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 diagnnosed 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 point 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.

Sign up for our eNewsletter blog that includes timely financial matters, news, and planning strategies that you can implement today.

6 + 9 =

Meaningful breakfast meeting

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Meaningful Breakfast Meeting

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Today, I had a chance to have breakfast with a friend – a pleasure I get once or twice a year with him. He’s very successful in whatever ways you define success. He owns several great businesses, has a loving family, wonderful kids and happy grandkids that he adores. He also is strongly committed to this faith and our country and had lived a great life.

During our conversation, he told me that about 18 months ago he just didn’t feel something was right and went to the doctor. It turns out he had cancer.

As I normally try to do, I seek to understand people and ask lots of questions. I’ve spoken with other individuals with cancer and they’ve said to me that they were grateful they got cancer. I asked him about that, and his immediate responses was, “Yes, I get that.” No hesitation at all. My follow-up was if he could explain that to me? He said, “ Yes. It (cancer) showed me what was really important in life.”

.” I thought to myself, wow, that’s the same response I’ve had from others when I’ve asked them. It’s not about the cars, houses, clothes, but it’s about your family and friends. That’s a values lesson that doesn’t hurt any of us to have each and every day. I suspect this isn’t an easy lesson to maintain at times for most of us.

What was even more powerful and just darn right surprising to me, was our own infamous bucket lists we have in the back of our minds or written down. He said, “Throw that stuff right out the door,” once you get a diagnosis like this. Wow, I hadn’t thought about in this context, but you may not have time to travel, see the world, jump from airplanes. Rather your time is now spent on saving your life.

I look forward to my future breakfast meetings with my friend and continuing to learn, improve and hopefully be impactful along the way.

Sign up for our eNewsletter blog that includes timely financial matters, news, and planning strategies that you can implement today.

2 + 3 =

Leaving your kid(s) a million dollars as your departing gift

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Leaving your kid(s) a million dollars as your departing gift

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Tears of sorrow or tears of joy. That’s the discussion I have with my family about that day I depart Earth in the physical form. As much as my family “loves” me, there will be tears of joy ☺ as Mrs. Anderson now can hire that pool man I’ve denied her all these years. And not to mention the son who loves cars, but only had a bicycle until he was 25 years old because his old man was too cheap to buy him a car. Now he can buy that Ferrari he’s dream about all these years.

Being in the money business, I see how greedy loved one’s can become when their “loved one” dies, sometimes even before their body arrives at the funeral home. I hope to avoid this in my household. I’m looking to treat everyone the same – fairly, as I define fairly. That generally means equally barring any outside circumstances such as health, disability, mental or other illness that would limit their ability to take care of themselves financially. Hopefully I’ve done my job well enough and taught my children about the value of money which hasn’t been always easy. I have one kid who has his first dollar he earned because he uses mine (which is smart on his part) and another kid that if they have a dollar, it’s a dollar too much. So I know I have more to work on with them.

Yet I want to make we sure have ongoing conversations as a family around what kind of responsibility comes with having this type of money. I believe there are different kinds of money – money you’ve earned and that which is found (which comes in different forms). The kind of money we’re talking about requires a greater level of responsibility because it wasn’t earned for those receiving it. I have no desire that this money becomes easy come, easy go. If I ever suspect that’s the case, I’ll have the necessary precautions in place to prevent that. Because the money they’d receive was either hard-earned through the fruits of my labor, or I literally had to die for it.

Yet I want to make we sure have ongoing conversations as a family around what kind of responsibility comes with having this type of money. I believe there are different kinds of money – money you’ve earned and that which is found (which comes in different forms).

The kind of money we’re talking about requires a greater level of responsibility because it wasn’t earned for those receiving it. I have no desire that this money becomes easy come, easy go. If I ever suspect that’s the case, I’ll have the necessary precautions in place to prevent that. Because the money they’d receive was either hard-earned through the fruits of my labor, or I literally had to die for it.

Leaving each of my kids one million dollars can be accomplished a couple of ways. I can leave my IRA’s, investment accounts, business, home, etc., to them and we’re good. I think that would work but its subject to stock market risks, interest rates, income taxes, estate taxes, lifestyle costs, and healthcare expenses. So when I say “I think,” I can run all kinds of financial scenarios including that really cool Monte Carlo software that spits out the probability of hitting my goals. It’s still a guess at the end of the day.

