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 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.

12 + 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.

11 + 4 =

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.

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

10 + 7 =

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.

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

12 + 7 =

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.

14 + 11 =

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.

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

11 + 3 =