RIP – Big Guy 3/7/2018

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

RIP – Big Guy 3/7/2018

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

You know what I’m talking about….it’s never good news when your phone rings at 2:30 in the morning. No one is calling to invite you to breakfast, but I wished that was the call I received this week. My mom called in a panic that dad wasn’t breathing, and the paramedics were on their way.

So many people I talk to, including myself have this (do I dare call it a dream) to die at home in our sleep. It seems that one’s death can either be very slow and painful or they’re just gone suddenly. We suspect in Big Guy’s case; it was fast. Which I see as a blessing, I pray I’m right in thinking that it was quick and not painful. But only two people truly know.

My parents have been married for 57 years. They are great examples of how to make a marriage work. One of Big Guy’s success factors in his marriage was his ability to never argue with mom :). And mom’s factor was her patients in just waiting him out.

“Freedom to my dad was driving his car. Talking day trips, long driving vacations; it didn’t matter. He just loved to drive. He’d have that farmers tan each year on this left arm; having his arm hangout of the car window. ”

One of Big Guy’s favorite TV shows was 60 Minutes. It should have been a written rule in our home growing up, don’t talk (no one including mom) during 60 Minutes. This was also the best time to hit him up for spending money. If you think I’m tight with money, man, I learned it from my dad, and now his oldest grandson has also learned this lesson. A family tradition passed along from one generation to another.
He loved his grandkids even more than his own kids. I’ll prove it to you! For example, in our backyard, he’d snow blow a sledding hill for Nicholas (his grandson). This would take hours, and it was an ongoing project throughout the winter so that Nicholas could enjoy sledding. He would never have done that for my sister or me, even my sister agrees on this point. For my dad, having kids was great, but have grandkids was even better.

While I was growing up, I played hockey. It didn’t matter, Saturday or Sunday mornings, he’d take me to early morning games and practices. Plus, he was always sitting in the stands watching me. There are so many family memories when you look back as an adult; you probably didn’t think much about it when you were a kid, but value and appreciate it today.

The day before he died, he finished his final puzzle – a Coke-A-Cola puzzle. He enjoyed puzzles. For a change of pace one year, we bought him an iPad. He was never into computers, but holy cow, he enjoyed his iPad. It was a real hit but he never did collect all those winnings ($) from the various games he played.

It turns out he’s eligible to be buried at Fort Snelling because he served in the Navy for four years. None of us knew that was an option, including Big Guy. He’d be so proud knowing that this is his physical resting spot. He loved our country, his family and most importantly my mom.

 

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Disney World – 5 ways to improve your Disney experience

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Disney World – 5 ways to improve your Disney experience

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

The most magical place on the earth, people are patient and polite. Or maybe they are just like me, hiding it because we can’t believe we agreed to go. While in Florida this past winter, we made a stop to experience Disney World; Magic Kingdom and Epcot. When it came to the Magic Kingdom, deep down I had no idea on what to expect. I truly thought it was going to be about Mickey and more like a museum and the creation of Mickey. Turns out it was an amusement park with lots of kids, rides and long lines. I have to confess two personal items about me: one I have no patience for long lines and secondly, I’m afraid of most rides. I worry the ride will go off its tracks and I’ll be making CBS Evening News.

Here are 5 steps to improve your Disney experience to truly make it magical.

Avoid waiting in line. This will consume 90% of your time at the park. Just to prove my point, I wrote 90% of this blog while waiting in line at the Magic Kingdom. Ride waiting times varied from 1 to 3 hours – no joke! Say you plan to ride 6 rides, that’s at least 6 hours waiting in lines. What a waste of your time while on vacation. What gets me, people including myself were willing to pay for this. We purchased our tickets and the Express Pass, but not until the night before we went to the park. My advice is to purchase your tickets 60 days before you go and at least sign up for the Express Pass and make your reservations 60 days out for the 3 key rides you’d like to go on. This will save you a ton of time.

You spend so much time in lines, you truly need to spend multiple days at the park to see everything you want to see. What a great marketing ploy for the parks.

Better yet, just go all in on the VIP pass. You get a private escort to rides and meals all throughout the park and you don’t have to wait in lines. If I ever return to Disney, which will be against my will, I will be doing this. Now, this isn’t cheap, but waiting in line stinks!

Disney app – use it. You can see in real time wait times and to schedule your Express Pass times. It helps you plan your day as you are physically in the park.

Shows – If you are going the Express Pass route, do not use your pass for their shows. Just show up 15 minutes early and you’ll get in.

Don’t pay for water. You can walk up to any the restaurant pick-up windows and ask for a glass of water. Plus, we brought our own water bottles.

Clothing – Nowhere else in the world can you go somewhere and get away with matching Mickey or Mini t-shirts. Plan ahead for a look-alikes and adults wearing Mickey’s ears. So many families had matching and personalized clothing.

Disney offers great people watching, in many ways it reminds me of the Minnesota State Fair; just a lot more expensive and cleaner. Mickey has a way of bringing people of different colors, sizes, nationalities, and attire together for one common cause; making memories with your family. Let’s avoid making those memories about standing in line 90% of the time. Our vacations are just too darn short.

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Here are 5 tips to make your 2018 tax season better than 2017

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Here are 5 tips to take your 2018 tax season better than 2017

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

It’s tax season and Uncle Sam comes collecting taxes; again.

