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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09 Jun 2022

Nick L.

What To Look For In 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 and that you understand and are comfortable with what is going on with your money.  In addition, your advisor should be reaching out to you regularly to go over your portfolio and discuss how current economic and geopolitical conditions can impact your portfolio.   Lastly, you want to be sure your advisor or their team is accessible to you so that if you have questions or need something done it can be handled in a reasonable amount of time. Find a fiduciary A fiduciary is legally required to work in your best interest.  Today many financial professionals are registered as fiduciaries, however it is possible for an advisor to be dually registered.  This means they are registered as a fiduciary and as a broker dealer, which can present a conflict of interest.  Broker dealers are held to the suitability standard, meaning that they can recommend investments that are suitable for you, but not necessarily the best for you. Advisors who only work under a fiduciary standard 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 higher commission than another product.  Fiduciaries are paid through a fee from their client.  This eliminates conflicts of interest on 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?  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. 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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16 May 2022

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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14 Apr 2022

Nick L.

Record Retention – “How long do I have to save all of this paperwork?”

How long do I have to save all of this paperwork? This is one of the most common questions people ask their accountants and financial professionals. It seems that nearly everyone has a box or a drawer of papers that they are not sure what they should do about. Over the years these documents can really add up and before you know it decades can pass. You may even find yourself helping an elderly parent or friend who has a lifetime worth of paperwork saved. One look at that pile is bound to leave you overwhelmed. What should I do with all this paperwork? Well, it really depends on what the paperwork is.  The good news is that in most cases, you can likely dispose of at least some of it. Here are some general guidelines for saving documents.  Whether the documents are personal information, for business, tax reporting or legal documents, there are different recommendations for the length of time you need to save each of these.   Record Keeping for Individuals: In general, different items are saved for 1 to 7 years, but some should be saved indefinitely.   Personal documents, such as personal bank account statements can be kept for 1 year and then securely disposed of. The same applies to your investment statements. Since 2011, cost basis (the price paid for an investment) has been tracked by investment firms. This makes it easy to find this information if you need it in the future. Before getting rid of any information documenting cost basis, you should check with your Financial Advisor or Tax Preparer.  The same would apply to documents related to cost of real estate or other assets. If in doubt, keep it as it can be difficult to recreate this information. Personal Tax Returns should be saved for at least 3 years.  The IRS has 3 years from the filing date to initiate an audit of your return, so you want to have the tax return along with all the documents that support income and deduction items reported on that return.  If you filed your return before the due date, then the IRS will use the due date to start the 3-year clock (typically April 15th).  State tax returns can have different statute of limitations, so check with your state to see if that document retention period is different from the IRS. Personal legal documents including documents such as Deeds, Birth/Death Certificates and Stock Certificates should be kept forever.   Record Keeping for Business Owners: When you own a business, it is important to save information for a bit longer.  Most business income and expense documents should be saved for at least 7 years.  This will include bank statements and reconciliations, employment tax records and timecards, invoices for both customers and vendors along with inventories.   Business legal documents that should be kept permanently would include things such as Corporate Minute Books, Business Registrations and Patent/Trademark information.    A Note on Digital Recordkeeping You can always save these documents in paper form, but you could also save most of these items electronically. This can also work well for items such as photographs and home video. While you may be tempted to just upload everything to a flash drive, consider solutions that provide regular backups, a plan for emergency recovery and encryption. It can be truly overwhelming to weed through your personal records due to the many considerations and recommendations for lengths of time. If you are purging documents, be sure to dispose of them in a secure manner such as shredding. Be sure to keep the documents that you may need in the future. Protect important documents in fireproof safes or in safe deposit boxes. If you are unclear, be sure to ask a professional before disposing of documents and always err on the side of keeping things for longer. Melanie Chapel Director of Payroll Services, Senior Accountant, Tax Preparer, Tax Manager & Business Consultant  Melanie has been part of the Advisors Management Group team since 2008. She has over 23 years of tax and accounting experience and enjoys working with clients to help them better manage their businesses. 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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05 Apr 2022

