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“Have you enjoyed your money?” And other financial planning questions you should ask yourself in 2021

By Paul Parnell

Photo of Paul Parnell

“Have you enjoyed your money?” This is a question I often ask my clients. Too often I see investors who work and save diligently for a lifetime and yet never actually enjoy the fruits of their labor.  

After a year of life in a pandemic, I’m seeing a shift, and more families are taking time to reevaluate their priorities in terms of how they truly want to spend their time and money. Here are some common questions and points of consideration to reflect on for your personal financial plan.

Have you reevaluated any major priorities?

For example, I have clients say they plan to travel more once things open again. Some desire to move closer to family, to downsize, to retire earlier. Sadly, there have been many stark reminders this year that life is short, and our health is never guaranteed.  I see families that are more reflective on leaving a legacy and making significant changes to their trusts to protect their assets.

Any effective financial plan must take these elements into consideration.

Did the pandemic impact your job or career?

Early retirement, a career change, or job loss means impact to employee benefits that are tied to your long-term goals.

Specifically, Cobra was extended again – for at least another 6 months beyond May. This offers the unemployed more time to find new work and maintain their healthcare benefits – an important component of your financial plan. Accordingly, if you’ve lost your job, you may need to evaluate whether or not you can benefit from rolling your 401K over to an individual retirement account.

Volatility in the markets over the last year impacted executive compensation plans. It’s important to reevaluate your stock options, RSUs, or any additional incentives for consequences.

I am also seeing that, for people who have retained their jobs, many have accumulated more cash reserves than normal. If your cash reserve is beyond the recommended 3-6 months of expenses, you should consider shifting some to longer term investments.

Has your risk tolerance changed?

Risk tolerance often changes when you go through major life events. I’ve heard clients say, “Life too short and I want to retire early,” and they are willing to buckle down and live on less in retirement.

Meet with your financial planner and evaluate your current risk tolerance. Is it enough to maintain a high probability of your assets lasting? Cash and more conservative investments like CD’s aren’t paying much of anything these days. With interest rates so low, and plans for new economic expansion, historically this is a time to be more aggressive. Ensure that your portfolio is balanced to meet your future goals.

How might taxes impact your financial plan?

There are likely some big tax law changes coming over the next couple years. This is the time to be looking at tax shelters and maximizing your retirement plans, if you can. At Ballast Advisors, we also have an affiliated CPA practice, so this is a comprehensive service we may offer our clients.  We work with our client’s other advisors—including accountants, attorneys, and bankers—to ensure the seamless execution of your plan.

Capital Gains tax are likely to increase to historical levels, and this is something to be planning for earlier than perhaps you had planned. It’s something to be watching very carefully.

Questions and Answers

Any successful investment strategy requires getting to know our clients- to understand their dreams, goals and create a complete picture of their financial situation. 

Anytime you have major life change or shift priorities – be they personal or financial –your financial plan needs to reflect those changes. It is equally important to update your estate plan. It’s important to consult with your financial professionals to ensure that you are on track to meet your goals, no matter what life brings.

Whatever your passion is – from travel to grandkids – make sure you build in a plan to enjoy your money.

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES The opinions expressed herein are those of Ballast Advisors, LLC and are subject to change without notice.  Past performance is not indicative of future results. Nothing contained herein is an offer to purchase or sell any product. This material is for informational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice. Ballast Advisors reserve the right to modify its current investment strategies and techniques based on changing market dynamics or client needs.

 The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice. Ballast Advisors, LLC is a registered investment advisor under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about the firm, including its services, strategies, and fees can be found in our ADV Part 2, which is available without charge upon request.

Financial Resolutions for 2020

It’s a new year, a new decade, and the perfect time to renew healthy habits, including those in your financial life. Like any good habit, setting intentions and priorities is important. At Ballast Advisors, we know that our clients who are intentional and diligent about their financial goals have more success. 

You may have already set your big financial goals, like saving for retirement, planning for your child’s education or buying your dream home (And if you haven’t started that process, call us).

But here are some tips for smaller resolutions you can consider trying in 2020 to improve your discipline around your personal financial planning and retirement goals.

