The innocent marshmallow!

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OK!  So the marshmallow is not one of the basic food groups.  And honestly, I only like marshmallows on sweet potato casserole or roasted over an open fire for a S'more treat.

Are you familiar with the MARSHMALLOW TEST?

The Stanford experiment tests the significance of delayed gratification by measuring self control when faced with temptation. 

Pre-schoolers were given one marshmallow and promised a second marshmallow if they would wait to eat the first marshmallow when the teacher returned. The kids touch the marshmallow, sniff it, stare at it while waiting for the teacher to return.. What a hoot!

 

This experiment draws attention to the gap between intentions and actions.

Are we willing to delay instant gratification in order to secure something better in the future? 

I talk to people who have lofty retirement goals and intentions but just can't let go of spending habits that are sabotaging their future.  How does one handle this obstacle? 

Be persistent and intentional!

In the same way mindful eating can control weight gain, mindful spending can help you control your money rather than letting your money control you.

“It’s easy to say ‘’no!’’ when there’s a deeper ‘’yes!’’ burning inside.”
— Stephen R. Covey

It starts with a single step, a simple change, a small tweaking of spending habits and a clear (crystal clear) vision of what you want your financial future to look like.

Exercising self control with your spending and savings habits is easier than you think but it is not child's play.

If we lack self control in one area we are wise to recognize temptations and limit exposure to those temptations.  That's why we are told not to shop for groceries on an empty stomach. (Otherwise, marshmallow bags and Rice Krispie treats may end up in the shopping cart.)

Financial peace of mind results from taking one solid step at a time.  Focus on a secure future.  Organize and customize your plan. Know the direction you want to take in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years.  Review your plan often and stay on course.

And when tempted to get off course . . . when you hear yourself saying, "I need _____!"  hit the pause button and think of the simple marshmallow.

Out of style?

Yes.  No.  Maybe So!

We are giving our kitchen a facelift.  Not a total makeover; just a few tweaks.  Do you know how many choices of countertops and backsplashes there are?  Add grout color to the combination and the choices seem endless!  It's not like buying a pair of jeans.  Unless you are uber-rich you will be living with the choices you make for several years because the cost of labor and materials once installed can't be reversed in a month or so just because it doesn't "match your favorite shirt or jacket," or in this case, your set of dishes. 

In our search for some of these items, we did find a store associate that was phenomenal.  She was helpful, knowledgeable AND intuitive!  We definitely hit the customer service jackpot. We wanted something modern, but classic.  Her observations were interesting. For example, a certain style of cabinet that is widely seen today went out of style for a few years, but is coming back.

Coming back!?  I grew up in the 70's and it is safe to say that leisure suits for men will never come back (at least in my opinion they shouldn't.) On the other hand, Life Insurance - something everyone used to have - never went out of style, but it seemed to be overshadowed by investment products that made grandiose promises of lavish return of money in retirement years.

When my mother-in-law passed away she still had a permanent life insurance policy purchased by her father in the 1930's.  It was a small policy by today's standards, but in the 1930's it was a decent amount.  She also had an investment account that under-performed, based on the volatile market at the time.  One product delivered as promised while the other product delivered less than proposed.

Using permanent benefits has gotten some bad press in the last couple of decades.  "Too expensive" some say.  (Funny, I seldom hear "too expensive" when cell phone bills are more than the average car payment.)  The high expense comes when an individual gets started too late.  First Lesson:  Don't wait to get started with a permanent plan!

Lots of things worm their way into our monthly expenses: some necessary, some luxury.  Remember the saying, "A luxury once enjoyed soon becomes a necessity."  Work the cost of a permanent plan into your lifestyle early and you will not regret your decision.

Permanent life insurance is a valuable, powerful tool in my personal financial planning.  It's been part of my personal monthly expenses for over 30 years.  My premium hasn't changed and won't ever change. No surprises.

Reserve changing trends for music, clothing and hairstyle.  Protection for loved ones never goes out of style in my book.  What do you think?

 

 

Run away? No Way!

Last year, I received this card for Father's Day, "Dad, there were times when running away from home seemed like a good idea . . "   The inside of the card reads, '.. but you never did!"

Isn't it interesting how events in our lives, positive or negative, good or bad, can sometimes move us in a certain direction?  It did for me!  My father left our family when I was just 5 years old.  The negative impact was traumatic and unfortunate.  But, one good thing that came out of this situation was my strong commitment to my future family.