Advisors Management Group

Financial Planning for a Special Needs Child

When you have a child with special needs, you are accustomed to planning ahead. How do you prepare for their future? There is a lot to think about and we are here to help.  Keep reading, and let Advisors Management Group tell you more about financial planning for a special needs child. Contact us when you’re ready to begin. Why It’s Important to Make a Plan  Whether your child is on the autism spectrum, has Downs syndrome, or has a different condition, you know the amount of work it takes to provide a happy life for them.  As you continue to create a positive presence for your child, you need to remember to set them up for success later in adulthood, after you are gone.  Financial planning includes everything from the possibility of college and independent adult life to caretaking for them when you are no longer able to.  No one knows your child as well as you do, so start planning today.  Things to Remember When considering financial planning for a special needs child, there are specific items you must remember to include. Taking care of these steps now helps secure your child’s future, especially if you are unexpectedly unable to care for them any longer. Start With a Letter of Intent  The very first place to start is to write out all of your thoughts, desires, and wishes for your child in a letter of intent.  A letter of intent is not a formal legal document, so you have the freedom to draft it in whatever format is most comfortable for you.  This letter should be thorough, giving clear details about how you intend your child’s life to be after you are unable to care for them anymore.  A few things you might want to share in this letter include:  Their daily routines Contact information for all physicians and therapists involved in their care Your emotional approach to their care  How much independence you give them  Frequency and schedule of health appointments  List of things your child likes and dislikes  Names and contact information for friends and family that spend time with your child The information in this letter can be used to draft legal documents later, so it is very important to be as detailed as possible.  Consider a Special Needs Trust (SNT)  When you consider your child’s financial future, you may choose to set up a specific type of trust just for their situation.  A Special Needs Trust (SNT) is a place you can keep all the financial assets, gifts, and money that you have saved up for them - all without disqualifying them from federal benefits like Supplemental Security Income (SSI) or Medicaid.  This is very important because if your child inherits $2,000 or more in their name, they could become ineligible for those federal programs set up to help them. If the assets from their inheritance are left in an SNT, your child will still qualify for the federal programs.  Consider an ABLE Account  ABLE stands for Achieving a Better Life Experience. It is a savings program that is set up specifically for those with special needs. People with disabilities can use the money from this account to pay for qualified disability expenses tax-free.  Tax credits may apply for those who contribute to ABLE accounts and the first $100,000 is exempted from the SSI resources limit. This means that ABLE account beneficiaries can have some longer term resources that will not disqualify them from receiving public benefits such as assistance for health care, food, and housing.  Guardianship or Conservatorship As you prepare for your child’s financial future, you also need to set up a guardian or conservator for them.  What is the difference between guardianship and conservatorship? This depends on your state. For example, guardianship and conservatorship statutes specific to Wisconsin can be found in Chapter 54 of the updated Wisconsin Statutes. Please seek legal counsel before making the decision.  Generally, a guardian has the legal ability to make personal, medical, and financial decisions for a person. A conservator usually just has the authority to make financial decisions (like paying bills and investing funds).  Protect Them in Your Will  As you set up your will, remember to bequeath your assets to the SNT and not directly to your child.  If you don’t create and set up a will, the courts default to naming all of your children as beneficiaries, and the assets could disqualify your child from federal programs or aid.  Even though some types of wills can be created by yourself, work with a lawyer you trust when you have a child with special needs. They will be able to give you sound legal advice and they will know about your state’s current disability laws.  Set Up Your Child for Independence  A very important part of financial planning is teaching your child the basics of adulthood and money management.  What type of job do they want? What type of jobs are best for their skills? Where do they want to live? Think a few years ahead and either work directly with your child or with therapists to help your child develop skills that help them live as independently as they can.  This is a good idea for kids of all skills and development levels. Discuss things like hygiene, jobs, and paying bills. Give your child the best chance at independenfinancial advisor in Green Bay, WI with as much practice and support as you can give them now.  Speak to a Financial Planner  When it comes to financial planning for a special needs child, it is important to think of both present-day and far into the future.  This is why it is so important to speak with a financial advisor in Wisconsin. They will look at your current finances and help you create a plan that includes providing for all of your children in the best way possible.    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 Mar 2022

Nick L.