Create (and Stick) to a Budget Goal

Okay, this is low hanging fruit, but consider setting a new and unique goal with your budget. “It’s easy for a client to say I want to save more money or trim expenses, but getting specific is key. Pick an expense or determine where you are going to save money,” says Scott Peterson, wealth advisor at Ballast Advisors. 

If you’re someone who generally spends first then tries to save what they can at the end of each month you should consider paying yourself first.  Set a simple savings goal for each paycheck and get that out of the way before paying any bills.  “Maybe you start at $10 a paycheck, maybe it’s $500…everybody is different,“ suggests Richard Juckel, financial planner at Ballast Advisors. “A general rule of thumb is to try and save 15-20% of your pre-tax income. If you have a steep hill to climb to reach your savings goals, start small and work your way up.”

plant growing out of savings jar of coins

Save to the Max

Are you making the most of your executive benefits package? At a minimum if your company offers a retirement savings plan with a match you could be leaving money on the table if you’re not contributing to the plan.  Consider saving at least the amount your employer is willing to match. Saving the matching amount alone is rarely enough to meet most people’s retirement plans, but it’s a great place to start!

BONUS TIP: Save your raise. If you’re fortunate enough to receive a raise throughout the year, consider using the increased income to step up your savings plan.  These incremental savings increases could really add up over time.

Audit Your Autopayments

Set time aside to review anything that is on auto-payment. $5.99 here and $14.99 there add up quickly over time. Do you still need that music subscription or meditation app you forgot you subscribed to last year?

 This is also a great time to evaluate your rates for things like insurance and other monthly services and fees. Are you getting the best rate?

Go to the Pros

There is a load of free content out there to help you improve your financial acumen. Commit to reading a finance blog weekly, or find a podcast. Make it a routine to listen to your podcast during your workout, or on your commute from work.

“On the Ballast Advisors website, we offer free financial tools, calculators and financial education,” says Paul Parnell, wealth advisor at Ballast Advisors. “Or if you’re not using a financial planner, consider a free consultation.”

The process of having a professional review your employer sponsored retirement plan in addition to other investments and savings, can help you determine if you are on track.

“A great oldie but really good book on paying for yourself first and saving is The Millionaire Next Door: The Surprising Secrets of America’s Wealthy by Thomas J. Stanley and William D. Danko,”  Parnell adds.

Related Post: Financial Planner vs Financial Advisor? Making sense of  these titles and other tips on choosing a financial professional

man holding  mobile phone

Embrace a New Technology

Maybe this is the year you try a new app. There are many great technology services to help you track your spending better. Consider an app like Mint, where you can track income and expenses. This article on Investopedia lists the top personal finance apps in 2019.

Or check with your financial planner. Ballast Advisors clients have a customized portal to review their portfolio online. 

Schedule a monthly reminder in your phone to review your app or portal.

Again, it’s easy to say you want to save more money or trim expenses in 2020, but making intentional and specific steps is key. 

For more information on how Ballast Advisors helps clients with personal financial planning, executive benefits, and saving for retirement, and see www.ballastadvisors.com/. Our financial advisors serving the Twin Cities and Southwestern Florida can help you reach your retirement and financial goals.  Our offices are located in Woodbury, MN, Arden Hills, MN and Punta Gorda, FL.

 

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

The opinions expressed are those of Ballast Advisors, LLC. The opinions referenced are as of the date of publication and are subject to change due to changes in the market or economic conditions and may not necessarily come to pass. These opinions contain references to material provided by third-party sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed for accuracy.  

Ballast Advisors, LLC is a registered investment advisor under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about the firm, including its services, strategies, and fees can be found in our ADV Part 2, which is available without charge upon request. The opinions expressed herein are those of Ballast Advisors, LLC and are subject to change without notice.

 

 

10 Tips To Help You Save More in 2021

It’s a new year (thank goodness) and the perfect time to renew healthy habits, including those in your financial life. If 2020 taught us anything, it’s the importance of planning ahead. You may have already been working toward your big financial goals, like saving for retirement or planning for your child’s education. However, how you approach these goals may have had to change, depending on how the Pandemic impacted your individual financial plan. 

