One natural disaster after another – insurance matters

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

One natural disaster after another – insurance matters

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Nowadays, it seems impossible to turn on the TV or radio (or read a newspaper) without hearing about a disaster. From fires to flooding, so many people’s lives are being turned upside down. I can’t even imagine what they are going through, and I can only suspect it’s going to take years to recover emotionally and even financially.

I know you’d rather make a trip to the dentist than revisit your property and casualty insurance (better known as home owners’ insurance) agent. In these cases, it’s more than talking to your P & C professional. It’s a line by line conversation about your coverage and how much will your insurance pay for.

In the event your home is destroyed by water or fire, how large of a check do you want the insurance company to write you? I believe most individuals get upset with insurance companies due to a lack of understanding of their coverage and unrealistic expectations.

Recently, we had a new gas stove placed in our home. When the appliance company connected the gas line to the stove, they cross threaded the line. Better yet (sarcasm), the gas wasn’t even on when they tested the line. Long story short, the next day I turned the gas on to the stove and the house filled with natural gas. Kaboom! God was looking out for my family that day, because our house should have blown up.

Bad things happen. When they do, it’s best to make sure you have the right coverage in place well before the fire, flood or house explosion happens. If you need a referral to a property/casualty insurance professional, let me know.

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5 ways to know when to change jobs

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

5 ways to know when to change jobs

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

It’s not always easy to know when to change jobs. Changings jobs for most individuals isn’t something you take lightly. It’s an undertaking for soul searching to even being afraid of the unknown where the job you have might not be ideal but the next one could be worse. Here are 5 ways to know when it’s times to change your job.

1. Your boss sucks

Let’s face it, not every boss is for everyone. When I worked in corporate America, I had a boss that was horrible. I resigned and worked my required 30-day notice without another job. Not every employer is going to be fitting for you, either. You can have a great company, great benefits, or great coworkers, but if you have a boss that sucks, you won’t stay.

2. You drive too far

Sounds crazy……but we spend too much time driving to and from work. By spending 2 hours a day driving to and from work, over 30 years, that’s over 15,000 hours. That’s like two years of your life taken away. Set your environment up to minimize the time you spend commuting.

3. You have the potential to do more

Over time, it’s easy to outgrow your job or your company. I’ve felt over the years I’ve outgrown positions and have become bored. Many like to be challenged and learn every day. The days of pursuing one career or sticking with one employer for 30 years have pretty much dissipated.

4. You lack fulfillment

Our identity is often seen as our occupation. In many cases that’s not always true. You work for money, but the pursuit of money isn’t your focus. You want to be impactful in your work and maybe even find meaning. It can be done with so many opportunities in our world today.

5. It’s usually not about money

When you think it’s about money, I suspect deep down you know what it’s about. If items one through 4 are rock solid, I don’t believe 95% of us would pursue another job making $1.00 or $2.00 more an hour. 

If you need a sounding board if it’s time to move on, I’m just a phone call way.

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What is Halloween?

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

What is Halloween?

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

So what is Halloween? Also, why do we dress up in silly costumes? Beyond that, does everyone knock strangers’ doors expecting free treats? Coupled with intentionally surrounding ourselves with spooky stuff? Finally, how did it all begin?

First of all, the word Halloween is a contraction of All Hallows’ Evening. In brief, the observance of Allhallowtide begins October 31 and spans three days. By the way, remembering the deceased including the saints (or hallows) is the purpose.

Certainly, some believe that this tradition is a spin-off of Celtic harvest festivals. Previously, over 2,000 years ago, the Celtic people believed that the dead could walk among the living at this time. Therefore, they believed the living could also visit the dead during this time.

Still, others believe it’s a Christian holiday with no ancient origins. Currently, the festivities in Ireland and Britain include games that are focused on telling the future. Usually, these games relate to death and marriage.

Traditionally, Jack-o’-lanterns are traditionally carried by guisers on All Hallows’ Eve. Usually jack-o’-lanterns are said to frighten evil spirits. Originally, the candles represented souls trapped in purgatory. As a result of the yearly apple harvest in the Northern Hemisphere falling in October, caramel and candied apples became common. In the beginning, trick-or-treating involved going door to door to collect food for a feast.

Also, costumes and other unique outfits are often worn on Halloween. The tradition started in Ireland and Scotland in the late 19th century. Historically, Celts dressed up as evil spirits in order to confuse demons, according to Smithsonian Magazine. Hence, U.S. Halloween parties became popular in the early 20th century. In the 1930s, trick-or-treating became popular in the U.S. As a result, the mass production of costumes began.

In short, Christianity has influenced today’s Halloween customs.

