Certified Financial Planner & Fiduciary – What’s the difference


Certified Financial Planner & Fiduciary – What’s the difference


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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How to Hire a Divorce Attorney


How to Hire a Divorce Attorney


How to hire a divorce attorney? So, you are contemplating a divorce, or your spouse just announced they wanted a divorce? Going through a divorce can be financially expensive and emotionally stressful. But does it have to be financially stressful and expensive; I say no. Yet for many going through a divorce, they want or need to hire a divorce attorney. Very few couples that are going through a divorce handle it all on their own. Depending on your circumstances, maybe both of you are able to agree and handle everything on your own. If not, here are three steps to consider when looking to hire a divorce attorney.

Understand how your lawyer is paid. Don’t make your lawyer rich! Know how and what they charge for. I’ve yet to ever meet with family law/divorce attorney that hasn’t done well for themselves financially. Sure, they’ll charge you by the minute. But when you send an email or leave a message, are you going to be nickeled and dimed to death? I’ve had clients tell me about billings. It’s unfortunate, at times, couples will argue to prove a point or make a statement to their soon to be former spouse. I’ve heard the saying, divorce is expensive because it’s worth it. That may or may not be true. But you need to know how the clock works and I suspect if you were told it would cost you $10,000 for a divorce, you need to add 25% to 50% to that number.

Who is their typical client? You don’t want to work with just any lawyer. You want a specialist in this arena. For many lawyers, this is all they do and that’s who you want to hire. Not an attorney who does a DUI case in the morning, midday they wrote an estate plan and now divorce settlement in the afternoon. Let’s not forget, how complicated your situation is. Kids or no kids, one parent relocating to another state, maybe you’ve been a stay home spouse, you or your spouse owns a closely held business; how many clients a year do they work with that fits your situation/profile.

Fighter or collaborator in a settlement. I don’t know who first said it, being right doesn’t always pay. And sometimes it’s easy to dig our heals in to prove we are right and beat our chest in pride to prove a point and place the nail in the coffin.

To achieve that satisfaction when it comes to a divorce becomes very expensive even though you might be right. I wonder sometimes if some lawyers fight just for the sake of increasing their billable hours. They respond to every frivolous item that your soon to be spouse or lawyer brings up when its’ really not necessary. If you are going to hire an attorney, they should demonstrate to you how they work in collaboration with the other party in finalizing a mutually beneficial agreement for both sides. That probably works for 98% of divorces. In the remaining 2% of cases, you need that fighter, that “bulldog” because of your situation and that’s understandable.

Interview a couple of lawyers. Ask for references. Ask hard pinpointed questions. Don’t just hire them because you like them, or they have a nice personality. Hire the lawyer that works in the arena full-time, you know and understand how you’ll compensate them, and someone who will work in collaboration to resolve this quickly, so you can move onto the next phase of your life. Remember you might end up paying your lawyer a lot of money. You need to get this right the first time!

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How to Save a Million Dollars


How to Save a Million Dollars


Are you ready to save a million dollars? Everyone I encounter is a millionaire…including you, even though your checking account doesn’t show it today. Doubtful? Let me prove it to you!

You started working full-time at age 25 and were making $25,000. If you do that for 40 years how much have you earned? $1 million. So, I’ve just proven that you are a millionaire but when you look at your finances you realize you’re not. The key to becoming a millionaire is keeping more of what you earn! All kinds of thoughts and beliefs are probably going through your mind right now. That’s why I’m writing this to change your mindset on how to save a million dollars or more.

So, let’s get to it!

One of my most enjoyable moments in life is when I can show someone they are on the path to becoming a millionaire. I think that old sayings are true. The first $1 million is the hardest because most of us started at $0. I also believe that’s where the saying “self-made” came from.

For almost 99% of people $1 million is a lot of money. And it is. Yet, with life expectancy continuing to improve we’ll require more money to enjoy and be impactful in our retirement.

Financial security is achievable

I wrote this manifest to help you save a million dollars and hopefully more. For some that might be five years from now, others when they reach age 65 or for some others before they pass at 90. No matter when you accumulate a million dollars the fundamentals are the same. And once you achieve the first million dollars the second is easier – just don’t screw up the first million

We live in a society that says to feel better you have to spend money. For many, our very possessions show and demonstrate a level of status. Every day, we are bombarded with ads selling us a “lifestyle” or “widget” we need to feel better about ourselves. And the message is, if we don’t purchase it now, we will not be fulfilled. Delayed gratification for most is unacceptable and for many is unheard of. We are judged constantly by the clothes we wear, the cars we drive, neighbors we live near, where our kids go to school and so on. We all know that our financial well-being is not enhanced by the amount of our spending so why do we continue to put this pressure on ourselves? We know better, don’t we?