Inflation: Lessons from the Past to Help You Plan for Your Future

The other day, I was having an interesting conversation with my grandmother. She was considering replacing her flooring in her home and was literally “floored” with how much the cost had gone up since she installed her last carpet 10 years ago. It really is fascinating to talk about money with our older generation. We quickly can see that their idea of “a lot of money” is very different from what we consider a large sum of money today. Consider that in 1970, a gallon of gas cost $0.38, the average home was $17,000 and the average household income was just under $9,000.  Surely, today you could not live a similar lifestyle on $9,000. What is Inflation? Inflation is defined as the price of goods and services increasing over time. Inflation can be caused by many reasons, but two of the most significant reasons are costs of raw materials and labor. Prices of raw material can increase if supply chains are short or during times of disaster.  Labor cost can sharply increase due to the job market. If unemployment rates are low, companies will need to increase their wages to attract job seekers. If wages increase, this will give people a little extra to spend.  If enough people have extra money to spend, this will ultimately increase demand for goods and services starting the cycle of inflation over again. Monetary policy can also contribute to inflation. Central banking systems control the flow of money in economies. They will tighten or loosen the flow of money into economies by setting interest rates. Recently home prices have surged in the United States in response to record low interest rates. These low rates made homes more affordable for first-time buyers and allowed current homeowners to sell at a premium and upgrade their current homes. This increased demand for homes and drove prices up. It is likely that as rates increase, the market will slow again and prices will stabilize. Inflation's Impact While some things inflate faster than others, one thing is for certain. Your current lifestyle will not cost the same when you are ready to retire. It can be daunting to think about how much your lifestyle will cost in 10, 20, or even 50 years. The average long-term inflation rate in the US is 3.1%. There have been times in our history when inflation has been much higher. In the late 1970s and early 1980s inflation soared to double digit rates. Inflation raged again in 2021 and continues to increase prices on goods and services. If your savings nest egg is growing less than the rate of inflation, you are losing your purchasing power. Therefore, it is very important not only to save for your financial future, but also to have an investment strategy that will outpace inflation. A solid financial plan can allow you to evaluate how your current savings strategy will stand up to inflation. Talk with a trusted advisor today to review your strategy and determine the potential effects of inflation. 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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15 Mar 2022

