Children are our future, but what is their future?

Children are our future, but what is their future?

June 01, 2020

As states begin opening up and countries around the world are slowly returning to normal, we must ask ourselves what the fallout might be. Those closer to retirement or those already in retirement were more heavily invested in fixed income securities. They will not be the ones hit the hardest, it is the exact opposite. The youngest generation is the one that people are foreseeing as being hit the hardest.

Generation Z consists of the kids born after 1997, which has the oldest of this group at age 23. To put this into perspective, this is the age of those graduating college and trying to start their careers. How do they begin starting careers when jobs are continuously pulling internships and entry-level positions? When the pandemic first hit, layoffs were focused in mainly hospitality, travel, and retail industries which is heavily concentrated with those considered "Gen Z" (16-24 age range). The staggering growth of unemployment among teenagers and young adults will leave a long-lasting scar on Gen Z.

The later start they get on a career, the less time they have to save for retirement, buy homes, etc. The good news is that even though they get a late start saving for retirement, their generation will have the longest accumulation period. Teenagers still have time to graduate high school and get through college before joining the workforce. Though unemployment is the main concern, when these younger generations do join the work force, what will their wages look like? Millennial men earn less than their baby boomer counter parts and the women earn less than their Gen X counterparts. It will be interesting to see these stats for the Gen Z generation in the next couple of years.

If the economic recovery of this depression is as slow as it has been from the 2008 recession, we might see an influx of property sells or foreclosures as people try to move back in with family or sign into communal agreements. There is the question, for the younger generations, should there be more assistance? This is the second major economic fallout millennials have had to go through and the first major one for the Gen Z population. Many of these younger people do not have a single penny saved, and those that do have a savings fund there is not much there to weather them through this storm.

Written By:
Tiffany Austin

How to Stay Upbeat While Dealing With a New Way of Life

How to Stay Upbeat While Dealing With a New Way of Life

May 18, 2020

What day is it? Weekdays are blurring into weekends and clothing consists of pajamas or a track suit! Routine, routine, routine. I have read a number of articles on how imperative it is to have a routine and keep a routine while we are dealing with COVID-19.

If you are still working (that is so great!) but working at home, treat it as if it is a normal workday. Get ready for work, work, take a lunch break, work and leave. "Come home" and cook dinner, prep everything for tomorrow and then relax before bedtime. Save the big house projects, gardening, chores etc. for the weekend so you still have a sense of normalcy and something to do on those weekend days.

I cannot say enough how much I have learned about myself during this crisis. I am most definitely an extrovert and that has shown. My locked-up time has been a lot longer than most due to my knee surgery I had in February. With that much time on my hands I have found myself becoming increasingly bored and unmotivated after my workday is done and on the weekends.

Taking out the commute and getting ready in the morning left me with more free time on my hands than I knew what to do with. As you are reading this do you realize you are in the same boat as me? What do I do with the extra 3 hours I have in my day?

I know three hours might not seem like that many, but when you are not leaving your home it feels like forever. Try to incorporate a fun workout in the day, dance around by yourself to your favorite music, soak up some vitamin D, take a stroll around the block, create a new household budget or just go for a drive. As we all try to navigate this strange and unpredictable time it is important to take care of yourself. Meditate, do not continuously read about the issues plaguing the world right now, minimize your screen time and get the proper amount of sleep. We will get through this peculiar time eventually, so in the end just try to smile and be happy!

If you have done everything you wanted and still have time left over, here are some things I have done to pass the time:
- Sewing pillowcases, mask and window seat
- Cleaning out junk in the house to get rid of
- Gardening
- Redoing household budget
- Reading finance books and fun books
- Cooking crazy meals (Ratatouille)
- Updating my insurance policies
- Painting and crafting things
- Cleaning!
- Video chatting with friends and family
- Mailing out postcards
- Going on "dates" with my husband
- Playing old school video games
- Playing and spending time with the fur kids

Written By:
Erin Watkins

Visceral Reaction to Socialism not Capitalism

Visceral Reaction to Socialism not Capitalism

April 13, 2020

I became physically ill when I saw Jim Cramer's combined headlines; how could people possibly care about a record week of stock market gains when 16M+ American's are out of work! How have we lost our way so gravely? Where has our integrity, morality, and accountability gone? These unemployed Americans are our neighbors, our friends, ...our family! Have companies announced stellar earnings? Did states shorten the stay-at-home timelines? NO!

The people in power (both political parties) act euphoric because 'STOCKS!' are higher as if they solved something! They act ecstatic like a 'kitchen sink' of trillions of dollars is a cure for a medical problem. Never mind being complicit with the Fed completely in re-writing the rules of the game during active play. The Fed created many new programs to buy assets they were never intended to buy and even back dated their privilege. BACK DATED! The people in power are celebrating the tearing down of laws and free markets because it is self-serving; all the while neglecting the reality of the situation.

