Do Business with Good People: Life Lesson 45 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

I’m Done Asking for Permission

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

We make choices every day: what to eat, what to wear, and who to spend our free time with. Shouldn’t we also choose to do business with good people whenever we can?

How to do business with good people

It can be a jungle out there, but in most cases, it doesn’t take long to figure out if someone has your best interest at heart or if they’re just trying to get what they can from you.

If you’re having difficult judging the character of a potential business acquaintance, ask yourself these questions:

  • Are they helping you reach your goals, or are they only focused on their own bottom line?
  • Are they focused on helping others or only themselves?
  • Have they spent time understanding your goals or what you are trying to achieve?
  • Do you have a genuinely good impression of the person based on your interactions, or are there red flags you’re not addressing?

If you know it isn’t right, don’t make the deal—and if you’re regretting a previous partnership or agreement, look for opportunities to form more meaningful connections elsewhere, and move on when you can.

Good people do honest work for honest pay

Just because someone makes a commission or fee, that doesn’t mean they don’t have your best interest at heart. Anyone who provides a great service should expect to be paid for that service. I don’t operate my business for free, and I don’t expect anyone else to either.

When you do business with good people, you’re happy to pay for quality. You have a clear understanding of what to expect, when to expect it, and what to do if you’re unsatisfied. The sands won’t keep shifting under your feet. And while you don’t have to be best friends with everyone you conduct your business with, you should at the very least respect one another during all your interactions.

Let’s face it: life is just too short to deal with people with unsavory business practices or ulterior motives.

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6 + 9 =

Broke vs. Poor – Life Lesson 44 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Broke vs. Poor

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

So often we use the word “poor” to describe our financial state when what we really mean is “broke.” What’s wrong with that? Well, these term refer to two very different situations, and using “broke” vs. “poor” interchangeably minimizes the very real experience shared by millions of Americans.

Being broke is a drag

Most individuals have experienced being broke at one time or another. I know I have. In my simple definition, “broke” means having a roof over your head, food in the fridge (even though you might think you never have anything good to eat in the house), clothes, shoes, and a car or bike—but your phone might be a few years old, and you make your own coffee before you head to work, and you probably aren’t taking lavish vacations.

Broke means not having enough money for the miscellaneous items we want in our life—the newest iPhone, expensive meals, or designer clothes—but, ultimately, getting by and hoping for brighter days.

Being poor is a crisis

On the other hand, poor means not having a roof over your head or knowing where your next meal is coming from. It means that a single surprise, accident, or medical issue would be catastrophic. It means hope is as hard to come by as a decent night’s sleep. Poor is a life-threatening condition that affects entire families across the country. I pray you and I never experience it.

We may not all have the newest car, shiniest toys, or top-of-the-line devices, but you know what? That’s OK. We can complain sometimes about not having the things we want, but we should be respectful of the difference between broke vs poor so we’re not silencing the struggles of so many Americans.

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9 + 15 =

Share Your Blessings by Giving Back: Life Lesson 43 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Share Your Blessings by Giving Back

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Photo by Elaine Casap

Whether or not we recognize it every day, you and I are incredibly blessed in our lives. But wait: How can I possibly know this about you when I don’t even know who you are?

Well, you’re reading this, aren’t you? This means you have either access to the internet or someone who cares enough about you to have printed this out for you. Either is a blessing—and when you share your blessings with others, you’ll only increase their return.

How to give back

For many of us, a monetary gift is the easiest way to give back: we just pull out the checkbook, sign our name, and put the issue out of our minds until the next round of charitable giving. However, giving back can take many different forms. More difficult in this busy world—and therefore potentially more rewarding and more personally impactful—is giving your time and talent.