Advisors Management Group

5 Steps to Take if Your Identity Is Stolen

Discovering that someone else is opening accounts with your personal information is terrifying. All of a sudden, bill collectors are coming to you, thinking you owe them money that you had nothing to do with. What are the steps to take if your identity is stolen?  Identity theft can lead to a lower credit score, loss of income, and difficulty getting approved for housing, loans, and more.  Thankfully, there are systems set up to help people that experience this stressful situation. The government, law enforcement, and credit agencies are ready to help identity theft victims.    What is identity theft? Identity theft is a crime in which someone uses another person’s personal identifying information such as name or social security number to commit fraud.  This can look as small as someone using your credit card information to purchase things without your permission or as grandiose as taking out major loans with your personal information.  It is illegal for someone to use another person’s personal information as their own. It’s not only theft, but it is also fraud.    Steps to Take if Your Identity Is Stolen  If you are a victim of identity theft, it might affect your credit score and even cost you money. These are the steps to take if your identity is stolen.    1. File a Report With the FTC The very first thing you should do is notify the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) that you are a victim of identity theft. The information you give them can be utilized by the FBI and local law enforcement agencies to pursue criminal charges.  Plus, when you file a report, the FTC has a plethora of helpful information that will tell you what you should do next.  Go to Identitytheft.gov and fill out a complete report. After you submit it, they will even give you pre-written letters that you can use to file police reports. They also have information on how to dispute fraudulent charges.    2. File an Identity Theft Claim If you have identity theft insurance, then you might be entitled to compensation, especially if you lost wages or you need funds to pay for a notary or public records searches fees.  Major insurers such as Allstate or State Farm offer identity theft insurance. Or, you can purchase insurance from companies like LifeLock or Sontiq.  Is identity theft insurance worth it? Speak with a financial advisor after looking at some of the most popular plans. Some plans won’t cover loss of money from a bank account and others have high deductibles, so it might not be a good idea for everyone.    3. Contact the DMV and IRS  Once identity thieves have your personal information, they may be able to obtain personal identification with it. Contact your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles and ask them to place a flag on your license number. This will also help law enforcement when they are attempting to track down the guilty parties.  You should also reach out to the Internal Revenue Service to make sure you aren’t a victim of tax-related identity theft. For example, someone might be trying to use your information to receive a tax refund.    4. Contact Credit Reporting Agencies Even if identity theft hasn’t affected your credit yet, you should still put a credit freeze in place. Let them know if there are any fraud alerts connected to your personal information.  Reach out to at least one of the three major credit agencies, but all three are best.  The three major credit reporting agencies are Equifax, Experian, TransUnion.  A fraud alert lasts one year. This prevents someone from opening new accounts using your social security number or other personal information. You can still open an account, but you’ll have to verify your ID before they can issue credit.  You can also request an extended fraud alert that lasts seven years. If you request a credit freeze, you can lift it at any time.  Here is the full contact information for all three credit bureaus.    Equifax Alerts 800-525-6285 Equifax Consumer Fraud Division P.O. Box 105069 Atlanta, GA 30374 Experian Fraud Center 888-397-3742 Experian P.O. Box 9554 Allen, TX 75013 TransUnion Fraud Alert 888-909-8872 TransUnion Fraud Victim Assistance Department P.O. Box 2000 Chester, PA 19016   5. Notify Local Law Enforcement  Finally, you should contact your local law enforcement and notify them about your identity theft. Filing a police report is the first step to being able to arrest and prosecute the thief.  Ask for a copy of the report that you can keep in your records. Do this as soon as possible, so if your information is used after you submitted the report, you have a paper trail proving it wasn’t you.  When it comes to catching criminals, local law enforcement can only arrest people in their jurisdiction. If your identity was stolen by someone overseas or in another state, your police report can be sent to the FBI if the fraud warrants their involvement.    Prevent Identity Theft  Nobody wants to be a victim of identity theft and there are a lot of steps you can take to prevent it. Monitor your credit closely - the sooner you catch any type of fraudulent activity, the less loss you could suffer.  Contact a financial advisor in Eau Claire, WI to discuss any risky activities you might be doing and how to protect yourself from possible identity theft. Whether that means using a VPN when you are using public Wi-Fi or setting up identity insurance, a financial advisor will help you make smart decisions to protect your credit and personal information. 

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11 Mar 2022

Advisors Management Group

Should I hire employees or independent contractors?