We remind those in power that nothing good is born from lies and ramifications will come. The destruction of free market price discovery and concealing of risk can only hover so long until economic gravity overwhelms. Our way forward is to remember the stock market is not the economy and 16M+ and growing Americans do not go back to work overnight. Cycles take time to play out and the government is not an economic god that can accelerate time. The Fed will attempt to fight fire with fire by fixing debt, leverage and credit issues with more debt, credit and leverage but inevitably the fallout will come. 56 Capital Partners honestly thought morality would prevail, naïve yes, nonetheless we learned a lesson.

At 56 Capital Partners, our only ignorance was how far people in power would go without morality to break the rule of law. How do you invest when they are willing to back date laws to help their constituents? Nevertheless, we will not quit because we believe there are still more good people than bad, more with integrity than without, more people who care about our country than do not! We will continue to preserve financial integrity during these Shakespearean sized tragedies for the benefit of our clients because they are our neighbors, our friends, ...our family.

God Bless

Written By:
Derek Martin

The Importance of an Emergency Fund: Highlighted by the Coronavirus Pandemic

The Importance of an Emergency Fund: Highlighted by the Coronavirus Pandemic

April 2, 2020

An emergency fund account is a liquid savings account that should only be used in times of extreme hardship or unexpected expenses. We often recommend that individuals have an account with at least 3-6 months' worth of expenses depending on employment. The exact value of your emergency fund can be dependent on several factors. One person's need for liquidity can be much greater than that of someone else.

When recommending a monetary emergency fund goal for our clients, there are certain things that need to be considered. The most important considerations include years to retirement, consistency of income (commissions-based vs salary), dual incomes and job security. Usually those closer to retirement will have a greater need for liquidity in times of hardships, as will many commission-based employees. Therefore, people in those riskier categories would likely benefit from an emergency fund account with closer to six months' worth of expenses. People with more secure income or dual working spouses can be closer to 3 months' worth of expenses in an account. The trick is finding a balance between having a funded liquid account while not losing out in the potential gains that money could have in the market.

The Coronavirus pandemic has highlighted many issues in personal finance. With potentially millions of people losing their jobs and entire businesses facing hardships that could lead to permanent shutdowns, we find ourselves wondering how people might be able to survive financially. For many people, having that 3-6 month cushion in emergency funds will be saving them their home, vehicles, etc. Though there are a few avenues people can use to help them (unemployment and stimulus checks), there's no telling how long these shutdowns will last and if those avenues won't dry up before this is over. Therefore, ensure you are funding your emergency account as much as you can now, by potentially decreasing current spending or using the stimulus check so that you are covered in the future.

Written By:
Tiffany Austin

Keep Calm and Carry On

Keep Calm and Carry On

March 13, 2020

Part of the responsibility of a good advisor is when panic strikes we keep calm and carry on. Prior to the fastest downturn in history, the largest point draw-down in the Dow and a plethora of record bad things we had a plan. We are staying calm and executing on our plan. This has worked out well.

Client Actions:
-Reach out to a mortgage officer and refinance debts if it makes sense; savings likely should be invested to take advantage of interest rate differences
-Review your budget and see if there are extra resources to make contributions to your accounts
-Rebalance your 401(K)s or work retirement accounts 56 Capital Partners does not manage
-Look up your accounts before calling and compare them to the market; most portfolios are down less than half of the major indexes which sets us up nicely to take advantage of this situation

56 Capital Partners Actions:
-Encourage clients to look at refinancing debts to lowest rates of all time; review refinancing savings should be invested to take advantage of the interest rate differential
-Help clients rebalance their accounts unless they are in a target date fund or allocation fund that does it automatically
-When clients reach out, see if they have any cash to contribute to their accounts to take advantage of the panic
-Review with clients how well we have navigated the downturn and the set up for long term gains

As always we are here to answer any and all of your questions, but please review client actions and make sure you are executing actions you can control versus worrying about situations you cannot.

*I would be remiss if I did not add that if you have friends or family that have advisors without a plan that we always appreciate referrals.

Written By:
Derek Martin

New 2020 Reading List

New 2020 Reading List

January 27, 2020

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever." Mahatma Gandhi

We keep learning as every day passes. At 56 Capital Partners we are committed to providing you with knowledge. We strive to learn something new on a daily basis and reading has played a big part of that. While some of these might not relate to you, find a good read that keeps you engaged and that will teach you something new each day. Happy reading!

New Year, New Goals

New Year, New Goals

December 31, 2019

With the incoming new year, that means out with the old and in with the new. We all make a resolution each year the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. But let's be honest, who keeps those resolutions. A big part of life is goals, dreams and resolutions.

