The Most Critical Action for Success

The focus of my articles has been the creation of great value in the lives of the readers. Many of our articles focus on the financial and planning aspects of life. This one is a little different in the terms of investing in yourself.

Many of us would agree that it doesn’t matter where you start in life to determine if you’re successful. It is always the activities and decisions between birth and death that define success. In that regard, it is the proper environment of economic, social and familial contributions that provide a proper society to allow for your growth as a leading society in the world. 

Recently, we have developed as a nation that lacks the unity required to maintain our status as a world economic power (this article will disregard military implications and scenarios since it is not my expertise). Differing ideas and philosophies of social services and generational paradigms cause us to forget our reasons for founding this wonderful country. One of the basic premises of building a society that allows its citizens to thrive is the belief that all men are created equal. This unity in freedom is the foundation for our economic wealth in the United States of America.

As an entrepreneur, it is imperative that we develop a service or product that delivers great value to the marketplace. One of the means for which the marketplace grows in its own wealth is through the robust economy we develop. Think about some of the less developed countries on the globe. They lack simple public services such as drinking water in ample supply, food, shelter that is affordable and medical care that is designed to increase their happiness in life. We possess all the benefits of our society and a great financial economy through a stable a banking system that is liquid and allows for its customers to borrow with reasonable terms.

One of the phrases I have heard during my adult life is that “a rising tide raises all boats in the harbor”. To define this phrase in business terms, it is critical that some of our citizens generate capital through products and services to provide jobs for the mass of our fellow citizens. The disruption we experienced during the pandemic has been a challenge to return to “normal”. It is a challenge that we will overcome to create the greatest economy in the world once more.

First, we must not waste our natural resources but rather utilize them in an efficient and effective manner to generate the value we seek. In the current social environment, it is difficult for me to understand the elimination of any aspect of our energy production for the sake of another person’s idea of conservation of resources. For example, wind energy is a great augment to our current power grid of electricity. However, it is not sustainable as a primary source by itself.

Second, every member of our society is afforded opportunities to improve himself. Our country is known for the life improvements gained by valid immigrants who see the opportunities in the United States of America that aren’t available in their homeland. Having traveled our country extensively, I have been honored to meet many of these very successful people who are grateful for the opportunity of wealth that has been afforded them because of our country’s freedoms and rights.

To reach our potential as a country and an economy it is vital that we all recall those beliefs and traits we all share – freedom to live in the manner we desire without government mandate of religion, business and other aspects of life. The division facing our country can be healed if we the people will focus on the overall good that life brings when we all work together. I am strong proponent for the capitalistic system of our economy. For those who wish to achieve financial independence, you can do so in the United States of America. For those who wish to live a different lifestyle in a more modest means, that, too, is your choice and available.

Think about the great freedoms and rights we hold as citizens of the greatest country on the planet. Join minds, hearts and hands and let’s bring back the powerful traits of unity and freedom to all Americans. You will find that success awaits us when we are stronger together!

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The Elusive Measure of Time

One of the curious hobbies I enjoy is reading grave markers when attending a funeral or during a day of honoring our loved ones. My wife often remarks, “What fascinates you with grave markers?” I often smile and simply say, “time”. She looks at me with that look of confusion she gives me and walks back to the family and friends we met while visiting the cemetery.

The primary fascination for me is not simply the design and epitaphs engraved on the stones but rather the dates and the dash between birth and death. This simple mark represents, in some cases, only a few years. In other cases, it represents a century or more. In my journals, I often wax philosophically about time and its power.

Time is an element of life that is studied by physicists and cosmologists that continues to be a mystery to this day. There are many theories about the beginning of time and the passing of it. However, my focus on this powerful environmental phenomenon is the use of the tool. Yes, to me, time is a tool or power that can be wielded in great ways. Conversely, time can be squandered by those who don’t understand its power or their ability to control it.

What is important about time and why write about it in a financial column? When something as powerful as time is not recognized by many until its too late, it would behoove us to begin today with an acknowledgement of all the wonderful attributes and uses of this facet of life. First, time is the creator of all memories for humans. My father, a great storyteller of our family’s history, always starts a story with, “when I was younger…”. Hearing this opening sentence piques my mind and perks up my ears for another great tale of the Williams Family and potential joys and hardships of pioneer life. (As a side note, I am laughing while writing this column as thoughts about my father’s stories of his six mile walk to school which always included unusual terrain like “uphill both ways” and meteorological phenomena such as “in a foot of snow”.)

