Tracking Your Financial Leakage

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Tracking Your Financial Leakage

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

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

2 + 7 =

2018 New Year Resolutions

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

2018 New Year Resolutions

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

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

5 + 5 =

Living an Impactful Life is Important

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Living an impactful life

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

impactful life

It’s something I ask myself every day. How can I have an impactful life? Am I living an impactful life? What is an impactful life? What is life all about? Am I living up to my expectations or God’s expectations?

As I write this, we are in the trenches of the holiday season. I see the spirit of the season in things like Toys For Tots, Salvation Army, Sharing and Caring Hands, and the list goes on. Not to mention all the store ads in the paper, online, or endless emails. Plus, all the goodies and treats along the way.

Every day I have the opportunity to help so many reach their personal and professional goals. It’s pretty darn cool when I play a role in someone reaching their goals no matter how big or small they area. I enjoy helping others and solving problems. Looking 5 to 10 steps ahead of them to see what roadblocks I can help remove, predict or modify.

As I get older, I have come to understand that aging does have its privileges and downfalls.

I wish I knew what I knew today 20 years ago. I probably would have done dozens of things differently. Others probably find themselves feeling the same way. I don’t view this as a negative, rather this has helped me continually look for ways I can improve or add value to others I encounter.

There is so much more to life than “stuff.” For many, you reach a certain age and seek the find the meaning of your life and may even experience an emptiness.

Here are three ways to have an impactful life.

Give your time

Volunteering in an area you are passionate about is powerful and is often more impactful than any amount of money. There are so many people and organizations and the needs are immense. Volunteering is a great way to connect with others in your community or around the world. I hear about so many mission trips to third world countries and impacts they make by helping to build a school, a house, or even digging a well. Often, we feel like we’re too busy to volunteer but there are so many ways we can contribute our resources.

Give your resources

So many people I know are generous with their resources. They tithe to the church, give money to non-profits, or lend that helping hand to someone in need. Some are generous in charity because of a personal experience and they know their money will be impactful in so many other lives.

Give your heart and experience

I remember when I was growing up (some say I haven’t) that I thought that my parents didn’t know anything. What kid thinks their parents know all the answers? As a parent, I’ve experienced this too. In retrospect, my parents knew better (most of the time). Now as a parent myself, I know better 100% of the time, or that’s what I think. However, I don’t believe my kids feel or think that way.

I know I can be impactful with so many people and I know you can too. Listen, share your life experiences, your expertise and the list goes on. There are going to be people in our community that need help. Volunteer with an organization that you have a passion for. If you would like help in discovering your passion for an organization that can benefit from your involvement, let’s talk.

For years, I’ve volunteered my time, resources and expertise. It’s just darn cool all the ways I have the privilege of trying to be impactful in my community.

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

14 + 1 =

Women can never have enough shoes

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

 

Women can never have enough shoes

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

When was the last time you checked out someone’s shoes? What can someone’s shoes tell you? Is she fashionable, sensible, outgoing or fun? And for some, it might be a status symbol. So is it true women can never have enough shoes? Let’s talk women’s shoes.

I did some online research to determine how many shoes women should own.

According to fashion.allwomentalk.com, seven types are needed – classic pumps, ballet flats, riding boots, summer wedges, sandals, statement pair (a snazzy red fits that bill in my opinion) and Oxfords. I couldn’t tell you why, but sneakers were not on the list. Sneakers are common sense in my humble option, so I’d them to the list and also include hiking boots. So now I’m up to nine women’s shoes.

Looking at a few different surveys online, it seems around 20 pairs of shoes is the norm for women to own with some women owning over 300. So if you are going to invest a considerable amount of money into shoes, two factors must be factored – fit and cost.

Anytime is the right time for new shoes, right?

Not if you don’t want to pay full-price and I suspect most people don’t want to. So when do you purchase?
• Sandals – Buy in March. Seems crazy, but that’s what I’ve found.
• Designer boots – Buy these at the end of seasons. Really you are preplanning for next year. Now that’s smart.
• Sneakers – Buy these in November and January.

Any shoe in general is best purchased in May, with the end of Spring and the thought of going back to school in the Fall.

Shoe retailer DSW mails coupons to my home for 20 percent off, however with the markup on these days, 20 percent is still like paying full price. Don’t be afraid to shop the clearance racks and even ask for a greater discount. You’d be surprised sometimes they’ll give you a discount, you just have to ask.

Just the other day I asked the cashier for a coupon and he gave me 30 percent off. I went back the next day purchased the same item with a different cashier, rang up full price, asked again, and got a 25 percent discount. Either way, I’m money ahead just by asking. By the way, you can ask even when purchasing items online depending upon the retailer. Although you are probably out of luck with Amazon.

Price is important but when it comes to shoes, size and fit matter more. Between standing and walking, day in and day out, it’s natural that our feet will swell. Even the time of day you try shoes on will impact the fit and feel. Probably the best time to confirm the fit of your new shoes is early in the morning.