Another way is I could accomplish my goal is – wait for it – the dreaded two word financial tool called life insurance. Does it make sense to take a small about of money now and purchase a single life insurance policy on me or a joint second life insurance policy on Mrs. Anderson and myself to guarantee that my kids will receive the gift I’d like to leave them? Do I want to eliminate the risks I’ve outlined above or if I fall short of my goal, does it matter? Many feel like the rate of return on life insurance stinks, yet they factor the internal rate of return. Depending upon on circumstances and/or if I want a guarantee to accomplish my goals, could it be the most efficient use of money? Trade-offs – life is full of them.

I’m in the camp of that it if I fall short of my goals, I’d like to leave a legacy behind for my kids to be impactful with their families and community. I know, some individuals have no desire to leave their kids any money and that’s your choice. I’m not judging either way. It’s a personal decision. I want to make sure I can accomplish my goal no matter what the future brings my way and I’d rather have the security of knowing that at my death I’ve completed my bucket list (the best I can with what I’ve been given) and this is just one of those items on my list.

Sign up for our eNewsletter blog that includes timely financial matters, news, and planning strategies that you can implement today.

14 + 5 =

Men – Three ways to improve your sex life!

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Men – Three ways to improve your sex life!

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

As a man, I’ve been a lifelong learner and by my side is my wife who continually educates me along with way. I’m thankful she’s helped me become a better man. Sure, it’s taken over 26 years and the fact is her job will never be done.

So what are the three ways to improve your sex life? First, do not discuss your finances before bed. I suspect you know that nothing ruins the mood more than discussing money and maybe how much you (or rather your spouse) may have overspent in the last few weeks.

The second way to improve your sex life is to be realistic when it comes to budgeting each other’s financial needs. Our needs and wants can vary greatly. Sure, my hair cut costs me $14 and I’ve been told it looks like it. But when I add a tip it’s an entire $20 bill to look this good. Now let’s say Mrs. Anderson haircuts cost $125 and by the time you add the highlights and tip it can really add up. BTW – she looks great! So how can one fairly compare a $20 haircut to a $125 haircut? It’s impossible and I will state that I am not qualified and will never do it again.

The third and final way to improve your sex life is to have some mad money. Its money that neither one of you can complain about that you spent. You know what I’m talking about. It’s that verbal performance review on how you spend your family’s hard-earned money with a couple of questions and observations – i.e. How long have you had that? How much did that cost? I can’t believe you spent much money on that. I hear this all the time with couples I work with.

The great thing about Mrs. Anderson and myself is we always agree on the who, what, where, when and why about money which is why I’m so qualified to write about. Just ask me! I’m looking to reach the one percent of individuals reading this that just can’t help themselves and money is always on their mind. Surprisingly, as a financial advisor, money is not always on my mind. Money is not always an easy subject brining up all kinds of positive and negative emotions. There is always time to bring up this topic, but you need to ask when is the best and appropriate time to discuss. And that time is never, ever bedtime.

Sign up for our eNewsletter blog that includes timely financial matters, news, and planning strategies that you can implement today.

7 + 13 =

The moment your dreams change when it comes to your children

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

The moment your dreams change when it comes to your children

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Today I’m sitting in the pediatric section at HealthEast’s Woodwinds Clinic. So many new born babies with their moms…so much hope for their future…so many dreams and expectations for what the future holds for them. Whether its being a ballerina or Eagle Scout, playing little league baseball or becoming the next gold medal Olympic gymnast – every parent has dreams for their children. You know exactly what I’m describing. You’ve had the same dreams and visions as I’ve had with my children.

Sometimes life throws us curveballs and it’s nothing we have envisioned. So now what? What does this mean for you and your family? What does this mean for your financial plan? As one of my clients described it, it’s like you go through a grieving process on the vision laid out for your children and family and have to get to a point and accept that it isn’t going to happen that way before moving on.

Things happen to all of us. In my house we call it gum drops and lollipops. However, sometimes things hit way too close to home. Not everything is simple when it comes to our lives.

