Happy Thanksgiving 2019!


Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

I am taking a couple extra days off for the Thanksgiving holiday this week. Below I am re-posting a blog post from just a few years ago regarding 10 Reasons To Support Your Favorite Small Business This Saturday. 

I hope you will give it a quick read and support your favorite local businesses wherever you may find them.

As always, I am forever grateful for your support, the fact that you are reading these words, and that you allow me to serve you as your financial advisor.

10 Reasons To Target Your Favorite Small Business This Saturday

5 Things Your Adult Kids Must Do To Kick-start Their Financial Lives


Photo by CoWomen on Unsplash

Getting an early start to one’s financial life is hard but super important. Nearly everyone I know who describes themselves as “financially successful” got that way by starting early and making a commitment to improving their financial security.

Now that your adult kids have graduated from college and summer is over, it’s time for them to get focused on building a strong financial foundation for their future.

Below are 5 things your adult kids must do to kick-start their financial lives:

Labor Day is Your Day

September 2nd is Labor Day. The day in which we honor and celebrate America’s working class and their significant contribution to our nation’s economic success. Originally established in 1894 to honor the budding Labor Movement, today’s Labor Day is widely lauded as the grand finale to the carefree spirit of summer and the unofficial signal to “get back to work”.

Labor Day recognizes the social and economic contributions that over 158 million Americans make by going to work each day. It’s also an opportunity to remember the blood and sweat and sacrifice that went into improving work life for so many of us. Thankfully, very few Americans work the 12-hour days and 6-day weeks that were common a century ago, and our children can spend their time in school rather than in factories or fields.

Whether you are blue collar, white collar, a day laborer, entrepreneur, or internet mogul, if you go to work to produce goods and services that grow our economy, improve the quality of life for others or help make your community and the world a better place, this day is for you.

Your work is important. Thank you for what you do.

Why Living in the Moment is Critical to Your Retirement Plan

photo-1441716844725-09cedc13a4e7On a recent Saturday morning I ran along a wooded trail near where I live that leads to a set of soccer fields. As I rounded the corner and came out of the woods I saw kids playing soccer in their little green and white jerseys. Parents and grandparents were lined up on the sidelines cheering them on, their morning lattes in hand.

I felt like had stepped into a time warp that took me back to the days when my girls used to play soccer on those same fields.

Those were good times and great memories.

As a financial planner I am always thinking ahead, living in the future. I plan retirements for other people as I daydream about my own. I often think things like “When the kids are older…” “After the kids are in college…” Or my personal favorite, “Someday when I retire, I would like to…” You can fill in the blanks.

I am sure you have had similar thoughts. Or yours may go like this: “When the market gets better…” “After I pay off these bills…” “As soon as my pension kicks in…”

While planning for the future is important, don’t let it get in the way of getting the most out of your life today. Unless you live a full and fulfilled life before you retire, it’s unlikely that you will do so after you retire. That’s why living in the moment is critical to your retirement plan.

Live a life of no regrets. In her book, The Top 5 Regrets of the Dying, Bronnie Ware writes about the most common regrets people have at the end of life. I won’t give away all 5 here, but #2 on the list: “I wish I didn’t work so hard”.

I try to be extra mindful of this one. Before I got married and started a family, I worked all the time. Nights, weekends, holidays, it didn’t matter. For that time of my life, it made sense to put in the hours. Today, things are different. (Thankfully!)

As focused as I am on my long-term goals, I try to remember to live in the moment and make the most of today. What is the point of a confident retirement, if it means sacrificing two or three decades of your life up to then?

That’s why you won’t see me in the office when my kids are out of school. It’s also why I limit my late appointments to just a couple per week, and I am very selective about the new clients I take on.

If you are not doing so already, start a new hobby or develop an existing one. Join a small group at your church. Find a way to serve your community that gives you a sense of purpose. Heck, just go for a bike ride with your kids or take your dog for a walk on a regular basis. It doesn’t have to be complicated.

Use it or lose it. According to an article on CNBC.com the average American worker uses only 77% of their paid time off. In fact, unused vacation time is at a 40-year high. While some people may be able to roll unused vacation time over to the next year, the average worker loses 1.6 vacation days per year.