Parenting is not for the faint of heart, timid in spirit or weak in mind.  Yet beyond navigating the turbulent rapids of teen years, college, employment and marriage there is a beautiful landscape of memories.  I love spending time with my children. They are now parents with families, homes and jobs of their own. (And it's amazing how much smarter I am now in their eyes.)

There is no such thing as a perfect parent.  But if there were a "Father's Battle-cry" I think it should include these thoughts.  Be the best example you can be.  Live a life of integrity.  Be honest. Work hard. Never make excuses.  Think of others.  Don't just live for yourself.  

The bible says in Proverbs that a good man leaves an inheritance to his children's children. So I would add to the Father's Battle cry -  Leave a Legacy!  

You've seen the bumper sticker on the back of the RV that reads, "I'm spending my children's inheritance."  While it may bring initial laughter, in my eyes it seems incredibly misguided.  

An inheritance, no matter how big or small, is a memorable gift. Perspective is everything. When I think about leaving an inheritance for my children I don't think of them as "taking" it, but rather "receiving" it. An inheritance is an opportunity to leave a legacy.

More important than the monetary amount we leave our children is the MESSAGE we send. I am happy to say, a few years before my Dad died, communication was re-established.  He left a small inheritance for his children. I can't remember how every dollar of this inheritance was SPENT but I do remember the message it SENT.   I knew he wasn't trying to replace the lost time and opportunity to be a father.  He was merely doing what he could to give one final gift..

What will you do if you receive a windfall of money via bonus, tax return or inheritance. Would it not make sense to be wise and intentional? Perhaps use it to get your savings and retirement ship pointed in the right direction.  Be an example.  As the saying goes, "More is caught than taught."

Consider the legacy you will leave behind.  The clock is ticking.  Have you considered your legacy?

 

Dignity. Honor. Remember.

Memorial Day weekend, the unofficial start of Summer 2017.  But Memorial Day is more than just picnics, ceremonies and parades. Please join me in hitting the PAUSE button!  It is a holiday for remembering and honoring fallen patriots who died while serving in our country's armed forces.

Growing up, Memorial Day involved gathering peony flowers to take to the cemetery to place on relatives' gravesites.  I remember the stillness of that time. What makes cemeteries so quiet?  It's the one place where breeze actually has a sound and the birds' songs seem more melodious.

Nowhere is this more evident than Arlington National Cemetery, the final resting place to over 400,000 brave men and women.  Crosses placed precisely mark the lives and legacies of these heroes.  It is a solemn place where lives are remembered for their service and sacrifice.

Young soldiers of The Third United States Infantry Regiment, "The Old Guard" of Arlington National Cemetery, have the honor and responsibility escorting deceased military service members to their final resting place. Horse drawn carriages carry the coffins draped with the American flag. Every detail is precise.  Every detail is rehearsed.  Why?  Respect for the service member and their family.

If you want to see precision in action check out "The Old Guard."  They are reminded every day that 'Freedom isn't free.'

I don't want to talk about money or finances today.  Just want to reflect on the dignity and honor of the men and women of Arlington National Cemetery.

Be safe this weekend. Say a prayer and a special thank you to those who serve to protect the freedoms we enjoy daily. 

 

 

Priceless Gift

Mother's Day, established in the early 1900's, was initially intended to show appreciation and honor for mothers through handwritten letters expressing love and gratitude.  It quickly morphed into buying gifts and pre-made, store-bought cards.

The Mothers' Salary Index shows that each year moms seem to take on additional tasks. Even if we assigned a dollar amount to each task it still wouldn't be an accurate value attached to what mothers do! But mothers don't send invoices for their labor of love.  At least mine didn't.

My mom, a single mom, raised 5 children.  We sometimes  didn't have money for gifts or store-bought cards.  I recall drawing pictures for her on Mother's Day.  I didn't fully understand the sacrifices she made for us until later when I had children of my own.  I don't know how she did it. Thanks, Mom!!

What do you remember most about your mother?  What was your favorite dessert she baked? Do you have a favorite memory?  My favorite memory was when she took us swimming at a nearby lake.  I remember all of us kids scurrying around the house. putting on swimsuits and gathering up water toys.  We jumped in the car and shouted to her in the house where she was making a simple picnic lunch,  "We are in the car and we are not fighting!"  In other words, "we are ready . . hurry, hurry, hurry!"

Wouldn't you love to have  a life event replay button?  I would!

Here is my suggestion to you this Mother's Day.  Give a handwritten note of appreciation to your mother. Hug her and hold her two seconds longer than usual.  Flowers, candy and gifts are great too, but some things you can't put a price tag on.

