Paying for college – Why do we think others should pay for it? Life Lesson 14 of 50.

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Paying for college – Why do we think others should pay for it?

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

It’s a real worry parents have today and not surprising because college can cost upwards of $100,000 or more. Paying for college has become very worrisome and we’ve created a system that encourages you to want others to help pay for some or all of your child’s education.

It’s a natural question to ask where a high school graduate is going to college? And if the response is anything but a four-year degree, it seems like we look down on them. Not every kid is college bound or right for a four-year program. And that is Ok.

There are so many high paying jobs were a technical school provides the skills necessary. From an auto mechanic, HVAC, LPN, RN, plumber, lineman, etc. I know because I hire many of these people because I have no idea how to perform these tasks myself.

College tuition has gotten out of control and I suspect will never change in our society. Here are a few ways to help you plan for paying for college.

1. Start setting money aside the day children are born
2. Start at two year program if needed and then transfer to a four year program.
3. Look at options at technical colleges.
4. Don’t go to college. My most financially successful clients do not have formal educations and instead pursued their passions and worked hard.
5. Find an employer who offers tuition reimbursement or on the job training.

Kids have more options than ever before. If your child’s education is a top priority, you might need to redirect your financial priorities to saving for their education.

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The real fear of starting a business? Life Lesson 3 of 50.

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

The real fear of starting a business?

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

For many of you, you made the leap of starting your own business and would never go back to work for someone else. Many might say you might be unemployable at this point. Others of you have an idea, passion, or seek to be fulfilled in another way, and you know becoming a business owners would do that. But yet, one major item holds most people from starting their own business and it simple…It’s the lack of a paycheck.

It’s hard for many to start their own business because of the that need, or desire, for a reliable paycheck. That’s the biggest roadblock for most people who want to be entrepreneur – money. Even with the best business plans and hard work, 50 percent of businesses don’t make it five years. The odds are not in your favor.

I’ve been self-employed for 18 years and it wasn’t always an easy road. Even today, it’s not easy, but the challenges can be easier to overcome. Maybe that’s because of experience, on the job training, my ability to handle stress or that my perspective on life and business have evolved.

If starting a business was easy, everyone one would do it. However, it requires a level of personal and professional commitment like nothing else. Sacrifices will happen including time with your family, friends and your money. If you are looking to start a business, let’s talk on creating a plan that allows you to fulfill your dreams, passions and hopefully make a living at.

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Enhancing Your Wealth One Step at a time

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Enhancing Your Wealth One Step at a time

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

It’s time to start enhancing your wealth one step at a time. But how do you accomplish this? Break it down and take it slowly. This doesn’t happen in one day.

Start with small decisions that build up over time to create a big impact. Take a step back and look at your life. How do you feel about money? Do you feel secure, confident, and covered? Feeling worried, get upset and feel insecure about money? Avoiding the topic altogether? Assessing your relationship with money is important before you start to take these steps.

Once you understand where you are coming from, it will be easier to begin to shift your thinking. Money is just a means to be able to do the things that you enjoy. If you aren’t enjoying your life, no amount of money is going to change that.

1. Determine your values. What is it that sets you on fire and gets you up in the morning? What do you look forward to at the end of the day or the end of the week? Things that truly bring you joy and happiness in this world? Maybe when you think about all of this you realize that the best things in life are free for you. In that case, wonderful. However, the fact of the matter is that life costs money. Even just spending time with those you love usually involves a meal, a destination, or some type of entertainment.

2. Cut out the unnecessary stuff. Do you have a junk drawer at home? The one with miscellaneous pens, rubber bands, and free giveaways? Why is it that we hang onto so much that has no value? We live in a culture that loves stuff. Somehow stuff became a sign that someone has ‘made it’ when they have a bigger house, more toys, and a flashier lifestyle. But what in your life could you do without? Most of it!

