Reflections on The Treasure Principle: Aligning Faith and Finances

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Reflections on The Treasure Principle: Aligning Faith and Finances

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC
Open Bible on a wooden board near the river.

We have a few topics in our lives that have become taboo to discuss – religion, politics, and money. That’s just the shortlist. Now add a combination of God and money. Oh boy. That’s a topic that makes 99% of people squirm in their chairs. As those who know me well are aware, I’m not afraid to bring up or discuss these types of topics; after all, that’s why you hire me! These taboo topics impact our daily walk of life.

Even for me, at times, money has been complicated.

I believe most people experience three phases of money and possessions:

  1. Acquisition
  2. Accumulation
  3. Cleanout

Many people reach a point of maturity where they realize they have too much stuff; it causes too much stress, and they wonder why it took them so long to realize that. After all, it’s just physical material stuff. Material possessions, I’d argue, give us a false sense of financial security – all this man-made stuff that can be taken away by someone else, stolen, burned, or just deteriorated over time.

It’s taken some time, deep thought, mindful debate with myself, reading, and maturity to realize that none of the “stuff” you and I own are truly ours. We cannot take any of our earthly treasures with us. The truth is, God owns it all. We own nothing. While we are here on earth, we are just caretakers. It’s pretty simple. The Bible actually discusses money more than any other topic. I think it’s simple why – God gave us free will, and just look around us today to see what is happening. Money can truly corrupt oneself.

I believe God knew we couldn’t serve two masters – God and money. He knew we needed to dethrone the money idol. I can personally tell you, the best way I do this is to give money away (after all, it’s not mine). All of our earthly treasures are TEMPORARY. And while I know this in my heart, I still struggle with it at times.

To take an excerpt from Randy Alcorn’s The Treasure Principle, “In Matthew 6, Jesus fully unveils the foundation of what I call the Treasure Principle. It’s one of His most neglected and misinterpreted teachings:

Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (vv.19-21)”

I’m a true believer in “show me your bank account or credit card statements and I’ll show you your priorities.” But money isn’t the only treasure we can give. We can give time, wisdom, and roll up our sleeves.

It’s so easy in our daily walk of life to think earth is our forever home. But it’s not. “Our citizenship is in heaven,” Philippians 3:20.

It’s surprising how, as humans, we don’t have this conversation more about our own mortality, and how we can be impactful with our limited time on earth.

The Treasure Principle talks about God, money, and how to be impactful in our daily walk of life. It’s not all about how much stuff I can accumulate; I believe it’s about how I can be impactful with the treasures I’ve been given as a manager of God’s treasures.

And I think as one has more years behind than ahead, you start to think about life differently. The bottom line is all of our earthly treasures will be left behind, and I believe our heavenly treasures will be waiting for us that I’ve sent forward.

If you found these reflections on The Treasure Principle thought-provoking or if you’re seeking guidance on how to incorporate these ideals into your own financial planning journey, I invite you to reach out to me. Let’s continue this conversation and explore how we can align your faith with your finances for a more fulfilling life. Your comments and inquiries are always welcome. Together, we can navigate the path towards stewardship and purpose.

 

We have a few topics in our lives that have become taboo to discuss – religion, politics, and money. That’s just the shortlist. Now add a combination of God and money. Oh boy. That’s a topic that makes 99% of people squirm in their chairs. As those who know me well are aware, I’m not afraid to bring up or discuss these types of topics; after all, that’s why you hire me! These taboo topics impact our daily walk of life.

Even for me, at times, money has been complicated.

I believe most people experience three phases of money and possessions:

  1. Acquisition
  2. Accumulation
  3. Cleanout

Many people reach a point of maturity where they realize they have too much stuff; it causes too much stress, and they wonder why it took them so long to realize that. After all, it’s just physical material stuff. Material possessions, I’d argue, give us a false sense of financial security – all this man-made stuff that can be taken away by someone else, stolen, burned, or just deteriorated over time.