Sticking with goals can be a challenge. We tend to dream big but get very overwhelmed by the sheer thought of achieving that goal and what it will take to get there. We especially do this with our finances. We shoot for the stars and it last for 2 months then it is quitting time. But how do we combat that overwhelming sensation of achieving huge goals.

The best way to achieve your financial goals is to start with small achievable goals and work your way to the bigger goals. Work on a budget and see what you can save each month. If that is only $10 then start with that. If you find that in 6 months you pay off a debt or get a pay raise, utilize those funds to add to your goal. Now go with $50 for savings instead of $10.
Goals should be a part of your annual "checkup" with yourself and your family. It is more a mind over matter situation that anything else. We tend to stress ourselves with goals and it then adds a negative connotation to it. We all want to save money, but we end up doing more than we can handle and it ends up putting us further behind.

This year set a lofty big goal, then work backwards and determine how to achieve that goal. For example, if you want to have $10,000 by the end of the year in your savings account then you would take your pay and divide it out. First do the number of pay periods you have (we will use 24 for our example) which is $10,000/24= $416.66 every two weeks. Next you want to divide that out by 14 and that would give you a daily amount that you would need to save. This means you would need to save approximately $29.76 each day to get to your goal. Seeing the smaller amount makes the goal a little more manageable than a big number.

2020 should be a new, fresh start. Set some goals for yourself and see how you can achieve those in small doses. It is okay to think big but make sure to back into smaller goals, so it is easier for you to attain. Let 2020 not only be the year you focus on yourself but be the year you set your goals and achieve them!

Written By:
Erin Watkins

End of Year Madness

End of Year Madness

November 21, 2019

It is hard to believe in 5 short weeks we will be saying hello 2020! Has a weird ring to it but it is headed our way, like it or not. This time of year is particularly busy for everyone. Family gatherings along with home cooked meals and presents consume our thoughts for the last weeks of the year. In the past we have discussed different methods of saving money over the holidays or doing things a little differently. As we worry about everyone else when trying to buy gifts or travel to see loved ones, we often forget about ourselves. This holiday season we are focusing on paying attention to ourselves and taking care of "me".

We know you are not thinking about yourself as a main priority but maybe you should! This might sound cliché but give yourself the gift of a future with contributions to your plan, increase your employer sponsored plan contributions or even create a will. Whether you do an end of year lump sum into your IRA, or you set aside a little extra to buy yourself a present in the future, make sure to do so. We have a tendency to neglect ourselves, but we are the most important person in our lives. Giving yourself the gift of a future is just as important as giving your significant other a beautiful watch or giving all the kiddos toys they will outgrow in a year.

As the year winds down, we should be reflecting back and asking ourselves where can I add more. The maximum contribution limit for 2019 into an IRA is $6,000. This is one way to add to your savings if you have not maxed it out for the year and are eligible to do so. If you receive an end of year bonus but it doesn't get to you until January, have no fear! Did you know you can contribute for the year 2019 all the way up until tax day 2020? If this is something you would like to do just remember you must do your contributions before you file your taxes. Perhaps you are due for a raise in the upcoming year. Maybe take that difference and put that into your employer sponsored plan by upping your percentage contribution. You won't see the increase in your pay check but you will see a contribution increase in your plan.

If focusing on yourself is a difficult task, there are ways to help yourself without directly giving to you alone. Maybe you plan to help your kiddos with college or something else. You could take some of the extra funds you have and start a savings account for them. Notice how you are not directly helping yourself but in reality you are because you will be saving for the future.

If money is a little tight this year but you want to give yourself the gift of peace of mind, think about making sure you have an estate plan in place. At least write down some things or create a will. This could actually be the biggest gift you could ever give to not only you but your family as well.

Take a moment to stop and ask how can I do something for me. You are the most important person in your life because if you do not take care of yourself and your future you are not taking care of those that mean the most to you. If you take away anything from this let it be that it is okay to plan for me!

Written By:
Erin Watkins

Visit to the Big Apple

Visit to the Big Apple

August 8, 2019

I recently went on an amazing vacation where the first stop was New York City. I had never been to NYC but I compiled my list of must sees in the vast space of buildings, cars and people and I knew I had to see all things Finance. The hustle and bustle you see in movies and TV are real and it is LOUD! As I walked down Wall Street the noise seemed to dissipate as I got closer to the center of it all. I am not that crazy fan girl of most things, but I saw the side of the NYSE building and my smile grew bigger and my steps faster. It was a Tuesday morning and we were an hour into the trading day, so I had just missed the chaos of it all. As I rounded the corner there it was the New York Stock Exchange. Being there in person was a dream come true. It was more beautiful than I had imagined, and I am so thankful to have experienced the financial district in New York City. We somehow now have to figure out how to get invited to see the inside! If you are ever in NYC stop by and soak in the sights but make sure to see the Bull!

