FEATURED POST

Nick L.

Mapping Out Your Future with a Financial Plan
Just like a map or a GPS is needed for someone driving a car on a long trip, a financial plan is useful for anyone wondering about their financial future.  A financial plan lets us know if we are heading in the right direction, for example north instead of south.  Much like a long journey, life will have many twists, turns and a few unexpected bumps in the road.  However, with a well-planned route, we can have a clear idea of whether we are heading in the direction of our destination. What is a Financial Plan? A financial plan is a document that evaluates cash flow, assets, goals, and brings the information together in a document that predicts how much money and income you will have in the future. This document will be used to determine if your current strategy will accomplish your goals, or if you need a different one. Who can benefit from a financial plan? Financial plans are useful for people of all ages. A financial plan looks at money that is coming in (wages for most people), assets that you have saved so far, and what you are currently saving. This along with other factors helps to plan a path for your financial future.  This could be saving for a large purchase, paying off debt, or saving for the future (children’s education or retirement).  Financial plans are also helpful for people already in retirement as they can be used to help identify a strategy for creating retirement income, spending down assets, or planning to leave them to heirs. To prepare a financial plan your financial planner will need to gather some information from you. You will likely need to bring the following: Recent paystubs Last year’s tax return Statements for any retirement or investment accounts that you have Information on any pensions that you may have Social Security Statements (get yours at ssa.gov/myaccount ) More complex plans may require information about insurance and/or legal work Your planner will ask some questions to get to know you and find out what is important to you. A good planner will be interested in not just how much money you have, but also in what you would like to accomplish with your money. This conversation along with the data you bring to your appointment will help your planner to craft a financial plan that is specific to your goals. Your planning process will likely consist of several meetings. Costs are generally dependent on the complexity of your plan, and it is even possible that your advisor will provide some basic planning at no cost. Life will continue to change over time, for this reason it is important to revisit your financial plan with your advisor every so often to account for any detours or bumps along the road of life.  Financial plans are working documents that need to be adjusted as circumstances change. You should expect to update your financial plan several times during your working years. Generally, this will be every few years or when a major life change occurs. If you would like to find out more about having your personal financial plan prepared, contact us to set up your no obligation consultation today. Kate Pederson Investment Advisor Representative & Tax Preparer  Kate joined Advisors Management Group in December 2017. Prior to joining the firm, she worked in manufacturing and healthcare during her career as a financial analyst. Advisors Management Group, Inc. is a registered investment adviser whose principal office is located in Wisconsin.   Opinions expressed are those of AMG and are subject to change, not guaranteed, and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security.  Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and investing involves multiple risks, including, but not limited to, the risk of permanent losses.  Please do not send orders via e-mail as they are not binding and cannot be acted upon.  Please be advised it remains the responsibility of our clients to inform AMG of any changes in their investment objectives and/or financial situation.  This commentary is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to AMG’s investment advisory/management services.  Any subsequent, direct communication by AMG  with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides.  A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available for your review upon request.
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19 Jan 2024

Nick L.

Navigating the Financial Maze: The Importance of a Financial Advisor

Where do you go when you need help making important financial decisions? Do you find yourself researching financial topics on popular outlets like Reddit, YouTube and TikTok? There is a plethora of information on the internet, but should you trust the information you are getting from social media and other online outlets?  Do you feel like the idea of working with a financial advisor is old-fashioned or for people your parents’ age? With so many online resources available is there value in hiring someone to help? Pitfalls of DIY Planning One of the most concerning parts of using social media to research your financial planning needs is the amount of inaccurate information floating around. It can be very difficult to determine what is right and what is not.  Even some of the more notable financial gurus are often unlicensed and provide information for entertainment only. In addition, this general advice may not be what’s best for your specific needs. Online calculators are a popular way to project how much money you will need in retirement or other basic planning concepts. While these are helpful, they are basic and don’t allow for much customization. They also depend on accurate and appropriate information to be typed in. If you miscalculate, it may provide an output that isn’t accurate or realistic. Am I ready to see a Financial Advisor? Perhaps you think you need a lot of money to start working with a financial advisor. While some advisors only work with people who have a lot of money, others are happy to help people build their wealth. You don’t need to feel like you don’t have enough money. Choosing to work with a professional earlier in your life can help you to achieve your goals sooner and can help you navigate situations that will arise during your saving years. How to choose a Financial Advisor Choosing a financial advisor is a big decision.  In doing so you are giving someone access to a very sensitive part of your life.  Remember you are hiring an expert to work with you.  Your advisor should provide value to you and your financial decisions.  Here are some things to consider when hiring a financial advisor. Communication It is important to find an advisor who communicates clearly and timely.  It is important that you understand and are comfortable with what is going on with your money. Find a fiduciary  A fiduciary is required to work in your best interest.  Today many financial professionals work for firms registered as fiduciaries, however it is possible for an advisor to be dually registered, meaning they are registered as a fiduciary and as a broker dealer.  Broker dealers are held to a suitability standard, meaning that they can recommend investments they reasonably believe are appropriate for the situation, but not necessarily the best.  By choosing an advisor who only works under a fiduciary standard, they are held to stricter rules and are required to act only in the best interest of the investor. Compensation Understand how the advisor gets paid.  Brokers can receive commissions on the investment products they sell.  A conflict of interest can arise when one investment product pays a commission, and another product does not.  Fiduciaries are paid by a fee billed to a client not through commission from a product sale.  This reduces conflicts of interest in investment recommendations. Planning Style Find someone who will take a holistic view of your finances.  Creating a portfolio is an important piece of your financial strategy, however this is only one part of your personal finances.  Find an advisor who can add value to you in other ways.  They should have a knowledge of tax laws as costly mistakes have been made by being unaware of these consequences.  Do you have enough in your emergency fund? Do you need to pay down debt or save for a large purchase such as a house?  Are you on track for retirement?  What will happen to your assets when you pass away?  This broad view will help to make sure all the pieces are working together to help you achieve your financial goals. Get a Referral Speak with family and friends.  See who they recommend and why. Knowing that someone you trust is working with and presumably is happy with the service the advisor provides can help make you more comfortable in moving forward. Not all financial advisors are the same.  It is important to find someone who communicates well with you and will work with you on achieving your goals.  Taking the time to find the right advisor can yield big benefits as you build a relationship that can last for decades. Rebecca Agamaite Investment Advisor Representative  Rebecca joined the firm in 2011 as an Investment Advisor Representative. In this role, she works with clients to manage their investment assets and help them obtain their financial objectives. Rebecca brings a great deal of experience to the team having worked for several years at Marshall & IIsley Bank and MetLife. She earned a Masters of Business Administration degree (with an emphasis on finance) from Concordia University. Advisors Management Group, Inc. is a registered investment adviser whose principal office is located in Wisconsin.   Opinions expressed are those of AMG and are subject to change, not guaranteed, and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security.  Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and investing involves multiple risks, including, but not limited to, the risk of permanent losses.  Please do not send orders via e-mail as they are not binding and cannot be acted upon.  Please be advised it remains the responsibility of our clients to inform AMG of any changes in their investment objectives and/or financial situation.  This commentary is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to AMG’s investment advisory/management services.  Any subsequent, direct communication by AMG  with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides.  A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available for your review upon request.

