Personal and Professional Development: Life Lesson of 39 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Personal and Professional Development

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Photo by Headway

It seems like in today’s world, most individuals reach a point in their career and just…settle in. There’s nothing wrong with that; the world is changing, and so are many things in our daily lives. With so much to demand our attention, it’s easy for personal and professional development to take a back seat.

But no matter who you are or what you do for a living, it’s important to spend time each month—ideally throughout the year—exercising your mind, developing new skills, and keeping abreast of the industry trends and best practices. All of this will benefit you personally, and it will add value back to your business or your employer.

If you want to earn more money, you’ll need to learn new things.

And the best part is, working on your personal and professional development doesn’t have to become a financial burden. There are many free and low-cost ways to keep growing:

  • Read books
  • Take online courses
  • Read trade magazines
  • Subscribe to blogs and social media accounts of industry leaders
  • Talk with your competitors about their best practices

This last point is an often-overlooked but crucial step in your continuing personal and professional development. You can learn so much from other people—especially competitors—and talking shop with others in your industry is an important opportunity to see things from a different perspective.

Brown and ripe or green and growing—it’s your choice!

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Don’t Retire with a Mortgage. Life Lesson 38 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Don’t Retire with a Mortgage.

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Photo by Tierra Mallorca

This lesson is a short one, but that’s because it’s simple: Don’t retire with a mortgage.

Other financial advisors might disagree with me on this. They might tell you about the great interest rates, they might highlight the tax deduction benefits, yada, yada . . . but they’d be wrong.

As far as I’m concerned, the question of whether or not to retire until your home is paid off boils down to one simple fact: debt sucks! Why deal with the burden of a major monthly payment when you’re on a limited income?

I don’t care about the interest rate, the tax deduction, or any of the other “benefits” you’ll hear about; it’s just noise. Take my advice and don’t retire with a mortgage—period. Your future self will thank me for it.

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Which Side of the Check do you Want to Sign? Life Lesson 37 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Which Side of the Check do you Want to Sign?

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Photo by Brooke Lark

I recently visited a successful doctor who owns her own dental practice. She’s married and has kids, and she has a host of employees who help keep her office running smoothly. As we were discussing her fees and insurance reimbursements (she was giving me a choice between replacing a filling or getting a crown), I asked her a simple question: “Which side of the check do you want to sign?”

She laughed and said, “I wish someone would have had that conversation with me years ago.”

Most people never give this a second thought, since most of us are employees: we are used to signing the back side of our checks, and we enjoy having the money appear in our account every other week with regularity. But if you own a business, you have to sign the front of the check and take on a heightened level of financial responsibility.

To be a business owner, you already have to be little off. Sure, it’s great to be your own boss, but owning a business isn’t easy:

  • It’s hard work.
  • You don’t always get paid.
  • The time commitment is massive.
  • It’s a big financial risk.

Not everyone is cut out to be a business owner. There’s just no guarantee that you’ll be able to generate the necessary revenue to pay back the debt you’ve taken out, and that doesn’t sit well with everyone.

Personally, I’d rather just sign the back of the check and have the cash—but that’s just me. Not everyone is cut out to be a business owner like my doctor friend. Which type of person are you?

Before making the decision to own your own business, take a good, hard look at your own strengths, weaknesses, and comfort level when it comes to debt and risk. Then ask yourself: Which side of the check do I really want to sign?

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Trust the Professionals! Life Lesson 36 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Trust the Professionals!

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Photo by David Siglin

We might be able to swing a hammer, troubleshoot a failed download, and deposit a check through our mobile banking app, but that doesn’t make us expert carpenters, IT professionals, or banking specialists. Even though we’re self-sufficient creatures (who may hate asking for help), there are times in life when the best thing to do is trust the professionals.

And with good reason: we’re all busy, so when someone has tons more practice, insight, and experience than us, it makes sense to benefit from their expertise instead of reinventing the wheel ourselves.

Here’s a list of some of the most trusted people in your life, assuming you can find the right people:

  • Handyman.
  • Mechanic.
  • CPA with business acumen.
  • Certified Financial Planner.
  • Someone to fix your computer.
  • Medical professional.
  • Editor.
  • Banker.
  • Travel agent.
  • Lawyer.

Anyone else with skills you don’t possess and can’t reasonably acquire.
Think about it. You might know how to change a tire, but can you install a new engine? You can apply a bandage to a wound, but can you treat yourself for an infection or disease? You can book a flight, but can you make a hotel reservation in a small town in a foreign country when you don’t speak the language?

That said, I don’t know you—maybe you have some of these skills. Maybe you have all of them. Even so, there will come a time when your choices are to trust the professionals or get in way over your head. Make the right choice.

Of course, if you think you can manage a project on your own, go for it. There are plenty of home projects most of us are more than capable of accomplishing on our own, with nothing more than a trip to the hardware store and a few hours on YouTube.

But if you’re in danger of electrocuting yourself, making an irredeemable mistake, putting yourself or someone else at risk, or in any way making things worse than they already are…just trust the professionals. That’s what they’re there for.

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Looking for Unconditional Love? Get a Dog: Life Lesson 35 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Looking for Unconditional Love?

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Photo by Atanas Teodosiev

When you get a dog, there’s nothing like the unconditional love you’ll experience—and if you already have one, you understand how dogs enrich our lives and brighten our everyday experience.

When you arrive home, a dog is excited to see you. They ask no tiresome questions about your day. They don’t pester you about how much money you made. Instead, they just show their love and enthusiasm with giant eyes, an eager tongue, and a tail that won’t stop wagging.

This lesson isn’t about money, it’s about having a lifelong friend. And friends take care of each other—I have my dog in my trust: no distributions are allowed from our trust until our dog is financially secure. (My wife won’t let me leave it all to the dog.)

And a dog takes care of you just as much as you take care of your dog (even when they’re hogging the bed). I call it the “presumption close”: a dog is willing and able to go wherever you’re going, eat whatever you eat (without cleaning up after the meal), even go to work with you (where they have no intention of working).

In today’s world, I think people are lonely. Get a dog and no matter what is going on in your life, wherever you are going and whatever you’re doing, you’ll have a little buddy right there with you wagging his tail.

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