Being prepared emotionally is critical although I’m not best person to talk about that. These topics create fear and uncertainty and most of us are embarrassed to discuss these with those around us. We worry about what others think or what they’ll say. I’d suggest so many others are walking in your shoes right know and you don’t even know it.

We need to stop being afraid of what others think…that’s the same advice I give my kids. True friends are not going to judge you, rather they’d try to help you or just listen. As parents we need to be prepared for side-steps we may need to take. Sometimes it can throw a wrench into your financial planning no matter how well you’ve planned.

Being prepared for what the future holds isn’t always easy. What happens if your child requires continual care, isn’t able to be gainfully employed due to a disability, has a major illness, etc. Sometimes instead of planning retirement for one or two people, you may need to plan for three or more. Wow, as I write this, I can feel the overwhelming feelings others I meet with must feel. Yet, when it comes to your family and financial planning, it’s not possible to address every issue you could face. Without having critical conversations about what your future holds, you carry unnecessary burdens and financial stress.

The combination of all this isn’t easy for parents to handle on their own. Have a team who can help. This could include a health care professionals, estate attorney, financial advisor, lawyer who specializes in Medicare and Medicaid planning, family and friends. If you are facing a personal situation you’d like someone to lend an ear to, please let me know.

Sign up for our eNewsletter blog that includes timely financial matters, news, and planning strategies that you can implement today.

14 + 9 =

Vacation in a bottle

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Vacation in a bottle

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

I call it “vacation in a bottle.” Now I’m not proud of it, but I’m also not ashamed. The fact is that I always take the shampoo and soaps from my hotel stays. And sometimes I ask for a few extra before I leave. Sure one could argue I’m cheap – and you’d be correct – but it isn’t about saving money. It is all about the “vacation in a bottle.”

It started a few years ago while I was on Marco Island. We were staying at a Marriott property and I was showering (hide your eyes) and smelled the shampoo and thought “Wow. This smells like a vacation in a bottle.” So I snatched up as many bottles as I could before we went home. I didn’t want to vacation to end but we know that it would and the Monday blues would soon set in. Yet, when I returned home, I wanted to be reminded of the beach, shelling and sun versus living in the cold tundra we call the Midwest.

So I named this experience “vacation in a bottle.” Every day after we returned home I used “vacation in a bottle” and the aromas and lather brought me back to that beautiful beach on Marco Island. Just the scent of the shampoo would transform me to that vacation mindset and I didn’t have to spend all that money.

So the following year, we stayed at a different Marriott property and guess what they didn’t have – “vacation in a bottle.” What the Hell! Sure it’s a nice place, but I wanted “vacation in a bottle.”

I suspect most families don’t track their spending on a daily or monthly basis. St. Croix Advisors clients have access to iAdvise- the most advanced financial planning software. It allows us to track their spending and help establish a monthly budget.

I was determined that this wasn’t going to ruin my vacation, so I walked down to the other Marriott property and asked if I could purchase some of their shampoo. The lady at front desk thought I was nuts, maybe even more so after I shared my story with her. She probably was right, but darn it, I worked hard and I wanted “vacation in a bottle” to use during my stay and bring home. She just thought I was nuts and found some shampoo for me and just gave it to me and probably hoping I’d find a white padded room far away.

Now that I had my “vacation in a bottle” I could thoroughly enjoy my stay. Recently, I was in Arizona and Utah and since there with no Marriott properties, we stayed at a Hampton Inn and Holiday Inn Express (I did feel a little smarter and ready to take on my day). Not surprised, they didn’t have “vacation in bottle.” I must confess I didn’t take any shampoo and soap knowing our final hotel was going to be a Marriott that did have “vacation in bottle.” I wasn’t the first to notice, my wife was. And as I took that first shower, all those great ocean memories came back even while we were traveling in the desert. And you know what – I asked if I could have a few extra bottles to take home to keep my supply up. Now, I’m not that cheap to take the notepaper, towels, robe, etc. I do have some standards and a little pride, but not much.

For many of us, the ability to enjoy 365 Saturdays every day (retirement) is years away and we have to settle for a vacation or two a year. For me, my “vacation in a bottle” lets me keep that experience going on for a while longer.

That’s how I combine the frugal and dreamer sides of me.

Sign up for our eNewsletter blog that includes timely financial matters, news, and planning strategies that you can implement today.

15 + 12 =