Growing a business is exciting and complicated at the same time. When you need to build reliable and professional staff you'll be faced with a choice. Do you go with employees or independent contractors?  What is the difference? Is one better than the other?  It all depends on your current business and your short-term goals.  Differences Between Employees and Independent Contractors There are some stark differences between employees and independent contractors. Most of them have to do with how they are paid and how much control/oversight the work requires.  To help make the decision easier, let’s look at what employees and independent contractors are.  Employees Employees perform work for the employer, and the employer maintains control over every aspect of this work - when and how it is to be done.  Employers have the legal right to set specific working hours and to control the details or standards about how the work is to be done.  When they pay their employees, businesses must take out social security tax, Medicare, and income tax withholdings.  Employers also provide their employees with the tools they need to do the work required of them. This might include office space, work computers, or company vehicles.  Types of Employees Not all employees are salaried full-time workers. There are actually a few different classifications of employees that you might hire.  Full-Time Hourly - These are employees that work more than 35 hours per week and are paid hourly. Full-Time Salaried - Employees that work full-time and are paid a set salary, no matter how many hours they work.  Part-Time - These employees work less than 35 hours per week. They are usually paid per hour.  Seasonal - Employees that are only hired to work for a specific season. You may offer to hire them as full or part-time or let them go after the season ends.  Independent Contractors An independent contractor is self-employed. They are different from employees because they perform work for a person with a contracted understanding between them. All the details of the work to be performed are outlined in the contract.   As an employer, you will have control over the work the independent contractor does for you, but not how it is completed.  There are differences in how you pay them, too. Independent contractors will send you invoices for their completed work. The company that pays them will not take taxes out of the payments. It is up to the independent contractor to make estimated quarterly payments to the IRS.  Since they are self-employed, an independent contractor may work for multiple people at one time.  Examples of Independent Contractors There are quite a few different career fields that work almost exclusively as independent contractors. Some of the most common examples are:  Real estate agents Copywriters Graphic designers IT professionals  Consultants Benefits of Hiring Employees The biggest benefit of hiring employees is that you will have more control over the work they do. If your business is such that you need to establish working hours and the work must be accomplished according to a set of standards, hiring an employee is a better choice.  Another benefit is exclusivity. You can legally require the employee to only work for you and not a competitor. Some businesses even require their employees to not have any other side gigs or side hustles at all.  Depending on the scope of the project or work to be completed, it might save you money to hire employees. If the work you are hiring for is ongoing, without an end in sight, the salary of an employee might be more affordable than freelancer fees.  Finally, when you hire employees, you are building a team of people who take pride in their job and represent your business. This is beneficial for reputation and growth.  Benefits of Hiring Independent Contractors One of the biggest benefits of hiring independent contractors is that they require very little supervision and training. This saves you time and money.  It’s also smarter to hire independent contractors if the work is temporary or the project has an end date. This way, you don’t have to go through a lengthy onboarding process only to have to let them go when it is finished.  There are also financial benefits of hiring independent contractors. Since you don’t have to pay them benefits and don’t need to commit to a salary, you are only paying for work that is completed.  You have a lot of flexibility, too. If the independent contractor isn’t working out, all you have to do is not work with them again. If an employee isn’t working out, firing them could be a lengthy process, and you’ll have to go through the effort of interviewing and hiring someone else.  Should I hire employees or independent contractors?  When you are trying to decide, you need to look at the scope of the work. How much control do you need? Will you need to set specific hours? Will this project end soon or is it an ongoing one?  If you need to have the final say in how a project is completed and the hours they work, then you probably need to hire an employee.  On the other hand, if you have a small project that doesn’t require a lot of oversight and has a clear start and end date, then you might be better off hiring an independent contractor.  Speak to a Financial Advisor  It is always best to speak to an experienced financial advisor when you are trying to make a financial decision that affects your business. They will be able to look at your goals, the demands of the job, and help you make an informed decision that will help your company grow. Advisors Management Group is here to help. Contact our Business Consultant today and get started on a plan that works for you.

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15 Feb 2022

Nick L.

