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

Ellie 2017 visit.jpg

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.

Will I make plans today to protect my family tomorrow?

Am I willing to sacrifice the 'wants' of today to ensure the 'needs' of tomorrow?

There are times in our lives when we face very, very big choices.  It will be vital to our happiness and peace of mind to make the right choice.  These will be times when only our heart can guide us.  I pray my heart is pure and humble when facing big decisions.

In my business, helping people plan for their life insurance needs and retirement is a serious operation.  With over 35 years of experience I emphatically conclude that acquiring permanent benefits is the only real solution for families.  Permanent means the benefit lasts as long as you live.  To delay acquiring permanent benefits is putting your family at great financial risk.

Over the years I have met several men and women who have suffered from putting off this decision.  They often relied on group benefits and term (temporary) life insurance, which was cheap, but often ended before it was needed.

The reasoning I heard --

"temporary benefits are "good enough for now." 

"I will think about it and get back with you."

"I like what you are saying, but I have to pay off ______ before I get started." 

In their heart they knew they were jeopardizing the future of their family. 

In some cases the risks were real and emotionally devastating.  One instance was the Reverend Jones, then in his late 60's, referred to me by his deacon and friend.  After hearing my explanation of permanent safety he said, "Bruce, I wish I had met you years ago." He was ill with diabetes and no longer insurable.  And his dear wife had developed dementia.  Their working years were over.  The house was paid off and they had no debts, but they had little in savings and no benefits except the wife's small life insurance and Medicare.  The life insurance was later taken by the nursing home. 

You know the saying, "It's never too late to get started."  That's a nice statement, but In many cases, it is too late.  It was too late for Reverend and Mrs. Jones. Time waits for no one.  Now both of them could no longer work and earn an income.  Their working years came to an end. Yours will too!

Another example is the dear Murano family.  Mr. Murano came to America with just a few dollars, but he built a career in medical sales. He told me, "I used to own whole life insurance but I dropped it."  The fake financial news gurus have hurt a lot of people who believed they would do well in the risky high stakes game of the stock market.  He developed heart disease in his 50's, making him uninsurable.  All Mr. Murano had left from his successful career was a small IRA and group benefits.   As we talked his dear wife of many years sat quietly in her chair.  She had a stroke a few years before and relied on her husband to take care of her every day.  They had to move their beds to the front room to live on the first level. The look of fear in his face and his words sent chills down my back as he said, "Now I have nothing. I am so afraid of what will happen to her if I get sick or die before she does."  As I listened to his story I could not help but think of how few his options were at age 74.   Things that filled his budget and pushed out the decision to buy permanent life insurance are now completely meaningless.  Their nice multilevel house is now an albatross and no longer useful because of their fear of using the steps.  Its big mortgage payment in the early years caused the most stress to the budget. He said to me, "Bruce, I have failed to plan well."  I tried to encourage him but his statement was true and he knew it.  Mr. Murano is walking through a stage in life we all must walk one day.  The protection offered through life insurance is needed so desperately for expenses and needs that will arise as we grow older. And we will grow older in the blink of an eye.

I believe God called me to this profession in 1980 when I was just 25 years old.  At that time I was seeking and praying for direction in my life in establishing a career.  My resources were very limited, but my desire to improve and succeed was compelling me to go forward.   There was no father figure in my childhood to guide me, but I was fortunate to become friends with someone who did get me pointed in the right direction.  I shared my burden with Mr. and Mrs. Caylor, an older couple who owned a small bible bookstore.  Mr. Caylor said he thought I would do well in the life insurance business.  When I asked him why he answered, "Because you care about people and you can talk to anyone." I learned a tremendous unforgettable lesson that day.  A good honest friend can see your talent and will point out your strengths when you need to hear it most.  It was a pivotal moment that changed the course of my life.  I thank God for John and Mildred Caylor.  Since that day my only career has been helping people solve financial problems and establish permanent benefits for their family.

So for me there is only one answer to my question.  It is YES.  Yes, today I must protect my family with permanent benefits.  Yes, I will continue to implement my plan today to protect my family tomorrow.  I willingly sacrifice the 'wants' of today to ensure my family's 'needs' of tomorrow?

May I help you get started today on building your peace of mind and happiness.  Small or large - something is always better than nothing. I know you will be satisfied and proud you did.

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!

Holidays Ahead! Proceed With Caution!

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Stuff!  Hurry!  Buy more stuff!

Pause .  Take a deep breath. Don't forget to buy what's most important!  "What IS most important?" you ask. 

Can you name the gift you gave or received five years ago? two years ago?  last year?  Black Friday.  Cyber Monday.  And so it begins.  Let's briefly hit the MUTE button on all the advertising and clamoring.  In recent years, my wife has spent both time and money (using a professional organizer) to eliminate 'stuff' from our home and lives.  What do we want that we don't already have?  Nothing .. not one thing. 

In lieu of exchanging gifts this year our children welcomed the idea to support a local charitable organization.  Instead of shopping, wrapping and exchanging gifts we will spend time together as a family visiting local spots, such as the Plaza and Union Station.  To top off the holiday festivities we look forward to a night of cookie decorating (and eating.)

What is your favorite Christmas memory?  That awesome pair of socks -- NOT.  Another terrific tie -- which one?  For me, it is the first Christmas with my wife at her childhood farm. 

If you read the Thanksgiving blog post, you are familiar with the "over the meadow and through the woods to grandmother's house we go" Norman Rockwell picturesque setting.  In 1983, we made plans to travel to Illinois for our first Christmas together as a married couple.  Our car at the time was a rust bucket and warnings of snowmageddon were predicted the day of departure.  Quick decisions. Got off work early. Rented a car.  Hit the road for the 6 hour drive.  Good call!!  The rental car had front wheel drive which came in handy when we drove into a monstrous snow drift, turning the corner for the last mile to "Mom and Dad's." 

We found out the next day we were snowed in -- FOR DAYS!  Actually, we would have been snowed OUT had we been delayed just 30 minutes.  Nothing to do but enjoy one another, look at the beautiful white snowdrifts and eat all the goodies in the fridge and freezer.  Like hibernating bears we ate ourselves into a food coma.  Yes, Christmas 1983 was merry and white.

My point is this, before you pull out and swipe the card think for a few moments.  Are you creating a memory or feeding the "GottaHaveIt" creature within?

Forget the number of shopping days left.  Put the Merry back into Christmas.