5 Questions with Joe Messinger of Capstone Wealth Partners

The following is an interview I did with Joe Messinger of Capstone Wealth Partners. I wanted Joe's take on some financial stuff that was on my mind and probably yours too.

Why should someone consider engaging with a
financial advisor?

There
are 3 main reasons why people typically decide it is time to work with a
financial advisor 1. They take very little interest in financial matters and
they are intimidated by money 2. Their personal financial situation has become
more complex than they are comfortable with and they know
they are missing opportunities and 3. TIME!!! This is the biggest reason to
consider working with a financial advisor. 
You simply don’t have time to stay up to date on all of the aspects of
your personal financial plan, and it is much more valuable to delegate those
matters to someone else that you trust to consolidate, coordinate and simplify
your financial life.  Pay someone else to
worry about your financial matters so you can spend your TIME doing what you
are best at, and doing the things you love to do with the people you love to do
them with.

What are a few of the most common financial
mistakes people make with their money?

They wing it.  People don’t
plan to fail, they fail to plan. A good financial plan should act as a guiding
document to help you make smart choices with your money so you can achieve YOUR
goals for the reasons that are important to you.  An Easy exercise for planning retirement is
to ask yourself 3 questions; By when would I like to retire?  What amount of net spendable money do I need
each month to fund a comfortable retirement? 
Now that I am there, what are 3 words that describe what I am thinking
and how I am feeling now that I am there? 

They procrastinate – everyone today knows they should be saving to fund
retirement and/or college.  Don’t
wait!  Get empowered and take action
now. 

They don’t seek advice when they know they
need it
.  It is hard to know who to trust, so make sure
to ask people that you trust who they work with and if they are loyal to them.  If things sound to good to be true, they
probably are.  Use your spider man sense!

They don’t pay attention to interest rates.  An interest rate
is simply a lender telling you how much you need to pay them to use their money
for a period of time.  Obtaining a lower
interest rate on your mortgage for example could mean tens of thousands of
dollars over the life of the loan, and increase your current cash flow at the
same time. 

They don’t think it through.  People often
times get in over their heads with a payment, or run a massive amount of credit
card debt.  If they just thought it
through and asked themselves “Can I really afford this? Do I really NEED
this?”  they would be much better
off.  Buy with your brain, not your
heart.

It seems like we’ve got some major fiscal
hurdles (higher taxes, inflationary pressures, market ups and downs, etc.) in
front of us here in the U.S., what are some ways to protect and preserve the
money we make?

So many
families today are living paycheck to paycheck. 
One of the most important things you can do is set aside 6 months of
your house hold expenses in an emergency cash reserves account.  FYI – the family vacation to Florida is not
an emergency!  When times are good is the
best time to plan for the uncertainty that will indefinitely come.  Another important thing is to make sure that
you are properly insured in case the unthinkable happens.  Work with a professional to determine the
proper amount and type of insurance for you and your family.  The market will always have ups and downs and
the most important thing with investing is to make sure that you are in a
diversified portfolio that is appropriate for your age and time horizon.  Understand the risks associated with
investing and don’t let emotions drive your decisions for long term
investing.

Saving and paying for college is getting a
lot of attention right now. What are some practical things a person can do to
brighten up this part of their financial picture?

The
cost of a 4 year education at a state school has doubled in the last 10 years,
and the costs continue to rise.  There
are 2 parts of the equation; 1. Saving
for College and 2. Paying for college
 

Every little bit helps in saving for college.  I would recommend that you start saving at
least something into a 529 college savings plan, even if it is $25 a
month.  Also, ask grandparents to
contribute to the plan.  Perhaps instead
of giving the kids money to blow, ask them to split it 50/50.  Half they can see them enjoy now, and half
can go to help fund college.  As far as paying for college understand that
there are a lot of ways to pay for college. 
Work to create a proactive plan, not 
a reactive plan to pay for college. 
Before you even apply to colleges, predetermine your Expected Family Contribution (EFC) as
determined by the Free Application for
Federal Student Aid
(FAFSA)
.  Also, determine
your family’s college funding philosophy; How much of college will you pay for,
for each child.  For example “we are
committed to paying for up to 50% of what an in state school would cost
regardless where you go to college”  or
“we will pay for $10,000 per year for each of our kids”.  Federal Financial aid, Education Tax
incentives, Private Scholarships, scholarships and grants from the colleges and
universities, and student loans will likely all contribute to paying for
college.  It is an elaborate process with
a lot of moving parts, so start early and be an informed buyer of a college
education.

Do you have a strategy you recommend for
people that may have never put a dime into a mutual fund or a 401K?