It’s the proverbial “Keeping up with the Joneses.” It’s our own hamster wheel of life and I’m here to tell you that the “Joneses” don’t care about your status and you shouldn’t care about theirs. It’s time to hop off that wheel.

Face your money issues

Dealing with money is not easy for many people no matter your walk of life or background. Many may view money as a tool, burden or pain in the rear. Many individuals I encounter would choose not to deal with it at all. To some, that would be the ideal world. Not having to deal with money and having all of our needs, wants and desires met. Wouldn’t that be cool? Unfortunately, that doesn’t exist.

I’m going to go out on a big limb and say that even Bill Gates and Warren Buffet have to deal with money issues. Sure, they have lots of money (I suspect that much money creates its own unique problems), but I would guess that they still have problems just like you and me. Yet, the two key financial philosophies they have solved for themselves are how to earn money (and lots of it) and how to develop a money strategy. I’d argue that for many, those two items sound easy, but they are not only challenging to implement, but they also have to match your core long-term values.

The problem with money and living in the “United States of Money” (as I like to call it) is that we need cash for our basic needs. That is something we can all agree on. Whether it is food, clothing, shelter, healthcare or transportation – everything requires money. We can’t avoid it, look the other way, or neglect it because if we do, it will come back and bite us. Our money decisions today can have a long-term impact that we may never recover from. So, let’s just avoid that, agreed?

For some, money can be complicated and may see it as easier to avoid than to address. Some may not value money because they earn a lot of it and they have never worried about earning more. If they’ve run into a money problem, they’ll figure it out. I’m here to tell you, life is unpredictable. Forrest Gump famously said, “Mama always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Planning the rest of your life and retirement takes time, energy and resources. It can actually be rewarding and help clarify your life’s goals and values. I know planning your next vacation sounds more enjoyable, but financial security over the long-run is more rewarding.

When you were growing up, did you discuss money with your parents? That question likely receives mixed answers depending upon your background. Growing up, if you didn’t have money, there wasn’t much to talk about, or it was a difficult discussion for your family. In my family, I had to start working at a young age if I wanted anything. For others, they never had to worry about money and never discussed it. We all have a money story. What is yours? You need to understand it and write it down.

In my business, I work with higher net worth and income individuals and business owners. They make a good living and chances are they are not necessarily living “paycheck to paycheck.” However, consumption, and not saving as much as they are capable of, is a challenge for many before they started working with me. Most thought they were saving enough to reach their financial security, but shortly after we dive deep into this topic it becomes clear that they are not.

A false sense of financial security

Do you have a false sense of financial security and not realize it? I see it every day and most individuals I meet with don’t realize it. Many times, it takes multiple conversations and illustrations before the light bulb goes on. If you’ve been taught – and thought – of only one way of thinking about your relationship with money, it is time to update your understanding to reflect your core values.

Living with a greater thoughtfulness around our lives, the impact we want to make in our lives, families and communities is important. If you don’t have financial security and a financial plan you follow and live by, you won’t have financial peace. Today I wonder where most people find their greatest amount of financial advice? With the growth of “robo” advisors, websites, call centers and index funds, I find it hard to believe that financial security and wealth accumulation boils down to a yearly rate of return. If it was really that simple I wouldn’t have a job. Rate of return is secondary. It’s not the most important factor in reaching your goals.

Seeking financial security is a common theme I hear from my clients. It’s not always initially definable beyond $1 million or $5 million in an account. I believe it is more comprehensive than that. No matter your income, background or education, financial security is achievable. Yet, you need to define it for you and your family. What does it mean to you beyond having saved a boatload of money?

Define your financial goals

Here are some key items to help place definitions (parameters) around financial security:

  • How much should you pay yourself FIRST each month?
  • What type of home meets your basic needs?
  • What is your basic transportation to and from work?
  • If the stock market drops by 50% (which you know it can) can you emotionally and financially handle it? Do you have the financial capacity to handle those types of losses? (I like that question because it makes you think!)
  • What other basic living expenses do you have each month?
  • How much do you want to give/impact others with?
  • How much financial risk do you want to transfer, or not transfer, to someone else’s checkbook in the event a significant event happens in your life?