As financial planners and advisors, we are passionate about helping you set intentions and priorities around personal finance goals. A general rule of thumb is to try and save 15-20% of your pre-tax income. We know that our clients who are intentional and diligent about their financial goals have more success. 

Here are 10 money saving tips you can consider implementing in 2021 to improve your discipline around your personal financial planning and retirement goals.

10 Tips To Help You Save More In 2021

Savings Tip #1 – Set a simple savings goal for each paycheck and get that out of the way before paying any bills. Set it to transfer automatically, so you get used to having less money to spend.

Savings Tip #2 – Evaluate your retirement plan. Once you set your budget, work toward taking that first 15% and invest in your 401K, IRA or retirement account. This habit will go a long way toward building your retirement savings.

Savings Tip #3 – If you’re lucky enough to still see a raise or bonus this year, consider using the increased income to step up your savings plan.  These incremental savings increases could really add up over time.

Savings Tip #4 – If your company offers a retirement savings plan with a match, you could be leaving money on the table if you’re not contributing to the plan.  Consider saving at least the amount your employer is willing to match. Saving the matching amount alone is rarely enough to meet most people’s retirement plans, but it’s a great place to start!

Savings Tip #5 – If you brown bag your lunch vs. eating out, you can save an average of $100 a month. If you invested that money into retirement you could have as much as $103,000 when you retire. (assuming 25 years to retirement, 2.5% inflation rate, and an average of 7% rate of return).

Savings Tip #6 – While you’re cleaning out those closets, consider selling stuff you haven’t used in a year and use the proceeds toward any credit card debt. Don’t forget to check your credit reports once a year for free at annualcreditreport.com

Savings Tip #7 – Set time aside to review anything that is on auto-payment. $5.99 here and $14.99 there add up quickly over time. Do you still need that music subscription or meditation app you forgot you subscribed to last year?

Savings Tip #8 – This is also a great time to evaluate your rates for things like insurance and other monthly services and fees. Are you getting the best rate?

Savings Tip #9 – If you’re not using a financial planner, consider a free consultation. The process of having a professional review your employer sponsored retirement plan in addition to other investments and savings, can help you determine if you are on track.

Savings Tip #10 – There is a load of free content out there to help you improve your financial acumen. Commit to reading a finance blog weekly, or find a podcast. Make it a routine to listen to your podcast during your workout, or on your commute from work. 

Again, it’s easy to say you want to save more money or trim expenses in 2021, but making intentional is key. 

For more information on how Ballast Advisors helps clients with personal financial planning, executive benefits, and saving for retirement, and see www.ballastadvisors.com/. Our financial advisors serving the Twin Cities and Southwestern Florida can help you reach your retirement and financial goals.  Our offices are located in Woodbury, MN, Arden Hills, MN and Punta Gorda, FL.

 

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES

The opinions expressed are those of Ballast Advisors, LLC. The opinions referenced are as of the date of publication and are subject to change due to changes in the market or economic conditions and may not necessarily come to pass. These opinions contain references to material provided by third-party sources believed to be reliable but cannot be guaranteed for accuracy.  

Ballast Advisors, LLC is a registered investment advisor under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about the firm, including its services, strategies, and fees can be found in our ADV Part 2, which is available without charge upon request. The opinions expressed herein are those of Ballast Advisors, LLC and are subject to change without notice.

 

Changing Jobs? Know Your 401(k) Options

If you’ve lost your job, or are changing jobs, you may be wondering what to do with your 401(k) plan account. It’s important to understand your options.

Originally Published on: Jul 1, 2019

 What will I be entitled to?

If you leave your job (voluntarily or involuntarily), you’ll be entitled to a distribution of your vested balance. Your vested balance always includes your own contributions (pre-tax, after-tax, and Roth) and typically any investment earnings on those amounts. It also includes employer contributions (and earnings) that have satisfied your plan’s vesting schedule.

Nest with eggs labeled with the financial planning terms house, pension, 401K, IRAIn general, you must be 100% vested in your employer’s contributions after 3 years of service (“cliff vesting”), or you must vest gradually, 20% per year until you’re fully vested after 6 years (“graded vesting”). Plans can have faster vesting schedules, and some even have 100% immediate vesting. You’ll also be 100% vested once you’ve reached your plan’s normal retirement age.