 

 

Child's Play

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I have been a little quiet on the "blog writing front" lately.   All the industry reading, paperwork, compliance materials can easily be overwhelming.  And that is before keeping up professionally with social media avenues.  My almost-two year old-granddaughter was visiting for several weeks earlier this year and I took some time to enjoy being with her.  She liked being in my office and would often bring her toys to my desk as shown in the picture above.  If my doors were closed , she would bolt to the office as soon as she heard the doors open. Loved having her here.  We can learn a lot through the eyes of a child.

This picture of her blocks by my computer is a good reminder of the importance of simplicity.  Insurance and retirement planning is more than a simple transaction. It can become complex with several moving parts. The challenge before me is to consider the uniqueness of each family's resources and needs.  But each situation breaks down to something very simple.  Secure the permanent benefits needed and reduce or eliminate risk to money supply! By focusing on what I consider to be most important, benefits and money supply, plans are designed for the ultimate outcome - Peace of Mind.

How technical is your field of expertise?  Can you easily break it down to explain to the common man or woman?

In any task, career or endeavor there is a starting point,. . . the lowest common denominator.  From an initial starting point many things take place to move from point A to point B and beyond. Or in the famous words of Buzz Lightyear, "To Infinity and Beyond."

Little Miss Ellie wanted to help me with my work when she put her toys by my computer.  I would like to help you with establishing your benefits and money supply.  We'll start with the basics and build from there.

With All My Heart

I plan to live for a long time.  My doctor says I am healthy as a horse.  But this one thing I know.  Life is uncertain, death is certain.  I have sold a great deal of life insurance over the years and I have seen, first hand, the benefits of planning for this time.  

The following is my Love Letter to my wife and children included with my life insurance policies to be read at the time the policies are needed . . .

Dearest loved ones.  We shared many wonderful moments, created special memories, exchanged hugs, gifts and cards.  I hope the gift of these life insurance policies will be a gift that benefits you and your families for many years.

My message is the same; Life Insurance is a LOVE gift.  I know I sound like a broken record, but I believe it to be true with all my heart. I gladly paid each premium because of my love for you, although at times it was a sacrifice.

For many years these life insurance contracts pulled double duty.  Along with the permanent death benefit in place, I used the cash value for college tuition, business expenses unexpected health costs and more.  

I was blessed to be able to put back all the money I borrowed from these contracts over time. 

Each one of these policies is a love letter written from me to you.  Each premium was paid with love and each dollar you receive because of these policies should remind you of that love. 

You will soon surrender these policies and the insurance company will send you the money, which will provide for your well being.  The proceeds from these policies will allow me to continue to give to you as I was blessed to do while I was with you. 

You will be held accountable for your stewardship of this provision so seek council and live wisely. Always remember that God alone is the ultimate provider.  Live with a grateful heart.

While these dollars will help to ease your financial burdens, never forget that it is God who has, is, and will be providing for you until we meet again.

It's much easier to write this letter now because of knowing that even if I can't predict the future I have prepared for it. 

Now excuse me . . I have some living to do!

The Money Stash

Where did your grandparents/great grandparents hide their extra money?

Some hid it under the mattress. Others kept it in a jar in the freezer - always good to have "cold hard cash," many said.  My grandfather kept stacks of money in the gun cabinet.

Why? Safety and control.  Safety: Being protected from risk or danger. (Don't let mass media financial personalities talk you out of this one!)  Control:  The power to direct or influence. (Seems like each year government attempts to take more control.)

Grandpa's gun cabinet: the year -- 1963.  Way, way, WAAAAYYY before the Enron scandal of 2001 and the Bernie Madoff investment scandal in 2008. 

In Enron's case, as news reported Enron shares plummeting, top Enron executives sold their company stock prior to the company's downfall.  But lower-level employees were prevented from selling their stock due to 401k restrictions and many subsequently lost their life savings.

And lest we forget Bernie Madoff, the former stock broker and financial advisor, who defrauded thousands of investors of billions of dollars. If you only remember one thing, remember this.  Legislation does NOT make a financial advisor wise or honest! Although financial producers must be licensed and adhere to regulatory guidelines it is prudent to do your own research. Feel free to look at "What Others Say" on this website to read a few testimonies from longtime clients.

One thing is certain. . . we live in uncertain times.  Instead of risking your retirement in the peaks and valleys of today’s economy, consider alternatives with:

  • The guaranteed protection of your principal.
  • A guaranteed rate of return.
  • An optional guaranteed income stream in retirement.

We offer no tricks, gimmicks or get-rich-quick schemes. There are diverse options and one that is sure to satisfy the needs of every household – including yours!