The key to minimizing your financial stress and increase your financial security is to not live beyond your means. Managing your day-to-day finances is just as important as saving for retirement or wealth accumulation. That’s how to achieve financial the freedom. There is no secret sauce but rather an open recipe for everyone to use.

Saving for financial security

Having to make up for lack of savings, many feel like they need to take great risk in one’s investment portfolio which is something I hear on a regular basis. When we don’t have our financial house in order we feel like we have to take on greater risks to make up for our previous decisions. And I’m here to tell you should be investing to decrease your stress not increase it!

Having financial security gives you the freedom to come and go. It is the American Dream. You can pick and choose what you want to do and when you want to do it? One of biggest lessons I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter what you make financially. Let me repeat that. It doesn’t matter, what you make…it’s about what you keep. This goes hand-in-hand with financial security.

So, if all your money goes into “stuff”, it leaves little or no money for financial freedom or life experiences. I’d argue that you are missing out on so much to have the latest iPhone, biggest home or the newest automobile. Our world is always about “go big” but the impacts we can have with others is huge as we are only here for short period of time.

Financial giving with thoughtfulness

Generosity towards others is a feeling everyone knows. It is a sense of joy and pride knowing you are helping someone or spreading joy and most times even better than buying something for yourself. Have you ever had the offering plate go by on Sunday morning wishing you had the money or didn’t think you had put enough in and felt guilty?

My wish for everyone is to achieve a level of financial security to live the life you desire, impact those around you and leave a legacy that you seek. This can be an overlooked area of planning and I know you can find joy and meaning while tithing or helping others. You still can achieve financial security even while helping others.

Here are three questions to ask yourself:

  • How would you describe your values towards money?
  • What are 4-5 hard decisions you need to make today to achieve financial security?
  • Do you believe you can do it all on your own?

Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

It’s not the pursuit of less. It’s the exact opposite. “An Essentialist produces more – brings forth – by removing more instead of doing more!” Now that’s cool!

Essentialism – The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown was recommended by a client at St. Croix Advisors. He thought I’d connect and relate to its message and boy did I. Here’s why. It’s about “learning to filter through all those options and select only those that are truly essential.”

When you start to contemplate that you realize it’s a powerful opportunity we can implement in our daily lives. We can start to apply essentialism to three primary parts of our lives: work, family and finances. It’s not about getting more and more things done. I think we’ve all tried that and probably failed. We’ve also heard ‘work smarter not harder’ (been there, done that). Instead, it’s about investing in the ‘right activities.’ In other words, “essentialism” is a disciplined systematic approach for determining where our highest point of contribution lies, and then with little effort execute on those things.

A great question an essentialist will ask is “what are the trade-offs I’m willing to make?” A trade-off isn’t a negative.

We can apply this to our daily lives and our finances. We can have more. I’m not talking about more stuff, but instead perhaps less financial stress. Having clarity on our goals and envisioning what our retirement looks like will cause us to make different or better decisions today to achieve our goals sooner.

Below are the key steps you need to work on each day to help accumulate money to reach your financial goals.

  • Be honest with yourself – It’s so true. You know your strengths, weaknesses, likes, dislikes, etc. Yet the biggest question you need to ask is what trade-offs am I willing to make so I can accumulate $1 million by my goal date. As I discussed above, trade-offs are not negative. They are just trade-offs. Plain and simple.

    For most individuals, technology truly is your friend in helping track where all of your money goes. Technology can track all the ins & outs of money in your life. Embrace it and let it do its job.

    When it comes to budgeting most will fail because we are not honest with ourselves. We are really good at outlining all the big expenses. But we fail in the day-to-day life and balancing out our wants. Budget right down to stamps each month. It becomes freeing when you understand where your hard-earned money goes each month.

  • Right-sizing your life – Big houses, fancy cars, expensive clothes. Trade-off all of them and the theme continues to shine through. Most advisors will disagree with me on this but it’s extremely comforting to have $50,000, $100,000, $250,000 or a $1 million just in cash. I can’t tell you how many people I encounter disagree with having so much in cash but when they start to experience how this positively impacts their life, they are hook line and sinker in on their way to becoming a millionaire! It’s totally freeing knowing you have financial control and money readily available to address whatever issues arise.

  • Budgeting – You need to pay yourself first. Focus on one key number, your gross savings rate. For most individuals, I’d target 15%-25% of your gross earnings. This is the most important number in your planning. If you don’t get this number right, reaching your financial goals will be almost impossible. Yes, that’s a big number but you have big goals. Plus, this number is very attainable within a short period of time if you’re not doing it today. If you can’t do it today, it can be achieved in 1-2 years.

