Independence Day: July 4, 1776, through July 4, 2020

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Independence Day: July 4, 1776, through July 4, 2020

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”  ~ The preamble to the Declaration of Independence

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—isn’t that what we all seek? These three common goals unite all of us as Americans. It doesn’t matter your background, education, or occupation; we all strive for this. Aren’t those three items at the core of financial freedom?

Life: creating the life/lifestyle we desire.
Liberty: living in a free society.
Pursuit of Happiness: finding meaning and purpose.

Financial freedom doesn’t come without hard work, sacrifice, and the faith that we can actually achieve it. Some of you may have achieved financial freedom; others may still be working on building their financial wealth to achieve that level of independence. Whenever I encounter someone who has achieved financial freedom, they give me hope for others I advise on how they can also achieve it.

For me, financial freedom means that I can choose between needing to work and deciding to work. That’s a level of financial security that people generally experience later in life, after years of hard work and careful money management.

328,000,000 people live in this great country. We are a nation of people with three common goals—life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness—but we all have different thoughts and perspectives on what those three core goals mean for our own lives and how we can achieve them. That’s just one reason why America is so special.

We will all be celebrating July 4, 2020, with fewer fireworks, picnics, ball games, parades, BBQs, concerts, and big family reunions that normally bring us together on this special day. But one thing hasn’t changed: this is a time for each of us to pause and remember what’s truly important for our lives and our country.

Happy Fourth of July! Here’s to many more Independence Days ahead.  

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

9 + 15 =

Federal Stimulus Check 2020

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

2020 Federal Stimulus Cash

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

federal stimulus check

The federal stimulus check raises many questions. With markets whipping between rallies and retreats, it’s natural to ask:
First off, Is it time to buy?
Is it time to sell?
Are we near the bottom?
Or worse, Is the bear market finally over?

Despite the recent market surge, which propelled the Dow 21% higher in just 3 days (technically ending its bear market correction), it’s likely too soon to get overly optimistic.*

What gives? How can markets be rallying when the crisis hasn’t even peaked yet?

When markets have fallen so much and “priced in” so much bad news, it’s common to see short-term surges on good news like the relief bill. However, these “head-fake” rallies can be unsustainable when there’s so much uncertainty.
Bottom line: No one is good enough to call the exact bottom of a market. What’s important is looking through the bear market to the other side and picking up opportunities along the way. 
Whether the bear market is over or not, we’ve been here before and know what to do.

How worried should I be about a recession? 

Cautious, but not panicked. When a $21 trillion economy comes to a screeching halt, there’s going to be an economic contraction. Multiple timely indicators show that we are already experiencing a sharp downturn.**
However, the $2 trillion fiscal rescue act and the Federal Reserve’s new asset-buying program are a double-barreled bazooka aimed at the effects of a serious recession.
Furthermore, we’re monitoring the data rolling in and will know more about how the economy is reacting to the unprecedented aid in the coming weeks and months.

What’s inside the $2 trillion CARES Act? What’s in it for me?

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act is designed to provide relief for individuals and businesses who have been hurt by the outbreak. I won’t try to include all 800+ pages in this post, but here are a few key provisions that you should know about:

Federal Stimulus Check: A One-time cash payment. Taxpayers are eligible for a one-time direct deposit of up to $1,200 per adult ($2,400 per couple) plus $500 per child under age 16. Amounts are reduced for those who make more than $75,000 ($150,000 if married). If you have filed your 2019 taxes already, the IRS will use that income to calculate your payment; if not, they’ll use your 2018 tax filing.

Better unemployment benefits. The Act will extend and expand unemployment insurance through Dec. 31. Eligible workers (now including self-employed, independent contractors, and gig economy workers) will receive an extra $600/week for four months, on top of what they receive from state unemployment benefits.

Early withdrawal penalty waiver. The Act waives the standard 10% early withdrawal penalty for eligible coronavirus-related distributions from retirement accounts (retroactive to Jan. 1). You’ll still pay income taxes on withdrawals, but you can spread them over a three-year period or use that time to roll the distribution back over.

2020 RMDs suspended. You won’t have to take a Required Minimum Distribution from your IRA or 401(k) this year, leaving you in control of how much you withdraw. If you already took
your RMD for 2020, you have several choices: keep it and pay taxes on it, return it to your IRA as an indirect rollover, or convert the amount into a Roth IRA (Roth conversions are permanent).
 

Financial advice is a public service in these times, and I’m here to help. If you have questions about how the slew of recent changes could affect you, please call the office at (651) 337-1919 and we’ll find a time to talk.

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

2 + 12 =

The Lessons Never End – Life Lesson 50 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

The Lessons Never End

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

the lessons never end

Photo by Nils Nedel

Well, it’s finally happened: after starting earlier this year, offering my thoughts on the world around me—everything from chocolate to Walmart to cancer to leaving a job—I finally reached 50 Life Lessons. What a milestone! The lessons never end.

The lessons never end–maybe my two kids will read these lessons one day and better understand their dad. Better understand that life isn’t always easy. Better understand that their old man has walked in their shoes many times, and sometimes he really does know better.

But the thing is, even I don’t have all the answers. (I know. It came as a shock to me too.)

And that seems to be the pattern: Just as we master a new lesson in life, we’re presented with a brand-new one to figure out and work through. Just when we’re sure we have this whole “living” thing figured out, life conspires to remind us how wrong we are and how much we have yet to learn.

It seems there’s a new lesson to be learned every day—and that’s the key to this final lesson. There’s always more to learn. We just have to be open to the lessons. The lessons never end.

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12 + 11 =

“Trust Me”: Don’t Trust It – Life Lesson 46 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Don’t Trust People Who Say “Trust Me”

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Photo by Joseph Chan

I’m not sure I can articulate this correctly, but whenever I hear someone say “trust me,” I immediately become skeptical. It’s like an immediate red flag in my head, and my knee-jerk response that comes to mind is, “Why should I?”

Don’t tell me to trust you—make me trust you. Show me through your words and actions that you’re a person of integrity. Until you demonstrate why I should give you my trust, I’m not going to take your word for it, so don’t even bother.

The word “trust” is so overused in today’s world that it has become almost meaningless. When every shady huckster you meet wants to fill your head with effusive guarantees for products and services of questionable quality, how can any of us hope to recognize when our trust is really deserved?

Food for Thought

You’ll rarely hear me say “trust me”—I won’t insult you like that. I know that trust is something I have to earn over time. You’ll either end up trusting me or you won’t, but you’ll do it for your own reasons, not because I told you to.

I encourage you to be introspective with this one. Catch yourself when you say it next, and follow it by asking what your true intentions are. It is perfectly okay to be skeptical of others who use words as comfort rather than take action. What can you do to prove that you are trustworthy? What can someone else do to prove it to you?

Next Life Lesson

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15 + 11 =

Broke vs Poor – Life Lesson 44 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Broke vs. Poor

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

broke vs. poor

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.

 

Do Business With Good People

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7 + 14 =

Share Your Blessings: Life Lesson 43 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Share Your Blessings by Giving Back

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

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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