It’s important for you to understand how your particular plan’s vesting schedule works, because you’ll forfeit any employer contributions that haven’t vested by the time you leave your job. Your summary plan description (SPD) will spell out how the vesting schedule for your particular plan works. If you don’t have one, ask your plan administrator for it. If you’re on the cusp of vesting, it may make sense to wait a bit before leaving, if you have that luxury.

Don’t spend it

While this pool of dollars may look attractive, don’t spend it unless you absolutely need to. If you take a distribution you’ll be taxed, at ordinary income tax rates, on the entire value of your account except for any after-tax or Roth 401(k) contributions you’ve made. And, if you’re not yet age 55, an additional 10% penalty may apply to the taxable portion of your payout. (Special rules may apply if you receive a lump-sum distribution and you were born before 1936, or if the lump-sum includes employer stock.)

If your vested balance is more than $5,000, you can leave your money in your employer’s plan at least until you reach the plan’s normal retirement age (typically age 65). But your employer must also allow you to make a direct rollover to an IRA or to another employer’s 401(k) plan. As the name suggests, in a direct rollover the money passes directly from your 401(k) plan account to the IRA or other plan. This is preferable to a “60-day rollover,” where you get the check and then roll the money over yourself, because your employer has to withhold 20% of the taxable portion of a 60-day rollover. You can still roll over the entire amount of your distribution, but you’ll need to come up with the 20% that’s been withheld until you recapture that amount when you file your income tax return.

Should I roll over to my new employer’s 401(k) plan or to an IRA?

Assuming both options are available to you, there’s no right or wrong answer to this question. There are strong arguments to be made on both sides. You need to weigh all of the factors, and make a decision based on your own needs and priorities. It’s best to have a professional assist you with this, since the decision you make may have significant consequences — both now and in the future.

Reasons to consider rolling over to an IRA:

  • You generally have more investment choices with an IRA than with an employer’s 401(k) plan. You typically may freely move your money around to the various investments offered by your IRA trustee, and you may divide up your balance among as many of those investments as you want. By contrast, employer-sponsored plans generally offer a limited menu of investments (usually mutual funds) from which to choose.

 

  • You can freely allocate your IRA dollars among different IRA trustees/custodians. There’s no limit on how many direct, trustee-to-trustee IRA transfers you can do in a year. This gives you flexibility to change trustees often if you are dissatisfied with investment performance or customer service. It can also allow you to have IRA accounts with more than one institution for added diversification. With an employer’s plan, you can’t move the funds to a different trustee unless you leave your job and roll over the funds
  • An IRA may give you more flexibility with distributions. Your distribution options in a 401(k) plan depend on the terms of that particular plan, and your options may be limited. However, with an IRA, the timing and amount of distributions is generally at your discretion (until you reach age 70½ and must start taking required minimum distributions in the case of a traditional IRA).

 

  • You can roll over (essentially “convert”) your 401(k) plan distribution to a Roth IRA. You’ll generally have to pay taxes on the amount you roll over (minus any after-tax contributions you’ve made), but any qualified distributions from the Roth IRA in the future will be tax free.

Reasons to consider rolling over to your new employer’s 401(k) plan (or stay in your current plan):

 

  • Many employer-sponsored plans have loan provisions. If you roll over your retirement funds to a new employer’s plan that permits loans, you may be able to borrow up to 50% of the amount you roll over if you need the money. You can’t borrow from an IRA — you can only access the money in an IRA by taking a distribution, which may be subject to income tax and penalties. (You can give yourself a short-term loan from an IRA by taking a distribution, and then rolling the dollars back to an IRA within 60 days; however, this move is permitted only once in any 12-month time period.)

 

  • Employer retirement plans generally provide greater creditor protection than IRAs. Most 401(k) plans receive unlimited protection from your creditors under federal law. Your creditors (with certain exceptions) cannot attach your plan funds to satisfy any of your debts and obligations, regardless of whether you’ve declared bankruptcy. In contrast, any amounts you roll over to a traditional or Roth IRA are generally protected under federal law only if you declare bankruptcy. Any creditor protection your IRA may receive in cases outside of bankruptcy will generally depend on the laws of your particular state. If you are concerned about asset protection, be sure to seek the assistance of a qualified professional.
  • You may be able to postpone required minimum distributions. For traditional IRAs, these distributions must begin by April 1 following the year you reach age 70½. However, if you work past that age and are still participating in your employer’s 401(k) plan, you can delay your first distribution from that plan until April 1 following the year of your retirement. (You also must own no more than 5% of the company.)