This is also the most challenging area of financial planning and Because it’s the hardest most struggle to adhere to it. One of my favorite words is “synergistic.” Within this manifest, all these strategies have a synergistic relationship. If you succeed in only three out four areas, that fourth area will bring your results down. Make no mistake about it. To obtain the best results you need to hit on all four cylinders.

What is financial leakage?

Financial leakage happens, and it can’t be overlooked. It’s something I hear on a regular basis. Just change the dollar amount for how much your household makes. I bet most of us can relate, especially when you have a couple of kids, mortgage, car payment and are saving for retirement. But those are not the things that hold you back in reaching your goals.

Over my vast experience in the financial services world, talking with hundreds or thousands of people, it’s generally not the mortgage or the car payment, but rather just everyday life that really gets us. It all adds up. $5 here, $50 there, $250 here – it all adds up to real money each month. It’s called financial leakage. We all have it, yet, some of us are better than others at controlling it.

Technology is an essential competent to be successful in tracking your daily expenses versus your actual budget each day, week or month. Are you on track? Do you need to make adjustments throughout the month?

Going through this process for the first 90-120 days is hard. Remember your checkbook shows your priorities.


Debt sucks. I don’t care what you call it. Many believe there is good debt. Mortgages, student loans, business loans are examples of what people would say is good debt. Bad debt would be general credit cards, store credit cards, payday loans, anything with high-interest rates that you really should be paying with cash but instead you use credit to purchase it.

Let’s just avoid all debt. I suspect many eyes are rolling on this. You use debt as a leveraging tool. I get it. But you still have to pay it back and many times have an exit strategy of the asset(s) you’ve leveraged. Use it wisely. I haven’t met a banker who didn’t what his Ben Franklin’s back.

Credit Management

Debt sucks because it limits our future lifestyle and we have to manage it responsibly. That entails paying your bills on-time. With “auto-pay” it’s easy to never forget a bill. If used properly, it’s a tool. A tool that allows you help build your wealth, especially for business owners. But it’s something you can’t take for granted. There is always a cost and your job is to minimize the cost of debt that you leverage.

Rate of return is important…however, it’s not the most important number!

It’s usually the first question on my client’s mind – “How much money have you made me?” It’s the underlying question of what’s my rate of return for the quarter, year, etc. But one must remember how to derive at a true (net) rate of return.

Most investors only focus on their “gross” rate of return yet overlook other factors. Their biggest expense when it comes to investing is taxes. Yes, taxes. Ask yourself, “Am I going to invest with pre- or post-tax dollars?” Pre-tax dollars are dollars that will defer taxes today saving you 15%, 25% or more today. But at a future date and unknown rate, you will be taxed on those pre-taxed dollars!

You have to decide each year whether Uncle Sam is going to be taxing you on your investments or if you are going to invest those dollars in a tax-deferred vehicle so when you start making distributions, you’ll be hit with a tax bill. Taxes will be by far your biggest expense in calculating your net rate of return. Increasing your rate of return by looking at income tax planning is one of the biggest planning areas when it comes to investing.

Remember our government is broke and they need and want our money. The tax rate we pay is just as important in the success of our investments as a financial plan. Congress may change the rules, but we know the playbook today.


We can’t escape taxes which is why we need to revisit this on an ongoing basis. We need roads, schools, military and infrastructure for our country to survive and thrive. And we’re all willing to pay my fair share but just our fair share. As you continue throughout life, earning more naturally brings higher income taxes for you. We can’t avoid this topic or paying unless you’d enjoy three hots and a cot. And if you’ve read this far, I know you wouldn’t enjoy that lifestyle.

Federal taxes are the same no matter which state you live in. But a major difference is which state you live in. Some states have a state income tax. Others collect “revenue” in different ways through fees or higher property taxes. Some states tax Social Security in your retirement years while others do not.

If you believe taxes will be higher down the road, just one or two key decisions today can allow for greater financial flexibility. It may not seem like it, but we are at some of the lowest tax rates today. But we don’t know what the tax rates will be 10, 20 or 30 years from now. Here is what I believe – our local, state and federal governments are broke, and they believe our money is their money. With that perspective, each financial decision you make today is key. We can’t control our overall tax rate, but we can control which buckets we place our money into each day.

You don’t have time to keep up with all kinds of tax law changes so hire a CPA that is focused on strategic tax planning with their clients. Don’t worry about paying them – their knowledge should more than pay for themselves.

