be indirectly, but we both are paying in some way.

I’m not judging, but rather asking how impactful in our world are the Kardashians, Lebron or for that matter, me, Brett Anderson? I want to be impactful. I want to help be the change in other people’s lives for the positive they seek.

St. Croix Advisors, LLC is an investment advisory firm. We seek to help our clients achieve financial simplicity. Before implementing financial ideas you read, work with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or CPA for advice or recommendations that fit your own financial situation.

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Putting the F-U-N in Funerals

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Putting the F-U-N in Funerals

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Recently I was at a funeral. It’s a privilege as we age as our way of paying our respect for our family, friends, co-workers, etc.

Yet as I attended two funerals over the past month I started to wonder why there isn’t more F-U-N at funerals?

We have pastors attempting to deliver a message of hope, humor and connect with the attendees, yet often time they never met the deceased person.

One pastor made a very interesting comment about thinking about the impacts we have left after we pass. That started getting me to think about all the impacts I’ve made along my journey and how many more I’ll make along the way.

One example was a grandfather who loved his granddaughter so deeply and she was the apple of his eye. Not only they did spend time together, but they also spoke every day. They were best friends. This started the day she was born and for over a decade and his impact on his little granddaughter will last, he whole life and for generations to come. Most grandparents don’t have the privilege of spending time together with their grandchildren.

So, I’m on a journey of how to add f-u-n into funerals. Don’t you want to leave on the highest note possible? I’d like to have people leave and say, “That darn Brett. He was funny, impactful, and I’m going to miss the guy. Remember that time he ………?”

If you look to rate the funerals you’ve attended, does one stand out at top on? For me, one was where people shared stories and they guy who passed away had a personal note to his friends and family that the pastor read. Incredibly powerful.

On a recent trip to Switzerland, I discovered where I’d like to be buried. I won’t disclose the exact location as I don’t want you to beat me there. But here’s a picture of the place.

According to Mrs. Anderson, that’s not going to happen. However, there will be plenty of money to make it happen, so I’m unclear why it can’t happen. Hmmmm?

I want a funeral where my friends and family are sharing stories, engaging in laughter and tears knowing that I impacted their lives. Tell stories of how I helped families achieve their goals of children going to college, purchasing that first home, living worry free in retirement, or showing up with money because of the loss of a loved one? Maybe, I request they watch my favorite movie with all the enjoyments of a movie theater. (Note: favorite movie is Shawshank Redemption). Followed by enjoying my favorite food – pizza, BBQ, shrimp and root beer. And let’s not forget about Ben & Jerry’s or Gelato from Italy. Or the Belgium chocolate I have flown in each year during the holiday season. Just the other day, I thought I’d like a big worship music concert.

Do you have a funeral idea you’ve thought about or and you’d like to share with someone? Drop me a note so at least once person knows your wishes.

St. Croix Advisors, LLC is an investment advisory firm. We seek to help our clients achieve financial simplicity. Before implementing financial ideas you read, work with a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) or CPA for advice or recommendations that fit your own financial situation.

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When kids have to help their parents financially

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

When kids have to help their parents financially

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

It’s not surprising; it’s something I hear on a regular basis. Just change the dollar amount for how much your household makes. I bet most of us can relate especially when you have a couple of kids, mortgage, car payment, are saving for retirement, etc.

As baby boomers enter their golden years, some are discovering new financial challenges including running out of money. I have to tell you this isn’t an easy situation or conversation to have with anyone.

Being in the financial world for such a long time, I have seen first-hand how someone can run out of money. It’s easier than you’d think. Here are a few ways it happens:

1. They didn’t save enough in the first place. When we are 20, we believe we have our entire lives ahead of us. But before we know it we are 70! Overtime you realize you didn’t save enough money, Social Security isn’t enough and other retirement savings won’t make it. I see kids financially supporting their parents all the time. It might be a couple of hundred a month, but as you work to help your parents, you have to make sure you don’t neglect your overall retirement goals and savings needs.

2. A sickness or illness wiped them out. Chances are they have insurance but it can and does fall short for all of our needs and they are now faced with a mountain of medical bills. Then you are left wondering what to do and how can Medicaid help.

3. They got suckered. This one is becoming all too common. It happens a few ways. First, older folks are lonely and seek companionship, someone to hang out with. They develop a friendship online or with someone locally. Over time, the friendship builds and it turns out this new “friend” needs financial help. And before you know it, all their accounts are cleaned out. Yes, this happens. They actually “give” all their money away. Make sure you receive duplicate financial statements each month so you can monitor account activity of your parents. Secondly, people fall for some phone or internet scam. It seems like common sense to now fall for this….but it’s not. Pay $5,000 and we’ll send you winnings of $1 million. Or you owe the IRS and if you don’t pay with bitcoin or gift cards you are going to jail.

It can be very hard to sit on the sidelines and watch your parents suffer. I know my clients don’t want their parents to suffer but it’s not always as easy just to give someone money. Sometimes that doesn’t solve the underlying problems.

If you like to talk about how to best help and support your family members, let’s talk.

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This wasn’t in the plan!

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

This wasn’t in the plan!

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

I’m in my office the other day and a friend stops to say “Hi.” Turns out his wife was diagnosed with cancer and as he continued to share their journey, he made a profound statement, “This wasn’t in the plan!”

Not in this ballpark, the next ballpark and even the one after that he went on describing. Life just has a way of throwing us curveballs that even the best ballplayers can’t hit. I attend Eagle Brook Church in Woodbury, Minnesota, and as I listen to the sermons (which are the best around) I struggle with no matter how hard I pray and I too am tossed into things that aren’t in my plans.

We all have a vision for our life – a roadmap and outline of the outcomes we seek. Recently, I’ve been having one of those continual experiences that wasn’t a part of my plan. No matter how much we vision and plan, it seems that there are many points when we are not in control. For me, attending church on Saturday helps my heart and soul, but sometimes I still struggle just like my friends and clients. How many other financial advisors are willing to drop their egos and admit they are not superhuman?

I still vividly recall a seeing another good friend, Joe, two weeks before he passed away. He said to me “none of this matters” and I didn’t understand what he was saying. So I asked him, “What are you saying?”

He repeated himself, “None of this matters!” I asked him what he meant. He said, “The house, cars, boats, four wheelers. They don’t matter. All that matters is my family.” And with that he asked me to help take care of them when he was gone. I can’t begin to tell you how much impact he had on me. He is in my thoughts each day when I work to help my clients.

I continually reassess my own financial plan and so should you. Our situations are always evolving and our financial plans need to keep up. Just like my friend who came by to share the news of his wife’s cancer and how they’ve paused everything to focus on her cancer treatments.

Take the time out of your busy life to pause to make sure “it’s not too late” for the type of financial planning you wished you would have done. Many times we have to have critical conversations even when we don’t think it’s necessary. If you’ve been delaying that critical conversation, take a minute and give me a call. I’ll be here so we can talk through it.

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