Merging Finances: What to do before you say “I do”

The gown has been bought, the venue has been chosen, and the flowers have been ordered. There are so many details that go in to planning your perfect wedding day. As couples find themselves getting ready to walk down the aisle, it is essential to discuss how matters of the pocketbook merge with matters of the heart. Like everything in marriage, open dialog and careful planning can avoid later conflict as well as create healthy boundaries and expectations surrounding money. Conversations to have before saying “I do” What are your financial goals? Create a list of financial priorities that are important to you both. Determine how you both would like to accomplish these goals. What does our combined budget look like? Laying out a combined monthly budget can help determine not only what you will have to spend on necessities, it will also help you determine how you can save for your goals. If you are unsure where to start, a financial advisor can help. What debts are outstanding and who will pay them? Be honest and candid about debts such as credit cards, car loans, and student loans. On the same note, be honest about any concerns that may come up later regarding credit history. Who will pay household bills? Will this be something you do together or individually? By discussing this ahead of time, it can alleviate tension later. Joint or Individual Bank Accounts While it may seem that logical for married couples to combine bank accounts, there is not a one size fits all approach. For many couples, combining accounts can make budgeting and paying bills a simpler process. It also creates a focus on “our money” vs. “my money and your money” which is particularly helpful when incomes are not equal. Some couples may forgo combining bank accounts if one spouse has considerable debt or bad credit. This could also be a consideration for couples who are remarrying or marrying later in life. Another option may be to maintain separate accounts, but run household expenses from a joint account. Both spouses will transfer an agreed upon monthly contribution from which expenses will be paid. This hybrid type approach can allow all the benefits of joint budgeting, but also allows for spending without judgment from the individual accounts. Keys to Monetary Marital Bliss If you take a quick poll amongst married couples, you will likely find that the topic of money and finances is one of the most common reasons couples argue. Therefore, it is so important to have conversations before marriage to establish healthy expectations. In addition to premarital conversations, having ongoing and honest conversations about finances can keep you and your spouse on track with spending and savings strategies as well as be the foundation of your financial wellness.  Having ongoing conversations about money is the first step in planning your long-term financial strategies such as planning for children’s education, purchasing a home and retirement. By working together and having communication open, you will be well on your way to establishing financial wellness as a married couple. 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 Jan 2022

Nick L.

Building Your Financial Foundation

Whether you are getting started on your own or have a lot of life experience, it is important to get back to the basics and make sure you have your financial house in order.  Sometimes people think that this is advice is only for young individuals who are newly on their own, but truth be told, everyone can benefit from revisiting the basics. Life’s circumstances are constantly changing and without being prepared, unexpected surprises can throw you off course. By taking the right steps and establishing a firm foundation, you can navigate these challenges more effectively, and have a greater peace of mind. We’ve compiled some steps to help you create a strong financial foundation. Maintain an Emergency Fund Savings Account Having enough money saved to cover 3-6 months of your household’s total monthly expenses is an important step in building your foundation. Many people are only a few missed pay checks away from financial ruin. Without a little extra money to fall back on, a job loss, illness or an unexpected expense such as a medical bill or a car repair could send you into a financial tailspin. Since these situations are urgent in nature, without an emergency savings, you may find yourself using a credit card to deal with these situations and you may not be able to pay off the bill when the statement comes. Maintaining an emergency fund will help you to deal with the unexpected. Pay Off High Interest Rate Debt and Credit Cards Of course, it is best to never take on unnecessary debt, but life happens and sometimes you just need to use credit cards. If you find yourself with credit cards balances that carry high interest rates it is best to pay these off as soon as possible. In most instances it works best to use credit cards for basic monthly purchases that you can pay off at the end of each month. Carrying a balance month-over-month on credit cards ends up costing you way more in the long run. If you are feeling overwhelmed by your current balances, consider making a list from smallest to largest. Pay the smallest off first, and when that account is paid in full, increase the amount you are paying on the next smallest debt.  This process is called the “snowball” method. The snowball method provides satisfaction by seeing smaller debts paid off quickly. Mentally, this provides encouragement to continue with the process. Make The Most of Your Employer’s Retirement Benefits It is important to know how your retirement benefits offered by your employer work. Consider contributing enough to take full advantage of any match your employer may offer. For example, if your employer offers a dollar for dollar match up to 5% of your income and you save 5% of your income, your employer will put another 5% into your account. In this example, if you only contributed 3% you are leaving free money on the table.  Set Clear Goals and Speak with A Financial Planner and Tax Professional For Guidance In Achieving Those Goals  What are your goals and how will you accomplish them? As you are building your foundation it is helpful to know where you want to end up. Do you want to save for your kids’ education expenses? Do you want to retire early? Are you hoping to purchase a home? How can you manage your income to maximize its use? Goals are more easily accomplished when you have clarity about what you want to accomplish and have a plan on how you will do it. Sometimes people think that you need to have to have a lot of money already saved to benefit from meeting with financial professionals. This is not always the case. Doing this early in your life can help you to prepare for all the decisions that will come your way as your wealth begins to grow. There is no better time than now to either establish your financial foundation or to revisit your existing foundation. Ashley Vega Investment Advisor Representative  Ashley graduated from Winona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. In 2005, she joined Advisors Management Group part-time as a part of the Administration team. After leaving AMG temporarily, she returned to Advisors Management Group full time in 2015 and became an Investment Advisor Representative and Tax Preparer in 2019. 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 Dec 2021