And for business owners, with proper planning, you can pick who you pay – employees or the federal government. Remember, you want money to go to your employees to reward, retain and recruit them. Don’t overlook this as a planning tool for your business.

You need a proactive CPA on your team. If you don’t have one, I’ll be happy to give a few names you can consider adding to your team.

Transferring risk from your checkbook to someone else’s

I know what you are thinking, why even discuss this topic? We do because it’s the most important building block when it comes to creating a financial plan. By doing this right, it allows you to minimize how far you’d fall financially in the event “crap” happened. This comes in all forms: unexpected medical bills, 100-year hurricane or flood, a slip of the knife in surgery that cuts your patient’s major artery, or a husband won’t be coming home because of a drunk driver.

I’ve been there too such as paying $22,000 a month in health care even with good insurance. It doesn’t take long before this becomes real money. How long can you financially support those types of payments before your financial plan and future plans get blown-up? Almost 90% of the people I talk to about this believe nothing bad will happen to them. They can’t or refuse to, see it ever happening to them. I’m here to tell you, shit happens. This category is just as important as your overall gross savings rate.

From medical, disability, life, long-term care, homeowners, auto, errors & omissions, malpractice – insurance is important.

Most of us focus only on the premiums for our insurance. That’s the least important factor in transferring the risk. The reason so many people get mad at insurance companies is that everyone thinks they have the Cadillac coverage. I bet 99% of the population have never read their insurance contracts. And 99.5% of the insurance agents have never read them. It’s the contractual language that matters not the premiums. Pay attention to the details. It’s that important in your creating financial security.

Bottom Line

Focus on the basics. Build your financial foundation well and the results you seek should pay off.

  • Define what money means to you.
  • Create a dream board so you have a daily reminder of what you want to achieve in life.
  • Face your money issues.
  • Have less “stuff” in your life so you can achieve more.
  • Stop the financial leakage.
  • Be the master of your money.
  • Build your financial foundation from the ground up. Start with transferring risk.
  • Create different buckets of money. Understand access, tax treatment, risk and investments within each of those buckets.
  • Save a meaningful amount each month.

Each and everyone one of us can save a million dollars. I see happen all the time. For most, this isn’t an easy process, but it becomes rewarding when you have achieved financial freedom.

Now is the time to save a million dollars. If you’d like to talk about how we can help you reach your personal and professional goals, drop me a note.

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Advantages of retiring to Florida


Advantages of retiring to Florida


Sure, we all have some very obvious reasons for retiring to Florida; Sun, warm weather, no estate or income taxes. From my perspective, how many more reasons do you need? As I write this on a Saturday night, watching playoff football, tomorrow morning’s low will be 43 degrees (No, that’s no typo) here in Naples, Florida. Down here they consider that cold. Big jackets, gloves, hats and I suspect long underwear will be essential for natives. For you snowbirds from Minnesota and Wisconsin, we’d be wearing shorts at home.

I see retiring to Florida as a lifestyle choice. You want to enjoy the great outdoors year-round. You won’t miss the cold nor the snow. You’ve put up with all of that stuff for years let alone decades and now it’s time. The sun, warm weather, walking along the ocean, palm trees, etc.

While in Naples, Florida, I attended the Minnesota Men’s Breakfast (it’s not just men – women do attend and are invited). Prominent speakers, timely topics and a room of hundreds of people come together each week for three months during the winter. It’s almost like a homecoming each week when you see everyone greeting each other. Naples just happens to be Minnesota’s most southern city! Coming to one location, knowing so many people from back home is just darn cool.

Gov. Dayton certainly likes to tax the so-called rich by insisting on having an estate tax. In 2018, the threshold is $2.4 million. I suspect many of you reading this feel like that’s a lot of money. The reality is it’s not, particularly when you start adding everything you have from your home, retirement, life insurance and investment accounts. Remember, you and your estate have to pay taxes because you died. Isn’t that enough? You’re dead. Why does the government need to take my money? For those of you living in Wisconsin, you also enjoy no estate taxes just like Florida residents. But it’s still cold.

With the new federal tax law, living in a higher income tax state is going to cost even more. For those of us who itemize, we will only be able to deduct to up $10,000 a year on our federal taxes. That seems like a big number, but when you total your state, sales and property taxes, it can easily be well over $10,000. In other words, you will be paying more for the privilege of living in the land of Gophers or Badgers.

