When Your Bus Ticket Gets Punched


When Your Bus Ticket Gets Punched


Photo by Danist

My favorite breakfast place in my hometown of Woodbury, Minnesota, is Keys. The Italian sausage is the best. I can’t remember ever ordering anything different there for breakfast. My friend Jack enjoyed a Keys breakfast too. We’d meet up a couple of times a year to catch up and solve the world’s problems over hash browns and orange juice.
One of Jack’s passions was politics. It was a topic he would talk about for hours during our breakfasts. Yet one topic Jack never wanted to focus on in our conversations was his cancer diagnosis. I get it, but this time was different. I arrived for breakfast early to get a few things done prior to our meal, and I noticed Jack’s walking style as he entered the restaurant. He was shuffling his feet four or five inches at a time—nothing like that stride you and I would use to walk forward. I had a suspicion that this would be our last smart-talking meeting of the minds, solving the world’s problems over breakfast. And it was.

The most common question people ask me is, “What would you do?” Sometimes we just need someone as a sounding board to help us make a big decision: to retire, purchase that dream home, or finally snag that car you’ve always wanted. Sometimes, even when they know exactly what Brett’s answer would be, people do the opposite anyways. Life is short, and sometimes we throw caution to the wind. And I’m no different, even though I get in trouble with Mrs. Anderson when I purchase a $200 cooking pan or replace my holey socks when I could have just sewed them up instead. (I’ve created a financial ninja!)

Those are the easy questions to answer. But sometimes, it’s not always possible to answer these types of questions for others.

One afternoon, I was sitting on the coach next to my mom, my sister’s dog snuggled against her. At that time, Mom was going through extensive chemotherapy to reduce a tumor in her pancreas. She was in a battle for her life. The chemo and cancer were winning, and she knew it…which is why she asked, “What would you do?” I knew what she was asking. She was tired, and the battle seemed to be nearing the end. And I know Mom didn’t want to give up on living.

Assuming I have a choice when my bus ticket gets punched, I’m not sure how I’ll respond. Sure, today I can talk big, but that’s today. I simply told Mom that my ticket hasn’t been punched yet (that I know of). Many of us will eventually have life-changing decisions to make. My friend Jack and my mom had one thing in common: they both said they were grateful they got cancer. Grateful because they had time to process their situations and get their remaining days in order.

It’s a topic we talk about a little bit, but discussing it on a deeper level could help us be even more impactful with our family, our loved ones, our pastors, and even our advisors. Whatever our situation, we can all breathe a sigh of relief when we have not only our financial house in order but also our wishes on record for the host of events that could happen to us or a loved one, including sickness or death.

With all the upcoming Federal estate tax law changes I expect to come our way shortly, now is a good time to revisit your estate plan, from power of attorney to health care directives. Remember, not everyone gets a warning notice! If you need a referral to an estate planning or elder law attorney, let me know.

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Ask yourself- can my portfolio support my lifestyle in my retirement? 

7 + 13 =

Share Your Blessings: Life Lesson 43 of 50


Share Your Blessings by Giving Back


share your blessings

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.


Article: We’ve Lost the Art of Being Friends

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15 + 10 =

Bucket lists: Life Lesson 1 of 50


Bucket list stuff – Why do we wait?


Over the years I’ve created a dream board of items I’d like to achieve within the next year or two and some deal with money, having more time and how I can become more impactful with those around me. It’s a board I look at everyday as a reminder if I’m making the right decisions in achieving what’s truly important to me.

I was recently talking with a client over lunch and we were talking about our parents. Spending time and sharing stories it always a treat. He told a story about inviting his brother on a fishing trip with their dad. Their dad wasn’t much into fishing, but rather enjoyed spending time with his boys. Even though dad was done fishing after a few casts, he enjoyed spending time and sharing stories. Yet, his brother felt he had to work and couldn’t make this trip work into his work scheduled. After all, he had 48 other weeks he could get his work done, but this particular week looking back today, he can’t remember what was so important he couldn’t go fishing.

Within six months of this trip, their dad passed away.

Here’s a sample list of items I have on my bucket list: travel to a variety of places in Europe, New Zealand and the Galapagos Islands, volunteer in a more impactful way, tithe so I can help others and find a relationship with God. Your list is going to be unique to you and your wishes.

I have a variety of friends and family that helped me achieve bucket list items over the years and I have so many more items I’d like to achieve with my time on Earth. Yet, you and I can’t wait. Time is so precious and you and have no idea if we’ll even achieve our entire bucket list.

Creating a bucket list isn’t always easy. If you’d like help creating a bucket list that’s meaningful and impactful to yourself, drop me a line. Let’s have an impactful conversation on creating a bucket list and strategy on how to fill it up.

