Pursuing Your Passions: Life Lesson 29 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Pursuing Your Passions

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Photo by Kal Visuals

If you’ve postponed pursuing your passions for the pursuit of money, don’t worry: there’s no shame in this, and you’re not alone. Over the years, I’ve found myself doing the same thing — but I’ve come to believe there’s a more fulfilling way to live.

There might have been something you enjoyed or loved doing when you were younger, but society, parents, or others in your life said you couldn’t make a living doing it. Their negativity ended up deterring you from pursuing your passions, and now you—and, sadly, many others—are just too tired from the daily grind to have the energy to spare for those passions. As a result, many people postpone the things they want the most until that magical future date called “retirement.”
 
Well, you know what? Retirement is, for many of you, in the future. This is now. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t make a living with your passions. People do it all the time! If you’ve got a calling, don’t let anyone tell you that you don’t deserve to go for it. Money is great, and it’s important to plan for your retirement, but life is too short to spend it waiting for the future. Time is a precious gift, and it’s your responsibility to spend yours pursuing your passions so you can live a fulfilling life.

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Dumb Ways We Spend Money: Life Lesson 21 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Dumb Ways We Spend Money

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Have you ever thought about some of the dumb ways we spend money?

At the risk of embarrassing myself, here are a few of mine:

  • Cable TV (even though nothing good is ever on)
  • Cell phone plan (even though I hate always being connected)
  • Bottled water (even though I finally purchased a reverse-osmosis system for my house)
  • The occasional impulse buy when I see something on sale (even though I don’t need it)

The list goes on!

One overlooked (but still dumb) way we spend money is all those monthly recurring payments. They can accumulate quickly, almost without our notice, but the individual charges are small enough where we’re never actually triggered to cancel them.

Microsoft: $10. Dropbox: $10. Netflix: $10. Gym membership: $40.00 (“but I’ll go someday, so I’d better keep paying”). It’s not the mortgage or car payment that gets us; it’s these nickel-and-dime amounts that really start to add up.

Maybe it’s time to tally up all the dumb ways we spend money and consider dropping a few unused or unnecessary subscriptions from our monthly expenses. After all, when it comes to making smart financial decisions for our future, every little bit helps.

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Debt Sucks: Life Lesson 20 of 50

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Debt Sucks

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

I have several beliefs, but two just can’t be disputed: it takes a long time to earn money, and it’s easy to spend it like water flowing out of a faucet. I like to call this “financial leakage.” Many people are affected by financial leakage; for some, the situation is 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, on the other hand, is investing in a business that’s cash flow positive, or a degree that can help you become employed, actually make a living, and pay off your loan within 5 years (not 20 or 30).

Debt sucks, but luckily, one of the most effective ways to avoid it is also one of the easiest: Take a breather before doing anything drastic. Pause for a week or two to consider before you make a life-changing decision to take on debt. Give yourself a chance to see that big-ticket vacation or spur-of-the-moment change in a clearer light by taking the time you need to think it over.

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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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15 + 7 =

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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