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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Category: Tips

15 Sep 2022

Nick L.

Investing for Millennials, Gen Z and Beyond

The face of investing is rapidly changing in America. Today 1 in 4 millennials have saved over $100,000 and about 1/3 report that they started investing before age 21. While younger investors have more money and start younger, they often don’t feel like they fit into the mold of traditional investing strategies. If this sounds like you, you may be wondering why you would even consider hiring a financial adviser. Desire for Social Responsibility in Investing While traditionally companies at the forefront of technology have been popular with younger investors, today young investors are interested in companies who align with their environmental, social and political ideals. While investors who lean towards companies with ethical practices are putting their money where their mouth is so to speak, social responsibility is very subjective. Socially Responsible Investments (SRI’s) might be faith based or may avoid controversial exposures such as tobacco, firearms or high carbon footprints. Some SRI’s will focus on sustainability, others focus on social justice or might only invest in companies with a reputation for treating employees well. Socially Responsible Investing can be difficult to quantify. It evolves constantly and new trends emerge. Since the criteria is very subjective, you could be leaving some great investing opportunities on the table. On the other hand, you could be investing in companies who aren’t as socially responsible as they claim. Limiting the scope of investments often can mean a direct impact to return and can affect diversification. The right advisor can help you navigate this vague and often confusing investment category. The Rise and Fall of the Meme Stocks In 2020 and 2021, meme stock mania gripped the world of online investing drawing attention to companies such as GameStop, Blockbuster, AMC Entertainment and Bed Bath and Beyond. Many of these companies were otherwise considered “has-been” or doomed companies, but they gained cult-like followings because of online chatter. Social Media platforms such as Reddit and Facebook became hotbeds of chatter where investors planned stock squeezes. They purposefully planned to drive up the share price of these low-quality stocks to unexpected prices, then sell them quickly while prices were high. Online brokers such as Robinhood facilitated easy to access trading platforms that allowed meme investors to act quickly to trade these companies in hopes of cashing in big on the rise in price. While a few did, more people found systems jammed and were unable to execute trades quick enough to beat falling prices. It is speculated that most of these meme stock investors were ages 18-24. Younger investors can fall prey to online chatter and can be lured into investing into risky investments with little knowledge about what they are investing in. Because of the fast nature of this type of investing, investors find themselves placing bets rather than making investments based upon a solid investment strategy. Using an advisor can help you avoid investing that is based on emotion or has unnecessary risk. Robo Advisors Robo Advisors can be appealing for younger investors because they are low cost and offer investors the ability to answer a few questions and then direct money into automated investment strategies. While these options are perhaps better than going at it alone, they lack customized advice and are based on past market algorithms. Past market trends do not necessarily predict future market conditions. A solid strategy will be forward looking and will include analysis on current economic conditions. Without a human at the helm to ask the important question, you are unlikely to really dial down what you need to do to accomplish your long-term goals or make the necessary adjustments as your life changes along the way. Not Your Parent’s Advisor Today’s financial industry has changed, and these changes are forcing advisors to embrace the desires of today’s investors or be left behind. Fee structures and commissions have evolved. Old fashioned financial products such as loaded mutual funds have been replaced with open trading platforms giving access to ETF’s, NFT’s and individual stocks. Advisors today that have embraced technology have access to client portals, planning software and online tools. You may be able to meet via web meetings and even sign paperwork electronically. Whether you are at the beach or at your home office, today’s advisors have plenty of options to make investing convenient. While younger investors may not think they have much in common with prior generations of investors, some things don’t change. All investors navigate risks both in investment portfolios and in their financial situations. Most investors have an end goal such as retirement and most investors will face different economic conditions and both good and bad market conditions. DIY investors often do not know what risks are lurking in their portfolios. They often lack proper diversification or simply take far more risk than what they need to. Some investors have every good intent to do formalized retirement planning but may not be saving enough or using the most tax efficient strategies yet are completely unaware that they are not on track. The fact is, whether you have $10,000 or $10,000,000, most people find that having a clear strategy guided by the right professional, brings a lot of peace of mind and allows you to focus on what matters most to you like family, home and career. 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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12 Aug 2022

Nick L.

