Cash is King. Life Lesson 19 of 50.

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Cash is King

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

You might find my statement hard to believe, but take that extra moment or two to let it sink in. Cash is genuinely misunderstood in our world today and how it fits into one’s own financial plan. This is why I think too many people have too little cash.

Take for example the recent government shutdown. Each newscast showed people who couldn’t pay for groceries, rent, mortgage or their insulin. his is a great example of people living paycheck to paycheck. I suspect for most people, it’s easy to remember when that described a period in our lives.

Yet, the statistics I read today are amazain – 60% of Americans are living paycheck to paycheck. Many are only one paycheck from losing their homes. In our world today, we are so focused on “stuff” to bring us happiness. One of my client’s recently pointed out that it’s not until you turn 50 years old that you realize you don’t need all this stuff. We are spending our way into working longer when we have to.

Having cash isn’t a problem nor does it create a problem. If you had $100,000 or $250,000 just in your saving account today, what problems does that truly create? The answer is none!

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2019 Is a Major Milestone

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

2019 Is a Major Milestone

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

It’s often I reflect back and wonder how time flies so fast. When I think of 20 years ago, I think of 1980 not 1999. Is it really possible I have a 28 year old child? Yes, it is. That’s a story for another time!

The calendar just turned to 2019 and I’m not really prepared for what 2019 will bring or mean in my life. Milestones happen through our lives and then there are major milestones. In 2019, I’ll experience a few of these major milestones.

The one major milestone on the horizon is I’ll be turning 50 years old. For many of you, you see me as a youthful, pudgy baby face that once had blonde hair that is now much grayer. I recall one day my mom was pointed out shockingly how gray my hair was becoming. Thanks mom! But she wasn’t wrong. I’m getting grayer. But with age comes wisdom.

One of the privileges I have is learning through so many other people. I hear so many life stories through my daily work that I look for ways to incorporate those into my life and others I interact with. In honor of turning 50 this year, I’ll be sharing 50 life lessons I’ve learned throughout my life.

These life lessons have come from my parents, God, family, clients and friends. Each month you’ll find 3 or 4 new posts sharing a host of life lessons regarding life, work, family and money. Some I’ve executed well and there are areas where I could improve upon. I see these “50 Life Lessons” as a work in progress and want to make sure my two kids learn from them. I know I didn’t always want to hear the wisdom others we passing along when I was younger, but today I had wished I had listened.

As a side note, follow the St. Croix Advisors Facebook page and you’ll find daily updates (Monday-Friday) on what’s happening financially, timely topics and other relevant topics. Even I’ve been surprised at how good these topics are. Check it out.

I’m looking forward to our conversations in 2019. So many exciting things are happening in so many of our clients lives – retirement, grandkids, travel, planning for retirement and the list goes on. I know 2019 will have challenges but I’m going to try hard to focus on the all the positives life brings our way.

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Fables of a Passbook and Financial Literacy

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Fables of a Passbook and Financial Literacy

BY Bill Rubin, St. Croix Economic Development Corporation, Executive Director

Somewhere in a storage box marked ‘Personal Stuff” sits a palm-sized leather document containing handwritten entries from a savings account closed decades ago. For the younger generation, the non-cell phone object is referred to as a passbook savings book. Doubters can look it up, or they can ask an old person (grandparent) or a really old person (great grandparent). It seems the younger generation cannot imagine bank transactions without the assistance of a cell phone or iPad.

According to this fable, there was a time when bank transactions were done in person with a teller counting the coins and currency before making an entry in the passbook. For good measure the teller may have initialed the transaction in the book. The same teller may have greeted the account holder by name, “Hello Mike, or Robbie, or Chip (footnote: see the 1960s sitcom, ‘My Three Sons’) or Theodore” (footnote: see the ‘Leave it to Beaver’ sitcom). The times were a bit slower back then.

As the world moved toward automation, passbooks gave way to monthly statements sent by U.S. Mail. Alas, the paper statements yielded to electronic, online summaries. However, with the old passbooks, a nuisance involving an overdraft fee was avoided. If you didn’t have the funds, you couldn’t make a purchase. Or, as was overheard in a check-out line at a big box retailer last December, “How come my debit card quit working?” Slow down there, young consumer, the ink in your account just went from black to red.

Fables are supposed to have a moral. The moral here involves financial literacy in Wisconsin. In late November 2017, Assembly Bill 280 was signed into law as Act 94. It directed Wisconsin school districts to develop academic standards toward financial literacy including the classroom instruction of financial literacy in grades K-12. The end game is greater financial literacy for the younger generation.

The morals keep getting better. For 75+ years a nonprofit organization called Junior Achievement of Wisconsin (J.A.) has been in classrooms teaching financial literacy and fundamentals of entrepreneurship. J.A. is led by volunteers – moms, dads, retirees, bankers, and business people. School districts in the St. Croix Valley may be aligned with Junior Achievement of the Upper Midwest, based in St. Paul, MN. Regardless of J.A.’s organizational venue, that younger generation eventually grows up to manage their own finances. We hope.

Another moral. Thanks to a great member-partner, St. Croix EDC was able to grant $1,000 to each of the public school districts in St. Croix County last year, earmarked for financial literacy curriculum. Another grant went to J.A. Upper Midwest to jumpstart their instructional lessons in the St. Croix Central district. Modest as those grants were, the EDC envisions long-term benefits for the next set of entrepreneurs and resident consumers in the county.

Here’s to a long-forgotten passbook and Financial Literacy 101.

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Financial Simplicity – becoming empty nesters

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Financial Simplicity – becoming empty nesters

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Sometimes even the shoemaker needs new shoes.

