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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We don’t spend enough time on the exit strategy

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

We don’t spend enough time on the exit strategy

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Exit Strategy

The great thing about life is that we can go through so many different seasons. From just starting out to dating – to getting married – to having a family. We are always seeking that day we get to retire and enjoy 365 Saturdays. As a business owner, the journey is usually filled with unknowns, “what if’s” and a whole lot of uncertainty of how to create a smooth path. Most leaders couldn’t just give a two-week notice like our employees. Even business owners need to think about their exit strategy. Oh, the dream of being able to give a two-week notice and being able to walk away…

But for business owners, your work is in your DNA and a lifestyle 365 days a year. Yet, I contend one of the most important decisions you’ll have to make is when to transition into your next season? That next season may not be clear in your mind, but it is clarity you should strive for as you continue your journey.

Planning your exit

Transitions aren’t easy and probably hard to contemplate. They require us to examine our lives and ask a host of questions we probably are not ready to address.

Who am I outside of my business? Will I still be relevant? How will my wife and I get along? Is she ready to have me in charge at home (the answer is no just in case you didn’t know)? Drilling down on these questions isn’t always easy and when you do many more questions will occur.

Over the years, M-O-N –E-Y is usually the most important topic on business owner’s minds. Money from the standpoint that most know or feel they haven’t saved enough outside their business to “walk” away without hitting that magical number. But that requires the owner to build a tip top organization that a buyer can’t shoot holes into during the acquisition process.

My business owner clients, have two or three different buckets of money they are funding with a couple of objectives in mind. One, if they don’t hit the right multiple or EDTIDA number, they have other options. For these owners, more than 75% of their retirement isn’t dependent upon the sale of business. Bam! That’s just down right cool. Even better are the ones who don’t want to even factor the sale into that walk-a-way number.

Remember, preparing your company for sale will take money. Do you have the right management team in place? Are you willing, or need, succession planning? Are you just going to sell it outright and walk away? Do you need to retain a few key people to hit your sales numbers? Again, these are hard questions to answer without some deep soul searching.

This whole business owner transition has become big for consultants as boomers age at and move to the next stage of their life. With so many consultants offering a plethora of services I recommend interviewing a few to determine who fits your needs. Don’t be afraid to investment money in this process. If you need help in selecting a business owner transition consultant, give me a call. I’d be happy to give a you few ideas based on your situation.

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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Year-end Financial Challenge

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Year-end Financial Challenge

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Can you do it? Yes you can!

I don’t know about you, but when you look through your monthly expenses doesn’t it surprise you how much it costs to live?

Each year, l look to cut 5% to 10% of my monthly expenses.

For example that darn Comcast bill. They enjoy increasing your monthly payment and now you have to call them to decrease it by threating to cancel it. That’s about a $100 a month each time you call.

Verizon – it’s worth revisiting your overall data usage to see if you can save any money. You can usually find $20-$50 a month.

Car and home insurance – You need to work with an independent agent. If you need a referral, let me know. This is an area we neglect not only in coverage levels but premium creep happens. Shop around every couple of years.

Cars, Cars & Cars – We don’t really think about it but these are depreciating assets that just cost us money each month. To help control the cost of my vehicles I’m a big fan of preventive maintenance. That’s how I get my cars to last so long. Plus, in the winters I wash them 3-4 times a week to keep all that crud off them to help prevent rusting. Just sign up for the unlimited car washes. They can be a great value.

Eating & drinking out – This is an easy one to overlook. It’s extremely expensive to drink out these days. Not to mention eating quality food at a good restaurant and I’m not talking about McDonald’s. Keep a close tab on this one.

Day to day – I didn’t notice I spent it but I did. Have you ever looked at your Visa or American Express bill and you spent $5,000 for the month and can’t remember where all that money went until you look at the details? Head to the bank once a week and use cash. I know I spend more when paying with a credit card and using cash helps control my spending throughout the week. I set a weekly amount to live on.

Your tracking software. Our clients can use our iAdvise software, a financial dashboard so they know where they stand every day. You can monitor everything financial aspect of your life and we build that right into your planning. That’s cool! Another good online system is mint.com.

Take an hour and see where you can save a few dollars.

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I’m rightsizing my home

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

I’m rightsizing my home

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

I have to tell you, preparing your home for sale is a pain in the rear, period! I thought hiring a professional would make it easier, but it wasn’t.

Here is what I’ve learned from this process. I know when you look at me you think of style, fashion, hipness and the list goes on. All true of course, but the truth is I wanted someone good with color and design to help prepare my home for sale. So we hired an interior designer to help us. I asked all the right questions and if they would have answered my questions correctly, more importantly honestly, I never would have hired them. I have no problem paying for their services, but this is how they really get paid.

First, is I purchase all the items to stage my house. Furniture, lamps, drapes, bedding and the list goes on. But this is what gets me. When my house sells, the interior designer keeps each and every item I purchased and if I’d like to keep any of them I pay them again for the item. What? Sure, I wouldn’t mind updating my bedroom sheets, comforters, pillows, etc., but I have to pay for them twice? Huh?

Second, is when I asked for the carpets, granite and all those other big items if there do was an additional fee. I was told no. Turns out when the carpet guys came to my house to collect the remaining balance the math didn’t add up to the invoice I agreed to pay the interior designer. They do indeed charge additional fees. I only wish I could charge their markup rate.

Third, I just wanted to pay an hourly rate for these services. Initially, I was told it would cost $1,500 for their services and I was fine with that. Yet, by the time we would have paid her $7,000 to pick some carpet, granite, faucets, etc., for my home. That’s good money and I’m in the wrong business.

If they would have answered my questions honestly, I would have never hired their firm. And they know it. When I questioned what they told me, they couldn’t come clean for almost 15 minutes.

I asked the right questions but was given the wrong information. So here is what I learned for the next time. In my business, I’m required to provide my clients an outline of services, how I’m compensated, etc. I’ll going to require that from other service providers as well. I also want to make sure I’m dealing with a decision maker of the company. No middle men or middle women.

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11 + 1 =

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.

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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.

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