Recovering From Financial Mistakes

We've all made financial mistakes. Whether it's living beyond our means and accumulating debt, buying a too-expensive house, saving too little for the future, or any other blunder - we've all been there. Here are some tips for learning from these errors and moving on:

Forgive yourself. It's easy to beat yourself up over things you did or didn't do. Try to let go of those negative feelings and think about how you're going to learn from your actions. 

Speak the truth about your mistake. Being honest and forthright with yourself, your loved ones, and your financial professional is a powerful step on the road to recovery. 

Take inventory and create a strategy to recover. Ask yourself these questions:
  • How big is the problem?
  • What financial resources can I commit to fixing it?
  • Who do I need to talk to?
  • What is my ultimate goal?
  • What steps do I need to take to achieve that goal?
If you don't know the full financial ramifications of your mistake, sitting down and defining it in terms of dollars and cents can help you overcome paralysis and feel in control again.

Understand why you made the error. We all have beliefs, codes, and mental scripts that underpin our financial decisions. Take the time you need to process your mistake and try to unearth the root of it.

Turn your mistake into a teaching moment. Once you understand the underlying cause of your problem, think about what you can do to prevent yourself from making that same mistake (or series of mistakes ever again).
Financial mistakes don't have to be permanent. If you'd like help getting on the right financial path or would like a review of your current financial strategies, give us a call. We'd be happy to help.

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Before the end of the year, we encourage everyone to come in to our office for a tax review to make sure you are taking advantage of any tax strategies. It takes very little time but it could possibly provide some savings.....and who doesn't want to save on taxes?  
How to Prepare for Intermediate Financial Milestones

You know you should be saving for retirement, but what about your other goals? Intermediate goals can be more challenging to plan for because they have a shorter time frame and may be given short shrift by busy people who are focused on their long-term finances.

Identify your goals
Intermediate financial milestones, goals you want to achieve in the next three-to-five years, are important to your overall financial strategies. Think about what you want to accomplish over the next few years. Common goals might be:
  • Paying off debt.
  • Buying a first or second home.
  • Purchasing a new car.
  • Going on a dream vacation.
  • Starting a business.
  • Sending a child or grandchild to college.
After you identify your goals, think about what it will cost to accomplish each goal. If you're not certain about the exact cost, come up with a minimum and maximum estimate to give yourself wiggle room later.

Set a timeframe
Once you've identified your goals and what they will cost, setting a time frame for these goals will tell you how long you have to save the necessary money and give you a date to work toward. Much like training for a marathon, putting a date on the calendar can put you on the path to identifying what it will take to meet that goal.

Create a savings and investment strategy
Once you have identified your goals and set a reasonable time frame for completion, it's time to bring in your financial professional. We can help you develop a savings and investment strategy that breaks down your goals into annual (and even monthly) objectives to help keep you on track.
Assess progress regularly
The secret ingredient to accomplishing your goals is setting milestones and regularly assessing your progress. Without regular check-ins, it's tough to know whether you are moving toward your goals. Much like a coach or personal trainer, we can help you stay focused and provide needed encouragement and feedback. If you're not making progress, regular meetings can give you the accountability you need to get back on track.

With many of us focused on saving for retirement and meeting daily expenses, it can be easy to let other financial goals slide. However, taking time now to think about what you want to do with your life in the next few years can make it much easier to ensure that important goals aren't left to chance.

If you'd like to talk about your financial goals, please give us a call.



7 Safe Exercises for People with Heart Failure

If you're living with heart failure, it's doubly important to get regular, sustained aerobic exercise.

Regular aerobic exercise has many health benefits. It improves heart and lung health, lowers high blood pressure, and can even help you lose some weight. And if you've been diagnosed with heart failure, it's especially important.

Daily aerobic activity in reasonable amounts is the one thing we know that's really beneficial and can improve outcomes for heart patients," says Zubin Eapen, MD, associate professor of medicine at Duke University and director of the Duke Heart Failure Same-Day Access Clinic in Durham, North Carolina.

Whether or not you're already active, your doctor or a rehabilitation specialist may recommend a structured, supervised cardiac rehab program at a local hospital or outpatient facility to start you off. Many physicians, and even more patients, view cardiac rehab simply as an option, but in fact it can be an essential part of getting better and feeling better, says Dr. Eapen. 

Once you've finished your program, he says, "the idea is for you to continue exercising safely to maintain or improve your heart function."

What's considered a safe level of exertion of course depends on your condition, so check with your physician before beginning any type of exercise, Eapen adds.

How to Get Started With Exercise
Experts recommend a 5- to 10-minute warm-up of stretching or moving around before starting your workout, as well as a cooldown after exercise.