With my kids getting older and one living in Texas, our life continues to change as the kids get older. One thing I’ve noticed as the kids get older, so do I. Aging is a privilege but I’m not a fan of getting old and at times I think I’m in my late 20’s (you can stop laughing!). Even I want financial simplicity for my family and myself. As we are planning for our life without kids (full-time) it causes us to evaluate what we want to achieve, what type of lifestyle we seek and the decisions we need to make around that.

Selling and moving from our family home.

I suspect for most parents this so much more emotional when you sell your family home. Probably many more happy memories with the birth of your children, birthdays, Christmas, first day of school and finally graduating from high school. I don’t think I’m different from anyone of my clients, you no longer need that bigger home and its time. However, I just can’t believe how much “stuff” you can accumulate over the years. This is a great time to simplify how much “stuff” we truly need and most importantly use. I suspect I use 15% of my stuff 80% of the time. I’ll be having a moving sale to offload stuff at great prices.

More free time for yourself and your spouse.

New or revisiting hobbies. Getting used to spending time and reengaging with your spouse. For many couples I meet with, this is probably the scariest thought of their retirement years. Can we actually spend time together? Can we spend time together without the kids let alone not talking about them? Will we be able to bring back the magic we once had when we first dated? After 30 years with kids and now without kids, are we going to be compatible?

I’m a big believer in creating a dream board. A visual display of things you’d like to accomplish together and/or separately. Maybe it’s travel, spending time with family, learning new stuff, taking a college class, or being impactful in your community. The ideas are endless. Sometimes your dream board might a big idea and you wonder how you will accomplish it. That’s half the fun of a dream board.

We can simplify our life no matter what stage we are in and it becomes especially easier when we become empty nesters. Investing a little time in thinking, dreaming and focusing, allows us to even enjoy our lives more.

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Why limit ourselves to only 52 Saturdays a year?

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Why limit ourselves to only 52 Saturday’s a year

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

First of all, I enjoy my profession, but I can’t wait to enjoy 365 Saturdays a year. To me, Saturdays represent freedom. Freedom to pick and choose what I want to do, not what I have to do to pay the bills. By now, we’ve worked for 30, 40 or 50 years. Nowadays, our work is our identity. We work hard and that’s who we are. For many, one major worry is that they’ll be bored in their retirement years.

For the majority, our conversation around retirement planning includes how to be relevant and impactful in your retirement years. All this time, we’ve been so focused for 260 days a year on working and now we’re preparing for the next stage in life that for many doesn’t include working. For most retirees, that’s a big change.

Honestly, my retired clients tell me they are busier in their retirement years vs. when they were working for themselves or “the man”. Soon, they wonder how they got anything done while they were working. Now, many volunteer, have hobbies, spending time with grandkids, travel, and the list goes on.

For some, their hobby is their work. In fact, I might fall into that group. Don’t judge me, I’m just being honest. When you own a business, it’s a way of life. 365 days a year and you (or at least I haven’t been able to) can’t turn it off – even on Saturdays. Actually, I think that’s why so many business owners postpone their retirement. Usually, it’s not about the money, but rather how to be relevant. Further, what am I going to do in my retirement years so I don’t drive my spouse nuts?

Many of you reading this have an option to stay relevant in your retirement years and start a “trial” retirement. Eventually, you may start working four days a week and not check your email on Saturdays. At first, this might be a great strategy. Next year, scale back to three days a week for that second year. Lately, I’ve received pushback about this because people don’t believe their employers will go for it. First off, if you are a good employee, an asset to the company, they need you. Secondly, this concept is mutually beneficial for both. Because you stay engaged, they retain a seasoned employee to help the company reach its goals. All in all, it’s a win/win for both.

Enjoying more Saturdays now is powerful. Trust me, it’s powerful to spend time engaged outside of work. Travel, volunteer, spend time with the grandkids while you can. Starting today, pursue the passions you’ve postponed all these years because you and I had the pursuit of money to pay our bills and feed our families. Seriously, do it while you can. Do it while you’re able to move, walk, remember and share. In time, you won’t have those opportunities.

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10 + 5 =

3 Key Steps for women to manage your money and investments after a divorce

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

3 Key Steps for women to manage your money and investments after a divorce

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

One major reality for many women who have experienced a divorced is learning to manage their money and investments. It seems for many couples I meet with, one spouse takes the lead on paying the bills, making investments and financial retirement decisions. Before you finalize your divorce or even if your divorce is finalized, here are three key steps to take

Understand your new financial realities.
  • Day to day. Do you have enough money to pay the day to day bills? Are you still able to save for retirement? Maybe you have to contend with the B word – BUDGET. That might be something you’ve never had to worry about. Or did you receive enough from your divorce settlement that you don’t have to worry about making money, but rather how to manage it, so it doesn’t go away, and you can live off the interest your investment/retirement accounts earn? 99% of us no matter how much money we have, need to budget to make our money last.
What does this mean for your long-term future?
  • For some, you may have to work longer then you planned or expected. Might not sound so ideal today, but with proper financial planning, you can still pursue goals you had prior to your divorce. Understand the long-term decisions you’ll need to make today so that you can have the lifestyle and retirement you seek as that is even more important today as the CEO of your new household.
It’s ok to admit you might need help when it comes to your money.
  • Asking for help is powerful. It places you in the driver seat. For many, managing money is new to them. They’ve relied upon their former spouse when it came to budgeting, investments, taxes and the list goes on. For many clients after a divorce, they don’t want to handle let alone think about money. They want help in making financial decisions and help with their investments, so they don’t screw it up.

Remember, you’ve got this and the confidence to make key financial decisions to help reach your financial goals. If you seek a Certified Financial Planner, find one that works with divorcees. They’ll better understand your personal situation, the challenges, and opportunities that are waiting for you.

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