Second, time is a power that yields exponential benefits. When it comes to investing for your future, you have read many times in this column that time is the one factor we can’t control but can utilize to achieve greatness. A favorite song of mine as a teenager (this may reveal my age) was called, “Time in a Bottle,” by Jim Croce. The songwriter imagines what he would do if he could capture time and use it with his own discretion. Of course, he is dreaming and the song is pure fiction but the writer’s life ended abruptly at the young age of 30 when a single-engine plane in which he was a passenger hit a tree on take-off in 1973. Truly he did not control time or he would have wished for longevity.

One of the benefits of time is the growth of money. By starting to save as young in age as possible, one has the potential to accumulate a significant investment portfolio by retirement age. For example, if you initiate your lifetime savings plan by age 25 and save for the next forty-two years, you will have saved a considerable amount of funds, if invested properly, to retire at age 67. This is called compounding of your investment. What you invest today will, theoretically, earn interest that will then earn interest on itself which compounds or builds your savings at a greater pace as time passes.

Lastly, time is finite for humans. No one throughout history has lived since the beginning of time. Each of us will one day be remembered by the dash placed on our grave marker. This is not meant to be a depressing statement but rather one to empower and motivate you to live a life of abundance creating memories and assets. Your dash can be as powerful as the dash of presidents or celebrities such as Elvis Presley. The world is waiting, and was established, for you to contribute to society for the purpose you were born. 

Starting today, smile more, laugh more and serve more to create a story your ancestors will be proud to share of the life you lived with fullness. To help you plan for the future, contact a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional. Your legacy and lifetime fulfillment are in your control. It is time you made a plan to utilize and harness the time in your dash to become a bigger, better and bolder you. See you on the walking trail!

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Young & Investing

Have you ever thought about what all your smartphone can actually do for you? Generation Z, also known as Gen Z, has taken full advantage of the services it has to offer.  Gen Z is now using social media and online search engines to get their finances in order. Recent studies found that fifty four percent of Gen Z holds at least one type of investment, including mutual funds, exchange-traded funds, or even cryptocurrency. These same individuals have also learned how to control their cash flow, cut unnecessary expenses, pay their debt quickly, and even how to raise their credit score. Although these are all topics that should be learned at an early age, this is not always the case. 

Gen Z has shown that they are working hard to be financially satisfied and are using technology to make it happen. Social media apps such as TikTok and YouTube have become everyday life coaches for almost everything, including finances. According to a recent study conducted by Qualtrics on behalf of Credit Karma 1, 56% of Gen Z and Millennials intentionally seek out financial advice online or through social media. They have introduced many opportunities that Gen Z were unaware they even had.

When you get your first adult job and start making adult money, but there is no one to guide you on how to spend it, you quickly realize that you may need some help. If you are already having money trouble, you clearly cannot afford to seek help that may cost you more money. Someone along the way realized this and started sharing how to be financially successful on your own. Financial professionals now give advice on online platforms for free. Not only is this information helpful, but it also in small bits and easier to digest. Most of the time it is even entertaining. Research shows that 38.8% of Gen Z have learned about personal finances through TikTok, YouTube, or other social media platforms and 7.2% said they did their own research online. Only 22% stated that they had learned from their parents or another family member. 

The best part is you can do all these things you are learning from the device you are learning them on. There are many apps that help budgeting, paying bills on time, and keeping track of your credit score. You can now even open an investment account directly from your smartphone. All you have to do is download an app, add your information, and deposit your funds. They make it too easy! From there you can personalize all your investments. Although the account is easy to setup, actually investing and managing it is another story. So, how are they choosing their investments?

Yep, that’s right. They use what they have found on their online platforms. Gen Z takes information from strangers to manage their investment portfolios and doesn’t even question it. That does not mean that they do not care though, Gen Z tends to be very hands-on and active in their investments. According to an article on Nasdaq.com, 48% of Gen Z investors check their portfolios multiple times a day and 24% check their portfolio at least once per day. Unlike generations before, Gen Z has taken it upon themselves to do research and find their own way to earn money. This has been much easier and hands-on since technology makes it all possible.