START!   Get educated on your options and go.  If you work at a company with a 401(k) or
other retirement plan, that is a great place to start.  Request a meeting with a representative from
the plan so that you are aware of your options. 
Many retirement plans now have what is called a target date fund option.  These funds are a great way to get
started.  They essentially ask when you
plan to retire, and professional money managers do all of the heavy lifting to
select a portfolio of investments that is appropriate for you based on your
time horizon and your risk profile. These types of funds are also available in
self-directed Individual Retirement Accounts (IRA).  If you are looking for one on one help, ask
people that you trust if they work with an advisor that they are loyal to.  Don’t be afraid to meet with 2 or 3 advisors
to find one that is a good fit for you.

 

Joe Messinger

Joe Messinger began his financial planning
career in 2001, and worked with industry-leading financial services firms.  His successes as a financial advisor lead him
to senior leadership roles where he had an opportunity to coach and mentor some
of the top financial advisors in the country. 
After nearly a decade of working for some of the largest firms in the
industry, Joe concluded; “The only way to deliver truly comprehensive,
unbiased advice with no conflicts of interest is to operate as an independent
fee only Registered Investment Advisor.”
 In 2009 Joe co-founded Capstone Wealth
Partners to do just that

The Time Issue

Time doesn't fly by and we don't have a "time issue." Time has been moving at the same pace as it always has and your time issue is more than likely an excuse.

As I write, I must plead guilty. Many times I've written those worn out cliches of:

  • Time goes by so quickly
  • Life is brief
  • Don't blink

I could go on, but I've slowly been coming to an awakening. 

The reason we in America (maybe in other parts of the world too) feel like time goes so fast, is we are always:

  • Chasing after something
  • Wanting something
  • Afraid of losing something
  • Getting involved in something
  • Worrying about something

That group above will make you feel like your driving a high performance car on the Audubon-in all waking hours. Why not find your moment instead? Why not take the road less travelled? Why not take a risk and say no?

Being in the moment is not a worn out statement. I wish it were, then it might be an indicator that we've stopped the madness. Being in the moment is essential and everyone can do it, if they want. The scary part is many will wait to the end before they realize how much time they've burned. 

America is in trouble for a number of reasons. Our abuse of time in the pursuit of "all of the above" is insuring a troublesome outcome. I'm convinced there is a desire, but as in many things, desire is not enough. I've moved to the place where I purposely, every day, find my moment. I have to.

Find your moment and turn around.

5 Easy Ways for Small Businesses to Cut Costs

Every penny counts, so get lean and mean. 

Every small business owner knows that costs are easier to
control than revenue—and that’s especially important for startups, who can run
up quite a bill while they’re waiting for things to take off. Here are a few
ways you can boost profits and power through lean times, no matter what niche
you serve.

1. Think used

Depending on the type of business you operate, you might be
able to incorporate used items into your office or store to save money. Light
fixtures, furniture, art, desks, computers and more can all be had for
significantly less than retail if you do some Craigslist hunting. Don’t be
afraid to repurpose industrial equipment that local companies might want to throw
away, as it comes cheap and you get that cool ‘industrial’ design
to your business. Be sure to test used electronics before purchasing—but a
little extra time can save you a lot of money, particularly in the beginning
when it matters most.

2. Move to the
cloud

How much are you spending on printing out and distributing
office memos? How often do you upgrade your version of Office or the Adobe
Master Collection
? Google offers great ways for companies to share ideas and
create documents for free with their Google Docs collection. Adobe and many of
software distributors offer low cost cloud-based services that require a very
low monthly fee which can save you from having to spend hundreds on upgrades
every year. Cloud storage solutions are also becoming more affordable and
reliable; Google Drive, Drop Box and Microsoft all have
great solutions which are all cheaper than buying multiple hard drives.

3. Be energy efficient

You don’t need to be moving into a new space to enjoy the
savings from implementing energy efficient devices into your office. Start by
considering new lighting solutions like CFL’s LED’s or even energy efficient
tungsten bulbs. Unblock windows and utilize skylights if available. Not only do
windows help save on lighting costs all that natural light can help make your
employees happier. Instead of turning on the heater for the whole office,
invest in some energy efficient electric heaters
for the areas where it gets coldest. Hook up all electronics to smart power
strips that automatically shut off all power once the day is over and everyone
is gone.

4. Shop around

Let your office supply vendors know that you will be
shopping around to find the best deals and prices on the products you use the
most. Then do it. Online retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart
offer great prices on bulk items and often will ship free to your store or
office. If you really like your vendors, offer them the option to price match or
to offer you other services to make up the difference in cost. Do this with
your internet, cable/satellite, and phone services yearly to ensure you’re
receiving the best rates available in your area.