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13 Dec 2023

Nick L.

Planning for Success: The Importance of a Business Owner’s Exit Plan

For people who work conventional jobs, preparing for retirement is straightforward. Work, save and then retire when you have accumulated enough money to last for the remainder of your life. For business owners, there are a lot of different factors that can come into play when planning for retirement. For people who worked hard to build a successful business, leaving the business, and beginning retirement is not cut and dry. There are financial and emotional considerations that accompany walking away from your life’s work. As a business owner, you probably have given some thought to what will happen to your business when you are ready to retire, but you may have options available that you hadn’t considered. Common ways that business owners stop working include family succession, retiring while retaining ownership, selling outright or liquidation. Understanding your options and understanding which solutions will work best for you and your business are important aspects of business continuation planning. Your business likely has assets such as real estate or equipment, but have you considered other parts of your business that have a intangible value to you? Assets, current earnings, projected future earnings and even your ideas (intellectual property) factor into your business’s value. Understanding your business’s current value can help you to grow your valuation to position yourself more favorably for the future. A formalized business valuation will outline a detailed explanation of the worth of your company and can be valuable in helping you determine the market value of assets that may be liquidated or for determining the sales price of your business. You may choose to purposely grow your business to make it more marketable or you may determine that it is attractive as it. This can also help you determine any tax consequences that may occur with the sale of your business. Have you considered who might want to step into your business when you retire? For many people a business partner or family member are the logical choice, however it’s not the only option. You may consider selling your business to someone that you don’t know such as a competitor. You may choose to sell it yourself or use a broker to market and negotiate a deal. Selling your business to someone you don’t know can take considerable time. If you are choosing to sell your business, you may want to get the ball rolling sooner than you expect to retire. It can take years to find a suitable buyer and sometimes deals fall through. Many times, when a buyer is assuming the business, the former owner will stay on for a period to help transition the business over and retain revenue and preserve client relationships. As a seller, you may also choose to finance the sale, which may be an attractive option for buyers. While you may have envisioned leaving your business behind completely, you may consider stepping back and allowing employees and managers to handle your business while retaining ownership. For some businesses, this is a feasible option that can provide an income source for you while you enjoy additional freedom. When choosing to retain ownership, you may however, find yourself at a crossroads at some point in the future when you decide to relinquish ownership. Determining how you will exit the day-to-day operations of your business can be a big undertaking. Careful planning can allow you to feel like you’ve exited on your terms. If you are not sure where to start, a business consultant who specializes in Business Continuation Planning or Exit Strategy Planning can help. Together, you can create a customized approach to exiting your business. Not sure where to start? We can help. Our team of business consultants are ready to help you create an efficient transfer of your business.   Rebecca Agamaite Investment Advisor Representative  Rebecca joined the firm in 2011 as an Investment Advisor Representative. In this role, she works with clients to manage their investment assets and help them obtain their financial objectives. Rebecca brings a great deal of experience to the team having worked for several years at Marshall & IIsley Bank and MetLife. She earned a Masters of Business Administration degree (with an emphasis on finance) from Concordia University. Advisors Management Group, Inc. is a registered investment adviser whose principal office is located in Wisconsin.   Opinions expressed are those of AMG and are subject to change, not guaranteed, and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security.  Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and investing involves multiple risks, including, but not limited to, the risk of permanent losses.  Please do not send orders via e-mail as they are not binding and cannot be acted upon.  Please be advised it remains the responsibility of our clients to inform AMG of any changes in their investment objectives and/or financial situation.  This commentary is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to AMG’s investment advisory/management services.  Any subsequent, direct communication by AMG  with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides.  A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available for your review upon request.

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16 Nov 2023

Nick L.