It’s taken some time, deep thought, mindful debate with myself, reading, and maturity to realize that none of the “stuff” you and I own are truly ours. We cannot take any of our earthly treasures with us. The truth is, God owns it all. We own nothing. While we are here on earth, we are just caretakers. It’s pretty simple. The Bible actually discusses money more than any other topic. I think it’s simple why – God gave us free will, and just look around us today to see what is happening. Money can truly corrupt oneself.

I believe God knew we couldn’t serve two masters – God and money. He knew we needed to dethrone the money idol. I can personally tell you, the best way I do this is to give money away (after all, it’s not mine). All of our earthly treasures are TEMPORARY. And while I know this in my heart, I still struggle with it at times.

To take an excerpt from Randy Alcorn’s The Treasure Principle, “In Matthew 6, Jesus fully unveils the foundation of what I call the Treasure Principle. It’s one of His most neglected and misinterpreted teachings:

Do not store up for yourselves treasure on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (vv.19-21)”

I’m a true believer in “show me your bank account or credit card statements and I’ll show you your priorities.” But money isn’t the only treasure we can give. We can give time, wisdom, and roll up our sleeves.

It’s so easy in our daily walk of life to think earth is our forever home. But it’s not. “Our citizenship is in heaven,” Philippians 3:20.

It’s surprising how, as humans, we don’t have this conversation more about our own mortality, and how we can be impactful with our limited time on earth.

The Treasure Principle talks about God, money, and how to be impactful in our daily walk of life. It’s not all about how much stuff I can accumulate; I believe it’s about how I can be impactful with the treasures I’ve been given as a manager of God’s treasures.

And I think as one has more years behind than ahead, you start to think about life differently. The bottom line is all of our earthly treasures will be left behind, and I believe our heavenly treasures will be waiting for us that I’ve sent forward.

If you found these reflections on The Treasure Principle thought-provoking or if you’re seeking guidance on how to incorporate these ideals into your own financial planning journey, I invite you to reach out to me. Let’s continue this conversation and explore how we can align your faith with your finances for a more fulfilling life. Your comments and inquiries are always welcome. Together, we can navigate the path towards stewardship and purpose.

How Your Financial Advisor Can Help You Make an Estate Plan

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

How Your Financial Advisor Can Help You Make an Estate Plan

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC
financial advisor consulting a couple customer

Estate planning can be a very intimidating conversation. In fact, some may find it scary to plan for what happens once they’re gone. The complexity of strategies and planning involved may feel overwhelming if tackled alone. Fortunately, your advisor is equipped to simplify the process and provide valuable guidance every step of the way.

Key Points

  • Your financial advisor can guide you through the estate planning process, making it more manageable and less daunting.
  • Initiate the conversation by educating yourself on the benefits of estate planning and asking relevant questions.
  • Involving family members and seeking expert advice when necessary are essential steps in the process.

Getting Started with Estate Planning

The first step in the estate planning journey is often the most challenging. Your financial advisor can help ease you into this process by explaining the various benefits of estate planning. It’s important to understand that without careful planning, a significant portion of your estate could be subject to taxes, probate court proceedings, or distributed in ways you may not have intended. With a well-thought-out plan, you can:

  • Minimize tax liabilities on your income and estate
  • Control the distribution of your assets, including when and how they are received
  • Ensure timely payment of estate obligations and taxes

Gathering Information

Once you recognize the importance of estate planning, your financial advisor will guide you through a series of questions to gather essential details. These questions aim to understand your goals, assets, beneficiaries, and any potential obstacles. Some key areas of discussion include:

  • Your intentions regarding the distribution of your assets
  • Details about your significant assets such as properties, investments, or businesses
  • Identification of primary beneficiaries and their specific needs
  • Existing estate planning documents and their last review date
  • Preferences for healthcare decision-making in case of incapacity
  • Awareness of any significant debts or obligations affecting your estate
  • Charitable objectives or organizations you wish to support
  • Concerns about potential tax implications for your heirs
  • Specific personal items or properties you want to allocate to certain individuals

Remember, these questions are designed to facilitate a comprehensive dialogue and ensure that your estate plan reflects your wishes accurately.