Written By:
Erin Watkins

Your Furry Companion

Your Furry Companion

July 9, 2019

Imagine you are walking in the park and there are pets everywhere. Some are in strollers, some wearing sunglasses, some dressed in a diamond collar, others having a birthday party with their "friends". You look down at your dog and realize you would do anything you could to make sure they are well taken care of. Owning a pet in many ways is like having a child. There is feeding, bathing, haircuts, cleaning up accidents, exercise and the list goes on. Pets are becoming more common in households around the globe. They are so common that people literally take them everywhere they go, they have their own rooms in the house, and are even left with millions of dollars from their owners' estate. Enter the age of pet humanization. Planning for the future should include your pet. There are a plethora of topics to discuss that will help alleviate headaches, cost and turmoil down the road.

One important topic to consider when you own a pet is pet insurance. This service has been around for a while but has really taken off in the last decade. If you are considering getting a pet look into pet insurance to see if it is a proper fit for you. Providers will offer coverage and base it off multiple factors like age and breed. If you have an exotic pet look for a company that could cover them. Insurance for a pet can be costly, if they have pre-existing conditions, are a certain breed or are older, so be sure to watch out for deductibles and rising cost as the pet ages. Sometimes the vet bill might be cheaper than the insurance bill. Do your research before deciding on what is best for your situation.

Getting married is already stressful enough but adding your pet into the mix can make it worse. While we hope your marriage does not end in divorce, they unfortunately happen and so do custody battles for your fur child. A way to eliminate a long court battle is a pet prenup (may not be available in your state since some courts still consider pets as property). If a prenup is not an option, make sure you have documentation of who provides the majority amount of care for the pet and who pays for the expenses incurred. Some courts will even base their decision off of who signed the papers to "purchase" the pet and take that document into consideration. If you do end up in a battle with your spouse this can help determine who should get custody of the pet.

This might sound a bit odd, but it would not hurt having your pet included in your estate plan, whether you put them in your Will or a Trust. If you do not have that completed at least set aside funds for their care and hand write out your desires for them. It is not uncommon these days to see estates pass on to people's pets. You do not have to go to those lengths, but as a generic make sure you designate a caregiver in the event of your sudden passing. Often animals who survive their owner's end up being put into a shelter hopefully to be adopted but that is not always the outcome. Prepare for the sudden events and make sure that your fur child can continue their life and make another person happy just as they did you.

A sad day awaits us when they start to grey and can no longer play like a puppy. Unfortunately, that sometimes ends in a tough decision. We all hope they will go peacefully in the night and we will one day meet them again, but we cannot control that timing. Death of a fur child can be emotionally stressful and expensive. This decision is not for the faint of heart but it is a necessary evil. Think about doing an in-home euthanasia procedure. They are less stressful on your pet and you and they are relatively the same cost as going to the vet (which is stressful and who wants to ugly cry in front of 5 other people). An alternative method is to check with your local Humane Society. Typically, they offer these services and are not as costly. Keep in mind though that you might not be able to stay with your pet for the procedure. On the day of you have options of cremation or they can release them back to you so you can decide what to do (burial). Cremation can be costly depending on the route you choose. Do not spend thousands of dollars to keeps you fur child alive as long as possible if that puts you in a financial bind. Make sure you have a plan before making a decision to help through this difficult time. Include in your plan to give your pet one last "fun" day of eating whatever they want, taking a walk through the park and enjoying some couch time.

Although pets do not have as long a lifespan as we want them to have, they leave a lasting impression on our lives forever. As pet owners we want to see their lives thrive so having things planned out ahead of time will allow you to enjoy having them in the family for as long as they are here with us.
Written By:
Erin Watkins

What is a Fiduciary

What is a Fiduciary

June 18, 2019

You have probably heard this term Fiduciary thrown around a lot here in the last few years. It is a question you should be asking your current Advisor, "Are you a fiduciary?" At 56 Capital Partners we are a fiduciary and are proud of it! In fact, our agreements specify our fiduciary capacity a total of ten (10) times.

Why is this question so important and a point of pride for us? Merriam-Webster defines fiduciary as "one that holds a fiduciary relation or acts in a fiduciary capacity". We like to define fiduciary as earning a person's trust by acting in their best interest as if it were your own. Many people might relate this to the 'Golden Rule'. 56 Capital Partners holds a high standard and tries to stick to the Golden Rule.

The fiduciary topic received plenty of coverage in the media in summer of 2017 when the Department of Labor (DOL) first proposed the fiduciary standard on retirement accounts such as IRAs. Instantly, the financial and insurance industry lobbyists went to work to water the law down and eventually ensure that it was not implemented. Most recently, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed a similar law, but decidedly voted on a watered down "best interest" policy with the mild expectation to be compliant by June 30, 2020. To add further fuel to the fire, this conflicts with the proposed Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board's proposal to make its designees act as a fiduciary when using the designation.