Navigating Healthcare Costs with HSA and FSA Accounts

While health insurance can limit the amount of money you will need to pay when you seek medical treatment, you may find yourself covering a portion out of pocket. According to Statista, in the US, the average annual health cost per person is $1,233 or $4,932 for a family of 4.  Dealing with a big stack of medical bills is enough to make even the strongest stomach feel queasy. The good news is that if you plan properly, you can take charge of how you manage out of pocket medical expenses. Having a bit tucked away to cover medical expenses is one of the best ways to take the stress out of being sick. Health Savings Accounts and Flex Spending Accounts offer convenient ways to spend pre-tax money on things that are not covered by your health plan. There are some differences between the two types of plans, so it is important to know which is appropriate and available to you.   Flex Spending Accounts (FSA) Flex Spending can be designated for two common uses, dependent care and medical related costs. For this blog we will focus on FSAs for medical and dental expenses. Both employers and employees can contribute. Employers maintain the ownership of the account and they can be restrictive. Contribution limits are generally quite low, you can only make changes annually and amounts saved can be forfeited if you leave your job or do not spend what you have saved by the end of year. You do not need to use a high deductible health insurance plan to benefit from an FSA. They do offer you the ability to pay for medical, vision and dental costs with pre-tax money. Since contribution limits change annually, and each employer's plan is different, be sure to get the specifics on your company’s options. FSA accounts have been available to employees since the 1970’s and continue to be available as a way to help employees prepare for expenses for out-of-pocket medical expenses as well as other qualified expenses.   Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) For those who have a high deductible HSA eligible health insurance plan, funding an HSA can be a great option. Unlike an FSA, HSA is owned by you and is far more flexible. You may open the HSA at the financial institution of your choosing and unused money can accumulate. Contribution limits are much higher and those age 55 and over can make catch-up contributions. Contribution limits change annually and are different for single and joint tax filers.  Be sure to consult your trusted advisor to help you determine eligibility and your tax benefits. HSAs were introduced in 2003 but have continued to gain popularity. According to the National Institute of Health, currently 1 in 6 insured adults uses an HSA to pay for health-related expenses.   Making High Deductible Insurance Work for You While having a high deductible health plan can sound expensive, premiums often are lower than PPO health plans. You can use some of the savings in premiums to fund an HSA account. For those who spend a lot of money out of pocket, spending pre-tax can be a better option than using money you had to pay tax on. Getting in the habit of funding an HSA as a young person has big payoffs. Younger people typically spend less on medical care than families and older people. For those who don’t have a lot of medical costs, money can continue to accumulate for future use. Some HSA vendors have options to invest, helping the money grow faster. It’s a good idea to wait to invest until you have saved enough to cover the maximum out of pocket before beginning to invest. You may want to avoid investing money that you may need to access within the year. Using HSA eligible health insurance can put you in the driver’s seat when it comes to managing your out-of-pocket medical expenses.   Planning for Costs in Retirement While you may not have considered HSAs as a part of your retirement planning, funding an HSA in your working years can help you prepare for retirement. These funds can continue to pay for out-of-pocket medical costs, Medicare premiums, COBRA insurance premiums or long-term care expenses. People who have reached age 65 and enrolled in Medicare can no longer contribute, but they can use money that was already saved. Those age 65 or older can use HSA for expenses for non-medical expenses as well. You will however need to pay tax on any money taken from an HSA for non-medical expenses. While no one loves spending money on medical expenses, knowing where you are getting the money from makes it less stressful. By creating a regular savings plan to pay for out-of-pocket medical you can focus on feeling better when you need to seek medical care.   Rebecca Agamaite Investment Advisor Representative  Rebecca joined the firm in 2011 as an Investment Advisor Representative. In this role, she works with clients to manage their investment assets and help them obtain their financial objectives. Rebecca brings a great deal of experience to the team having worked for several years at Marshall & IIsley Bank and MetLife. She earned a Masters of Business Administration degree (with an emphasis on finance) from Concordia University. Advisors Management Group, Inc. is a registered investment adviser whose principal office is located in Wisconsin.   Opinions expressed are those of AMG and are subject to change, not guaranteed, and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security.  Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and investing involves multiple risks, including, but not limited to, the risk of permanent losses.  Please do not send orders via e-mail as they are not binding and cannot be acted upon.  Please be advised it remains the responsibility of our clients to inform AMG of any changes in their investment objectives and/or financial situation.  This commentary is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to AMG’s investment advisory/management services.  Any subsequent, direct communication by AMG  with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides.  A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available for your review upon request.

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21 Sep 2023

Nick L.