Involving Family Members

Estate planning discussions should involve not only you but also your spouse or partner, as these decisions directly impact them. Additionally, depending on your circumstances and preferences, your financial advisor may recommend involving adult children in the conversation.

This inclusive approach ensures that everyone affected by your estate plan is informed and can help prevent any misunderstandings or disputes in the future.

Creating an Individual Plan

As your financial advisor gathers information about your estate planning needs and goals, they will recommend suitable strategies to achieve them. These strategies may involve various financial tools and instruments aimed at protecting, growing, and distributing your wealth efficiently. Some examples include:

  • Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT) to minimize gift taxes
  • Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) for supporting charitable causes while receiving tax benefits
  • Roth conversion for income tax planning and spousal protection
  • Nonqualified annuity stretch for multigenerational wealth transfer

Each of these tools serves a specific purpose in estate planning, and your financial advisor will tailor their recommendations to align with your unique circumstances and objectives.

Seeking Expert Advice

Estate planning often involves complex legal, tax, and financial considerations that may require specialized expertise. Your financial advisor can collaborate with outside experts such as attorneys, tax professionals, or estate planners to ensure a comprehensive and robust approach to your estate plan. This collaboration adds an extra layer of assurance, reduces the risk of oversights, and streamlines the planning process.

Crafting Your Legacy

Estate planning is not just about managing wealth; it’s about crafting a lasting legacy that reflects your values and priorities. As your trusted financial advisor, I am here to guide you through every step of the estate planning process. From partnering with you to create a tailored plan to updating it as life changes, I will be by your side to simplify the process and provide valuable guidance.

While estate planning may seem daunting, a collaboration between your financial advisor and an estate planning attorney can empower you to ensure that your legacy is preserved according to your wishes. Contact me today to start the conversation and take control of your estate planning needs. Together, we can create a comprehensive plan that reflects your values and priorities, ensuring a lasting legacy for generations to come.

 

Estate planning can be a very intimidating conversation. In fact, some may find it scary to plan for what happens once they’re gone. The complexity of strategies and planning involved may feel overwhelming if tackled alone. Fortunately, your advisor is equipped to simplify the process and provide valuable guidance every step of the way.

Key Points

  • Your financial advisor can guide you through the estate planning process, making it more manageable and less daunting.
  • Initiate the conversation by educating yourself on the benefits of estate planning and asking relevant questions.
  • Involving family members and seeking expert advice when necessary are essential steps in the process.

Getting Started with Estate Planning

The first step in the estate planning journey is often the most challenging. Your financial advisor can help ease you into this process by explaining the various benefits of estate planning. It’s important to understand that without careful planning, a significant portion of your estate could be subject to taxes, probate court proceedings, or distributed in ways you may not have intended. With a well-thought-out plan, you can:

  • Minimize tax liabilities on your income and estate
  • Control the distribution of your assets, including when and how they are received
  • Ensure timely payment of estate obligations and taxes

Gathering Information

Once you recognize the importance of estate planning, your financial advisor will guide you through a series of questions to gather essential details. These questions aim to understand your goals, assets, beneficiaries, and any potential obstacles. Some key areas of discussion include:

  • Your intentions regarding the distribution of your assets
  • Details about your significant assets such as properties, investments, or businesses
  • Identification of primary beneficiaries and their specific needs
  • Existing estate planning documents and their last review date
  • Preferences for healthcare decision-making in case of incapacity
  • Awareness of any significant debts or obligations affecting your estate
  • Charitable objectives or organizations you wish to support
  • Concerns about potential tax implications for your heirs
  • Specific personal items or properties you want to allocate to certain individuals

Remember, these questions are designed to facilitate a comprehensive dialogue and ensure that your estate plan reflects your wishes accurately.

Involving Family Members

Estate planning discussions should involve not only you but also your spouse or partner, as these decisions directly impact them. Additionally, depending on your circumstances and preferences, your financial advisor may recommend involving adult children in the conversation.