Some states tax your Social Security benefits in your retirement years and some don’t. Minnesota’s elected officials have never met a tax they didn’t want to implement including taxing your Social Security. Florida and Wisconsin residents enjoy no tax on their Social Security.

Wisconsin is Minnesota’s Florida. Florida is Wisconsin’s Florida. Florida is just Florida. Taxes play a major role in our retirement years along with friends, family and lifestyle. If you are looking to relocate to Florida full time or become a “six months and a day,” let’s talk about how to make that a successful transition.

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Can my portfolio support my lifestyle in my retirement? 

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Tracking Your Financial Leakage


Tracking Your Financial Leakage


Not a day or week goes by when someone doesn’t say to me, “I wonder where all my money goes?” or “I wish the month was a week or two shorter” or “I make a lot of money and I just don’t understand how I can spend so much money.” Most of us seek to understand where we spend all our money. So what are three steps you can take to understand where your money goes and how to finally plug your financial leakage?

With the New Year upon us, it’s a great time to make technology your friend. Invest a couple hours to improve your finances on a Saturday or Sunday while watching a movie or a ballgame. For our clients, we use iAdvise (for those who are not clients but would like access as a standalone, let me know) or a free-spending tracking software is www.mint.com. January 1 is a great starting date.

Don’t worry about what happened six months ago. Start fresh. Establish where you are spending money each day, week and month. You can categorize your spending by stores, events, things and detailed categories right down to stamps. If you watch your pennies, the dollars will follow.

The second step for 2018 is to create a budget. I know….budget….I hate budgeting……and I’m in the money businesses. But we all need to establish a baseline on where and how much we really have each month to save, spend or give away. It’s so much easier when you make technology your friend. If you get truly detailed, you can know each day, week or month where you are over or under spending. I know what you’ll discover – you actually have more money than you thought and you’ll wish you would have done this exercise years ago. You need to create a margin between your income and spending so you can achieve financial peace.

The third step for 2018 is to understand the priorities you have for your money. This is the only way to truly master your money and direct it to where you want it to go. Priorities can range from paying off your debt, targeting to save 15% of your gross income, tithing, helping others, paying cash for the new car, etc. I do believe that the more stuff, more money, more stress.

Spending a few hours to kick off 2018 to stop your financial leakage will be empowering. Empowering you to direct where you want your money to go and aligning your actions and values together. Become the master of your money versus your money mastering you.

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Can my portfolio support my lifestyle in my retirement? 

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2018 New Year Resolutions


2018 New Year Resolutions


Each year I make a couple of New Year Resolutions I’d like to fulfill. One I’ve had for years – drop more pounds. I’ve done well, but the remaining 20 or so have been the hardest. Thus, weight loss has made my list again this year. Many of you might also have that goal on your list, but I suspect saving more money or reducing your debt is probably also on there.

For many, money has always been a struggle. It’s hard to balance our wants and needs. A great New Year’s resolution would be to understand our relationship to money. Our money values – good or bad – were established at a young age. Most of us learned about money from our parents and maybe we need to reset our expectations and have a reset in 2018.

I suspect no matter the resolution we’d like to fulfill has to deal with trade-offs or saying no today so we can say yes tomorrow. To save more money, we are saying no to “stuff” today. We are postponing our wants until a future date. We continue to learn to be content with what we have. Sometimes “no” seems to be the hardest word or action to follow through with.

I’m a big believer in visually seeing the goals I’d like accomplish. I’ve created a “Dream Board” for what I want to accomplish in my life. I have it in my home office so I can see it every day to ask myself one important question…”Are the decisions I’m making today helping me reach the goals I’ve set forth or not?” At times, I already know the answer is no, which means I need to reset my thoughts or actions to work my plan.

Accountability partner. Sometimes we need to share what we want to accomplish and not be judged. I know I’m that way. I have some big goals I’d like to accomplish with the time I have remaining. Everything I hear and read about strategies to help you reach your goals say you need to share your goals with someone. It needs to be someone that you respect and wants to help you reach your goals, and won’t judge you no matter how crazy your goals might be.

A great New Year’s resolution would be no new debt! No new car loans. No more adding to the credit card. No buying that oversized home because long-term interest rates are low. We all have the ability to be debt free. Sure, it’s not going to happen overnight, but it certainly can be achieved before you or I retire. Remember, debt limits your future lifestyle.

If you seek an accountability partner in 2018 to help you reach your goals, I’d be honored to be that person. Or if you’d like help in creating a dream board, I can also help you with that.

Here’s to you fulfilling your 2018 New Year Resolution!

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