Common Types of Scams and How to Avoid Them

While we often think that it is only seniors that are targeted by scammers and fraudsters, it is important to be aware that anyone can become a target and incur financial loss. In fact, according to the Federal Trade Commission, the largest demographic of victims of cybercrime were aged 30-39, followed by victims aged 40-49. By keeping informed and up to date, you can protect yourself from becoming one of the nearly 2.4 million people who are scammed annually. Romance Scams As more and more people are looking for love online, romance scams have become more prevalent. Norton estimates that in 2023, there are approximately 57 million people using dating apps. Regardless of the type of romance scam, most scams consist of a cybercriminal creating a fake profile using a photo of an attractive individual. They seek out someone to target and begin a fast-paced relationship. Once the victim is emotionally invested, the cybercriminal will ask for money. Often there is a story about an emergency or tragedy that compels the victim to send money, gift cards or cryptocurrency. Once payment is received, the fraudster disappears and moves on to the next victim. People who are recently widowed, divorced or otherwise lonely may be ripe for the picking when it comes to these types of scams. Be aware of red flags including someone who is interested in a long-distance relationship, someone who has a reason they cannot meet you in person, or someone who quickly professes love without meeting you. Don’t share anything too personal, including compromising photos that might haunt you later. Never buy plane tickets, gift cards, or send money to a person you have never met in person. When in doubt, ask someone you trust for a second opinion about the situation. Grandparent Scams If you are like most grandparents, you would do just about anything to help your grandchildren, especially if you feel they are in trouble or danger. In a grandparent scam, fraudsters use social media to gather information about your family. The cybercriminal then places a phone call or email impersonating a family member stating they are injured or arrested and need money immediately. They often insist that they don’t want you to call their parents. They may pass the phone to a “hospital employee” or “attorney” who can take your payment over the phone. Grandparent scams are not new, however advancements in technology can make these more sophisticated and believable and have widened the target market beyond seniors. Artificial intelligence technology allows for scammers to even replicate a voice. Phishing Attacks Phishing is when scammers create emails or text messages to trick you into providing your personal information including passwords, account numbers and Social Security numbers. It is common that these emails and text messages are compelling and may even use the logos of real companies that you are doing legitimate business with. They may request that you click on a link to go to their website which may install invasive software called malware onto your computer. With these scams, the devil is really in the detail. If you look closely at these, you may notice inconsistencies that will alert you that it is a scam. Be on the lookout for emails from companies you don’t do business with, emails with generic greetings, questionable email addresses, a link to update your payment information, or anything else that looks suspicious. Don’t call the number on the email to verify the request. Instead, compare it to your statement or do a reverse lookup on the number to see if it comes up as a spam number. Cryptocurrency Scams With the rise in interest in cryptocurrencies, many people are asking how they begin to use and invest in crypto. Because there is so much confusion about what it is and how to use it, cryptocurrency scams are on the rise. If you are going to use cryptocurrency, it is important to know about what scams are gaining popularity and how to avoid them. Some good rules to follow are to never do business with someone demanding payment in crypto. No legitimate business will only offer this method of payment. If someone wants you to invest in crypto, be on alert. Scammers often guarantee big profits and fast profits. If someone is making a promise that seems too good to be true, it is. Be aware that cryptocurrency scams are commonly found on dating websites. Protect Yourself Most scammers will cast a wide net of potential victims hoping for a small number of people to fall for it. The more informed you are, the less likely you are to fall victim. Keep updated on the latest scams by subscribing to Consumer Alerts at consumer.ftc.gov. Remember, to guard your identity. Never give credit card information, or provide personal information such as address, social security number or date of birth to someone calling you. Never allow someone claiming to be tech support to establish a remote connection to your computer. Don’t click on pop up messages while online and keep your security software up to date on devices. Understand that places like the IRS and Social Security Administration will not attempt to call you asking for personal information. If you come across a scam, report it. File a report with local law enforcement and the Federal Trade Commission. If you are questioning if something is a scam, it probably is. In this case, the best scenario is to shut down the situation immediately, then report it. Although it can be scary, in most cases, if you haven’t given up any information, a fraud situation is likely avoided.   Rebecca Agamaite Investment Advisor Representative  Rebecca joined the firm in 2011 as an Investment Advisor Representative. In this role, she works with clients to manage their investment assets and help them obtain their financial objectives. Rebecca brings a great deal of experience to the team having worked for several years at Marshall & IIsley Bank and MetLife. She earned a Masters of Business Administration degree (with an emphasis on finance) from Concordia University. Advisors Management Group, Inc. is a registered investment adviser whose principal office is located in Wisconsin.   Opinions expressed are those of AMG and are subject to change, not guaranteed, and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security.  Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and investing involves multiple risks, including, but not limited to, the risk of permanent losses.  Please do not send orders via e-mail as they are not binding and cannot be acted upon.  Please be advised it remains the responsibility of our clients to inform AMG of any changes in their investment objectives and/or financial situation.  This commentary is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to AMG’s investment advisory/management services.  Any subsequent, direct communication by AMG  with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides.  A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available for your review upon request.

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18 Aug 2023

Nick L.

