Women can never have enough shoes

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Women can never have enough shoes

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

When was the last time you checked out someone’s shoes? What can someone’s shoes tell you? Is she fashionable, sensible, outgoing or fun? And for some it might be a status symbol. So is it true women can never have enough shoes?

I did some online research to determine how many shoes women should own. According to fashion.allwomentalk.com, seven types are needed – classic pumps, ballet flats, riding boots, summer wedges, sandals, statement pair (a snazzy red fits that bill in my opinion) and Oxfords. I couldn’t tell you why, but sneakers were not on the list. Sneakers are common sense in my humble option, so I’d them to the list and also include hiking boots. So now I’m up to nine.

Looking at a few different surveys online, it seems around 20 pairs of shoes is the norm for women to own with some women owning over 300. So if you are going to invest a considerable amount of money into shoes, two factors must be factored – fit and cost.

Anytime is the right time for new shoes, right? Not if you don’t want to pay full-price and I suspect most people don’t want to. So when do you purchase?
• Sandals – Buy in March. Seems crazy, but that’s what I’ve found.
• Designer boots – Buy these at the end of seasons. Really you are preplanning for next year. Now that’s smart.
• Sneakers – Buy these in November and January.

Any shoe in general is best purchased in May, with the end of Spring and the thought of going back to school in the Fall.

Shoe retailer DSW mails coupons to my home for 20 percent off, however with the markup on these days, 20 percent is still like paying full price. Don’t be afraid to shop the clearance racks and even ask for a greater discount. You’d be surprised sometimes they’ll give you a discount, you just have to ask. Just the other day I asked the cashier for a coupon and he gave me 30 percent off. I went back the next day purchased the same item with a different cashier, rang up full price, asked again, and got a 25 percent discount. Either way, I’m money ahead just by asking. By the way, you can ask even when purchasing items online depending upon the retailer. Although you are probably out of luck with Amazon.

Price is important but when it comes to shoes, size and fit matter more. Between standing and walking, day in and day out, it’s natural that our feet will swell. Even the time of day you try shoes on will impact the fit and feel. Probably the best time to confirm the fit of your new shoes is early in the morning.

Just because a shoe is “expensive” doesn’t mean it will offer you the proper fit and feel. I suspect arch support is most important factor and most shoes do not offer such support. When looking at women’s shoes, sometimes there isn’t much to them. You know Payless Shoe’s slogan is “You Could Pay More But Why?” This is why. Fit should be primary over fashion. This will save you a ton of money from purchasing shoes you’ll never wear.

When was the last time you met with someone who knows how to properly fit shoes? Here are two resources on how to purchase shoes.

Norstrom’s website to help us how to fit and care for our shoes:

• Schuler Shoes has free foot evaluations by board-certificate podiatrists. I’ve done this and it’s worth it to get the right fit.

Feet, they do help in our day-to-day lives. Yet, we probably take them for granted. Shoes are an investment. So why not buy them right the first time so you have the best twenty for fit, fashion and price.

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7 + 11 =

Business Owners – The other number you need to focus on!

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Business Owners – The other number you need to focus on!

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

$100, $500 or $1,000 or more, per month per employee?

It’s a great question. As a business owner, how much per month do you personally save per employee into your own retirement/savings accounts? Let’s say you own a successful law firm, maybe your number should be $1,000 per month. Or if you own a smaller company your number should be $250 per month. Now start multiplying that and it becomes a really big number because it should be!

One of the best ways to build wealth is having other people work for you which you’ve known for years as a business owner. EBITDA is important, yet I want our clients to seek TWO meaningful buckets of money when they sell their company. You have to ask yourself this… What problems would it create for you to save an extra $500,000, $1 million or $2 million before you retire? BTW, that doesn’t include the value of your business. You already know the typical response I receive… i.e. “It wouldn’t create a problem.” So why aren’t more business owners doing this? The biggest reason is that they aren’t working with me.

Seriously, I find business owners are not always focused on diversifying outside of their business. Sure, your greatest ROI should be your business and if it’s not, it’s time to sell. Yet once we have an in-depth conversation about goals, business owners see the possibilities of two buckets: a personal financial bucket and a business owner bucket. These options my business owner clients the possibility for the most flexibility when it comes time to transition.

A business owner has no idea what their business will ultimately sell for, correct? You may have an idea, but we really have no concrete numbers to count on until someone writes that check out and it clears the bank! EBITDA, taxes, technology, markets and competition all change and it is truly out of our control. So I come back to my philosophy for business owners – build two buckets of money so you have more options and flexibility down the road.

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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.

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14 + 7 =

Stop Donating To Non-Profits

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Stop Donating to Non-Profits

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

I know, how can I make such a bold request with all the good work non-profits are doing in our community and world. But hear me out so you can make even a bigger impact with your resources then what most people are doing today.

I have a host of clients who are very philanthropic and their checkbooks demonstrate it. And one of the parts of my role as their financial advisor is to help them fulfill their goals by helping causes they are passionate about. It’s so cool when we discuss how they want to impact the world and how to best achieve that.

Yet one of the biggest mistakes I see individuals make it they give money to every organization that contacts them. They feel compelled to give, but what real impact is a donation of $15 or $25 to 10, 20 or 30 organizations a year. I’d argue that it’s probably not all that much impact or the impact you’d really like to have. One of my clients, “Julie,” had many conversations around this subject. If you were a non-profit and just contacted her to discuss your organization she’d probably give you donation. But what impact is that really having?