 

  • If your distribution includes Roth 401(k) contributions and earnings, you can roll those amounts over to either a Roth IRA or your new employer’s Roth 401(k) plan (if it accepts rollovers). If you roll the funds over to a Roth IRA, the Roth IRA holding period will determine when you can begin receiving tax-free qualified distributions from the IRA. So if you’re establishing a Roth IRA for the first time, your Roth 401(k) dollars will be subject to a brand new five-year holding period. On the other hand, if you roll the dollars over to your new employer’s Roth 401 (k) plan, your existing five-year holding period will carry over to the new plan. This may enable you to receive tax-free qualified distributions sooner.

When evaluating whether to initiate a rollover always be sure to (1) ask about possible surrender charges that may be imposed by your employer plan, or new surrender charges that your IRA may impose, (2) compare investment fees and expenses charged by your IRA (and investment funds) with those charged by your employer plan (if any), and (3) understand any accumulated rights or guarantees that you may be giving up by transferring funds out of your employer plan.

What about outstanding plan loans?

In general, if you have an outstanding plan loan, you’ll need to pay it back, or the outstanding balance will be taxed as if it had been distributed to you in cash. If you can’t pay the loan back before you leave, you’ll still have 60 days to roll over the amount that’s been treated as a distribution to your IRA. Of course, you’ll need to come up with the dollars from other sources.


Prepared by Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2019

IMPORTANT DISCLOSURES Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. does not provide investment, tax, legal, or retirement advice or recommendations. The information presented here is not specific to any individual’s personal circumstances. To the extent that this material concerns tax matters, it is not intended or written to be used, and cannot be used, by a taxpayer for the purpose of avoiding penalties that may be imposed by law. Each taxpayer should seek independent advice from a tax professional based on his or her individual circumstances. These materials are provided for general information and educational purposes based upon publicly available information from sources believed to be reliable — we cannot assure the accuracy or completeness of these materials. The information in these materials may change at any time and without notice

If you’re interested in receiving additional financial advice, contact Ballast Advisors for a complimentary consultation at a location near you:

Ballast Advisors – Woodbury

683 Bielenberg Dr., Suite 208
Woodbury, MN  55125-1705
Tel: 651.478.4644

 Ballast Advisors – Arden Hills

3820 Cleveland Ave. N, Ste. 500
Arden Hills, MN  55112-3298
Tel: 651.200.3100

 Ballast Advisors – Punta Gorda 

223 Taylor St., Suite 1214
Punta Gorda, FL  33950-3901
Tel: 941.621.4015

Financial Planner vs Financial Advisor?

Making sense of  these titles and other tips on choosing a financial professional

Professionals at Ballast Advisors, LLC delineate differences between financial professional terms and designations to help empower your choices around personal financial planning, retirement planning, and more.

Originally Published Dec 2018.

What is the difference between a financial planner and financial advisor? What about a wealth advisor? Is this just semantics on a business card, or are there actual certification differences? If you’ve wondered about these questions, you’re not alone. In the top Google searches that include terms such as  “financial advisor,” these are the questions that consistently come to the top.

We asked Richard Juckel, Vice President, Advice and Wealth Management CFP®, CRPC® at Ballast Advisors, LLC to help break down the differences between financial professional terms and designations to help you feel more empowered and confident when it comes to choosing a financial professional.

So what is the difference between Financial Planner, Financial Advisor and Wealth Advisor?

When you see a title on a financial professional’s business card, think about it like a specialty.

“Generally speaking, a Financial Planner may be saying they prefer to work with clients to develop a strategy to help meet their long term goals,” explains Richard Juckel, CFP®, CRPC® in Woodbury, Minn.  “A Financial Advisor, on the other hand, is a fairly broad term that you might associate with someone who helps you manage money related matters.  A Wealth Advisor may focus more specifically on helping clients preserve, grow, and protect accumulated wealth.”