Shop Smart: Tips for Saving Money at the Grocery Store

If this blog feels a tad familiar, it is, but stick with us. Since the cost of groceries has continued to increase, we wanted to continue the dialog again to help you with the cost of feeding your family. Although inflation is beginning to stabilize, food costs are still on the rise. According to data supplied by the US Department of Agriculture, in 2020 a family of four which included two adults and two small children, who were moderate spenders, spent about $934.90 per month. In 2023 this same family is spending about $1173.50 per month. This is a notable rise; however, it is only a hypothetical scenario. In all actuality, if we evaluate your family from 2020, your kids have grown and might be eating more or perhaps your family has expanded. Growing families have been hit particularly hard by the increase in food costs. While prices have gone up, some of the products you frequently buy may also be getting smaller. “Shrinkflation” is not just an urban legend. You may have noticed that the pack of cookies that you have always bought looks just a bit different. The cookies are smaller or there are fewer in the row. Or perhaps you noticed the bottle of dish soap looks just a little less full than the last time you bought it. Snack chips are notoriously known for this phenomenon. When consumers take note, they release a new larger size at a much higher price. “Shrinkflation” only adds to the stress of increasing food costs. With so much stacked against you, how do you keep it in check at the checkout? Here are some tips to help you. Eat Food In Season And Buy Food Grown Locally Those who live in the northern regions of the country know just how expensive things like fresh berries can be in the cold months. Fortunately, costs drop significantly as the growing season expands across the country. Local food travels fewer miles which results in less transportation costs and a fresher product. Check out local farmer’s markets and garden stands, or purchase Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) produce or meat boxes from local farms or co-ops. Another way to lower your food budget is to plant a garden, not only can this help lower the cost to feed your family, but it is also a great outdoor activity for everyone including children. Finally, learning to preserve larger quantities of food in season by freezing and canning for use over the winter can allow you to enjoy your favorite foods throughout the entire year and can help cut down on food waste. Plan Your Meals And Shop With A List We all know it is a bad idea to shop on an empty stomach, but shopping without a plan can also put all sorts of extras in your cart. Before you head out to shop, make a list of each week’s meals and see what items are already on hand. While you are taking inventory of your pantry, make a list of the things you are running low on. Keeping staple items on hand can help you avoid unnecessary extra trips. Shopping every other week can also save you time and money. Once you arrive at the store, shopping from a list will help you to avoid impulse purchases or just walking down the isles putting unnecessary items in your cart. Track And Compare Prices On Items You Buy Regularly If you track the prices on items you buy frequently, you will be able to evaluate if something is a deal or not. Most stores rotate their sales and soon the patterns of pricing will be easy to anticipate. Shop items featured in the weekly flyer and use store loyalty programs and coupons. Check out the clearance area and fresh items reduced for quick sale. Only buy reduced items you can use right away or freeze. Don’t be afraid to switch up where you shop or buy store-brands instead of name-brand items. If you are willing to think outside the box, you may find great deals at dollar stores, scratch and dent liquidators, Amish bulk stores, and discount grocery stores. Buy in larger quantities and portion out While a 5.3 oz cup of Greek yogurt costs $1.49 or $0.28 per oz, the same yogurt in a 32 oz container costs $5.79 or $0.18 per oz. Convenience can add considerable cost to items. Instead consider just scooping out the yogurt in a bowl or a single serve food storage container. The same thing applies to everything from snacks to meat. If a bulk pack is too much to use, you can always break down the large packages into smaller portions that will fit your needs. Use food storage containers, storage bags, and freezer paper to store these small portions. Over time these savings can really start to add up. Avoid Waste If your crisper drawer is where green things go to die, you are also wasting the green in your wallet. If your plans change often or find yourself not eating your produce fast enough, consider frozen or canned produce instead. It typically costs less and has a longer shelf life. Also don’t make too much when preparing meals especially if you or your family doesn’t like leftovers. Cook just enough to satisfy your family’s hunger. If you do cook extra, reimagine your leftovers into another meal. Extra rice can easily be made into fried rice, left over steak can become steak and eggs, pasta can be added to soups and salads. Baked chicken can become chicken salad. If you still find yourself with leftovers, place them in the freezer to use them later when you need a quick meal. While rising food prices can cause a lot of stress to your budget, putting some strategy into your spending can not only save you money, but it can also save time and reduce food waste as well. Knowing what you have on hand, what you need and what you are spending will put you in the driver’s seat despite high food costs.   Rebecca Agamaite Investment Advisor Representative  Rebecca joined the firm in 2011 as an Investment Advisor Representative. In this role, she works with clients to manage their investment assets and help them obtain their financial objectives. Rebecca brings a great deal of experience to the team having worked for several years at Marshall & IIsley Bank and MetLife. She earned a Masters of Business Administration degree (with an emphasis on finance) from Concordia University. Advisors Management Group, Inc. is a registered investment adviser whose principal office is located in Wisconsin.   Opinions expressed are those of AMG and are subject to change, not guaranteed, and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security.  Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and investing involves multiple risks, including, but not limited to, the risk of permanent losses.  Please do not send orders via e-mail as they are not binding and cannot be acted upon.  Please be advised it remains the responsibility of our clients to inform AMG of any changes in their investment objectives and/or financial situation.  This commentary is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to AMG’s investment advisory/management services.  Any subsequent, direct communication by AMG  with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides.  A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available for your review upon request.

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18 Jul 2023

Nick L.

The Sandwich Generation and Their Financial Future

While the term Sandwich Generation may be unfamiliar, you, or someone you know is likely part of this growing demographic. Between the trend of people starting families later and grown children leaving the nest later, many middle-aged adults are left feeling like they are stuck in the middle of people needing their help. This pinch can leave people feeling stressed out but can also have financial ramifications. If you find yourself sandwiched, here is what you should know when it comes to your financial future. Financially Supporting Others Although you may think of the day-to-day things that you do to help your loved ones such as running errands, providing transportation, or advocating for health care, many people also provide financial assistance for their loved ones. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, nearly 4.3 million adults provided financial support to their parents. This is roughly the same as the amount of people who pay mandatory child support. AARP reports that aside from money contributed to aging parents, nearly half of parents provide money to adult children over age 25. Self-Sacrifice for the Sake of Others While both men and women are part of the Sandwich Generation, the burden of caring for surrounding generations falls heavily on women. For women in the workplace, this can mean forgoing promotions, taking lower paying jobs that offer more flexibility, or even stepping away from the workforce temporarily. The pay gap between men and women is narrowing, but women often choose caring for family over financial advancement whether it is a long-term arrangement or a temporary situation. Caring for others can significantly affect what you save for retirement. Less saved and less growth on that money can create a huge gap in money for retirement. Time away from work or lower income can also affect pensions and Social Security. Since the squeeze of caring for others is a temporary situation, it is important to not lose sight of your own long term financial goals. Looking out for Loved Ones Most of us will come to a crossroad where tasks as simple as managing daily expenses or health care become difficult. People that are part of the Sandwich Generation often help their parents by becoming financial or medical advocates for their parents. When this happens, it is important to have the right authorization in place well ahead of time. Without planning, you may find yourself in a bad spot if your family member needs you to take over and they are unable to sign the necessary forms. Estate planning documents are typically drawn up by an attorney, however hospitals, doctors’ offices and financial institutions often have their own forms that they require. Here are a few documents that you may encounter: POA (Power of Attorney) grants someone the authority to conduct business on your behalf. Once someone has passed, this arrangement stops immediately. POD (Payable Upon Death) or TOD (Transfer on Death) is listing a beneficiary on accounts. If someone passes away and has a POD/TOD on an account, the account will transfer directly to the beneficiary listed. This is regardless of what is stated in a will. POD/TOD can be put on anything from a checking account to real estate. Health Care Directives tell others what kind of heath care you prefer or prefer to avoid. Although these topics can be uncomfortable, people should talk about how they should be cared for. Health Care Directives clearly spell out instructions about care if a person is close to death or has experienced a medical event they are not expected to recover from. Wills are documents that spell out the wishes for your property as well as outlining the care of dependent children and pets. If you are feeling sandwiched, there are resources that can help. Getting in contact with your local Aging and Disability Resource office is a great first step to helping parents. Aside from programing that can help low-income individuals, they also have resource libraries, educational events, and some have medical equipment that you can borrow for short-term needs. Your own financial and tax advisors may also be a great resource. You may feel hesitant to ask about your family members’ situations but know that they are here to help you navigate all of the situations that arise during your phases of life.   Rebecca Agamaite Investment Advisor Representative  Rebecca joined the firm in 2011 as an Investment Advisor Representative. In this role, she works with clients to manage their investment assets and help them obtain their financial objectives. Rebecca brings a great deal of experience to the team having worked for several years at Marshall & IIsley Bank and MetLife. She earned a Masters of Business Administration degree (with an emphasis on finance) from Concordia University. Advisors Management Group, Inc. is a registered investment adviser whose principal office is located in Wisconsin.   Opinions expressed are those of AMG and are subject to change, not guaranteed, and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security.  Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and investing involves multiple risks, including, but not limited to, the risk of permanent losses.  Please do not send orders via e-mail as they are not binding and cannot be acted upon.  Please be advised it remains the responsibility of our clients to inform AMG of any changes in their investment objectives and/or financial situation.  This commentary is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to AMG’s investment advisory/management services.  Any subsequent, direct communication by AMG  with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides.  A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available for your review upon request.