In response to these regulatory proposals, Financial Planning Magazine presented a great article "Will Edward Jones stop advisors from using the CFP designation?" Edward Jones as a firm does not act as a fiduciary, but in certain capacities its independent advisors might be acting as a fiduciary when planning under the banner of the CFP designation. If the CFP enacts the fiduciary standard in its Standards of Conduct Manual it puts many firms and advisors in a legal predicament.

To be fair, the industry needs both advisors acting as fiduciaries and broker dealers whose standard is only suitability. Guidelines that clearly define what role the professional is fulfilling should be given to the client, so they are aware. For example, when paying for long-term family retirement advice clients should expect the advisor to be acting as a fiduciary and putting their interests first. However, if you have a smaller 'fun' account that you are trading in and out of the market and want to bounce a new trade idea off a professional; that professional acting as a broker is simply helping facilitate the trade that is likely highly speculative in nature. These examples seem straight forward, but the lines blur when there is not enough communication and disclosure to define the multitude of services provided throughout a client's tenure with a firm.

Having kept up to date on this, it could take regulators years to sort this out, if they ever do. Along the way there will be a plethora of changes proposed by attorneys and lobbyists, that could result in lawsuits and could potentially cost taxpayers billions. In the meantime, we are happy to set a standard for others to live up to.

Written By:
Derek Martin

In The Community

In The Community

April 17, 2019

We had the pleasure of attending the Bloom event put on by Colorado Springs Mom Blog and sponsored a VIP lunch at the beautiful Colorado Springs School. This event hosted a variety of expecting and new moms. Moms were able to enjoy a panel discussion, a vendor fair and a VIP lunch to give them resources and information on motherhood.

We set up a fun table and were able to connect with moms in the area to discuss hot topics in the planning world. We had so many great questions and had a lot of fun meeting and mingling with everyone.

The VIP lunch was spectacular and setup in an elegant "classroom." We had an in depth discussion followed by a Q&A session. We thoroughly enjoyed hearing the great questions the moms had. Our initial focus was on education planning for little ones but we found ourselves discussing many complex strategies that came about from those questions. This made us realize that we all have questions about planning but might not know who to ask. We really emphasized having conversations with your significant other, and your current advisor (if you have one) to make sure you are all on the same page, especially before introducing a little one into the equation.

Having an open dialogue is important in planning to make sure you understand what is going on. We want to know that you are taking care of yourselves along with planning for your children's future. Always ask questions and do not be afraid to ask them multiple times to make sure you have a good grasp of what is going on. Thank you to all the women who participated at the event and thank you to the host!

https://coloradosprings.momcollective.com/ages-stages/bloom-motherhood-event-recap/

Written By:
Derek Martin & Erin Watkins

Are You Holding Cash?

Are You Holding Cash?

April 1, 2019

Do not think of this as holding cash in your wallet or literally in your hand. Think of the bigger picture and your overall portfolio. As I was browsing through a magazine, I noticed an article* about holding cash and the long-term effects it has on planning. Given the sharp decline in the market and rapid rise that created a "V" on the chart, many clients asked about going to cash during the December swoon. You can find a lot of articles out there in which they talk about not being invested during the top ten return days in a year and the cost it has on long-term performance. This article though, took an inverse look at the problem and not being invested at all.

During December, we advised clients to stay invested for several reasons such as, dividends and interest would be reinvested at lower values. We also had accumulated a higher cash position naturally, that we also put to work during the rebound. While cash plays a role in planning, more so in emergency fund planning, it does come in handy for portfolio allocation. However, to go to all cash out of fear as many clients wanted to, would have caused them to miss out on one of the largest meteoric rises in history.

The final point of the article is that not all cash is created equal, which we agree with. This is why we come up with the allocated ratios to accounts like, Saving, Checking, Brokerage, IRAs, and other types of accounts. We maintain liquidity, but are careful to have nothing too excessive and with the cash we do hold, we look to higher rate accounts.

All said and done, the lesson we recognized was cash is a tool in financial planning that can be used efficiently and inefficiently; question is do you know which one you are?

*Source: Money Magazine (T. Rowe Price)

Written By:
Derek Martin

Tax Time

Tax Time

February 26, 2019

Tax Season... everyone's favorite time of year... just kidding!

We know how stressful tax season can be. Waiting patiently for all those tax documents to arrive in the mail so you can file as soon as possible. As we engage with clients this time of year, we are excited that our new platform has a simple solution to retrieve those documents. Under the reports section titled "Tax", you can find all tax statements and dates of availability for your accounts to help ease your stress level. Below we have compiled a list of tax lessons that we have learned, that we hope will help minimize the stress year after year.