  • With Trump tax cuts in effect for 2018, know the key areas that impact you.
    – Many of us will see some form of income tax deduction as the rates have decreased. That’s good news. With the increase in personal exemptions to $12,000 for individual and $24,000 for married taxpayers, you may not need to file an itemized tax return.
  • $10,000 Federal deduction limit for high-income tax states.
    – We now have a cap of $10,000 federal tax deduction for state and local taxes. This has an adverse impact on higher wage earners. This provision makes living in an income free tax-free state very appealing. For those of us living in Minnesota or Wisconsin, not so much.
  • For those still working – fund Roth 401k and/or Roth IRA accounts.
    – Pay now or pay later. It’s just that simple. If you’ve been told you cannot contribute to a Roth account, you’ve been told wrong. There are various rules on how to fund these accounts, but you’ll appreciate that tax-free income when you retire.
  • Keep great records – it’s easy to forget and miss deductions.
    – Use technology to track your records and numbers. Keep detailed records and receipts so you don’t have to work too hard early in the New Year.
  • Schedule a tax-planning meeting with your CPA over the summer months.
    – CPA’s want to have tax planning meetings with their clients. They want to have these meetings mid-year to allow for time to make adjustments and make necessary changes as needed

Let’s work on just paying our fair share today and tomorrow. Taking the time now can help you to make strategic money decisions and hopefully keep more money in your checkbook vs. Uncle Sam’s. If you need to add a CPA with a business acumen to your team, I’d be happy to make an introduction.

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Financial Simplicity – becoming empty nesters

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Financial Simplicity – becoming empty nesters

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Sometimes even the shoemaker needs new shoes. With my kids getting older and one living in Texas, our life continues to change as the kids get older. One thing I’ve noticed as the kids get older, so do I. Aging is a privilege but I’m not a fan of getting old and at times I think I’m in my late 20’s (you can stop laughing!). Even I want financial simplicity for my family and myself. As we are planning for our life without kids (full-time) it causes us to evaluate what we want to achieve, what type of lifestyle we seek and the decisions we need to make around that.

Selling and moving from our family home. I suspect for most parents this so much more emotional when you sell your family home. Probably many more happy memories with the birth of your children, birthdays, Christmas, first day of school and finally graduating from high school. I don’t think I’m different from anyone of my clients, you no longer need that bigger home and its time. I just can’t believe how much “stuff” you can accumulate over the years. I believe this is a great time to simplify how much “stuff” we truly need and most importantly use. I suspect I use 15% of my stuff 80% of the time. I’ll be having a moving sale to offload stuff at great prices.

More free time for yourself and your spouse. New or revisiting hobbies. Getting used to spending time and reengaging with your spouse. For many couples I meet with, this is probably the scariest thought of their retirement years. Can we actually spend time together? Can we spend time together without the kids let alone not talking about them? Can we bring back the magic we once had when we first dated? After 30 years with kids and now without kids, are we going to be compatible?

I’m a big believer in creating a dream board. A visual display of things you’d like to accomplish together and/or separately. Maybe it’s travel, spending time with family, learning new stuff, taking a college class, or being impactful in your community. The ideas are endless. Sometimes your dream board might a big idea and you wonder how you will accomplish it. That’s half the fun of a dream board.

We can simplify our life no matter what stage we are in and it becomes especially easier when we become empty nesters. Investing a little time in thinking, dreaming and focusing, allows us to even enjoy our lives more.

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Certified Financial Planner & Fiduciary – What’s the difference

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Certified Financial Planner & Fiduciary – What’s the difference

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

It is a great question that I receive a few times a week; what is a Certified Financial Planner? I have a financial planner, but they are not certified? I keep hearing this term also; fiduciary. What does that even mean? I’m just trying to find someone to help me make good financial decisions and I have no idea what the difference is between a financial coach, financial planner, wealth advisor, broker, fiduciary and the list goes on. Here are some questions to ask when you are looking for a financial advisor/planner or even a fiduciary so that you know the differences.

Are all financial advisors, financial coach, financial planners, wealth advisors, or brokers CERTIFIED? The answer is no. Only CFP’s (Certified Financial Planners) are certified. You have an entire education process to complete along with rigorous exams and ongoing education requirements to be at this level. It can take a year or two of education to obtain this designation. It doesn’t happen overnight. I know, because I’m a CFP. For many in my industry, coach, brokers, representative; there aren’t the same thresholds (education, number of exams, experience, criteria) to have your business card list one of those titles. If I’m searching for a financial advisor, I want to understand what all those initials mean behind their name and what was actually required to obtain that designation.

Fiduciary – that’s word that has become extremely common in the media when you talk about financial advice. One other keyword – suitability. Many brokers, representatives, advisors have to only meet a suitability standard when they make a recommendation say for a particular investment. It’s a standard that really says today it’s suitable. But they really don’t have to worry about a month or six months from now. Just at the time of “sale”.

A fiduciary has a higher standard to meet. It’s an ongoing standard. You have investment A and they need to make sure it meets that higher standard on an ongoing basis. It just doesn’t stop after the “point of sale.”

Plus, they put it in writing. They outline how they work, their processes and how they get compensated. I’d only work with someone who is a fiduciary. I want to know someone has my back and must live up to a higher standard.

Remember, not all planners are created equally. There are so many different types of financial firms or companies. Big, small, local, national, publically traded or closely held firms. Some are compensated through commission, others through an hourly or fixed rate or by a percentage of assets under management. Most financial advisors are not fiduciaries nor Certified Financial Planners. Don’t be afraid to have a meaningful conversation so you understand the differences between all these types of “advisors”.

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