Thanks for 20 years of intelligence, efficiency and smiles

In the 20 years Beth Bauman has worked for Winch Financial, she has seen the company grow its client base, staff and level of technology dramatically, though her own job description has remained the same. “My main focus is to take care of our clients and make sure they have everything they need,” she said. “That has not changed in all the years I’ve worked here.” One of just six employees when she first started back in 1999, Beth is now a key member of a 22-person staff. Next to CEO Christina Winch and President Sam Winch, Beth has been Winch Financial’s longest tenured employee. On January 4, Beth will celebrate her 20th anniversary. “For 20 years Beth has been one of our most valuable employees,” Christina Winch said. “She is loyal, honest, intelligent, competent and kind. We all love her. She’s a very calming influence on the office and has been incredibly reliable despite any challenges she might have faced along the way.” As the company’s senior client relationship specialist, Beth extends that calming influence and efficiency to the company’s growing client base. She said she still loves her job and it’s the people that make it special. “I like that my co-workers are my friends and family,” she said. “That’s my favorite thing about working here. I also really enjoy our clients.” She begins her days early, works a full day, and runs a busy household, which includes 14-year old Savannah, 12-year old Devon, almost eight-year Violet , six-year old Mason, and her boyfriend Scott. “I get up at 5 a.m. during the week,” Beth said. “I get the kids and myself ready for the day, work from 7 to three and then run the mom taxi as often as necessary.” In her spare time, Beth knits hats, mittens, scarves, washcloths and scrubbies. Her anniversary comes during her busiest time of year at Winch Financial. She is responsible… | Read More »

Time to check your financial and emotional resources

After 2018’s roller coaster ride through the financial markets, the New Year presents an excellent opportunity to take stock of your retirement plan and maybe reallocate a resource or two. Portfolio managers commonly reallocate accounts by shifting investments based on both technical and fundamental indicators and retirement timelines. They do this throughout the year in an effort to find a prudent balance of safety and growth. But, a fresh year also offers inspiration to analyze your emotional resources and distribute them appropriately as well. If you haven’t taken a risk tolerance test in a while, now would be a good time to do that. Any investor’s ability to withstand market volatility can be affected by many variables including age, income level, budget, retirement timeline, personality and family situation. A person confident in his or her ability to absorb risk might view a steep market decline as a buying opportunity and a necessary correction of a healthy market, while another person might look at the exact same numbers and want to flee the equity market entirely in favor of cash and/or treasuries. The financial conundrum we all face is that both reactions could be correct. The age old admonishment to sell down to your sleeping point means a different alarm clock for every investor. Nervous investors with a strict retirement timetable tend to choose the slickest clock with the loudest alarm, while those who have a looser timeline and a mellower attitude might even sleep in. The point is, you have to ask yourself what type of investor you are. If volatility keeps you up at night and you’re willing to forego growth opportunities to lessen the likelihood of losing money, you may want to stick to cash or bonds. (Of course, with that choice you face another kind of risk, inflation, in which you could end up losing value in your accounts because they aren’t earning enough to keep up… | Read More »

Happy #GivingTuesday!

Of all the post-Thanksgiving hashtagged holidays, #GivingTuesday is our favorite. We like the idea of a day focused on charitable giving,  although we do urge caution at this time as well. Before you donate to any charity, we encourage you to look into its status. Is it registered with the IRS as a 501(c) (3)? What percentage of the funds raised go to overhead like salaries and marketing and what percentage funnels directly to the charity’s intent? Have you read the charity’s mission statement to be sure its goals align with yours? Because so many companies, including PayPal and Facebook, offer matching funds, Giving Tuesday offers great incentives to make a financial contribution today. But, we also urge you to pay wisely, especially for online donations. Make sure the address includes the “S” to indicate it is secure as in https:// rather than http://. Don’t donate from a public computer or using an unsecure Wi-Fi connection. If money is tight this year, there are plenty of other ways to participate. You can volunteer your time – sort food for a local pantry, ring bells for the Salvation Army, sign up for a charitable fun run, etc. You could also donate things you already have, which is often a win/win for you and the charity. Take clothes to Goodwill and slightly used coats, hats and mittens to Coats for Kids or check with your local schools or jails to see if they need donated clothing items. Food banks accept unexpired and unopened pantry items. Libraries, the Salvation Army and Goodwill all accept donations of gently used books. Even if you don’t have time today to vet a charity, or collect donations, or ring a bell you can still participate by just being kind. Wave a car into traffic, visit a lonely neighbor, compliment a worker, or call a friend.    

Bart Starr and the legacy of kindness

Legacy planning can be very complicated and that’s why we’re here. We’ll walk you through beneficiary designations, trusts, wills and marital agreements, and we’ll work with an estate attorney to help you develop the appropriate paperwork. But, there’s another kind of estate we believe is even more important, one built not from your coins but from your character. It’s really easy to leave a lasting legacy of kindness. Nearly 60 years ago, Packer quarterback Bart Starr popped in to visit a seriously ill little boy. The visit cheered then 10-year old Terry Winch up and continues to inspire him today. “It was so memorable that, even today, when I meet someone new within an hour or two I’m telling that story,” he said. Back in 1960, Winch suffered a dangerous bout of rheumatic fever that attacked his heart. Initially treated by a local doctor, he later spent three months at Marshfield Hospital and several more months recuperating at home in a hospital bed set up in his parent’s bedroom. “One day I heard a car door slam and I looked out and saw my mom’s boss, Dr. Langdon, walking toward our breezeway, which was not unusual,” Winch said. “But then I heard a second car door slam and I saw Bart Starr coming in with him. As you can imagine, it was overwhelming. The Packers were a force to be dealt with and here he was, standing right next to my bed! So, I’m just not believing what I’m seeing…How amazing that was for a 10-year old kid – that Bart Starr came to his house.” During Winch’s long recovery, he also enjoyed the positive influence of his older brother, Dr. Tim Winch. For a long time Terry wasn’t able to move far from his bed, but he was able to make it to the living room and that’s where Tim taught him how to play piano. Those lessons led… | Read More »

The cost of labor and how to maximize your Social Security

Many people are surprised to learn that Social Security payments can be taxable. In fact, depending on your Modified Adjusted Gross Income (MAGI), you may be taxed on up to 85% of your benefits. Once you reach retirement age, your Social Security benefits are taxed based on your filing status and how much other income you receive. If you file singly and your provisional income is below $25,000 annually, you will not pay taxes on your Social Security benefits.  (Provisional income includes gross income, tax-free interest, and 50% of Social Security benefits.) A single filer whose provisional income is between $25,000 and $34,000 will be taxed on up to 50%. Single filers whose provisional income is more than $34,000 are taxed on up to 85% of their benefits. The numbers increase for people who file jointly, with those whose provisional income remains under $32,000 avoiding taxes on Social Security, couples earning a provisional income of between $32,000 and $44,000 taxed on up to 50% and those earning over $44,000 in provisional income taxed on up to 85%. Some states also tax Social Security benefits, although they are exempt from state taxes in Wisconsin and 36 other states. Knowing the difference between qualified and non-qualified money is the key to making the most out of the money you’re earned. Qualified money includes assets you have accumulated but not paid income taxes on yet, for instance, IRA and 401(k) money.  Because you won’t have to pay taxes on these assets until you withdraw them, the government requires you to begin doing so when you reach 70 ½. These are called required minimum distributions and you must take them every year or you will be penalized. Additionally, these distributions adjust your provisional income higher, which makes more of your Social Security taxable. That’s one reason to increase the amount of non-qualified assets you have in your portfolio as you get closer to retirement…. | Read More »