Starting to invest at an early age only means you have room for more risk and growth. As their account grows and they feel like it has outgrown their knowledge, they will be financially stable enough to seek professional help, such as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM. The convenience of technology has made becoming wealthy a bit easier and so much more convenient. 

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The Millennial Perspective: The Sustainable Lifestyle

In recent years the idea of being eco-friendly and sustainable has grown more popular in many areas of life. A lot of Millennials and Gen Z, who have spearheaded this movement, strive to live a more sustainable lifestyle to create a better world for the future generations. When many people think of eco-friendly, recycling is often the first thing to come to mind. Recycling has been around for centuries, but it only became popular in the U.S. in the mid-1900s. However, as science advances we have found that recycling isn’t as great as we once thought. You may have heard of the three Rs and the Waste Hierarchy Pyramid. These two concepts come together to layout the best practices for living more sustainably.

When looking at the Waste Hierarchy Pyramid, recycling falls in the middle. Not the worst option, but not the best. Recycling is the process of converting waste into new products. For example, sending plastics to recycling plants to be processed and turned into new products. However, even though this is a good practice, it is not considered the best for a number of reasons. For starters, not every product is recyclable and there is not a lot of education around recycling which leads to items being dumped instead. Recycling is also not accessible to everyone. The 2021 census showed that only 32% of people in the U.S. recycle. Many larger cities and states require residents to recycle and provide the necessary tools to do so, but most of our nation does not require it and a lot of places do not have sites available to drop off recycling for those that choose to do so.  As a result, the majority of people do not recycle and those recyclable items end up in landfills where they can take decades, or even centuries, to decompose.

Just above recycling on the pyramid you will find the option to reuse. Reusing, in my opinion, is the most popular, easiest, and most accessible of the three Rs. The name is self-explanatory, reuse various products. For example, reusing your shopping bags, plastic and paper alike, rather than throwing them away when you get home from the store. Reusable products have become widely available to the point where you can find a reusable option for most household items. Reusable zip lock bags, water bottles, coffee pods, dryer balls, “paper” towels, diapers, and even personal hygiene products are some examples of reusable products that you can purchase. However, even though reusing is better than recycling it is still not the best. Many reusable products won’t last forever and will eventually need to be disposed of or, ideally, recycled. 

Next up on the pyramid we have “reduce.” Reduce is not the top of the pyramid, that would be “prevent,” but I think that the two options go hand in hand. Reducing waste is the practice of limiting the amount of waste you create. Reusing products is a great way to prevent and reduce waste in the long run, but reducing waste goes so much deeper than that. Using more sustainable products can help prevent and reduce the amount of pollutants and other forms of waste, such as chemical waste, which can have grave effects on the environment. Another great way to reduce waste at home is to practice upcycling. 

Upcycling is the practice of taking an item that would otherwise be disposed of and turning it into something useful that can be reused overtime. A great example of upcycling is taking a plastic container, such as a ground coffee container, and using it for composting. This prevents the container from ending up in a landfill and reduces the waste created by food, like banana peels or scraps from chopping vegetables, and turns it into something useful. Upcycling is also very popular when it comes to clothing and furniture, especially in the form of thrifting. 

As you can see, the three Rs have a lot of benefits, but one of the big ones that we haven’t discussed yet would be cost savings over time. I will be honest, some reusable products can be on the pricier side, but you don’t have to dive in headfirst. Buy a couple things when you can manage it and think of it as an investment, like a house without a monthly payment. Let’s say you spend $30 on a couple of reusable water bottles and use them everyday in lieu of buying a case of 24 disposable water bottles, which are usually around $4. If you drink the recommended amount of water every day (64 oz) that would be about four bottles a day, meaning one case wouldn’t even last one week for one person. If that were the case, then you would be spending roughly $20 per month on bottles of water, so in less than two months with the two reusable water bottles you will break even and save a little over $200 a year. While saving money is a great benefit, the biggest and most important benefit of living sustainably boils down to creating a better environment that will remain habitable for many generations to come in both the near and far future.