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9 Must-Do Activities in Minnesota this Fall

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

9 Must-Do Activities in Minnesota this Fall

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

1. Sever’s Fall Festival

Get out and enjoy the fall festivities – from September 7th through October 28th – Fridays through Sundays. You can pick your own pumpkins, gourds, squash, apples and honey. There’s an obstacle course, corn maze, corn pit, petting zoo, live music, climbing features, photo opportunities, and shows included in your admission fee. There are also activities that can be purchased at an additional charge including pony rides, giant slide, pumpkin blasters, camel rides, food & beverages, hay rides, arcade, facepainting, and more!

2. Pine Tree Apple Orchard

If you’re looking for fun for the whole family, look no further. Starting with the first apple trees planted in 1904, this has become a much larger operation with expanded apple varieties and additional fall activities. Pine Tree Apple Orchard offers locally grown apples, pick your own pumpkins, a corn maze, wagon rides, pony rides, homemade bakery products, caramel apples, and more! Whether you want to pick your own apples or grab some that have already been picked for you, this is your one stop shop for all things fall.

3. Halloween in Anoka

Anoka, Minnesota is believed to be the first city in the United States to put on a Halloween celebration to divert its youngsters from Halloween pranks. By the 1930s, the festivities had expanded, and in 1937, a 12-year-old proclaimed Anoka Halloween Capital of the World while in Washington, D.C. Activities have included fireworks displays, royalty coronations, concerts, dances, house decorating contests, celebrity appearances, storytelling, and much more. To this day, large parades and costumed children are traditions that live on. There is an events calendar on the website with complete details.

4. Valleyfair – Fun & Fright

Saturdays and Sundays from September 22 – October 28, enjoy fall the way you do best. During the day, enjoy your favorite rides, live entertainment, trick or treating, maze, and other not-so-scary Halloween activities. At night, ValleySCARE offers more than 75 rides, haunted mazes, scare zones, and monsters prowling in the park. Beware: this intended for ages 13+ (PG-13 if you will). Purchase tickets online in advance to save some money!

5. Take a Hike

The fall colors in Minnesota are absolutely breathtaking. Get outside and take them in. Whether you visit Minnehaha Falls, make a trip to Duluth, or venture into your own backyard, there is something for everyone. Take a picture of your favorite tree each season and watch as the colors change and the leaves fall off. Attend a class to learn about tapping into maple trees, or hike until your feet hurt. Get outside. It becomes a lot harder when winter rolls around, so do it this fall.

6. Go to a Vikings Game

What better way to spend a fall Sunday than at a Vikings game? With the new stadium and a sea of purple, the crowds are electric at each and every game. If you’re looking for a deal, check out some of the Facebook groups that buy/sell tickets or wait until the day of to find a great deal. This is also the perfect gift if you have a loved one with a fall birthday! Make sure to practice your SKOL chant before heading out.

7. Celebrate Oktoberfest

On October 17, 1810, Crown Prince Ludwig of Bavaria celebrated his marriage to Princess Therese with one of the grandest festivals Munich has ever known. Twin Cities Oktoberfest brings together food, fun and beer on the Minnesota State Fairgrounds in the Historic Progress Center Building. This two-day event (October 5-6, 2018) features Summit Brewing Company’s Oktoberfest brew and a selection of other Summit beers, wines and cider, traditional German food, live music and entertainment, great people watching, festival games, shopping, and more. Each ticket includes admission, a beer stein, and your first beer!

8. Zombie Pub Crawl

Certified by the Guiness Book of World Records as the “World’s Largest Gathering of Zombies,” the ZPC gathers thousands upon thousands of undead souls into the streets, bars, and taprooms of Minneapolis for a night of pub crawling, dancing, world-class live entertainment, and all sorts of other fiendish fun. Costumes encouraged-the gorier, the better! Featuring three outdoor stages, dozens of food trucks, tons of great live music, the World Brain-Eating Championships, carnival rides and games, and so much more. Check it out before you die.

9. The Dead End Hayride

“Making your way through the woods you will likely encounter countless characters who have taken refuge within the woods and are taking advantage of the seemingly endless supply of bodies produced by the asylum … you may even come to find that your own sense of reality is slipping away as some of your greatest fears play out in front of you and perhaps even grab, and pull you in to join them.” If you don’t like to be spooked, this hayride is not for you. However, if you’re up for the challenge, buy your tickets online to save money and choose a date in advance before it’s sold out.

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How Much to Spend on a Wedding Gift

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

How Much to Spend on a Wedding Gift

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

It’s something we’ve all thought about when invited to celebrate that special day – how much to spend on a wedding gift. Before tackling this subject, it’s important to note that giving should be based on both the financial position you are in as well as your relationship to the couple. With that, here are some general guidelines to follow.