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20 Jun 2023

Nick L.

Pay Stubs & Tax Withholding 101

If you are like most Americans, you no longer or perhaps have never received your pay in the form of a paper check.  American Payroll Association estimates that while some people are still paid with paper checks, an overwhelming 93% of employees receive their paycheck directly deposited. Additionally, some employees use payroll cards and reloadable prepaid debit cards to receive their pay. The shift from old school paper checks to direct deposit has caused us to be less aware of all the deductions that come off the top of our checks. It is this unawareness that can cause issues in the long term. For most people who get paid through direct deposit, pay stubs are available through an employee portal. For those who are paid a salary, the amounts won’t change much from check to check, however it is important to make sure that tax is being withheld appropriately and deductions for benefits such as health insurance and retirement savings are accounted for. You should also make sure that vacation, sick, and personal days are both accruing correctly and being applied correctly when you take them. For those paid an hourly rate, the same applies, but additionally you should verify hours worked and hours paid match and that any overtime or holiday hours are paid at the appropriate rate. Those paid commissions should not only review their paystubs for the basics, but they should also audit their sales and make sure that all commissions are paid out appropriately. Understanding Tax Withholding In 2017, the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act became law which removed personal exemptions while increasing the standard deduction and expanding child tax credits. Because of the significant amounts of change, the W-4 that was familiar to most of us was replaced with an updated W-4. The new form differs from past forms in that it does not require you to figure out your tax exemptions. Some employers will require you to fill out a new W-4 annually, however even if they don’t, it is a great idea make sure you are withholding enough regularly. You probably will be prompted to look at if you got a surprise at tax time. If you have too large of a refund, you may need to lessen your withholding. If you owed a large amount, you would want to talk to your tax preparer to understand the root of your tax bill. While it is possible that you may have had something out of the norm happen within the year, you may have had a change to your tax situation. Marriage, divorce, death, babies, and kids growing up can cause the need for you to adjust how much you are withholding from your paycheck. If your income has changed, you may also need to check your withholding. Perhaps you took a new job, got a raise, or took a second job. Note that each job will come with its own W-4. If you have income from other jobs, have a spouse with income or have other sources of income, you may need to withhold tax differently than what the W-4 indicates. The new W-4 has worksheets for those situations. The case for being proactive Because our paystubs are out of sight, they are often out of mind until we have neglected them long enough to cause a big hassle. It only takes a small issue to snowball into a much larger one. Taking the time to review your paystub regularly can really help you in the long run. If you have questions about filling out your W-4 or how much you need to withhold, your payroll professional can be a great resource. If they are unsure how to help you, they may direct you to https://www.irs.gov/individuals/tax-withholding-estimator. This can be a great option to help you figure out how much tax you should withhold, however many people find this calculator to be difficult. Also, missing or incomplete information can lead you astray. Your tax professional can help you to be sure that you are on the right track as well as help you to increase your tax efficiency and help you to understand how changes in tax law affect you.   Rebecca Agamaite Investment Advisor Representative  Rebecca joined the firm in 2011 as an Investment Advisor Representative. In this role, she works with clients to manage their investment assets and help them obtain their financial objectives. Rebecca brings a great deal of experience to the team having worked for several years at Marshall & IIsley Bank and MetLife. She earned a Masters of Business Administration degree (with an emphasis on finance) from Concordia University. Advisors Management Group, Inc. is a registered investment adviser whose principal office is located in Wisconsin.   Opinions expressed are those of AMG and are subject to change, not guaranteed, and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security.  Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and investing involves multiple risks, including, but not limited to, the risk of permanent losses.  Please do not send orders via e-mail as they are not binding and cannot be acted upon.  Please be advised it remains the responsibility of our clients to inform AMG of any changes in their investment objectives and/or financial situation.  This commentary is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to AMG’s investment advisory/management services.  Any subsequent, direct communication by AMG  with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides.  A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available for your review upon request.

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19 May 2023

Nick L.