Our tax lessons for the ages:

  • Admit to yourself if you need help. Ignorance is not an excuse to the IRS, it might abate the penalty and interest you are assessed, but does not alleviate it fully.
  • Expect as your situation complicates itself that you will get closer and closer to filing April 15th or even asking for an extension (there is nothing wrong with this). Do not rush to get your filing done and miss important documents that have not even been sent to you yet.
  • Adjust your W4 withholdings as your situation changes so you do not give the government an interest free loan; the goal is NOT to receive a refund.
  • Make a list of this year's statements, so next year you have an idea of how many you are likely to receive, where, and when they will come and online availability.
  • Strategize not only for this year but for years to come. Ex: Make sure IRAs are maxed out before year's end so the statement the investment company generates matches your taxes versus calling us and saying "I can save on taxes if I max out my IRA". We reach out to everyone with IRAs in Oct/Nov to help with this as we knew that.
  • CPAs have limits, they account for what has happened but rarely strategize what to do going forward.

**Our attorneys would want me to make sure I remind readers that we are not CPAs nor do we give tax advice and you should seek advice from a tax professional.

Written By:
Derek Martin

Start The New Year With New Books

"Education is the passport to the future, for tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today." - Malcom X

With the New Year comes new books. As we grow each year we want to keep you updated on what we are diving into. 56 Capital Partners is committed to further education, ongoing training, research and continuing to learn about relevant subjects. We want to grow our library to help pass along educational information we have learned. Here is this years start to the reading list. Enjoy!

Pesky Unwanted Gifts....

Pesky Unwanted Gifts....

December 26, 2018

It is the day after Christmas and you are bright eyed and bushy tailed to try out all of your new gadgets and gizmos. Well, except that one in the corner from Aunt Sue that you set off to the side hoping to forget about it. The ant farm makes you cringe at how little she knows about you and has no clue how old you are! A gift that cannot possibly be meant for you, but there it is, your name on the tag, "To Bob Merry Christmas! With love, Aunt Sue". What do you do now? You have this awful gift that will never be used. You smile at her kind gesture and wonder, "Why Aunt Sue?"

This has happened to you at least once in your life. Take a stroll down memory lane and remember that one gift that you had to like because Aunt Sue gave it to you "with love." The one that still has the tag on it, but you cannot part ways with it because if she found out World War III would ensue! Yes, that is the one. The gift you kept it in the closet to collect dust for 30 years hoping Aunt Sue would never ask about or ask why it was not sitting out. Just a sneaking suspicion that is what you did.

Instead of locking away that horrid gift, why not do something else with it. Let it see the light of day and shine somewhere else besides the closet. Here are a few alternatives for those unwanted gifts.

  • Return it to the store: Typically, around the holidays a gift receipt is given with the gift. This allows you to return it to the store for cash or exchange to be able to get something you can use. If they do not have a receipt with it, you can ask where it was purchased and return for a store credit (depending on the store).
  • Donate the gift: There are plenty of charitable organizations that will take items you do not care for. You can look up specific organizations if you have an item meant for a specific person. For example; a child's toy could go to Toys for Tots etc.
  • Re-gift the gift: If you know of someone who would be thrilled to have that gift you cannot stand, simply give it to them. If there is a party you are going to attend, like a White Elephant, then take your gift with you. Re-gifting is a great option especially if it is not something you can return or want to give away to just anyone.
  • Upcycle or re-purpose the gift: This is a trend that has been more prevalent in the last few years. Upcycle the gift by changing it to be something better or more useful for you. Put a coat of spray paint on it, use it to clean the car (that ugly Christmas sweater) etc. and now you have a usable gift. Using the ant farm example here is what I would do. Free the ants (of course away from you), paint the plastic (not the clear part so you can still see through), and create sand art. Have fun with it and get something more useful out of it. Make it into something you like and let the creative juices flow!
  • Sell it on Amazon, eBay or other places: Post it on the websites to see if someone out there can take your gift off your hands and get some use out of it. You would be surprised at how much you can get for items.
  • Local or Neighborhood buy/sell sites: If you know there are a lot of neighborhood kids or you would rather put items online locally, you can always post on LetGo, Craigslist or your local Facebook pages to see if anyone in your area is interested and get a few bucks for it.
  • Put it in the pile: The garage sale pile is a perfect place to put those unwanted gifts. Yes, you might only get $.25 cents for it, but it was a gift and that is $.25 cents more than what you had and now is it someone else's treasure.
  • Trash: You simply want to get rid of it as fast as possible by tossing it out. If this is the route you decide to go, make sure to do so properly. If the product is recyclable make sure to take it to the proper facility. If it is electronics try recycling places like Best Buy etc. Do not simply just throw it out as there are hazardous materials in a lot of our everyday items that cannot decompose properly or cannot even go into landfills. A lot of those items can be recycled, but it might take a few phone calls to double check if they are.
  • Last Resort: If all options have failed or you are just a straight forward individual, go tell Aunt Sue, "Thank you! But I really do not need this and would rather have it go to a more loving home." Their feelings might be hurt at first but later they will appreciate the honesty. Sometimes honesty can be the best policy and will prevent future headaches for Aunt Sue and you! This will help alleviate the cycle of unwanted gifts from Aunt Sue and ultimately help you both in the end.
Holidays are stressful, and it can be very hard to pick gifts for people. When receiving a gift always have an open mind and heart to those who gave you the gift. Remember, it is the thought that counts not the actual gift and they were thinking of you when they purchased it. These are just a few ways to help you enjoy an unwanted gift you received for Christmas. Think outside of the box if none of these alternatives work for you and find a solution to your ant farm!