5. Rethink your location

Are you absolutely sure your location is best suited to your
needs? Restaurants and some stores might be hard-pressed to move elsewhere, but
you should still consider the cost benefits especially if you have a loyal
clientele willing to go to another location. While you’re at it, you should
consider allowing as many of your employees as possible to telecommute. By
doing this and utilizing free Google services like Google Voice/Talk, Docs and
Drive you can reduce the amount of space you need in an office, how much energy
you have to pay for, and how much you have to spend on electronics.

Aimee Watts is a staff
writer for
Mobile Moo. She has spent
ten years telecommuting full-time, and loves spreading tips and advice for
fellow work-at-home parents. She loves gadgets, new ideas, and skiing with her
two favorite people: her husband and teenage son. They live in Evergreen,
Colorado

The Price of Fame

The price of fame could be summed up in the following statement:

Everybody loves you when your famous…not really. It's just that many flock to whatever is the "new. This too shall pass."

In many parts of the world, being or getting famous is not difficult to do. If you strike certain notes you may even take off like a rocket. You can thank social media for this.

The reality is fame is a cost of doing what you do. It should never be a pursuit. If it is a pursuit then more than likely you're looking for something or some people to fill you up. The end of this road is often addiction.

In some of the roles I've played, I garnered much applause. The inevitable end always led to an empty auditoruim. It really felt quite embarassing. Think of unrequited love here. Thankfully, I found solid ground getting over it. I've learned the importance of just creating the best work you can.

Everything else is mostly distraction.

The Eighth Called Family

I thought this would a post worth repeating, considering Monday's post on parenting.

Ask almost anyone you know about how important family is and I'm sure you'll get a unanimous "very."  Obviously, not everyone's family looks or acts the same.  Nor does the importance factor apply to all assoicated.  But one thing's for sure, whether it's a mother, a child or a wife, family is very important to most.  It's a heart thing like no other.

Then why is it so ignored and why is it a struggle to manage?

My experience says we live in an age of what we feel versus what we do.  It's a dangerous yet romantic exercise.  On one hand we think and feel the emotional high of family, and on the other we trample them under the foot of our pursuits.  I haven't even mentioned  the hard work that is found in family relationships.  Not many a newlywed is interested in hearing that the man lying next them will often leave the toilet seat up or have a serious problem with resolving conflict.  

So all of this leads us to the question of; is there a way to manage and nurture family and still be able to have all the other stuff of life balance out?  Absolutely!  But you'd best do this before they (employer, business partners, schooling) start passing around the kool-aid.  Very difficult to turn around if you've sold your soul.  That said, it's never too late.  It's never too late to properly order your life around the 8 areas of life.  It takes courage and commitment, but it's never too late start the journey.  I'm always fascinated by the trickery we play in our heads.  For example, "I'm not smart enough" or "I'm too old."  If you truly want this life to be well, then the excuses have to stop.  And with all the obstacles I believe.

So what's this "properly ordered life look like?  Quite simply, you integrate the 8 areas of life into your daily existence.  You won't be perfect and it is tough work.  However, there is one result I know you'll appreciate; a life well-lived.  And for the sake of this post, your family will be as healthy as your career, your money, etc.

The Impact of Parenting

I've been married for almost twenty-two years, fourteen of that as a parent. I am in the camp that can't believe that much time has gone by. It really feels like yesterday for all of the roles-husband and father.

Maybe like you, you have a child that participates in an activity or two. My two, are into dance and basketball. It's in those environments that I observe much. What has struck me in this new year is the impact of parenting. Specifically, when it fails and damages the child. No psych analysis here, just observations that are vivid if you look close enough.

Many children are trying to thrive in the midst of chaos and pain.

We here in America place a lot of pressure on children. From education to athletics, we want them to succeed. Even though most adults have a difficult time defining what true success is. Just the same, we put a lot of pressure on them.

Now add a broken family to the insanity.

For the life of me, I have no idea how we will survive this. I pray often on this. Most cultures don't survive what we've laid at our children's feet. A thirteen or 16 year-old is supposed to be able to handle divorce, grades, hormones, and the list goes on? And as you know, many of these children are alone in the management of the list.

Here's what I'm doing with my children:

  1. Pissing off a business partner when I have to take my son to basketball practice
  2. Sending myself a note via my iPhone everyday that reminds me to affirm
  3. Showing them how much I love their mother
  4. Laughter and humor
  5. Pray everyday for their needs

By the way, the above list used to be very alien to me. It took serious change in my life to move me forward. I am thankful.