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The Most Valuable Investment — Family

Tomorrow, we celebrate mothers. If there is one person on the planet that plays the most critical role in our life it is our mother. The congratulatory comments I share with my mother when an honor has been awarded me, or I am recognized in any manner, is that I owe Mom an indeterminable amount of love and admiration for helping me receive this honor. Without her, I would not be here – literally! I know, this is a lame joke but so true.

The purpose of this column is to help our readers invest in themselves to enjoy a better life. One of the best returns on investments you can claim in life is building lasting and productive relationships with family. There is no definition of the perfect family. Life has a way of causing disagreements and dysfunction in our families. 

In an analogous manner, as fellow citizens in this great country, the United States of America, we should do away with all manner of political and other differences to focus on our wonderful mothers. Particularly, I wish to share a few stories of my mother’s influence in my life.

Some of my fondest memories of childhood center around my mother. Her support in all my sporting events, cheering me up when the game did not end as I had hoped and buying ice cream for the team no matter the score all impacted me in a profound manner. To this day, I attribute my love for education and my cheerful outlook toward life to my loving parents. From my earliest days of life, I can recall my mother always telling me “You can do this” or “just a little more effort and success will be yours.”  

My mother has never met two of my mentors, Jim Rohn and Zig Ziglar, but she unknowingly mirrors their approach to challenges in life. Mom has a “never say quit” attitude about challenges. Her life began in 1936 as the middle child in a very rural, poor family. She regales me with stories of picking cotton in Arizona and owning only one pair of shoes that grandmother allowed her to wear in winter months. She did not finish her high school education in the traditional sense but earned her GED later in life. In true warrior fashion, she enrolled in a community college and completed her Associates Degree!

The value I strive to bring to those I meet is one of positivity. Our world requires that each of us bring our best self to help each other achieve greatness on our terms. Although I earned a few corrective actions from my parents in life (there were many more actions they did not know about!) their love and dedication to us, their children, has never waned. 

It is with great humility that I share one last fact with you – I am the luckiest man on the planet to be born in the United States of America to a dedicated, supportive and positive mother as a role model to life. Of course, my father is a great man, and I will share his contributions to my life with you next month in this column.  

Wealth is not all about money and assets. True wealth is defined as those things in life that money cannot buy, and death cannot take away. If you wish to create a plan for your future, to include instilling your familial beliefs as well as financial wealth, in the process of legacy building for your children, please contact a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional. Leave your family the values that never fade with time. 

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The Best Medicine

One of the most effective medicines is becoming less available in the world. This formula for curing many of today’s illnesses such as depression, cancer and other potentially debilitating diseases has been around for a millennium and, most recently, has become a valued, yet limited, approach to healing. You may be wondering what powerful drug your doctor has never prescribed to you – laughter.

As a child, we implement this powerful anti-stress medication approximately 300 times a day according to Psychology Today. The average 40-year-old laughs on average 4 times per day. These statistics may be urban legend, but the outcomes speak for themselves. We are more happy, excited about life and healthier as a child that laughs a substantial number of times each day.

In an April 24, 2020, article on VeryWellMind.com by Elizabeth Scott, PhD, the many benefits of laughter were evaluated. One of the most important outcomes from laughing is the lowering of stress hormones, such as cortisol, epinephrine, dopamine and growth hormone. Another finding was the number of antibody-producing cells increased in test subjects that laughed more per day than the group of individuals who did not.

What if you could become more physically fit simply by laughing? “A hearty laugh exercises the diaphragm, contracts the abs, and even works the shoulders, leaving the muscles more relaxed afterward,” according to the author. I am not saying you can eat all the carbs and fats that you wish and only laugh the pounds away, but it would not hurt for you to laugh, even at yourself, during the actual lifting of weights or running.

One of the most humorous stories of my life comes to mind. I was signed up to run a 5-K race for the first time. After running and working out for about 8 weeks, I was ready for the big day. Standing at the start line looking like a typical non-runner, bib fastened to my sweat-wicking running shirt, feet adorned with special running shoes for people of my talent and size (that’s what the skinny running salesman said at the store) and special running shorts that were longer than normal to hide the fact that I have not had any sun on my legs in a while, I faced the course with a determined look.