Just because a shoe is “expensive” doesn’t mean it will offer you the proper fit and feel.

I suspect arch support is most important factor and most shoes do not offer such support. When looking at women’s shoes, sometimes there isn’t much to them. You know Payless Shoe’s slogan is “You Could Pay More But Why?” This is why. Fit should be primary over fashion. This will save you a ton of money from purchasing shoes you’ll never wear.

When was the last time you met with someone who knows how to properly fit shoes? Here are two resources on how to purchase shoes.

Norstrom’s website to help us how to fit and care for our shoes:

• Schuler Shoes has free foot evaluations by board-certificate podiatrists. I’ve done this and it’s worth it to get the right fit.

Feet, they do help in our day-to-day lives. Yet, we probably take them for granted. Shoes are an investment. So why not buy them right the first time so you have the best twenty for fit, fashion and price.

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

4 + 6 =

Business Owners – The other number you need to focus on!

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Business Owners – The other number you need to focus on!

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

$100, $500 or $1,000 or more, per month per employee?

It’s a great question.

As a business owner, how much per month do you personally save per employee into your own retirement/savings accounts?

Let’s say you own a successful law firm, maybe your number should be $1,000 per month. Or if you own a smaller company your number should be $250 per month. Now start multiplying that and it becomes a really big number because it should be!

One of the best ways to build wealth is having other people work for you which you’ve known for years as a business owner. EBITDA is important, yet I want our clients to seek TWO meaningful buckets of money when they sell their company. You have to ask yourself this… What problems would it create for you to save an extra $500,000, $1 million or $2 million before you retire? BTW, that doesn’t include the value of your business. You already know the typical response I receive… i.e. “It wouldn’t create a problem.” So why aren’t more business owners doing this? The biggest reason is that they aren’t working with me.

Seriously, I find business owners are not always focused on diversifying outside of their business. Sure, your greatest ROI should be your business and if it’s not, it’s time to sell. Yet once we have an in-depth conversation about goals, business owners see the possibilities of two buckets: a personal financial bucket and a business owner bucket. These options my business owner clients the possibility for the most flexibility when it comes time to transition.

A business owner has no idea what their business will ultimately sell for, correct?

You may have an idea, but we really have no concrete numbers to count on until someone writes that check out and it clears the bank! EBITDA, taxes, technology, markets and competition all change and it is truly out of our control. So I come back to my philosophy for business owners – build two buckets of money so you have more options and flexibility down the road.

Also, sign up for our eNewsletter blog that includes timely financial matters, news, and planning strategies that you can implement today.

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

4 + 7 =

The moment your dreams change when it comes to your children

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

The moment your dreams change when it comes to your children

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Today I’m sitting in the pediatric section at HealthEast’s Woodwinds Clinic. There are so many newborn babies with their moms…so much hope for their future…so many dreams and expectations for what the future holds for them. Whether its being a ballerina or Eagle Scout, playing little league baseball or becoming the next gold medal Olympic gymnast – every parent has dreams for their children. You know exactly what I’m describing. You’ve had the same dreams and visions as I’ve had with my children.

Sometimes life throws us curveballs and it’s nothing we have envisioned.

So now what? What does this mean for you and your family? What does this mean for your financial plan? As one of my clients described it, it’s like you go through a grieving process on the vision laid out for your children and family and have to get to a point and accept that it isn’t going to happen that way before moving on.

Things happen to all of us. In my house we call it gum drops and lollipops. However, sometimes things hit way too close to home. Not everything is simple when it comes to our lives.

Being prepared emotionally is critical although I’m not best person to talk about that.

These topics create fear and uncertainty and most of us are embarrassed to discuss these with those around us. We worry about what others think or what they’ll say. I’d suggest so many others are walking in your shoes right know and you don’t even know it.

We need to stop being afraid of what others think…that’s the same advice I give my kids. True friends are not going to judge you, rather they’d try to help you or just listen. As parents we need to be prepared for side-steps we may need to take. Sometimes it can throw a wrench into your financial planning no matter how well you’ve planned.

Being prepared for what the future holds isn’t always easy.

What happens if your child requires continual care, isn’t able to be gainfully employed due to a disability, has a major illness, etc. Sometimes instead of planning retirement for one or two people, you may need to plan for three or more. Wow, as I write this, I can feel the overwhelming feelings others I meet with must feel. Yet, when it comes to your family and financial planning, it’s not possible to address every issue you could face. Without having critical conversations about what your future holds, you carry unnecessary burdens and financial stress.

The combination of all this isn’t easy for parents to handle on their own. Have a team who can help. This could include a health care professionals, estate attorney, financial advisor, lawyer who specializes in Medicare and Medicaid planning, family and friends. If you are facing a personal situation you’d like someone to lend an ear to, please let me know.

Also, sign up for our eNewsletter blog that includes timely financial matters, news, and planning strategies that you can implement today.

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

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