What Ed Reminded Me Of

This post came over to me as a gift last week. It's from Ed Batista, a writer and coach, out of the San Francisco area. He does some marvelous work with graduate students at Stanford and beyond. Needless to say, I count him as a source of inspiration and fellow pilgrim.

The gift of the post was beautiful and it reminded me of some things easily missed. I just couldn't help thinking about Ed's view and impression of my writing. His words encouraged me that my voice, my notes, are coming out. It wasn't as if I doubted this, it's just great to know that it is connecting as I desire. Ed's comments also wrap around some transitions I'm going through relating to Epic Living, entrepreneur pursuits and life (of course). More to come on this front in the coming weeks.

I believe my Father (I'm trying to get out of just calling him God) speaks and works through connecting the dots. You know, one conversation a month ago that connects to an email seemingly out of the blue. It's a great way of communicating.

So there is my wife, Eileen, Marc, and Ed over a 45-day period exhorting, suggesting, confirming.

I am grateful.

 

Steering by the Stars

All of us get lost in the darkness

Dreamers learn to steer by the stars

          –Neil Peart

That lyric is from the song The Pass.

What an appropriate verse to the theme of yesterday's post.  Steering by the stars becomes important when traditional navigation becomes obsolete.  This skill is needed when times are tough, but even more important when things are going well (we tend to think we don't need any help when the road is silk paved).  Certainly, it is tough when darkness descends on a career or love.  The choice is ours as to how we will respond.  I for one, have not always responded well.

I had a vivid dream once where I was asked to come on a journey at night.  The offer included a flashlight, so I felt secure in the knowledge that I would have enough light.  I took the offer and proceeded forward.  After some time, the flashlight began to dim and I realized the batteries were dying.  Realizing that I had come to far to turn back, I looked up and saw millions of stars.  I heard a voice that said, "now you will learn your direction by the stars."  I woke up…

That dream came to me just when I needed it.  It helped me understand the importance of learning and adapting.  You might be skeptical, you might even be laughing.  But the question remains; how do we steer when the light has ceased?

Here are a some tips:

  • If things are going well now, start learning about the principles of navigating through tough times.  It will be painful at first because you may think the time would be better served enjoying the fruits.  See the financial services industry about the foolishness of enjoying the fruits.
  • Don't go it alone.  Hire a coach, find a mentor or seek out others who have experience (real experience) under their belt.
  • If you're in the darkness right now, then don't give up.  But be sure you're on the right terrain.  In other words, if you were never excited about being a social media guru, don't keep convincing yourself that you need to stay one.
  • If you don't expect your path to be easy, then you will learn what you need to learn.
  • Take time to rest.

Managing Your Thoughts

"Been thinking, more than writing these days.  Hoping to get back here very soon.  Many events of 2009 have conspired in a way not imagined."

-Epic Living Blog, Spring of 2009

The above quote came from me almost 4 years ago. Though I'm now in a different place, the words began pushing me to reflection.

Do I have a handle around my thoughts?

As we've entered into 2013, I've given a lot of myself to why thoughts matter. The good ones, the bad ones and how impactful the sum of the two have been on me, and others. This may seem like an obvious because we do it all the time…thinking that is. But what if the majority of our thoughts are made up of the following:

It is clear in my own walk that some of those examples fit my past thought patterns. I say past, because part of my growth plan for 2013 is to manage my thoughts with great energy and focus. I've lost too much time (literally) letting bad thinking rule the day.

One great example for me is the area of regrets. There was a time when I daily struggled with regrets over my choice of entrepreneurism. The fact that I began a new life in the area of entrepreneurism when I was at my pinnacle in the corporate world, the fact that I had 2 kids under 10 years of age, the fact that I had a big mortgage, provided fertile land for regrets. This was especially true since I felt my kids were growing up so fast and I was still trying to figure out who I was supposed to be. Ever heard this one in your head?

"I should have spent more time with her just being, but now she's a teen-ager and I wonder if she sees me as father that is there for her."

I could go on with more, but the point is time is precious and we don't have time (REALLY) to spend reviewing all the crap that comes and goes through our heads. It's a deception to believe every thought is worthwhile and a key to who you are. Most of the thoughts listed above are designed to bring you down, suck away your time and leave you standing gripped. What if you decided to let the negatives to just roll on by. Try it, you'll see that your world won't come to an end.

I am living these steps to manage my thoughts better:

  • Praying diligently to hold my thoughts captive. St. Paul has much to say on this topic
  • Practicing mindfulness. Andy Puddicombe has some great insights on this here
  • Staying away from those who see things as a half-empty affair
  • Keeping things real at all times
  • Continuing my practice of yoga