A few minutes before the starting pistol was to sound, a large woman with a clipboard comes over to me. She had a look in her eye like a TSA Agent finding something on my person while standing outside the body scanner. I will never forget her greeting – “Hi! This must be your first race.” I agreed with a proud smile on my face knowing that I had prepared and was mentally ready to take on the challenge before me. Her next statement, although funny today, was not so encouraging at the time. “You need to move to the back of the race pack.” I looked at her puzzled as to why she would make such a statement. I asked, “Do we start in bid number order or something?” She laughed aloud and replied, “No. Look behind you and you will see a man that will run up your back in the first twenty yards of the race.” Her quip was acknowledged as I turned and saw one of the runners that inherited the genes of the long-distance Grecians who ran from city-to-city without sweating or breathing hard.

As I gingerly walked to the back of the pack, a little dejected but also unable to contain the laughter of receiving advice about running from someone who obviously has never run a race in her life. After completing the course, within 31 minutes, I took my medal and walked over to the clipboard lady and said, “Thanks for the advice. I lost track of “Mercury” or whatever his name was after the first five minutes.” 

Look for opportunities to improve your mental and physical health by simply laughing whether at yourself or circumstances you may find yourself. It is a non-lethal way you can improve your day without hurting your body.

Your longevity in life is determined by how much you laugh. Well, this is my hypothesis and I intend on living to be 124! I always seek opportunities to help people laugh when they are stressed, and it is an appropriate moment in time. 

Your lifetime of financial security for your family is no laughing matter. To alleviate the stress from worrying about your finances, seek out a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional to help you build confidence in your future so you can laugh all the way to retirement and beyond.

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Retirement Challenges and Successes

Another year of life has arrived. What are you doing to grow as a person? Grow your wealth? Grow your influence? It has been proven by scientists that individuals who live sedentary lifestyles after their career lose the cognitive abilities they once possessed. To help you keep up your psychological and emotional edge in life during these challenging times, practice the activities outlined in this article.

Get up and get going

Get up and get going. The simple act of walking each day and experiencing the wonder of nature will keep your mind inspired and active. There are differences of opinion that you should walk 10,000 steps per day or 5,000 steps per day. I say, walk until you feel sufficiently energized. If your heart rate is up to an acceptable level determined by your personal physician, walking for as little as 20 minutes per day can help you keep your mental faculties acute and ready for challenges in life that will most certainly arise.

Live each day with a plan for purpose

Live each day with a plan for purpose. Too many of us simply rise from bed and allow the “winds of the day” to blow our lives in any direction without our consent. This is not you. Set yourself a routine of rising from bed at the same time each morning and preparing a list of activities for the day that will stimulate your mind and work your body. For example, I do not start my day without clear understanding of what I must complete for the day. This type of planning gives your mind something to work on even when you are doing something else.

Perform one random act of kindness a day

Perform one random act of kindness a day. What does being kind have to do with your mindset? Everything! When we selflessly give to others in need, no matter the size or scope of the deed, your brain floods your body with dopamine. This chemical in the body brings happiness, euphoria, and other positive feelings. By helping others, you will also feel a sense of accomplishment that gives you energy to continue serving and care for yourself in a better manner. Another benefit to performing a random act of kindness is that the recipient can “pay it forward” to others in need and we can build a better community and planet based on mutual respect.

Build your confidence in your future

Build your confidence in your future. Review your financial picture and see if you have allowed parts of your budget to creep into areas that are not being utilized efficiently for your lifestyle. We often start subscriptions for products or services that automatically renew and fail to remember that we did not cancel them. Another area to focus is our savings pattern. For example, you may have saved 5% of your earnings monthly last year but your income has risen this year. If you do not utilize the additional cash flow and it is deposited in a non-interest bearing checking account, you will lose the benefit of earning interest on the funds. 

Read

Lastly, read something stimulating to you each day. A good novel, a biography or anything that challenges your mind to create the background of the story or place yourself in the plot as a character that impacts the potential outcome of the storyline. The mind and body of humans are tremendously powerful devices that require our continual input of challenges, fuel, and rest.

This is a new year! Don’t become so relaxed in life that you fail to live it abundantly on a daily basis. Make 2022 a different outcome for you by facing the challenges of life confidently through strength gained by implementing one or all of the above strategies. You can truly become what you desire in life and build a better community in the process. See you on the walking trail!