Advisors Management Group

Credit Card Basics

The word credit card often creates a lot of anxiety for people, however when used appropriately, credit cards can be a great tool in managing your household finances. Whether you are already in a financially sound situation or you are just starting out, here are a few basic principles that can help you to master using credit cards Before you get a credit card, it’s important for you to have a solid financial foundation. To utilize a credit card effectively, you should understand exactly what your expenses are compared to your income. Be sure that you only charge what you can afford to pay when the bill comes. If you must use your card for an emergency, try to pay off the balance when it comes.  If you cannot pay your balance in full, you will be charged interest on the balance of your credit card each month that you carry that balance. Should you find yourself in this situation, pay as much as you can to bring the balance down quickly. While it may not seem like a big deal, paying interest makes the purchases more expensive over time. Be an Informed Consumer Before applying for a new credit card, understand the terms and conditions of the card and consider potential impacts to your credit score. Be sure to understand the interest rate and the various fees a card might charge.  Interest rates and late payment fees can vary greatly from card to card and some cards charge an annual fee. While applying for a new credit card could impact your credit score, other situations such as missing payments, or carrying large balances month-over-month can also negatively affect your credit score. Consider using a credit monitoring service to help monitor your credit and project the possible impact of different financial transactions. Credit Cards for Establishing Credit While credit cards can get a bad rap, they can also help improve your credit score if they are used wisely. By paying off your balance at the end of each month, not missing payments, and not maxing out your cards or carrying too much revolving debt, you can positively impact your credit score. This demonstrates that you can maintain low balances on your cards while using them frequently and shows a good track record of managing your credit cards. Students will often get their first credit card while in college. There are special cards that offer lower credit limits and will allow for individuals with limited credit history to get a credit card for emergencies or travel purposes. These cards are great for charging small amounts on a regular basis and paying it off when the bill comes. Credit Card users who are trying to recover their credit or are just starting to establish credit may want to consider charging a basic item such as their groceries or gasoline for the month and pay the balance in full every month.  A Word on Rewards Cards Credit cards that offer in store discounts, cash back, travel, etc. can be very enticing. If you are charging your normal expenses and pay off your balance at the end of the month, you can enjoy the rewards the card offers. You should not however, charge things you cannot pay off just to let the points add up. The interest you will pay will exceed the reward that the card offers. While credit cards can get a bad rap, utilizing them in a smart way can be a convenient way to manage your cash flow, help you in tracking your expenses and can help you to show a history of good habits on your credit report. Ashley Vega Investment Advisor Representative  Ashley graduated from Winona State University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration. In 2005, she joined Advisors Management Group part-time as a part of the Administration team. After leaving AMG temporarily, she returned to Advisors Management Group full time in 2015 and became an Investment Advisor Representative and Tax Preparer in 2019. 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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