Regardless, one should not rely solely on a financial professional’s business card to determine whether the financial professional has the expertise you need.  Instead, consider whether the financial professional is a registered representative, investment adviser representative, insurance agent, or some combination of the three.

It’s also important to understand these designations because it impacts what and how you will pay for services. Investment professionals are typically paid in one (or more than one) of the following ways: An hourly fee; A flat fee; A commission on the investment products they sell you; A percentage of the value of the assets they manage for you;  Or a combination of fees and commissions.

“Generally registered representatives and insurance agents may earn commission for products sold while an investment adviser representative is only paid directly by the client for advice services rendered,” adds Juckel.

Financial Professionals claiming a “Fee-Based” compensation model  are generally a registered investment adviser or investment adviser representative and may collect fees directly from the consumer or in the form of commissions.    

“For example,  Ballast Advisors generally collects fees from clients for advice services rendered such as creating a financial plan, managing an investment portfolio,  but may also collect commissions if a client elects to implement on insurance product recommendations (such as life insurance, long term care insurance, or disability insurance),” explains Juckel.  “For this reason, Ballast Advisors should be considered a Fee-Based Advisor and any of the Investment Advisors Representatives associated with the firm would also be considered to have a fee-based compensation model.”

Making Sense of Financial Professional Designations

Next, consider what designations the professional holds.  

“The Certified Financial Planner™ designation, for example, is only available to those who have fulfilled CFP Board’s requirements to call themselves a CFP® professional,” says Juckel.

The “Chartered Retirement Planning CounselorSM (CRPC®) is a professional financial planning designation awarded by the College for Financial Planning®. Individuals may earn the CRPC® designation by completing a study program and passing a final multiple-choice examination.

And there are more… CFA® (Chartered Financial Analyst® ), PFS (Personal Financial Specialist), CIMA (Certified Investment Management AnalystSM …) it’s no wonder the landscape gets confusing.

One helpful online resource to navigate the difference is found on the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA) website that allows you to search and compare multiple accredited designations. You can also see whether the issuing organization requires continuing education, takes complaints or has a way for you to confirm who holds the credential. It’s also important to visit the website of the organization that issued an advisor’s credential to verify that the advisor is a member in good standing.

See Related Link:  FINRA Professional Designations 

What does Fiduciary mean?

Lastly, consider whether or not your financial professional is acting as a Fiduciary on your behalf.

The fiduciary standard of care as defined by the CFP Board is “One who acts in utmost good faith, in a manner he or she reasonably believes to be in the best interest of the client.”

Here’s a great video explaining the Fiduciary Standard

https://abm.emaplan.com/ABM/MediaServe/MediaLink?token=f483e047465343d0bbb425930bf50a5a

If Video doesn’t load, CLICK HERE

How do I choose the right Financial Professional?

Because the financial services industry regulations prohibit advertising traditional testimonials from past and current clients, it’s important to do your own research, ask questions, and interview potential advisors to find the right fit.

“First and foremost, you should consider your personal needs. Are you looking for specific investment advice? Evaluating insurance? Trying to accumulate wealth or protect the wealth you’ve already created?” says Juckel.

Consider a firm that offers comprehensive services.  

“Many financial decisions may have unintended consequences if acted on in a vacuum.  For example, converting money from a Traditional IRA has immediate tax implications with potential future tax cost savings.  It’s not enough to simply say a Roth Conversion is or is not a good idea.  It’s a matter of each individual’s personal circumstance,” he adds. “Ballast Advisors maintains a list of other professionals and regularly makes recommendations for clients to work with these outside professionals to help with tax preparation, estate planning, and home financing.  As a general rule, we would advise a client to check with us first for any and all things related to their personal finances.”

If you need more guidance, check out this brochure that can help you select the professional that is right for you.


