Financial Planning with Midwest Values
Authors: Travis Krueger, Mark Kontz and Kathy Kontz
Years ago, a farmer whose fields sprawled across the prairies of the Midwest was looking for hired help around the farm. It wasn’t easy to find good help, especially in something like farming, which can be hard work and requires working in a lot of hostile weather conditions like snow, ice, rain, fog, wind, or blistering heat.
Interviewing candidates for the job, the farmer struggled to find a willing worker. Finally, a thin elderly man approached him. “Do you have any experience working on a farm?” the farmer inquired. His response was, “Well, I can sleep when the wind blows.” The farmer reluctantly hired him in desperation even though he was confused by his answer.
The new hired hand was good and worked very well around the farm, staying busy from early morning till dusk, and the farmer was pleased with this new hire. Then, late one night, a winter blizzard hit virtually out of nowhere and turned what had been a comfortable spring like day into a raging nightmare and what would be a snowstorm of record-breaking proportions. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed his winter coat, hat, boots, and a flashlight and hurried to the hired hand’s bunk house. He shook him, yelling, “Wake up, hurry! A blizzard is hitting! We need to prepare before things get worse!” The hired hand rolled over in bed, pulled his covers up and spoke firmly, “No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows.”
Angry, the farmer was ready to fire him immediately. Instead, he rushed outside to deal with the blizzard himself. To his surprise, he found that the generator was ready to go if power was lost, there was firewood stacked and ready, and the haystacks had already been covered with tarpaulins. The livestock was in the barn, the chickens in their coops, the doors and windows secured tightly. Everything was tied down or stored safely away. The chainsaw and shovel were ready, leaning against the wall near the door. The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, returned to his bed, and the sound of the storm lulled him to sleep.
When you are prepared, you have nothing to fear. As we approach retirement, it is imperative to make sure personal finances are in order, from your retirement savings to your tax planning. Even when we think we have a good plan, life happens, and needs and goals change. As financial advisors, we like to compare ourselves to that hired hand helping to keep you protected while the wind blows. Our goal is to provide sound advice by focusing on some basic fundamentals. We consider each client’s strengths and weaknesses. We consider their income and assets, debt, long-term goals, desired return objectives, time horizon, insurance needs, cash requirements and tax situations. Finally, we take our knowledge of regulations and market conditions and offer informed advice, helping each client make decisions with the goal of reaping a more successful harvest in the future.