Here’s a list of just a few possible things you might do to leverage your time and talents for the greater good:

  • Volunteer at your place of worship.
  • Offer tutoring or childcare services to local schools or after-school programs.
  • Organize a book donation drive for your neighborhood or install a Little Free Library on your property.
  • Ask your local library, food pantry, or animal rescue service how you can help.
  • Contact a nonprofit organization whose mission resonates with your passion and offer your time and skills.

    This is by no means an exhaustive list; look to the needs of your community and your own unique strengths and skills, and you’ll come up with plenty of new ideas for giving back.

    Share your blessings, multiply their effects

    However you choose to be impactful in the world, know that you aren’t just benefitting others with your service; you’re multiplying the blessings in your own life.

    Some of your most significant and impactful experiences will come from helping others. Giving benefits both the giver and the receiver, and those blessings can ripple out into the community in unexpected ways.

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    10 + 4 =

    Shit Happens: Life Lesson 42 of 50

    ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

    Shit Happens

    BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

    No matter how prepared we think we are, life always seems to have a trick up its sleeve. We can protect ourselves with all the insurance, savings, and safety nets we can afford, but the potential for unexpected life events and challenges to derail our carefully laid plans is always present.

    Life constantly brings us new surprises, many involving loss: the loss of a job, a loved one, money, car keys, passport, cabin or air pressure—the list goes on.

    We can’t prepare for every possible contingency, but there are some basic steps we can take to keep from going under at the first hint of trouble.

    Build a safety net

    Your landlord hikes the rent. Your insurance didn’t cover as much of that hospital bill as you expected. Your daughter is making her surprise debut as a new mom. Lots of people think they’re prepared for potential life changes…right up until things change. That’s the wrong time to realize your preparations are inadequate.

    If you don’t have an emergency fund, make today the day you start one. Find one lifestyle change you can make to free up some cash; if you’re having difficulty carving out the extra expense, ask your bank to automatically round up every purchase and siphon the change into a new account. Every little bit helps.

    Respect the contingency plan

    You can’t predict everything, but you can take steps to make yourself more resilient in the face of unexpected obstacles. Nobody likes paying for things they don’t need, but health and life insurance are some of the most important ways to protect your financial future and those of the people you love.

    We live in a country where a single accident or unexpected medical event can send a family into financial ruin. It’s easy to believe we’re immune to these shifting sands until our own lives are swept away by them. If the worst happens to you, those pesky or even painful monthly premiums you’ve been paying suddenly won’t feel so cumbersome.

    Don’t stress what you can’t control

    After all the preparation and planning, there comes a point where we just have to let go and roll with the punches. (If we don’t, we’ll never leave the house!)

    Life will change, sometimes in ways you expect, frequently in ways you don’t. If you expect the unexpected, do what you can to prepare, and trust in your own financial and emotional resilience, you’ll be able to manage any hand life deals you along the way.

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    5 + 3 =

    Your Money or Your Life? – Life Lesson 41 of 50

    ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

    Your Money or Your Life?

    BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

    Society tells us that accumulating money is what life is all about, but you and I know that isn’t the whole story. We’re all trying to survive, but making a living isn’t just about accumulating as much money as possible—it’s about living. When it comes to the guiding force in your life, you have just one choice to make: Will you choose money or your life?

    It may sound odd to hear this from a financial planner—someone who makes his living by helping others manage their wealth—but it’s the truth. In my experience, more money tends to lead to more stuff, and more stuff leads to more stress.

    As the Notorious B.I.G. once observed: “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.”

    It’s not like this is the first time we’ve heard this, though I know I still need to be reminded of it myself at times. We’ve all been told to buck this materialistic trend. That long-term happiness isn’t about stuff; it’s about the people we surround ourselves with, the connections we form, and the difference we make in the world.

    No one’s asking you to choose a life without money. I’m simply asking you to choose life.

    Work on building a fulfilling life, one with more focus on family and friends, God, and meaningful experiences…and less focus on having the right material stuff to impress others.
    After all, you can’t take your stuff with you when you go, but you can make a lasting impact while you’re here.

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