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2 + 11 =

Enhancing Your Wealth One Step at a Time


Enhancing Your Wealth One Step at a time


It’s time to start enhancing your wealth one step at a time. But how do you accomplish this? Break it down and take it slowly. This doesn’t happen in one day.

Enhancing your wealth is a gradual process. Start with small decisions that build up over time to create a big impact. Take a step back and look at your life. How do you feel about money? Do you feel secure, confident, and covered? Feeling worried, get upset and feel insecure about money? Avoiding the topic altogether? Assessing your relationship with money is important before you start to take these steps.

Once you understand where you are coming from, it will be easier to begin to shift your thinking. Money is just a means to be able to do the things that you enjoy. If you aren’t enjoying your life, no amount of money is going to change that.

1. Determine your values.

What is it that sets you on fire and gets you up in the morning? What do you look forward to at the end of the day or the end of the week? Things that truly bring you joy and happiness in this world? Maybe when you think about all of this you realize that the best things in life are free for you. In that case, wonderful. However, the fact of the matter is that life costs money. Enhancing your wealth needs to be part of the equation. Even just spending time with those you love usually involves a meal, a destination, or some type of entertainment.

2. Cut out the unnecessary stuff.

Do you have a junk drawer at home? The one with miscellaneous pens, rubber bands, and free giveaways? Why is it that we hang onto so much that has no value? We live in a culture that loves stuff. Somehow stuff became a sign that someone has ‘made it’ when they have a bigger house, more toys, and a flashier lifestyle. But what in your life could you do without? Most of it!

3. Reframe your thoughts.

When you think about saving vs. spending, shift your mindset. Would you rather get an expensive coffee drink with a flavor shot and whipped cream on top every day of the week or retire to a house on the water where nobody knows your name? Life is full of trade-offs, and unless we begin to think of the future as something to consider in this moment, we will never have what we think we need down the road. Enhancing your wealth is the main goal.

4. Finally, discuss with others.

Yes, it’s taboo to talk about personal topics. But get a feel for what other people make, spend, and save. Determine whether you’d like to make your money go further for you now or in the future. Talk to trusted advisors, friends, and people who are willing to engage in conversation. Especially if you’re struggling financially, talk about it.

enhancing your wealth

In short, I am simplifying your life and saving your time by taking care of this end of the deal. You can focus on your kids’ sporting events, family birthdays, and work deadlines while I worry about your money. Know that it is in good hands.

One common thread that you and I have is 24 hours in a day. If you don’t protect your calendar, before you know it, you are no longer in charge of your schedule. We need to protect one our most important resources – time.

I’ve become guarded of my schedule over the years, so I don’t feel overwhelmed with the day to day expectations of my family and clients. I know I live by a calendar, I have to in order to keep it all straight each day. It’s even typical for my wife and I to compare our schedules to meet the demands of our family. Yet, that’s usually while we are in bed, with computers in each of our laps.

Do you have a favorite calendar resource you use to track and schedule your meetings? Do you make a checklist on there too?

The bottom line is that neither you nor I can meet with everyone. I wish I could, I truly enjoy hearing each person’s stories. However, we need to protect our time and our calendar to focus on the items that are most important to us in helping us reaching our goals – personally and professionally.

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Ask yourself- can my portfolio support my lifestyle in my retirement? 

10 + 8 =

Financial Freedom – what it means to me


Financial Freedom – what it means to me.


Everyone’s definition of financial freedom varies based on their background, upbringing and life experiences. It seems today on TV, social media and movies, we have all types of expectations set forth for us to live up to. Yet, what is real life these days? From what I see – most of it isn’t real.

Almost every day, I ask someone what financial freedom means to them. Most reply with a dollar amount so they don’t have to worry about money or expenses and they can financially handle whatever life brings their way.

I’m no different. I believe financial freedom is being debt free and having an asset base provide enough monthly cash to support my lifestyle. That’s it. Basic. What that framework, it’s easy to understand and figure out what your number should be.

There are three steps to help achieve this type of financial freedom:

1. Don’t purchase what you can’t afford.

Sounds easy but it’s not. For example, do you purchase a new car at 100,000 miles or do you drive it in the ground? Drive it in the ground. At 100,000 miles you’ve barely went through two sets of tires. And that dream home you desire – “right size” it. Don’t over buy.

2. Pay yourself first.

Sounds easy but it’s not. For those in your working years, target 15 – 20 percent of your gross Income. Yes it’s a lot, but that is what’s required to achieve financial freedom. Numbers don’t lie.

3. Pay attention to the tax man.

Remember that our money belongs to the government and if we don’t understand the rules, they keep more of it. That’s not ideal if they keep more of your hard earned money.

Financial Freedom doesn’t happen overnight. You and I have to work for it. You know that saying, “Freedom isn’t free.”

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6 + 4 =

I’m rightsizing my home


I’m rightsizing my home


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 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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Ask yourself- can my portfolio support my lifestyle in my retirement? 

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