National Financial Awareness Day

August 14th is National Financial Awareness Day and it’s the perfect opportunity to sharpen your financial skills. National Financial Awareness Day is a day dedicated to financial literacy and helping people to learn the principles of building financial stability. Whether you are building your financial future or are a well-established financial wizard, everyone can observe the day by taking on a few small tasks aimed at their financial wellbeing. Unsure sure where to start? Here are some ideas: Check Your Credit You are entitled to a free copy of your credit report every 12 months from each of the three credit bureaus. Visit AnnualCreditReport.com for your free copy, which is available either digitally or by mail. By checking your credit, you can understand what someone else sees when you apply for credit, housing, or utilities. This can include how you use your credit accounts, how much money you owe, how much available credit you have, and your payment history. Checking your score annually, can help you find inaccurate information or catch potential identity theft. Being actively aware of your credit, puts you in control of your situation and can help people to establish good habits that often result in higher credit scores. Download an App Do you want to keep your finances at your fingertips? Consider downloading and getting acquainted with one of the many finance apps available. There are apps that can help you to budget, pay bills, pay down debt, and more. This is a convenient way to harness technology for the sake of increasing your financial wellness. Conquer your cash flow - Knowing where your money goes is one of the basic financial planning concepts, yet most people do not do this. Understanding where your money goes can help you pinpoint waste.  By eliminating waste, you can increase savings for long-term goals such as retirement or paying down debt. Knowing that your long-term goals are accounted for you can spend excess cash flow in a guilt-free manner.   Bust Your Debt Whether it is student loans or credit cards, most can agree that carrying extra debt can add extra stress to your situation. While some people may choose to ignore the problem, it is better to face debt head-on and strategize how to pay it down. One of the quickest ways to see progress is to use the snowball strategy. Essentially this is focusing on paying off one loan at a time starting with the smallest, then allocating what you were paying on that loan to the next smallest. Remember to continue to pay the minimum payment on the other loans to avoid adverse credit reporting.   Increase Your Saving Bumping up your savings by a few extra dollars each month can make a huge difference. If you don’t have emergency savings in place, you may want to begin there. Aim first for $1,000, then when you have that in place, work towards 3-6 months of expenses. Note that your specific lifestyle may require a different amount of emergency reserves. Your trusted financial advisor can help you to determine what is appropriate for your situation.  Another easy way to bump up savings would be increasing your retirement savings by a percent or two or enrolling in automatic contributions to investments or bank accounts.   Schedule An Appointment With A Fee-Only Fiduciary Advisor A fiduciary will work in your best interest and avoid conflicts of interest such as commission and expensive investment products.  An advisor will help you build a plan to achieve your financial goals. As your family grows, your financial plan should too, and your trusted advisor will help you adjust your plan. In addition, your advisor can help manage your assets to be sure the investment strategy aligns with your financial goals. Meeting with your advisor and reviewing your plan and investments regularly is important to measure progress and adjust the plan accordingly. There are so many great ways to observe National Financial Awareness Day that you may not know where to start. Don’t stress, every step forward regardless of how small it is a step in the right direction. 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 Jul 2022

Nick L.

Bagging More Groceries For Your Buck

As inflation continues to affect Americans, many are looking for ways to stretch their dollar a little further. The U. S. Department of Agriculture reports an increase of 11.9% in grocery store food prices from May of 2021 to May of 2022. This added to increase of other necessities can really put a pinch on your budget. Thankfully, careful planning and having a few tricks up your sleeve can help you make the most of your grocery dollars.   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 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 it is a great outdoor activity for everyone including children. Finally, learning to preserve larger quantities of food in season by freezing and canning foods 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, 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 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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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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