This inclusive approach ensures that everyone affected by your estate plan is informed and can help prevent any misunderstandings or disputes in the future.

Creating an Individual Plan

As your financial advisor gathers information about your estate planning needs and goals, they will recommend suitable strategies to achieve them. These strategies may involve various financial tools and instruments aimed at protecting, growing, and distributing your wealth efficiently. Some examples include:

  • Grantor Retained Annuity Trust (GRAT) to minimize gift taxes
  • Charitable Remainder Trust (CRT) for supporting charitable causes while receiving tax benefits
  • Roth conversion for income tax planning and spousal protection
  • Nonqualified annuity stretch for multigenerational wealth transfer

Each of these tools serves a specific purpose in estate planning, and your financial advisor will tailor their recommendations to align with your unique circumstances and objectives.

Seeking Expert Advice

Estate planning often involves complex legal, tax, and financial considerations that may require specialized expertise. Your financial advisor can collaborate with outside experts such as attorneys, tax professionals, or estate planners to ensure a comprehensive and robust approach to your estate plan. This collaboration adds an extra layer of assurance, reduces the risk of oversights, and streamlines the planning process.

Crafting Your Legacy

Estate planning is not just about managing wealth; it’s about crafting a lasting legacy that reflects your values and priorities. As your trusted financial advisor, I am here to guide you through every step of the estate planning process. From partnering with you to create a tailored plan to updating it as life changes, I will be by your side to simplify the process and provide valuable guidance.

While estate planning may seem daunting, a collaboration between your financial advisor and an estate planning attorney can empower you to ensure that your legacy is preserved according to your wishes. Contact me today to start the conversation and take control of your estate planning needs. Together, we can create a comprehensive plan that reflects your values and priorities, ensuring a lasting legacy for generations to come.

5 Tips and Tricks for Filing Your 2023 Tax Return

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

5 Tips and Tricks for Filing Your 2023 Tax Return

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC
Latin American couple talking to a financial advisor about an investment - home finances concepts

As we approach the April 15 deadline for filing 2023 individual federal income tax returns, it’s essential to start preparing ahead of time. The IRS has provided some important reminders on steps you can take now to ensure a smooth filing process for your 2023 return.

Here are 5 tips from the IRS that I’d like to highlight for you:

  1. Utilize an IRS Online account: Take advantage of the IRS online platform available at www.irs.gov/account. This tool offers a range of helpful resources for the upcoming 2024 filing season, including access to key data from your latest filed tax return, account transcripts, electronic notices, and the ability to manage payment plans. This centralized hub can streamline your tax preparation process and keep you informed about your tax situation.
  2. Organize and update tax records: Maintaining organized tax records is crucial for accuracy and efficiency when preparing your tax return. Ensure you have gathered all necessary income documents, such as Forms W-2 and 1099-MISC, to avoid delays in processing and potentially uncover overlooked deductions or credits. This includes potential deductions for donation receipts and medical expenses, which can help reduce your taxable income. Remember, most income, including income from the gig economy and digital assets, is taxable and should be accounted for.
  3. Speed up refunds: Opt for direct deposit to receive your tax refund quickly and securely. Providing your bank’s routing and account information ensures a smooth process. Those opting for paper checks may encounter delays or issues such as non-receipt, so direct deposit is highly recommended to expedite your refund.
  4. Bookmark IRS.gov resources: Make IRS.gov your go-to resource for tax-related information and tools. The website offers user-friendly online tools available 24/7 to assist with filing and paying taxes, tracking refunds, and accessing account information. Bookmarking this site will provide easy access to valuable resources throughout the tax season.
  5. Consider consulting a tax professional: Tax professionals, including CPAs, enrolled agents, and attorneys, can provide invaluable assistance in navigating the tax system and ensuring compliance with tax laws. Choosing a reputable preparer who is skilled in tax preparation can help minimize errors and maximize tax benefits. Be sure to follow IRS guidelines for selecting a tax professional to avoid potential pitfalls.