If you’re interested in receiving additional financial advice as a business owner, contact Ballast Advisors for a complimentary consultation at a location near you:

Ballast Advisors – Woodbury Area
683 Bielenberg Dr., Suite 208
Woodbury, MN  55125-1705
Tel: 651.478.4644
Ballast Advisors – Arden Hills Area
3820 Cleveland Ave. N, Ste. 500
Arden Hills, MN  55112-3298
Tel: 651.200.3100
Ballast Advisors – Punta Gorda & Port Charlotte County Area
6210 Scott St., Suite 117
Punta Gorda, FL  33950-3901
Tel: 941.621.4015 

See related resources:

 

 

Ballast Advisors, LLC is a registered investment advisor under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about the firm, including its services, strategies, and fees can be found in our ADV Part 2, which is available without charge upon request. The opinions expressed herein are those of Ballast Advisors, LLC and are subject to change without notice.

 

3 Tips for Personal Finances During the Holiday Season

Ballast Financial Professionals share tips for your personal finances this holiday season.

(originally published November 2018)

Between holiday gifts, parties and meals — this time of year is one of inevitably higher spending.

No matter what your regular habits are around your personal financial planning, it’s a good practice this time of year to give your household budget a once-over and pay extra attention to your spending.

Even if your gifting budget is unlimited, there are a few reasons an extra eye on your expenditures is recommended.

Professionals from Ballast Advisors share three best practices for personal finances this holiday season.

Tip #1: Plan Ahead

Santa shouldn’t be the only one making lists and checking them twice.

“Plan ahead and stick to your budget,” recommends wealth advisor Scott Peterson of Ballast Advisors, who has twenty-seven years of experience in the financial services industry. 

Consider planning for the not so obvious — smaller expenses like hostess gifts and extra groceries for out of town company can add up quickly, so factor them in advance.

There are even some apps that can help you plan your giving. Santa’s Bag is an easy-to-use Christmas themed shopping app that helps you budget and track your gift giving by recipient.

Ultimately, you can’t calculate where you’re going financially unless you know where you stand now, so cash flow and budget analysis is key.

Christmas shopping list

Tip #2: Shop Early

Even if you’re not a die-hard Black Friday shopper, don’t wait until Christmas Eve to do your shopping, or you will likely spend more.

“Start shopping early,” says Paul Parnell, Founding Partner of Ballast Advisors.  Paul has over twenty-three years of experience in guiding clients and helping them prepare for a sound financial future.

“From personal experience, last minute shopping is much more expensive,” adds Parnell.

Again if you couple this second tip with planning ahead, you’re on track to wiser spending.

Tip #3: Evaluate Regularly

As the saying goes, “the road to Hell is paved with good intentions” —and the same logic applies to your holiday shopping.

Even if you start off with a budget, a plan, shop early — if you don’t actually stick to it, it’s not worth much.

“Don’t wait until after the Holidays to evaluate what you spent,” says CFP®  certified financial professional Richard Juckel, who is responsible for overseeing the advice and wealth management operations and serves on the Investment Committee at Ballast Advisors.

Not only is it important to make a budget, but it’s equally important to track it closely. Hang on to your receipts, spend that extra time entering your spend against your budget.

Unfortunately, this time of year is also a time where theft is on the rise. Keep track of your transactions to be sure there isn’t any unauthorized spending.

These simple steps put into action will help you keep on track this season.

For more information on how Ballast Advisors helps Twin Cities professionals discover their financial needs and goals

 

 

For more information on how Ballast Advisors helps professionals discover their financial needs and goals, contact Ballast Advisors for a complimentary consultation at a location near you:

Ballast Advisors – Woodbury

683 Bielenberg Dr., Suite 208
Woodbury, MN  55125-1705
Tel: 651.478.4644

 Ballast Advisors – St. Paul

3820 Cleveland Ave. N, Ste. 500

St. Paul, MN  55112-3298
Tel: 651.200.3100

Ballast Advisors – Punta Gorda
223 Taylor Street, Suite 1214
Punta Gorda, FL  33950-3901
Tel: 941.621.4015

 Ballast Advisors, LLC is a registered investment advisor under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. More information about the firm, including its services, strategies, and fees can be found in our ADV Part 2, which is available without charge upon request. The opinions expressed herein are those of Ballast Advisors, LLC and are subject to change without notice.