Making Credit Cards Work for You

Credit cards can be an important part of managing your financial situation when used correctly, but what do you need to know about being smart when it comes to credit cards? Making credit cards work for you can be confusing, but here are some tips to help you get started. Choose 0% According to Lendingtree, the average credit card interest rate in the US is 23.84%. Remember that this is an average. If you have great credit, you probably have a better rate and if your credit is poor, it can be nearly 30% interest. If you are like most people, this may come as a surprise to you, but credit card rates have steadily increased over the past decade. The good news is you can avoid interest if you do not carry a balance on your credit cards. By paying off your charges monthly, you will not pay any interest regardless of the rate of your card. Paying your bill on time you will also show good credit habits and avoid late fees and penalty interest rates. If you are making a purchase of a big-ticket item, such as furniture or appliances, go ahead and use a payment plan that will allow you to make payments over a set amount of months interest free, but do pay it off before the end of the promotional period. These types of cards will often give you a set amount of time interest free, however will charge interest back to the date of purchase if you fail to pay it off within that time. Use it as a tool Using a credit card can streamline how you spend money day to day, but it must be used responsibly. Some people choose to pay for most expenses on their credit card and pay only one bill at the end of the month to maximize credit card perks such as cash back or travel benefits. Credit cards are one of the safest ways to conduct business such as online purchases and often have tools to protect you from fraudulent activities. When using a credit card, you protect money that you have in your bank account should someone take your card number while you are making a purchase. Compared to the process of reporting fraud on your bank account, reporting credit card fraud is fast and hassle free. They will typically reverse the transaction and shut down the card quickly. You will have a new number and new card within days. Credit cards can also help you track your spending, plan your budget, and monitor credit. Many credit card websites offer you the ability to track your spending and break it down by type. This can help you to diagnose your spending habits and determine how to be smarter with your money. Live credit monitoring and score modeling is often found on credit card websites. For younger consumers or those trying to restore their credit, this can be a powerful way to move you forward financially. Avoid Pitfalls Credit Cards can offer a lot of great perks ranging from cash back to points that you can redeem for travel. It’s important to read the fine print on these types of cards to determine if you can make the benefits work for you. For example, airline cards are notorious for offering free baggage, companion flights or statement credits. This can be very attractive especially if you are looking to save money on your next vacation. Most of the major airlines offer similar cards, although they are advertised as “no annual fee”. If you read the fine print, you will see that they carry significant fees after the introductory period. So, you may get some perks, but if you keep the card past the first year, you may find a hefty annual fee after that. The better the perks, generally the higher the costs associated with the card. Now, if you fly more than a few times per year on the same airline, the $100 annual fee may be less than paying all the baggage fees. Department store cards often offer coupons and discounts to card holders. These are generally designed to keep you shopping on a regular basis. If you get free shipping and a 10% discount on your order you will come back for more. If they sweeten the deal by giving you a coupon for your next order and give you a range of dates to use it by, you may find yourself shopping again in a week or so. Before you know it, you may find yourself shopping way more than what you would have if you were not constantly being enticed to shop. If you must spend money to save, you may not actually be saving. If you shop too much, you may end up with a balance that you didn’t intend to have. Credit card companies would not offer enticing benefits if the deck wasn’t stacked in their favor. It really is about assessing the benefits and costs and determining if there really is a savings, or if it is just another way to win your business or cost you money. While some consumers have mastered the art of using credit cards, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York reports that Americans owed $986 billion dollars in credit card debt at the close of 2022. Remember, interest paid on unpaid balances will very quickly outweigh any perk a card has to offer. If you find yourself tending to accumulate debt while using cards, it may be better to just stay out of the game. Rebecca Agamaite Investment Advisor Representative  Rebecca joined the firm in 2011 as an Investment Advisor Representative. In this role, she works with clients to manage their investment assets and help them obtain their financial objectives. Rebecca brings a great deal of experience to the team having worked for several years at Marshall & IIsley Bank and MetLife. She earned a Masters of Business Administration degree (with an emphasis on finance) from Concordia University. Advisors Management Group, Inc. is a registered investment adviser whose principal office is located in Wisconsin.   Opinions expressed are those of AMG and are subject to change, not guaranteed, and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security.  Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and investing involves multiple risks, including, but not limited to, the risk of permanent losses.  Please do not send orders via e-mail as they are not binding and cannot be acted upon.  Please be advised it remains the responsibility of our clients to inform AMG of any changes in their investment objectives and/or financial situation.  This commentary is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to AMG’s investment advisory/management services.  Any subsequent, direct communication by AMG  with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides.  A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available for your review upon request.

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14 Apr 2023

Nick L.

Breaking Down Fee-Based vs. Fee Only Financial Advisors

Whether you are shopping for a new advisor, or you have had the same advisor for years, it is important to understand how your advisor and their firm generate revenue. While cost only seems to matter if you fail to see value in the services you are receiving, there are several reasons why it is good to understand the fee structure of your investments. Read more to learn about fee-based vs.  fee only financial advisors. Traditionally, the finance industry was made up of broker-dealers that hired a sales force to sell products. Registered representatives of these broker-dealers earn commission on products that they sold to clients. Products range from loaded mutual funds, brokerage accounts and insurance products such as annuities and life insurance. When transactions or trades are made, the advisor receives a commission. If no transactions are made, the advisor does not receive compensation. Advisors who work for broker-dealers are often referred to as brokers or registered representatives. In recent years, the industry has shifted, and more advisors are working with their clients under fee-only advisory platforms, managing assets for a fee and providing financial planning for a fee. Fees in most cases are assessed based upon how much money is being managed or how many hours are spent on planning, not on how many trades are made. This type of business is offered by a Registered Investment Advisor. Registered Investment Advisor or RIA firms focus on implementing advice driven solutions and work under a fiduciary standard. Investment Advisor Representatives are required to put their client’s best interests before the interests of the company, firm, and themselves. Some firms will choose to register as both a Broker-Dealer and an RIA firm. These dually registered firms blur the line between the two business models which can really be confusing to investors. Advisors who work under this model often refer to themselves as Fee-Based Advisors. They may choose to manage money or prepare financial planning for a fee and sell products. They can switch their role with a client at will and it can be difficult to determine when products are being sold and when fiduciary advice is being given. This can create a conflict of interest for an advisor who must choose between selling a product that creates commission or acting as a fiduciary. Some of the most expensive investments generate high commissions for advisors, which can mean higher costs for clients. Portfolios that have higher costs will need to be invested more aggressively to overcome the expense. If costs are excessive, portfolios may not be able to overcome the expense and may have disappointing returns. How can you avoid choosing advisors with possible conflicts of interest? Choose Fee-Only. Fee-Only Registered Investment Advisors are required to always work under a Fiduciary Standard. They do not sell products, are not registered as sales agents for any investment company. They do not use investments to generate commissions and are never compensated by anyone other than their client. They are not swayed to choose one investment over another based upon how they will be paid. It can be hard to determine whether an advisor is a Fee-Only Fiduciary or Fee-Based Dually Registered Advisor, but you can determine the difference by asking the right questions. Check out this Fiduciary Questionnaire that can help you differentiate between Fee-Only Fiduciaries and Fee-Based Advisors.   Rebecca Agamaite Investment Advisor Representative  Rebecca joined the firm in 2011 as an Investment Advisor Representative. In this role, she works with clients to manage their investment assets and help them obtain their financial objectives. Rebecca brings a great deal of experience to the team having worked for several years at Marshall & IIsley Bank and MetLife. She earned a Masters of Business Administration degree (with an emphasis on finance) from Concordia University. Advisors Management Group, Inc. is a registered investment adviser whose principal office is located in Wisconsin.   Opinions expressed are those of AMG and are subject to change, not guaranteed, and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security.  Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and investing involves multiple risks, including, but not limited to, the risk of permanent losses.  Please do not send orders via e-mail as they are not binding and cannot be acted upon.  Please be advised it remains the responsibility of our clients to inform AMG of any changes in their investment objectives and/or financial situation.  This commentary is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to AMG’s investment advisory/management services.  Any subsequent, direct communication by AMG  with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides.  A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available for your review upon request.