Realistically, you have three options when it comes to wedding gifts. Either you can buy directly off of the couple’s registry, give cash or check, or give a gift card to the store that the registry exists at or a place you know they enjoy. Although creativity is wonderful, most engaged couples have thought through what it is that they need to get started, so don’t stray too far from that.

Certainly, money can be tricky, especially because there are so many different reasons for going to a wedding. However, a good rule of thumb is to spend at least $50 on a wedding gift. Usually, this lower threshold (under $100) is appropriate for acquaintances, coworkers, neighbors, and distant family members.

Now, I suspect most families don’t track their spending on a daily or monthly basis. Luckily, St. Croix Advisors clients have access to iAdvise- the most advanced financial planning software. Further, it allows us to track their spending and help establish a monthly budget.

The $100-$150 range is where most people land when purchasing a wedding gift. This amount makes sense for friends, cousins, and those you have a close working relationship with. Anything above $150 is suitable for those closest to you or for people who have the financial ability to give generously.

Additionally, it is a good idea to try to tackle some of the bigger items on the registry first that may be a bit too pricey for the new couple. Currently, you may not be able to afford to give a washing machine as a wedding gift, but maybe you have a good friend going to the wedding who would be willing to combine gifts. It’s a lot easier to run out to the store for some hand towels rather than new appliances.

Also, don’t forget about the other costs associated with weddings. Generally, are you the type of person who buys a new outfit for a special occasion? In this case, were you invited to a bridal shower, bachelorette party, or a similar celebration? Following the wedding, are you going to be giving anniversary gifts? Indeed these are all good questions to ask yourself – try not to overshoot or undershoot on the gift.

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9 Unique Father’s Day Gift Ideas

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

9 Unique Father’s Day Gift Ideas

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

It’s not to say your previous Father’s Day gifts have not been appreciated, but it’s time to buy into the idea of a Unique Father’s Day Gift. Here are 9 different gift ideas. If anything, this should get the ball rolling for you to think outside the box (or the Father’s Day display).

1. Father’s Day Boat Cruise

Do a little research to see what your city is doing for Father’s Day. Many places have some type of special or something arranged to help fathers feel appreciated. One of the cooler things is a boat cruise – especially if a meal and/or live music is involved. If you live in the Twin Cities/Western Wisconsin area, check out Stillwater Boat and Packet Specials. Dad will love the combination of quality time, food, and scenery!

2. Custom picture frame with photo

Head over to your local Michael’s craft store and pick up your favorite picture frame. If you’re crafty, add your own twist to it. If not, search Amazon for a quick picture frame delivery. Make it personalized. Does dad like fishing? Get a fishing frame and frame a picture of the two of you with your biggest catch! You can be thoughtful without breaking the bank.

3. A Bathroom Box

This one seems a little silly, but everyone poops! There is now a spray that covers up the stink before you even go. It’s called Poo-Pourri, and you need to check it out here. Now, dad may not want you just saying that he smells, so make it thoughtful. Add a Dad Joke book or some printed toilet paper to complete the bathroom box.

4. Tickets to a local tour

Is there something your dad absolutely loves? Maybe something he often mentions but never gets around to? Look up local tours to find something special. If you’re in Minnesota, GetKnit Events has a plethora of options. It’s always a hit to get tickets to a local museum or a tour of the local brewery, too.

5. Clean Car Caddy

It never hurts to get a useful gift for Father’s Day. Pick up some Rain-X and a nice microfiber towel to give a gift of a clean car. You could even throw in a car wash coupon book or better yet, help your father clean the car!

6. Monthly Box Subscription

There are quite a few options in this up-and-coming category. Check out Dollar Shave Club, Try the World, and Compete Crate for some awesome ideas. There ought to be something to fit your dad’s interests!

7. Custom coasters

When a father comes home from a long day, you’ll probably find him with a cold beverage in his hand (even if it’s water). Shutterfly has great options for customizable coasters. It’s up to you whether you want to just do text, or even add your own family photos! This is a timeless gift that can be used by family members and house guests.

8. A Thoughtful CD

Your father’s car probably still has a CD slot in it. Go to your ITunes library, add about 20 songs to a playlist, and burn it onto a CD. Write about why these songs mean something to you. Maybe they make you think of all of the great times you shared with your dad. Pick out a unique CD case to make the gift a little more interesting.

9. A day dedicated to cleaning/organizing the garage

One of the best things we can give to someone else is our time. If dad is someone who is always working outside or spending time in the garage but never gets around to organizing it, dedicate an entire day to helping him do just that. He will appreciate it for years to come.

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