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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.

 

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.

 

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.