Written By:
Erin Watkins

Holiday Shopping Without Chaos

Holiday Shopping Without Chaos

November 19, 2018

Now that your meal is planned out for Thanksgiving, your gift list is made, and you plan out Black-Friday stampede; how do you keep your wallet full before the New Year instead of running empty? We want to lend a few ideas that will help ease the spending of typical Thanksgiving traditions.

Instead of making the all-day event of Black Friday from sun up to sun down and three meals out on the town later, try a few of these things to find yourself less stressed and more relaxed during the holiday.

Stay in...PJ's, leftover turkey legs, deviled eggs, pecan pie, feet up on the couch and a movie marathon sounds great after a long day's work of slaving away in the kitchen, am I right? Add in a little bit of online shopping and I would say you have it made! We all have at one point ordered something online but why do we never think of doing it after Thanksgiving? Due to the family traditions of making the day an Olympic event to be the first one in line at the store and spending numerous hours crossing off our list of gifts seems to consume the minds of retail goers. Online shopping is easier than ever. You can quickly search for products instead of going store to store and see instant reviews and price comparisons. Many companies are joining the craze of online shopping and even have sales before and after the big day. Amazon's Countdown to Black Friday and Cyber Monday are just a few examples that have sales outside of the normal Black Friday.

Procrastinate...I know procrastination is something we all loathe but sometimes it can pay off. Retailers will typically have big sales towards the Christmas holiday to get rid of inventory on the shelves. Here is a point in life where procrastination can pay off if you are willing to wait. Do a little research on the products you want and keep your eye on them. Derek shopped for part of his list on Christmas Eve when stores opened, he encountered less than a dozen men in any one store, plenty of parking, helpful service and the best deals (make sure you get the must haves done earlier though).

Support local business...Go out for Small Business Saturday the day after Black Friday. This gives you a chance to support local businesses in the community and enjoy a less stressful retail experience, while still getting great bargains. I know how nice it is to not go out at all, but this tradition is one I can get down on! Think about your gift list and how generic it likely is. I know you are thinking in your mind right now, "I will get my cousin a gift card and let's go in together and get mom and dad this toaster oven." Instead of that thought try, "I found this amazing painting by a local artist that would fit perfectly above the fireplace at mom and dad's and my cousin would love these one-of-a-kind handmade earrings!" The feeling of supporting local businesses and getting a gift that is memorable and handcrafted by a local shop owner is an unforgettable one, not only for the gift giver but for the receiver as well.

Celebrate each other...My way of holiday thinking is a little different, but I think this is a trend that is really taking off. I do the typical holiday things like decorating the house, baking a pie etc. but instead of celebrating the holiday slaving over a stove and going to shop till I drop, my husband and I take a trip to Moab, Utah every Thanksgiving (among our friends we call the day, Friendsgiving). We make the 7 hour drive out to the middle of nowhere, camp or split a cabin with everyone and go enjoy the outdoors. Instead of one person cooking the meal on Thanksgiving we all pitch in to make the turkey, dressing, sweet potato souffle and other yummy sides and split the cost. We then go hiking, mountain biking, climbing and other fun activities and make a weekend of it. This allows us to truly experience the meaning of Thanksgiving and not be anywhere near a retail store to have the temptation of shopping. We build lasting memories with friends and family and do not spend a fortune on Black Friday.

Set a budget...the last piece of information I have is one that you will gasp at or flat out just laugh in my face, but it is the most cost efficient! Set a budget or do not buy a gift at all. People are more understanding now to the reality of life that gifts can be expensive, time consuming and just an exchange of gift cards is not as emotional. I know this is not the normal way of doing the holidays but if you are on a budget or do not want to dwindle your savings down, it is okay to skip the gifts. Derek and his brother have not done gifts in over a decade, instead it is about family time for them.

I hope these little tidbits help you in making some of those tough decisions during the Black Friday and Holiday chaos. Whether you are a gift giver or receiver, a thrill seeker, a family goer or a couch potato you have options this holiday season to be whatever you want to be without breaking the bank. Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Written By:
Erin Watkins

We Keep Growing

We Keep Growing

October 2, 2018

"The roots of education are bitter but the fruit is sweet." -Aristotle

Education is important no matter the stage of life you are in. We want to be better than we were yesterday, which is why 56 Capital Partners is committed to constant, ongoing training and continuing our education. We are seeking and attaining advanced certifications that better prepare us to know the landscape. We read and research, keeping up on the latest trends and long term movements so that we continue to be valuable partners to you. We compiled a reading list from this year to pass on to you.