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A Recipe for Relaxation

As we finish up the last quarter of 2021, we’re still battling the COVID-19 pandemic – and now flu season. Add in the storms, wildfires and smoky air, and busy holiday season and it’s a recipe for burnout. You are likely feeling a little bit of that burnout.

Forbes reports more than half of respondents to an Indeed survey are experiencing some form of burnout, up from 43 percent who said they felt that way pre-COVID-19. Among those respondents, millennials seemed most affected. The 2021 Forbes article reports:

  • 59 percent of millennials report experiencing burnout
  • 58 percent of Gen-Z reports feeling burnout
  • 54 percent of Gen-Xers report feeling burnout 
  • 31 percent of baby boomers reported feeling burnout

With the seemingly constant stress of the past 21 months, it’s important to practice self-care as we close out 2021.

Some ideas for self-care you can engage in to alleviate burnout, according to Psychiatric Times, are meditation and deep breathing, self-compassion, and maintaining a work-life balance. Another great method, and one of my personal favorites, is cooking! I know this doesn’t sound appealing to everyone, but it can always be worth a shot. 

Try learning a new recipe and making something from scratch for the upcoming holiday. One of my favorite recipes is homemade Spaghetti Carbonara with homemade spaghetti noodles. This year my family will be having an assortment of Italian dishes for Christmas dinner, so I will be making this for everyone to enjoy.

Here is the recipe if you want to give it a try:

Spaghetti Carbonara with homemade noodles (serves 6)

Noodles:

  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 cups of flour + additional for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon of olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  1. Create a nest with the flour on a clean, flat surface.
  2. Crack the eggs into the nest and add the salt and oil, careful not to let the eggs run out of the nest.
  3. Use a fork to carefully whisk the ingredients together in the nest while gradually working the flour in.
  4. Using clean hands, incorporate the remaining flour to the mixture to create a shaggy dough.
  5. Knead the dough for 10 minutes until it becomes smooth. If the dough seems too dry, sprinkle a very small amount of water on the dough and continue kneading.
  6. Wrap the dough ball in plastic wrap and let it sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
  7. Divide the ball into 4 pieces.
  8. Roll each piece into a flat oval.
  9. Use a pasta roller to roll the dough to your desired thickness or use a rolling pin to do the same.
  10. Cut each sheet of dough in half to create shorter sheets and dust each side with flour.
  11. Run each sheet of dough through your desired pasta cutter to create noodles.

Carbonara:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 6oz of pancetta or thick cut bacon, chopped
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 3.5 oz of freshly grated parmesan
  • 1/3 cup of pasta water
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  1. Bring a pot of water to a boil, add salt and fresh noodles. Boil noodles for about 3 minutes or until al dente.
  2. Collect 1/3 cup of pasta water and strain the noodles. Set aside.
  3. Meanwhile, Heat olive oil in deep skillet and add chopped pancetta or bacon, stir occasionally until cooked.
  4. While noodles and pancetta/bacon cook, beat the egg yolks in a medium bowl.
  5. Add parmesan cheese to the bowl and mix thoroughly. Set aside.
  6. Once pancetta/bacon is cooked, add cooked pasta to the pan. Remove from heat.
  7. Add egg and cheese mixture and pasta water to pan and stir well until a sauce forms.
  8. Add salt and pepper to taste.

If cooking isn’t quite your style, then hand the recipe off to someone else and just enjoy the delicious meal. 

To maximize the benefits of self-care and give yourself a break from burnout, do something that you enjoy and relaxes you, whatever that may be. By doing so we can step into 2022 ready to take on the world! 

Have a wonderful holiday and a Happy New Year!

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More Than Numbers

Your personal physician gives you honest and candid information to help improve your physical health. A Certified Financial PlannerTM professional provides you the same type of consultation about your financial health. You are more than a number to a wealth advisor. Your family’s current financial state, future security and transition of assets are the focal points to a sound financial plan.

The basic level of fiscal management is the utilization of your annual household income in a manner that provides for your needs today while saving for your future. In a utopian world, we could simply spend all that we earn, and the retirement phase of life would be funded by someone else. The problem with this thought is that the “someone else” is you!