"Generally speaking, your goal is to aim for 25 to 30 minutes of some type of sustained, low-level aerobic activity a day - not once or twice a week - every day," says Clyde W. Yancy, MD, chief of the division of cardiology-medicine at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine and associate director of the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago.

Weight lifting, or any type of sudden movement like that involved in isometric exercises, is not advised, Dr. Yancy says, "because it puts a considerable load on the heart. When you do that to a heart muscle that's already weak, you can actually cause more weakening, or even an irregular heart rhythm." 

To get you moving, here are seven safe exercise options to choose from, including a few surprises.

1. Walk the Walk
The top-rated choice for aerobic activity is walking, since all it requires is lacing up a good pair of sneakers. According to the American Heart Association (AHA), brisk walking confers the same health benefits as intense running, including strengthening the heart muscle and lowering cholesterol levels.
Walking is also easy to work into your day: Take your dog for a longer walk, or park your car farther from the mall entrance or the supermarket. If the weather's not too hot, take a nice stroll around your local park or along a path by the water. "The idea is being up and about, and incorporating physical activity as part of your lifestyle routine," Yancy says. 

2. Get Your Feet Wet
If you're comfortable in the water, swimming is one of the best low-impact exercises for strengthening your heart and lungs. Plus, there's a relaxing, meditative side to swimming laps and allowing your mind to drift.
"Even if you're not a swimmer, there are lots of ways to get creative in the pool," says Eapen. "Think about walking in the shallow end or doing light water aerobics. Those activities aren't just good for cardiovascular fitness," he says. "From an orthopedic perspective, the water's buoyancy cushions the body, making it easier on the joints."

3.  Spin Your Wheels
A stationary bike is often recommended for heart failure patients, especially those who are overweight, because the pumping leg action works the heart and lungs without putting stress on the back, hips, knees, or ankles. If you're doing well and you're up for it, by all means take your road bike out for a spin, says Yancy. Just keep an eye on the weather: Don't exercise outside if it's hot and humid or very cold, as extreme temperatures can interfere with circulation and make breathing difficult. And be sure to stay hydrated, but be careful not to overdo the fluids.

4. Try the Elliptical Trainer
The elliptical machine, a cross-trainer that's half treadmill, half stationary bike, offers a good low-impact aerobic workout, and you can adjust the machine's resistance depending on your fitness level. Most ellipticals have movable upper body handles or poles that let you exercise both your arms and your legs for a full body workout - a good thing for heart patients, according to the Mayo Clinic. Bring along some music and your ear buds to help you keep the pace.

5. Tennis, Anyone?
This one may surprise you! If your physician has signed off and you can keep up a steady game, Yancy says that tennis is fine for many patients, who often can do more than they think they can. In fact, a small study published in June 2013 in the Journal of Sports Science & Medicine on low-risk patients who'd had heart attacks found that a program of modified tennis resulted in physiological "changes [that reduced] cardiovascular risk." The researchers proposed developing new cardiac rehab programs based on certain sports as an alternative to the usual choices (stationary bicycles, treadmills, and the like). Their thinking was that if we can make exercise more fun, then more patients will stick to a program.

6. Get Your Hands Dirty Gardening
Who knew that raking, weeding, and nurturing your garden qualifies as moderate-intensity physical activity? Well, it does. Besides raking and weeding, digging, mulching, hoeing, sowing, harvesting, watering, and transplanting all measure up. Just watch the heat, says Eapen. "In the right climate, and under the right circumstances, gardening is a great example of an aerobic activity that patients can enjoy."

7. Practice Yoga
There are now 36 million Americans practicing yoga, and studies have shown that yoga benefits many aspects of cardiovascular health. A growing body of research from Johns Hopkins Medicine in Baltimore shows that practicing yoga can help those recovering from all types of cardiovascular issues, including people with heart failure.
As with any other activity, says Eapen, check with your doctor to make sure you're taking on a level of exertion that's appropriate for you. Certain types of yoga may be safer for you than others, and people with high blood pressure may need to modify particular poses. "While we don't have much [hard] evidence, any activities that may reduce stress and anxiety - which includes yoga, as well as tai chi and meditation - are good for heart patients, and actually for everybody," Eapen says.
"There's some interesting research suggesting that there's actually a physiological benefit on blood vessels shortly after you do yoga - a sustained benefit," says Yancy. "So though we can't quite say it's therapeutic, for what it does for some patients - peace of mind, relaxation, and stress reduction - that makes sense to me."

Creative Ways to See Fall Colors in North Carolina

With more than 200 tree species under the bluest of skies, North Carolina puts on a kaleidoscopic show in the fall. But the state's exceptional color comes from more than maples and sourwoods. Experience the full glory in myriad ways from the Blue Ridge Parkway to Atlantic Ocean piers.