3. Reframe your thoughts. When you think about saving vs. spending, shift your mindset. Would you rather get an expensive coffee drink with a flavor shot and whipped cream on top every day of the week or retire to a house on the water where nobody knows your name? Life is full of trade-offs, and unless we begin to think of the future as something to consider in this moment, we will never have what we think we need down the road.

4. Finally, discuss with others. Yes, it’s taboo to talk about personal topics. But get a feel for what other people make, spend, and save. Determine whether you’d like to make your money go further for you now or in the future. Talk to trusted advisors, friends, and people who are willing to engage in conversation. Especially if you’re struggling financially, talk about it.

In short, I am simplifying your life and saving your time by taking care of this end of the deal. You can focus on your kids’ sporting events, family birthdays, and work deadlines while I worry about your money. Know that it is in good hands.

One common thread that you and I have is 24 hours in a day. If you don’t protect your calendar, before you know it, you are no longer in charge of your schedule. We need to protect one our most important resources – time.

I’ve become guarded of my schedule over the years, so I don’t feel overwhelmed with the day to day expectations of my family and clients. I know I live by a calendar, I have to in order to keep it all straight each day. It’s even typical for my wife and I to compare our schedules to meet the demands of our family. Yet, that’s usually while we are in bed, with computers in each of our laps. Do you have a favorite calendar resource you use to track and schedule your meetings? Do you make a checklist on there too?

The bottom line is that neither you nor I can meet with everyone. I wish I could, I truly enjoy hearing each person’s stories. However, we need to protect our time and our calendar to focus on the items that are most important to us in helping us reaching our goals – personally and professionally.

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Dream Board Session

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Dream Board Session

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Have you heard? We are hosting a dream board session on July 28! Learn more by going to this facebook event page. We decided to hold this event because dream boards have become very important in our own lives. We use this boards, which sit right next to our desks, as daily reminders of the ideas, goals, dreams, plans, and visions we have for ourselves and our futures. By having these within sight every single day, we become much more motivated to do something about those dreams. Another piece of it is that these dreams cannot be accomplished alone. There is power in community and in sharing with others. For these reasons, we have created this session that will allow you to do the same for yourself and even sign up if you’re interested in follow-up.

OR watch the video below

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How Much to Spend on a Wedding Gift

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

How Much to Spend on a Wedding Gift

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Here are 5 tips to make your 2018 tax season better than 2017

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Here are 5 tips to take your 2018 tax season better than 2017

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

It’s tax season and Uncle Sam comes collecting taxes; again.

With Trump tax cuts in effect for 2018, know the key areas that impact you.

– Many of us will see some form of income tax deduction as the rates have decreased. That’s good news. With the increase in personal exemptions to $12,000 for individual and $24,000 for married taxpayers, you may not need to file an itemized tax return.

$10,000 Federal deduction limit for high-income tax states.

– We now have a cap of $10,000 federal tax deduction for state and local taxes. This has an adverse impact on higher wage earners. This provision makes living in an income free tax-free state very appealing. For those of us living in Minnesota or Wisconsin, not so much.

For those still working – fund Roth 401k and/or Roth IRA accounts.

– Pay now or pay later. It’s just that simple. If you’ve been told you cannot contribute to a Roth account, you’ve been told wrong. There are various rules on how to fund these accounts, but you’ll appreciate that tax-free income when you retire.

Keep great records – it’s easy to forget and miss deductions.

– Use technology to track your records and numbers. Keep detailed records and receipts so you don’t have to work too hard early in the New Year.

Schedule a tax-planning meeting with your CPA over the summer months.

– CPA’s want to have tax planning meetings with their clients. They want to have these meetings mid-year to allow for time to make adjustments and make necessary changes as needed

Let’s work on just paying our fair share today and tomorrow. Taking the time now can help you to make strategic money decisions and hopefully keep more money in your checkbook vs. Uncle Sam’s. If you need to add a CPA with a business acumen to your team, I’d be happy to make an introduction.

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