Just to be clear about giving to non-profits, I just finished the book called “The Promise of a Pencil,” – a great read. It talks about how one person with an idea and $25 started on a mission to open 500 schools in improvised countries. Not only did he do it, he’s still going. What I’m outlining isn’t saying don’t give or work on making impacts. I’m just saying let’s be more purposeful. The author, Adam Braun, said that “…in Western culture we are taught that those of us with ample resources and money should share our prosperity with those who have less. I’d thought of charity as a simple transaction, a one-way street…When we give handouts to those in poverty, we do them a disservice. We create a cruel cycle of dependence.” Adam may have started with $25 but he went all in.

Over the years we developed a gifting philosophy for “Julie.” Who and what did she feel passionate about and where did she truly want to impact while living or even after her death. We now have clarity and she stopped giving to every charity so we could become even more impactful. But we had one more step which wasn’t going to be easy.

Going forward “Julie” would only donate if her donations were matched. Now it’s typical she’ll give her favorite organizations $5,000 or $10,000 at a time, multiple times throughout the year. She has six favorite charities she’s doing this for! But the catch is her donation needs to have matching funds to create a bigger impact. Now that’s cool.

Having been on non-profit boards and helping organizations raise money, I can tell you they are able to find other organizations and individuals to match donations. It’s an additional way to encourage new and more money. If you can turn one dollar into two, why wouldn’t you do it? So why not do it when it comes to your planned giving? Everyone wins.

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12 + 3 =

Being Robbed – Life Lessons Learned

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Being Robbed – Life Lessons Learned

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.

“It’s not a topic that usually comes up in conversation, “Have you ever been robbed?” I’ve actually been robbed twice at two of my homes. From my perspective it’s not about the stuff they took. It’s actually the inconvenience, financial impact and hassles that go along with it. And there is a sense of feeling violated. “

So here are a few of life’s lessons I learned from these unfortunate experiences:

  • Security systems won’t stop everyone. If they really want your stuff, you’re probably not going to stop them no matter what safeguards you have. However, I want to thank Jeff Rahn who owns Rahn Home Services for my new security system. I can’t believe the quality of the camera images at night to record what’s happening in and outside of my home. I’m still not going to leave my doors unlocked because I feel that if you’re going to steal my stuff, you should have to work a little for it.
  • Keep track of what you have. So, the bastards take your stuff. Smartphones, iPads, computers and the list goes on and on and it adds up quickly. One reason I shop at MicroCenter for my technology is because they retain your serial numbers for all your equipment. I’d recommend you take a few minutes to capture all your tech serial numbers so when they look to pawn them, you can catch them! I have pictures of the serial numbers on each of my items. It doesn’t hurt to take pictures of home, rooms, closets, and what’s inside your drawers so you can remember and replace.
  • I hate shopping, I really do. I really don’t enjoy shopping and having to replace all those items they stole I view that as extremely wasteful because what I had was already good and worked.
  • Know a good handyman. In one of our robberies, they broke a lower level window and there was glass everywhere. Chances are crooks are going to do physical damage to your home. So it’s good to know a good handyman who can make quick, safe repairs.
  • Double check your insurance policy. Insurance companies are really good at sending your invoices each month, quarter or year. But are they good when it counts when you have to file a claim? That’s really when the rubber meets the road. Do they step up and come through or are they trying to punt? So far mine has stepped up. Not 100%, but I’m not going to complain. It’s worth revisiting your coverage levels.
  • Research identity theft protection. I have a client in the identity theft prevention business and he believes our identity is out there in dozens of different ways. Take steps today to help prevent your identity from being stolen. LifeLock or similar services help prevent that from happening. Many homeowner’s policies also have some coverage to help in this matter. I’m sure you’ve experienced someone using your credit card number a few states away or that flight booked from a country you’ve never been to.

Bottom-line for me is it’s about the hassle and inconvenience of all this. I can replace the stuff and at the end of day it’s just stuff. Take a step or two today to help minimize the hassle and inconvenience in the event you are robbed or your identity is stolen. Please also see my blog on Cyber Security for extra steps unfortunately we need to take today.

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9 + 2 =

Does Social Media Make You Spend More Money?

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Does Social Media Make You Spend More Money?

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

I wonder if we started to post real life on Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media platforms, would our outlook on our daily lives improve? Would our attitudes, opinions, or even our spending patterns change?

Stress Free Living

Amit Sood, M.D. in his book Guide to Stress Free Living says “our wants are often guided by the belief of what others think we should have rather than by what we truly want”.

Social Media & Spending

Do you find yourself wishing it was you purchasing that new home or car, or traveling on that trip round the world, when you see others posting on social media? I’ve caught myself thinking ‘wouldn’t that be nice?’ But darn it, I already have it nice. Rarely I see people posting information about laundry that needs to be done, or pictures of dishes in the sink, or bathrooms that need to be cleaned or beds that need to be made (maybe that’s just in my house) on social media.

“Most vacations, fun expeditions and leisure activities eventually lose their charm ”

Just last week someone told me that they thought their vacation was a few days too long. Hard to believe, but it’s true. I suspect you’ve experienced this yourself. Many individuals enjoy what they do for a living, find value and purpose. Work has meaning. As humans, we search and seek meaning. For 99% of us, even if you don’t or wouldn’t want to, you can’t golf every day.

Focus on Simplicity

So I just wonder if social media causes us to purchase things we don’t really need or want. Does it increase our wants and desires? Do we spend money because we are trying to keep up with not only our neighbors but now our entire networks? Maybe we need to only worry about our ourselves and our family and not the Jones’ and our extended social network. Let’s refocus on keeping it simple…and real.

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