See a color cascade
Take a day hike or spend the weekend exploring 250 mountain waterfalls framed by fall foliage in  Transylvania County. Then savor the taste of ambers, browns and golds at the new  Oskar Blues Brewery Southeast in Brevard.

Soar through the canopy
Experience fall color up close on a  canopy tour. North Carolina is the nation's zip line leader with more than 20 tours, including  The Gorge, the steepest in the Continental United States.

Bow down to monarchs
Vibrant orange wings flutter en masse during the monarch butterfly migration. Starting in mid-September, their flight path crosses the North Carolina mountains. The best odds of seeing them are on the  Blue Ridge Parkway at Cherry Cove (Milepost 415.7) and Wagon Road Gap (Milepost 412.2).

Hop a train
The Great Smoky Mountains Railroad's  fall foliage ride follows a historic rail line into river gorges, across valleys and through tunnels carved out of majestic mountains. And in Blowing Rock,  Tweetsie Railroad combines scenery with family fun.

Grab a paddle
Add the shimmering gold of cordgrass to the fall palette with a kayak or stand-up paddleboard trek through lush salt marshes. From  Kitty Hawk Kayaks in Corolla to the  Adventure Kayak Company in Southport, outfitters offer lessons and tours.

Find the bear
As the harvest sun sets behind Whiteside Mountain, a bear-like shadow emerges from the canopy for 30 minutes every evening from mid-October to early November. Catch the  Shadow of the Bear from Rhodes Big View Overlook near Cashiers.

Saddle up
Take a guided horseback ride at  Great Smoky Mountains National Park, where woodlands, streams and waterfalls create stunning scenery. Or bring your own horse and join RFD-TV's Best of America by Horseback for a ride at Leatherwood Mountains in Ferguson.

Uncork the color
Sip reds and whites in the woodlands of North Carolina wine country. The  Swan Creek Wine Trail includes  Raffaldini Vineyards and Winery, known for panoramic views of the Blue Ridge and Brushy Mountains.

See more than leaves
Floral colors at public gardens add beauty to the season. At  Sarah P. Duke Gardens in Durham, the red footbridge in the Asiatic arboretum harmonizes with the crimson of Japanese maple.

Cast a line in the surf
Start at daybreak for a double photo op - one for the coral-colored sky and one for the giant  red drum or speckled sea trout you land.

Go airborne
Drink in the view from a hot air balloon. Join the crowd at the colorful  Carolina BalloonFest in Statesville or connect with an individual operator such as  Carolina Balloon AdventuresBalloons Over Charlotte or  Asheville Hot Air Balloons.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which is an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. 

While most people are aware of breast cancer, many forget to take the steps to have a plan to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same. We have made a lot of progress but still have a long way to go!

Dog Brothers Finally Get What They've Always Wanted-Duckling Siblings

Rescue dogs Pikelet and Patty Cakes, from Australia, aren't like most pups. They didn't want chew toys or endless games of fetch. All they wanted were ducks-real life baby ducklings to care for and nuture. 

They would take photos with rubber duckies, but it simply wasn't the same. Sure, the dogs had many great times together, but they were ready to be big brothers. 

Their owner finally granted their wish, and two precious little ducklings joined the family. The ducks, named  Penguin and Popinjay, were rescued by Wollongong Animal Rescue Network, and Pikelet and Patty Cakes couldn't be happier. 

Since the birds are so little, the canines spent most of their time protecting them instead of playing with them. Patty Cakes has especially bonded with the little ones. 

Still, their duck dreams have come true, and we couldn't be happier for them.

French Onion Penne

The perfect hybrid of pasta and the classic soup.

  • 2 tbsp. butter
  • 1 large onion, thinly sliced
  • kosher salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tbsp. fresh thyme leaves, plus more for garnish
  • 1 packet French onion soup mix (such as Lipton's)
  • 1 lb. penne pasta
  • 2 c. beef broth
  • 2 c. water
  • 1/4 c. heavy cream
  • 1 1/2 c. shredded Gruyere
  1. In a large pot, melt butter over medium-low heat. Add onions and caramelize, stirring occasionally, until deeply golden, 15 minutes. Season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add garlic, thyme, and french onion soup mix to pot and stir until garlic is fragrant, 1 minute.
  3. Add penne, beef broth, and water and bring to a boil, then let simmer until penne is al dente and most liquid is absorbed (it should be saucy), 15 to 20 minutes.
  4. Add heavy cream and 1 cup gruyere and stir until cheese is melted.
  5. Serve as is, or serve like French onion soup: Heat broiler. Transfer pasta to oven-safe bowls or ramekins and top with more gruyere. Broil until cheese is melted, 1 to 2 minutes, then garnish with more thyme and serve immediately.