Lastly, keep in mind that you can request an automatic six-month filing extension until October 15, 2024, by submitting Form 4868 if needed. However, remember that this extension applies only to filing and not to paying taxes. It’s important to make a good-faith estimate of your tax liability and pay any expected taxes by the April 15 deadline.

As your trusted financial advisor, I’m here to support you through the tax filing process and ensure you make informed decisions that align with your financial goals. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need assistance along the way.

 

As we approach the April 15 deadline for filing 2023 individual federal income tax returns, it’s essential to start preparing ahead of time. The IRS has provided some important reminders on steps you can take now to ensure a smooth filing process for your 2023 return.

Here are 5 tips from the IRS that I’d like to highlight for you:

  1. Utilize an IRS Online account: Take advantage of the IRS online platform available at www.irs.gov/account. This tool offers a range of helpful resources for the upcoming 2024 filing season, including access to key data from your latest filed tax return, account transcripts, electronic notices, and the ability to manage payment plans. This centralized hub can streamline your tax preparation process and keep you informed about your tax situation.
  2. Organize and update tax records: Maintaining organized tax records is crucial for accuracy and efficiency when preparing your tax return. Ensure you have gathered all necessary income documents, such as Forms W-2 and 1099-MISC, to avoid delays in processing and potentially uncover overlooked deductions or credits. This includes potential deductions for donation receipts and medical expenses, which can help reduce your taxable income. Remember, most income, including income from the gig economy and digital assets, is taxable and should be accounted for.
  3. Speed up refunds: Opt for direct deposit to receive your tax refund quickly and securely. Providing your bank’s routing and account information ensures a smooth process. Those opting for paper checks may encounter delays or issues such as non-receipt, so direct deposit is highly recommended to expedite your refund.
  4. Bookmark IRS.gov resources: Make IRS.gov your go-to resource for tax-related information and tools. The website offers user-friendly online tools available 24/7 to assist with filing and paying taxes, tracking refunds, and accessing account information. Bookmarking this site will provide easy access to valuable resources throughout the tax season.
  5. Consider consulting a tax professional: Tax professionals, including CPAs, enrolled agents, and attorneys, can provide invaluable assistance in navigating the tax system and ensuring compliance with tax laws. Choosing a reputable preparer who is skilled in tax preparation can help minimize errors and maximize tax benefits. Be sure to follow IRS guidelines for selecting a tax professional to avoid potential pitfalls.

Lastly, keep in mind that you can request an automatic six-month filing extension until October 15, 2024, by submitting Form 4868 if needed. However, remember that this extension applies only to filing and not to paying taxes. It’s important to make a good-faith estimate of your tax liability and pay any expected taxes by the April 15 deadline.

As your trusted financial advisor, I’m here to support you through the tax filing process and ensure you make informed decisions that align with your financial goals. Please don’t hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or need assistance along the way.

Certified Financial Planner & Fiduciary – What’s the Difference?

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Certified Financial Planner vs Fiduciary – What’s the Difference?

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Navigating the landscape of financial advisors can be overwhelming, especially when trying to discern between various titles and certifications. Whether you’re seeking guidance on investments or long-term financial planning, understanding the role of a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) and fiduciaries is important prior to making informed decisions about managing your money.

Are all financial advisors, financial coaches, financial planners, wealth advisors, and brokers CERTIFIED? The answer is no.

What is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®)?

Knowing whether your financial professional is certified lies in the designation of Certified Financial Planner. CFPs undergo a rigorous education process, including extensive training and passing comprehensive exams. It typically takes a year or two to obtain this certification, highlighting the commitment to professionalism and expertise within the field. Plus, ongoing continuing education is required on a yearly basis.

Does my financial professional need to be certified to help me?

While certification is not a legal requirement for providing financial advice, working with a certified financial professional, such as a CFP, can offer added assurance of their competence and dedication to upholding industry standards. Certification demonstrates a commitment to ongoing education and ethical practices, which can be beneficial when seeking guidance on complex financial matters.

What is a Fiduciary?