That doesn’t sound like much, but it adds up. Think of it this way. If you spend just 3 extra minutes per day at the copy machine, that adds up to over 1.6 workdays per year spent staring at the walls making copies. Since paid vacation is part of your total compensation, losing paid vacation days is the equivalent of working for free.

If you want to spend 1.6 vacation days making copies, go ahead. Me? I’d rather be at the lake.

Live in the moment. Living in the future is a habit I have developed that isn’t always healthy. I need to remind myself to live in the moment and make the most of today.

To get the most out of your life in retirement, you need to do the same. When I create retirement plans for clients I recommend they save up to 20% of their income for their future goals. The other 80% is spent on day-to-day life.

I think that balance makes sense in other ways as well.

Set aside a percentage of your income to meet your long-term goals and spend the other 80% of your time, money and other resources living for today.

At the end of life it’s not the things you did, but the things you wish you had done that you are most likely to regret. Don’t spend life in retirement wishing you had done more living before retirement.

How’s Your Memory?

Photo by Glenn Carstens-Peters on Unsplash

Maybe you know someone with an incredible memory. A few lucky people have what are called “autobiographical memories”. They can recall just about every detail about every day of their life. These people are rare, but they exist. Marilu Henner is an example.

Unfortunately, that’s not me. I am guessing it’s not you either. Most days I spent about 10 or 15 minutes trying remember where I put my car keys.

If you are age 50 or older, odds are you have some doubts about your ability to recall names or to recite a list of facts and figures. Remembering the names of people you meet at parties or events can be a major challenge. Recalling a list of items is next to impossible. Memorizing your passwords and log in information? Forget about it.

Too often we assume that we are stuck with the memories we have, with no ability to improve our memory skills and no control over what we perceive as an inevitable byproduct of getting older.

Now we are getting a little closer to something that sounds like me. Maybe you too.

But what if you could boost your memory recall by more than fivefold in less than 10 minutes?

What if I told you that you could recite from memory a list of 15 words and be able to remember it forward, backwards and every way in between? And what if you could recall this list perfectly with out traditional memorization techniques using nothing more than the God-given memory you are living with right now?

Like flipping a switch

At a past client event called “The One Hour Memory Switch” workshop we did just that.

Matt Goerke, creator of The Memory Switch Program argues that there is no such thing as a bad memory just an untrained one. Using specific techniques anyone can develop better memory skills.

The tree list

At the beginning of the workshop Matt gave us a list of 15 words. He called it his “tree list”.

After giving us the words he asked how many we could recall in order. About 80% of the 100 or so people in attendance could recite between 0 and 2 words. A handful of savants were in the 3 to 5 range. I had four words, but the last two were completely wrong. Apparently, they were from a different list.

Less than 10 minutes later nearly everyone in the room was able to recite all 15 words on the list. The key was to associate each word with its number on the list. For example, the number “1” is tall and straight, like a tree. Hence, the name “Tree List”.

Using mnemonic devices and other skills Matt shared with us, we were able to recall the entire list less than 10 minutes after we started this exercise. Even as I write this, days later, I can recall the list forwards and backwards usually getting 14 of 15 on the list exactly right and in perfect order. If you went to this workshop, I bet you can too.

A strong memory late into life

Remembering names and reciting long lists can impress friends and be fun at parties, but the more important takeaway was that a good memory doesn’t have to decline as you age.

For most if us the key is to use it or lose it. Learning new skills such as a foreign language or a musical instrument, staying physically active, and the simple act of reading more can all contribute to improved memories and brain health.

Even doing ordinary, everyday things in a new way has been shown to improve a person’s cognitive abilities. Try taking alternate routes to work, performing daily activities with your left hand (if you are right-handed) and reducing your reliance on electronics forces your brain to work harder and create more pathways, stimulating and improving your memory along the way.

Learning new skills and memory techniques will also help. Matt offers a 17 lesson audio course that is available on his website, MemorySwitch.com. I purchased the program at Matt’s presentation and will review it in a future blog post.

At $250 it’s not inexpensive, but how much is it worth to develop a skill that saves time, adds to my bottom line or improves the quality of my life?

If I can learn how to remember my clients’ names when I see them around town or know their kids’ names and their birth order, or to be able to remember the names of people I meet when I do public presentations, it will be worth every penny.

Heck, if I could just remember where I put my car keys, I would be thrilled.