By applying guidance of cash flow management, your family will enjoy a lifestyle that creates happiness today. The physiological needs such as food, shelter and clothing are the very primal items that help your family simply survive. By appropriately allocating your resources to allow for current living needs and accommodating for your future will instill confidence in your capabilities.

While working through life, you become clearer on what you seek after your career. It is vital that you properly fund your retirement or the pleasure you see in all those vacation posters will evade you. Time value of money is an accounting concept that states, “a dollar today is worth more than a dollar tomorrow.” To maximize the probabilities of accumulating sufficient capital to fund retirement, it is critical to work with a wealth advisor to, first, determine what is the target amount of funds you should save and, second, what is the most efficient approach to saving these funds.

This approach is illustrated with our older daughter’s lifestyle. Our daughter is working in her first career position after graduating with her master’s degree. While helping her with a budget for this new paradigm she is living in, I will never forget her comment of “Wow! It takes too much money to live the way I wish.” After I realized she was being serious, I started the “dad talk” and reminisced about 1987, my first year out of college and working in my career. As her eyes rolled, I could literally hear her think – “Not another “back in the old days” story.”

After a brief discussion, I gave her the secret formula to accumulating wealth for the future while living a happy life today. In remarkably simple terms, invest 10% of your earnings for the future, give 10% away to qualified charities and/or church, invest 10% in yourself through education and other skill-building programs and, lastly, live on the remaining 70%. When she received her first performance bonus, she was so excited! The amount of money she earned was more than she had imagined. Immediately, she began talking about a new car or furniture for her townhouse. I interjected the 10/10/10/70 formula she is currently using to help her live an abundant life. After convincing her that she may not wish to expand her lifestyle with funds that are not consistent, she did something that made my chest swell with fatherly pride – she invested the money in her future

Do not assume that a Certified Financial PlannerTM professional only works with investments. Many of us possess expertise in behavioral finance and other psychological functions of wealth. Just like your doctor, we examine your total picture and provide advice and coaching to reach your highest goals in life in a manner that you choose. With a short conversation, you will discover that a wealth advisor is far more than numbers – you will find a lifelong advisor and friend.

It is an honor to share stories, tax laws and other financial information with you each week. Most importantly, it is critical that each of us share the blessings we possess with those in need. This Christmas Season focus your energy and resources on others and you will receive the most valuable gift on this planet – joy! 

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A Little Gratitude Goes A Long Way

Thankfulness versus gratitude. What does that mean? Well, they may have the same meaning at the end of the day, but lately gratitude has become something that holds a little more meaning. I am not sure if it has been the rollercoaster we have all been on for the last two years or not, but I have certainly noticed a theme on social media centered around that word and it has me thinking that some people may be onto something.

Gratitude has become more than just being thankful for something. It is as if it has become a lifestyle rather than a simple feeling. Sharing the things you feel gratitude towards on a daily basis has become a bit of a norm. It’s like intentionally starting the day on the right foot. Seeing the things that people are sharing can really make you think about the things in your own life that you are grateful for. It can be the simple things, such as being able to hear the crunch of the leaves when walking on a on a crisp Fall morning. The type of things that you wouldn’t look at and normally say, “I am so glad this is a thing!” Or it can be something big like being grateful to have a roof over your head.

I think that this can be especially healthy when we find ourselves getting upset. Imagine you are in a drive-thru line and it is moving rather slow. You expected to be through the line in under 5 minutes, but it has been 10 and you are not even to the first window to pay for your food. Something to feel grateful for in that moment could be having the opportunity to listen to the song on the radio or finish it while you wait. This kind of mindset can help you stay grounded and take your mind off the thing that is upsetting.

I want to challenge you to look around the room you are in and find at least two things you are grateful for and then continue to do so on a regular basis. The world can be such a negative place these days, so I think it is important to take a step back and find something positive to focus on for a moment, if not for our own sanity. Looking around my home office I am grateful my laptop that gives me the opportunity to work remotely and for my sticky notes that keep me on track each day. It can be so easy to find something to be grateful for if we just take the time to do so.

In the coming year, make a habit of finding one or two things to be grateful for and repeat this process every day. Do something that holds you accountable, like writing it in a journal or in a note on your phone. You don’t have to share it on social media like others do, but be intentional and start the day on a positive note. A little positivity and gratitude can go a long way and isn’t that what we all need after the last two years?

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