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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Can my portfolio support my lifestyle in my retirement? 

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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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Can my portfolio support my lifestyle in my retirement? 

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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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Can my portfolio support my lifestyle in my retirement? 

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Women: Three ways to recover financially from a divorce

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Women: Three ways to recover financially from a divorce

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

These days, it’s not surprising when I receive phone calls from female clients looking to review their financial options before or after a divorce. Each time, the call has some common themes. First, will I be okay financially? Also, can I afford to keep my home? Honestly, I’ve never had to pay bills let alone manage an investment portfolio and I need help. Unfortunately, I’m not used to dealing with money and I have no idea on where to start. My husband used to do all this. Rest assured, you don’t have to do it alone. Now, St. Croix Advisors can help you recover financially from a divorce.

First, know your financial “state of the union.”

Also, whether you are preparing for a divorce, or you just finalized it, you need to know where to stand financially. Importantly, know your assets and liabilities from your checking, savings, investment and retirement accounts including your kids’ college funds, life, disability, health, property and casualty insurance, loans and credit cards. Furthermore, knowing the health of your financial well-being is key to your financial future and will help you make better financial decisions going forward. Finally, don’t be afraid to use technology to help keep track of all this.

Second, be involved with your money and finances.

Generally, from my experience, one spouse knows all the financial affairs of the family. Overall, I’m a big fan of having both spouses involved. Gradually, get involved now if you are not because you need to know where all the money is or isn’t. Sometimes, when going through a divorce, spouses attempt to hide or shelter the money so it’s not a part of the divorce proceedings. On that note, if you are starting to contemplate a divorce, know where your resources lie. Then, gather statements, tax returns, pay stubs, etc. Additionally, you’ll want to understand delayed business dealings, promotions, and other areas that could impact you.

Third, find emotional support.

Honestly, divorce changes your dreams, hopes, and expectations. Often, there is a grieving process many go through. Slowly, you may search for answers on why it didn’t work, and those answers may never come. Currently, I have clients who use the Eagle Brook Church Divorce Care program. Understandably, when you talk and are surrounded yourself with others who have, or are currently walking in your shoes, you’ll find comfort to rest your soul.

As you know, this is can be a very stressful time in your life and having your financial house in order takes time, energy and resources. Consequently, having your financial affairs in order will substantially decrease your overall stress level. Obviously, this isn’t an overnight process, so start today by planning and knowing you can recover financially from a divorce.

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Can my portfolio support my lifestyle in my retirement? 

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Advantages of retiring to Florida

ST. CROIX INSIGHTS

Advantages of retiring to Florida

BY BRETT ANDERSON/ST.CROIX ADVISORS, LLC

Sure, we all have some very obvious reasons for retiring to Florida.

Sun, warm weather, no estate or income taxes. From my perspective, how many more reasons do you need? As I write this on a Saturday night, watching playoff football, tomorrow morning’s low will be 43 degrees (No, that’s no typo) here in Naples, Florida. Down here they consider that cold. Big jackets, gloves, hats and I suspect long underwear will be essential for natives. For you snowbirds from Minnesota and Wisconsin, we’d be wearing shorts at home.

I see retiring to Florida as a lifestyle choice.

You want to enjoy the great outdoors year-round. You won’t miss the cold nor the snow. You’ve put up with all of that stuff for years let alone decades and now it’s time. The sun, warm weather, walking along the ocean, palm trees, etc.

While in Naples, Florida, I attended the Minnesota Men’s Breakfast (it’s not just men – women do attend and are invited). Prominent speakers, timely topics and a room of hundreds of people come together each week for three months during the winter. It’s almost like a homecoming each week when you see everyone greeting each other. Naples just happens to be Minnesota’s most southern city! Coming to one location, knowing so many people from back home is just darn cool.

Gov. Dayton certainly likes to tax the so-called rich by insisting on having an estate tax. In 2018, the threshold is $2.4 million. I suspect many of you reading this feel like that’s a lot of money. The reality is it’s not, particularly when you start adding everything you have from your home, retirement, life insurance and investment accounts. Remember, you and your estate have to pay taxes because you died. Isn’t that enough? You’re dead. Why does the government need to take my money? For those of you living in Wisconsin, you also enjoy no estate taxes just like Florida residents. But it’s still cold.

With the new federal tax law, living in a higher income tax state is going to cost even more.

For those of us who itemize, we will only be able to deduct to up $10,000 a year on our federal taxes. That seems like a big number, but when you total your state, sales and property taxes, it can easily be well over $10,000. In other words, you will be paying more for the privilege of living in the land of Gophers or Badgers.

Some states tax your Social Security benefits in your retirement years and some don’t. Minnesota’s elected officials have never met a tax they didn’t want to implement including taxing your Social Security. Florida and Wisconsin residents enjoy no tax on their Social Security.

Wisconsin is Minnesota’s Florida. Florida is Wisconsin’s Florida. Florida is just Florida. Taxes play a major role in our retirement years along with friends, family and lifestyle. If you are looking to relocate to Florida full time or become a “six months and a day,” let’s talk about how to make that a successful transition.

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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 exciting when you receive that wedding invitation in the mail. You open it with anticipation wondering when’s the date, time and location. Can you make it? Can you find a sitter? What should you wear? All important details, yet with weddings costing so much ($25,000, $50,000 or more), how much should you spend on the gift?

That may be the biggest question we face. Are you related to the couple, friends, great friends, co-workers, maybe an employee? What if it’s a second or third marriage? I know these thoughts go through my mind when we discuss what gift we going to bring.

Here are my thoughts on how much to spend on a wedding gift:

If you’re the parents of the bride and groom – you’ve probably paid enough. But the gift that makes a ton of memories is helping or paying for their honeymoon. Weddings are so stressful, and I suspect they’d remember more about the honeymoon vs. the actual wedding itself.

  • Casual friends, co-workers, and employees: $50 to $100 per person.
  • Close friends: $75 to $125 per person.
  • Family members: $100 to $150 per person.

Sure, we can focus on a dollar amount, but I’d rather focus on something more special and priceless for a gift. Couples receive all kinds of gifts such as cash, silverware, place settings, etc. Once they write the thank you notes, they won’t remember what you got them. So, let’s change that. Plan something special or memorable for them that will mean more to them than going off a bridal registry at Target.

Here are a few creative wedding ideas:
  • A special picture frame you designed for them that they’ll see every day.
  • A three-day getaway after the honeymoon you used frequent flyer points to pay for. A donation to their favorite non-profit organization in their name
  • If it’s one of your employees, give them an extra week of paid time off.
  • Offer to take their kids for a week while they are off on their honeymoon (maybe not your employee’s kids).

When you stop and think about it, it can be priceless on how creative you can be with a wedding gift. They invited you to their most important day and now it’s your time to think outside the box and have fun with their wedding gift.

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Can my portfolio support my lifestyle in my retirement? 

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