Inevitable Checklist

Inevitable Checklist

September 6, 2018

When planning for the worst, some obvious topics are often overlooked. This is a morbid topic, but it is critical to prepare a plan and think about creating documents that will help with the inevitable. Here are some steps you can take to help insure that your loved ones are not lost during their time of grief.

Make sure to have an UPDATED will or trust in place; not the one you think you did 20 years ago before you had your last child. Updating either or both of those documents will help delegate where and to whom you want things to go. A will or trust will mitigate living relatives from fighting over your estate and will allow them proper grieving. A trust often accelerates your family's access to the estate and avoids probate.

Create a list of emergency contacts, service providers (Doctors, vets etc.), memberships, banking information, investment and 401k plan information, life, disability, long-term care and health insurance companies, subscriptions and any other vendor or company used. Include in the list the name, phone number, address and primary contact or website with password. If there are any policies or paperwork that was received make sure to save a digital copy in case it is destroyed or lost and let a family member know where to find those documents such as a safe or safety deposit box.

To help, list out all monthly income and expenses first, this will help identify what companies need to be contacted. Gas, electric, water, cable and internet, mortgage, cell phone, credit cards, prescriptions, dividend checks etc. are just a few that should be included.

Something that is often overlooked are email, social media, snail mail accounts, and PO Boxes. When a person passes the mail does not stop nor do the social media accounts. You can cancel or have mail forwarded by completing a change of address form or go in to your local post office and have them help with forwarding and closing a PO Box if one existed. Social media and email are a little trickier because we all have at least one account, but some have five or ten! Most accounts will require you to have the email and password associated with the account and then you can go through the process of deleting the account. An awesome feature though that some sites offer (Facebook) is an option to memorialize this account. For people who want to have that as a keepsake this is a great option.

Make sure to check in on your Social Security benefits not only for yourself but for your family that is left behind. Sometimes we wrongfully assume credits are on our statements and come to find out the government did not account for them properly. For example, Derek's was calculated wrong when he was deployed over multiple years yet it was the government paying him. You can go straight to SSA.gov, create an account and keep track, this is especially helpful since the Social Security Administration cut back on sending out paper notices. Save a copy of your Social Security statement digitally and print one out to keep with all the other documents.

Stored credit card information is something to check on as well, such as Amazon. If you go in and remove that saved card information there is less likelihood of it being charged for something and it can help prevent identity theft during the transition when predators are at a peak.

Search for "missing" money. Our loved ones might have opened an account that they stopped using after college or after they bought new furniture. There are plenty of tools out there to help determine if you have any accounts that were lost or overlooked.

Having the following handy will help make this a smooth process for your loved ones:

  • Store passwords in a safe place that can be accessed if something unfortunate happens. Having those passwords will help when trying to close accounts.
  • Make sure to have multiple copies of the death certificate and a digital copy. Many companies require a certificate to be able to execute closing or transferring ownership of your account.
  • Have copies of documents stored in a safe place and in a digital format and make sure family members know where they are.
There are a ton of resources out there to help you prepare for this event in life like Everplans, Legal Zoom etc. Completing some of these items will help make the transition from you to your family members easier and will allow them to grieve for you instead of curse you.

Written By:
Erin Watkins

56 Capital Partners Is Leaning Into The Future

In everything we do, everything we put our hands to, we are leaning into the future. We have just completed a total overhaul of our public face, because we want to stay current, to keep leaning into tomorrow. The story of 56 Capital began a year ago, at a moment we were not sure this journey was possible. But we leaned into the future, and we are now settled in and enjoying our venture. Many of you know the story of how we came to be, but we want to dive into that a little further.

Derek, with a dream in mind, wanted to create something that would help people in their pursuit of happiness. As a lover of numbers, education, our country, and the principals it was founded on, Derek sought to bring all of that together in the financial world. He leaned into the future, and 56 Capital Partners was born.

On an extraordinary day in July of 1776, 56 men leaned into the future, imagining another way of thinking and being in the world. These men signed a document that would lead to the prosperity of the new world: The Declaration of Independence allowed for new freedoms, and recognized for all people the right to pursue happiness. 56 Capital Partners is named for and works in the spirit of those courageous men.

56 Capital Partners allows Derek to fulfill his dream of helping people pursue their happiness. He strives to get you to your goals in the frankest and most efficient way. Derek and Erin are ready to take you on a journey, to be your guide on your pursuit. We are looking forward to the road ahead, let's lean into the future together.