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14 Mar 2023

Nick L.

Forgetting something? What to do with your 401k when leaving a job

Changing jobs can carry a mix of emotions depending on the reason for the career change. Regardless of the reason for the job change, one thing everyone needs to know is what their options are with their 401k account from a previous employer. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that Americans will hold over 12 jobs over the course of their career. While younger workers are more likely to move around, the average job in the U.S. is held just over 4 years. Compensation and advancement are often the largest driving factors that leads people to make job changes. As people move from one phase of life to the next, sometimes they underestimate the importance of taking their retirement savings with them. While it may seem insignificant, making a conscious decision about your retirement nest egg can help you to keep moving forward financially. After you leave your job, you have four options for your old 401k account. Option 1: Leave your 401K where it is In most cases, you can leave your 401k in the former employer’s plan.  This option requires the least amount of work since there is no additional paperwork needed. Also, your account is still able to grow tax-deferred until you withdraw funds. While this option might be an easier option it may not be the most advantageous. One of the limits of a 401k plan is that there can be fewer investment options. Also, 401k maintenance fees may be passed on to you, which can increase the expenses of the 401k plan. Another restriction is that you cannot contribute to a 401k once you no longer work for that employer. Finally, it can be complicated to keep track of where you have funds if you have multiple 401k with past employers. Option 2: Roll it over your 401K to your new employer If your new employer has a 401k and the plan allows rollovers, consolidating your 401k from your previous employer with your new employer may make it easier to keep track of where your funds are located.  Earnings will accrue tax-deferred until you withdraw funds. Some 401k plans allow loans, by rolling over your previous 401k to the new one you may be able to borrow against that balance in the future. The are some potential downfalls of rolling over your 401k to a new employer. Most 401K plans have limited investment options.  Those investment options can be replaced by the plan trustee without your approval. In addition, record keeping and administrative fees of the plan may be passed on to you. Option 3: Cash out your 401k Cashing out your 401k is another option for an old 401k. While this option allows you to gain access to your funds, it usually carries a penalty if you don’t meet certain qualifications. If you withdraw the money from your 401k and do not meet the required qualifications for a withdrawal (such as age, typically 59.5, financial situation, or disability) you will be required to pay a penalty for the early withdrawal. In addition to the early withdrawal penalty, income tax may also need to be paid on the withdrawal. Option 4: Rollover your 401k to an Individual Retirement Account (IRA) Rolling your 401k to an IRA allows for the most flexibility with your investment choices. This can give you access to mutual funds, exchange traded funds, stocks and bonds, to name a few.  You may also have greater flexibility with investments that provide income, such as dividends and interest.  IRAs can provide for greater flexibility with withdrawals and various tax withholding.  IRAs continue to allow for tax deferred saving. There are some possible disadvantages to using an IRA.  You are not allowed to take a loan against an IRA.  Depending on your investment choices there could be upfront commissions, high annual fees or even back-end charges limiting you from withdrawing money from the IRA within a certain period of time. It is important to remember everyone’s situation is different. When deciding what is the best option for you, it is wise to research all options and understand the fees involved with those options. These decisions are difficult, and you may want to reach out to a financial professional to assess your situation. In doing so, we suggest you work with a fiduciary, an advisor that works in your best interest. Shay Benedict Trading Specialist Shay joined Advisors Management Group in June of 2020. Shay works as a Trading Specialist for AMG. He works alongside the advisors to trade client portfolios. He helps to provide continuous improvement within the trading department, to ensure we meet our client’s needs. Advisors Management Group, Inc. is a registered investment adviser whose principal office is located in Wisconsin.   Opinions expressed are those of AMG and are subject to change, not guaranteed, and should not be considered recommendations to buy or sell any security.  Past performance is no guarantee of future returns, and investing involves multiple risks, including, but not limited to, the risk of permanent losses.  Please do not send orders via e-mail as they are not binding and cannot be acted upon.  Please be advised it remains the responsibility of our clients to inform AMG of any changes in their investment objectives and/or financial situation.  This commentary is limited to the dissemination of general information pertaining to AMG’s investment advisory/management services.  Any subsequent, direct communication by AMG  with a prospective client shall be conducted by a representative that is either registered or qualifies for an exemption or exclusion from registration in the state where the prospective client resides.  A copy of our current written disclosure statement discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available for your review upon request.

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