Paul L. Parnell, APMA®, CRPC®

Ballast Advisors Paul L. Parnell, APMA®, CRPC® Wealth Advisor

Tel: 651.478.4644
[email protected]
683 Bielenberg Drive, Suite 208
Woodbury, MN 55125-1715
ballastadvisors.com

Paul L. Parnell, APMA®, CRPC®

Managing Partner | Wealth Advisor 

Paul is a Founding Partner of Ballast Advisors.  He has over twenty-three years of experience in guiding clients and helping them prepare for a sound financial future. He specializes in financial planning, including wealth management solutions and risk reduction strategies for a select group of families, professionals, business owners, and retirees. Paul also oversees the general business and strategic direction of the firm. He serves on the firm’s Executive and Investment Policy Committees.

He is an Accredited Portfolio Management Advisor (APMA®) and holds the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC®) designation. He is a member of the Financial Planning Association. He serves on several local boards, including the board of directors for the Woodbury Community Foundation, where he works to enforce their mission connecting people and organizations with causes that matter.  

Paul resides in Woodbury, MN with his wife, Gloria and children.  In addition to spending time with his family, he enjoys golfing, reading and running.

 

Rich Gerczak, CFP®

Ballast Advisors Richard Gerczak, CFP®

Tel: 651.200.3110
[email protected]
3820 Cleveland Ave N, Suite 500
Arden Hills, MN 55112-3298
ballastadvisors.com

Richard Gerczak, CFP®

Managing Partner | Wealth Advisor | CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ 

Rich is a Founding Partner of Ballast Advisors. As a Certified Financial Planner for the past 22 years, Rich has helped many families reach their financial goals.  Rich focuses his practice on helping clients invest soundly, minimize taxes, educate their children, retire comfortably and preserve their estates.  He also serves on the Executive and Investment Committees within the firm.

Rich has been recognized numerous times by local publications and organizations for his work as a Financial Advisor.  He has also served in many leadership roles for the development and training of other Financial Advisors.  He is an active community member serving in many church and civic organizations.  Rich has served on a few local non-profit boards, worked as a mentor for The Boys and Girls Club and served as a local school board member.

Rich graduated from the University of Wisconsin Madison with a degree in Business Administration and major in Accounting.  He began his professional career as an Accountant for a Fortune 500 company here in the Twin Cities.  He is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants (AICPA).

Rich resides in St Paul with his family.  He enjoys time at his family cabin, reading history books and spending time outdoors.

 

Steven Schmidt, CFP®, APMA®, ChFC®, CLU®

Ballast Advisors Steven Schmidt, CFP®, APMA®, ChFC®, CLU®

Tel: 651.200.3113
[email protected]
3820 Cleveland Ave N, Suite 500
Arden Hills, MN 55112-3298
ballastadvisors.com

Steven Schmidt, CFP®, APMA®, ChFC®, CLU®

Managing Partner | Wealth Advisor | CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ 

Steve is a Founding Partner at Ballast Advisors. He is a seasoned investment manager with over 24 years of experience.  Since 1993 he has advised small business owners and professionals with wealth management in St. Paul, MN  and serves on the firm’s Executive and Investment Policy Committees.

Steve earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Saint Olaf College in Northfield, MN.  In addition, Steve has earned designations as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Accredited Portfolio Management Advisor (APMA®), the Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC®), and Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU®).  He is  a member of the Financial Planning Association (FPA).  

Steve and his wife Mari reside in Arden Hills, MN with their four children.  In his spare time he enjoys reading, spending time outdoors – including the Boundary Waters,  and golfing with family and friends.

 

Scott Peterson

Ballast Advisors Scott Peterson, Wealth Advisor

Tel: 941.621.4015
[email protected]
223 Taylor Street, Suite 1214
Punta Gorda, FL 33950-3901

ballastadvisors.com

Scott Peterson

Wealth Advisor

Scott has twenty-seven years of experience in the financial services industry and has been working as a financial advisor for the past twelve years.  At Ballast Advisors, Scott strives to educate clients and assist in making progress toward their financial goals and dreams. He develops sustained and actionable solutions through his hands-on approach to financial planning. He plays an important role in guiding our investment strategy, portfolio management and providing ongoing financial planning to new and existing clients. Prior to becoming a financial advisor, Scott worked in fixed income trading for Ameriprise Financial and Washington Square Securities. 

Scott graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Economics from St Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota.