Shit Happens: Life Lesson 42 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Shit Happens

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

No matter how prepared we think we are, life always seems to have a trick up its sleeve. We can protect ourselves with all the insurance, savings, and safety nets we can afford, but the potential for unexpected life events and challenges to derail our carefully laid plans is always present.

Life constantly brings us new surprises, many involving loss: the loss of a job, a loved one, money, car keys, passport, cabin or air pressure—the list goes on.

We can’t prepare for every possible contingency, but there are some basic steps we can take to keep from going under at the first hint of trouble.

Build a safety net

Your landlord hikes the rent. Your insurance didn’t cover as much of that hospital bill as you expected. Your daughter is making her surprise debut as a new mom. Lots of people think they’re prepared for potential life changes…right up until things change. That’s the wrong time to realize your preparations are inadequate.

If you don’t have an emergency fund, make today the day you start one. Find one lifestyle change you can make to free up some cash; if you’re having difficulty carving out the extra expense, ask your bank to automatically round up every purchase and siphon the change into a new account. Every little bit helps.

Respect the contingency plan

You can’t predict everything, but you can take steps to make yourself more resilient in the face of unexpected obstacles. Nobody likes paying for things they don’t need, but health and life insurance are some of the most important ways to protect your financial future and those of the people you love.

We live in a country where a single accident or unexpected medical event can send a family into financial ruin. It’s easy to believe we’re immune to these shifting sands until our own lives are swept away by them. If the worst happens to you, those pesky or even painful monthly premiums you’ve been paying suddenly won’t feel so cumbersome.

Don’t stress what you can’t control

After all the preparation and planning, there comes a point where we just have to let go and roll with the punches. (If we don’t, we’ll never leave the house!)

Life will change, sometimes in ways you expect, frequently in ways you don’t. If you expect the unexpected, do what you can to prepare, and trust in your own financial and emotional resilience, you’ll be able to manage any hand life deals you along the way.

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2 + 7 =

Your Money or Your Life? – Life Lesson 41 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Your Money or Your Life?

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Society tells us that accumulating money is what life is all about, but you and I know that isn’t the whole story. We’re all trying to survive, but making a living isn’t just about accumulating as much money as possible—it’s about living. When it comes to the guiding force in your life, you have just one choice to make: Will you choose money or your life?

It may sound odd to hear this from a financial planner—someone who makes his living by helping others manage their wealth—but it’s the truth. In my experience, more money tends to lead to more stuff, and more stuff leads to more stress.

As the Notorious B.I.G. once observed: “Mo’ money, mo’ problems.”

It’s not like this is the first time we’ve heard this, though I know I still need to be reminded of it myself at times. We’ve all been told to buck this materialistic trend. That long-term happiness isn’t about stuff; it’s about the people we surround ourselves with, the connections we form, and the difference we make in the world.

No one’s asking you to choose a life without money. I’m simply asking you to choose life.

Work on building a fulfilling life, one with more focus on family and friends, God, and meaningful experiences…and less focus on having the right material stuff to impress others.
After all, you can’t take your stuff with you when you go, but you can make a lasting impact while you’re here.

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Personal and Professional Development: Life Lesson of 39 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Personal and Professional Development

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Photo by Headway

It seems like in today’s world, most individuals reach a point in their career and just…settle in. There’s nothing wrong with that; the world is changing, and so are many things in our daily lives. With so much to demand our attention, it’s easy for personal and professional development to take a back seat.

But no matter who you are or what you do for a living, it’s important to spend time each month—ideally throughout the year—exercising your mind, developing new skills, and keeping abreast of the industry trends and best practices. All of this will benefit you personally, and it will add value back to your business or your employer.

If you want to earn more money, you’ll need to learn new things.

And the best part is, working on your personal and professional development doesn’t have to become a financial burden. There are many free and low-cost ways to keep growing:

  • Read books
  • Take online courses
  • Read trade magazines
  • Subscribe to blogs and social media accounts of industry leaders
  • Talk with your competitors about their best practices

This last point is an often-overlooked but crucial step in your continuing personal and professional development. You can learn so much from other people—especially competitors—and talking shop with others in your industry is an important opportunity to see things from a different perspective.

Brown and ripe or green and growing—it’s your choice!

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Living Off Your Investments: The Transition to Mailbox Money: Life Lesson 28 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Living Off Your Investments: The Transition to Mailbox Money

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Photo by Thomas Ashlock

Transitioning to living off mailbox money (living off your investments for the rest of your life) is an attractive idea, but retiring is not as simple as having enough money saved up and walking away. People on the verge of retirement are often afraid of moving away from the comfort of a paycheck every two weeks and living entirely off a set income.

It sounds easy in theory—after all, if you’ve been doing your financial planning homework, you know exactly how much money you need to retire. But even so, living off your investments can be a scary proposition. When it comes time to make the leap, feeling overwhelmed and uncertain is an understandable reaction. It’s true: living on a fixed income has its challenges. What’s more, when you make that transition, there is usually no going back. You have to get it right the first time.
That said, even the scariest of situations can be made a lot less daunting if we’re ready for them.
Here are a few ways you can prepare for the transition to living off your mailbox money:

  • Have your home paid off. Living off your mailbox money is a lot less scary when you don’t have a mortgage.
  • Practice your retirement budget. Stick to a retirement-income budget plan for six to twelve months. Can you actually live on what you think you can?
  • Practice a modified work schedule. Try taking more time away from work to get used to the idea of not working five days a week.
  • Retire in stages. Work on decreasing your hours in the office and your income from work over a year.

If you put in the steps to prepare for the transition, you’ll have the confidence to make the leap and start living off your investments full time.

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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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