While many financial advisors operate under a suitability standard, where recommendations must be suitable for clients at the time of sale, fiduciaries adhere to a higher standard of care. Acting as fiduciaries means putting the client’s best interests first on an ongoing basis, disclosing any conflicts of interest, and ensuring ongoing accountability in managing investments. Fiduciaries are held to an ongoing standard of care, continuously monitoring and adjusting investments to meet specific targets.

Differences Between Financial Advisors and Fiduciaries

Financial advisors can range from those who simply offer guidance on budgeting to those specializing in comprehensive retirement planning. However, not all advisors operate under fiduciary duty. It’s essential to differentiate between advisors who prioritize client interests and those who may have conflicts of interests. One item I value is fiduciaries have to place their conflicts of interests in writing for clients. Here are few other differences.

Financial Advisors:

  • Offer a range of financial services and products.
  • Required to provide suitable recommendations that align with client’s needs and risk tolerance at the time of recommendation.
  • Can work for a variety of financial firms from insurance companies or brokerage firms or banks, for example.

Fiduciaries:

  • Enter into a written contract outline services and expectations of the advisor and client.
  • Have a legal obligation to act in the client’s best interest at all times.
  • Typically provide comprehensive financial planning services.
  • Held to a higher standard of care than financial advisors.
  • May include Certified Financial Planners (CFPs), Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs), and some wealth managers.

Is a certified financial planner the same as a fiduciary?

Again, CFPs have a more ongoing duty to their clients. A fiduciary has a higher standard to meet. It’s an ongoing standard. They have to ensure that your investments are hitting certain targets on a regular basis.

Choosing the Right Financial Advisor

When selecting a financial advisor, asking the right questions is important. Inquiring about their fiduciary status, how they make money, their approach to financial planning, and any potential conflicts of interest can provide clarity on their suitability for your financial needs. Additionally, verifying certifications such as CFP credentials or checking registration with regulatory bodies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) can offer further reassurance.

Cost Considerations

Financial advisory services can come with various fee structures, including hourly rates, flat fees, or a percentage of assets under management (AUM).

By asking the right questions and verifying credentials, you can ensure that your chosen advisor aligns with your financial goals and values, providing peace of mind in your financial journey.

Learn about our work philosophy and how we make money.

 

Navigating the landscape of financial advisors can be overwhelming, especially when trying to discern between various titles and certifications. Whether you’re seeking guidance on investments or long-term financial planning, understanding the role of a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) and fiduciaries is important prior to making informed decisions about managing your money.

Are all financial advisors, financial coaches, financial planners, wealth advisors, and brokers CERTIFIED? The answer is no.

What is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®)?

Knowing whether your financial professional is certified lies in the designation of Certified Financial Planner. CFPs undergo a rigorous education process, including extensive training and passing comprehensive exams. It typically takes a year or two to obtain this certification, highlighting the commitment to professionalism and expertise within the field. Plus, ongoing continuing education is required on a yearly basis.

Does my financial professional need to be certified to help me?

While certification is not a legal requirement for providing financial advice, working with a certified financial professional, such as a CFP, can offer added assurance of their competence and dedication to upholding industry standards. Certification demonstrates a commitment to ongoing education and ethical practices, which can be beneficial when seeking guidance on complex financial matters.

What is a Fiduciary?

While many financial advisors operate under a suitability standard, where recommendations must be suitable for clients at the time of sale, fiduciaries adhere to a higher standard of care. Acting as fiduciaries means putting the client’s best interests first on an ongoing basis, disclosing any conflicts of interest, and ensuring ongoing accountability in managing investments. Fiduciaries are held to an ongoing standard of care, continuously monitoring and adjusting investments to meet specific targets.

Differences Between Financial Advisors and Fiduciaries

Financial advisors can range from those who simply offer guidance on budgeting to those specializing in comprehensive retirement planning. However, not all advisors operate under fiduciary duty. It’s essential to differentiate between advisors who prioritize client interests and those who may have conflicts of interests. One item I value is fiduciaries have to place their conflicts of interests in writing for clients. Here are few other differences.

Financial Advisors:

  • Offer a range of financial services and products.
  • Required to provide suitable recommendations that align with client’s needs and risk tolerance at the time of recommendation.
  • Can work for a variety of financial firms from insurance companies or brokerage firms or banks, for example.

Fiduciaries:

  • Enter into a written contract outline services and expectations of the advisor and client.
  • Have a legal obligation to act in the client’s best interest at all times.
  • Typically provide comprehensive financial planning services.
  • Held to a higher standard of care than financial advisors.
  • May include Certified Financial Planners (CFPs), Registered Investment Advisors (RIAs), and some wealth managers.

Is a certified financial planner the same as a fiduciary?

Again, CFPs have a more ongoing duty to their clients. A fiduciary has a higher standard to meet. It’s an ongoing standard. They have to ensure that your investments are hitting certain targets on a regular basis.

Choosing the Right Financial Advisor

When selecting a financial advisor, asking the right questions is important. Inquiring about their fiduciary status, how they make money, their approach to financial planning, and any potential conflicts of interest can provide clarity on their suitability for your financial needs. Additionally, verifying certifications such as CFP credentials or checking registration with regulatory bodies like the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) can offer further reassurance.

Cost Considerations

Financial advisory services can come with various fee structures, including hourly rates, flat fees, or a percentage of assets under management (AUM).

By asking the right questions and verifying credentials, you can ensure that your chosen advisor aligns with your financial goals and values, providing peace of mind in your financial journey.

Learn about our work philosophy and how we make money.

Which Side of the Check? Life Lesson 37 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Which Side of the Check Do You Want to Sign?

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

which side of the check

Photo by Brooke Lark

I recently met with a successful doctor who runs her own dental practice. Married with kids and managing a team of employees, we were discussing treatment options when I asked a simple question: “Which side of the check do you want to sign?”

She laughed and replied, “I wish someone would have had that conversation with me years ago.”

For most people, this question never even crosses their minds. They’re accustomed to endorsing the back of their checks, enjoying the regular bi-weekly deposits. But for business owners, signing the front means embracing heightened financial responsibility.

Being a business owner requires a certain mindset. While being your own boss has its perks, it’s far from easy:

  • It’s hard work.
  • You don’t always get paid.
  • The time commitment is massive.
  • It’s a big financial risk.

Not everyone is cut out to be a business owner.

There’s just no guarantee that you’ll be able to generate the necessary revenue to pay back the debt you’ve taken out, and that doesn’t sit well with everyone.

Personally, I’d rather just sign the back of the check and have the cash—but that’s just me. Not everyone is cut out to be a business owner like my doctor friend. Which type of person are you?

Before venturing into business ownership, assess your strengths, weaknesses, and comfort with risk and debt. Then, ask yourself: Which side of the check do I really want to sign?

Debt Sucks: Life Lesson 20 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Debt Sucks

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

debt sucks

I have several beliefs, but two are indisputable: it takes a long time to earn money, and it’s remarkably easy to spend it as freely as water flowing from a faucet. I like to call this “financial leakage.” Many people struggle with financial leakage, and for some, the situation spirals out of control.

Frankly, debt sucks. Debt makes us slaves to our lenders. Debt limits our future lifestyle and choices. But let me be clear: there are two kinds of debt—good debt and bad debt—and it’s bad debt we need to stop.

What are some ways to accumulate bad debt? Credit cards, buying that big dream home, paying for a college degree in a field with no promise of employment, expensive cars or boats… the list goes on.

Good debt, however, involves investing in a business with positive cash flow or pursuing a degree that enhances employability and allows for prompt loan repayment within 5 years (not 20 or 30). There are instances where upfront investment can yield far greater returns in the future.

Debt sucks, but luckily, one of the most effective ways to avoid it is also one of the easiest: take a breather before making any significant moves.

Pause for a week or two to consider before you make a life-changing decision to take on debt. Give yourself the opportunity to reconsider that major vacation or spontaneous change with a clearer perspective gained from taking the time to think it over.