It’s a season for giving thanks. And we wanted to thank you, our dear clients and friends, for allowing us to do what we love every day.
We’re thankful for the opportunity to work toward a mission that we truly believe in — helping families and communities articulate, underwrite, and fully embrace their great lives.
Please know that at Thanksgiving and always, we’re grateful for you.
May the good things in life be yours in abundance throughout the holiday season.
The NorthStar Team
If you could be alive at any time in history, when would it be? Would you choose to live right now? Objectively, things aren’t easy for most of us right now. We’re facing social, economic, health, and environmental crises. With all the chaos of today, it can be tempting to lean on nostalgia and believe previous generations had it better or easier. And it can make us long for what seem like simpler times.
We may be too focused on the details to see the big picture. With a look at how far we’ve come, we can more clearly see how good we have it and how things, in many ways, really are getting better.
Consider these seven reasons life is actually the best it’s ever been.
#1 Life Expectancy
We’re living long than people have ever lived before. Worldwide, more than 3 in every 4 people live to be at least 65 years old. In the US, life expectancies for men and women have increased by more than 10 years since 1950. That’s 10 more years the generations before us didn’t have to enjoy retirement, spend time with family, and take in more of the life’s wonders.
#2 Health Care & Medicine
Progress in medicine and health care is one of the reasons we’re living longer than ever. In fact, since 1980, MRIs have been invented, smallpox was eradicated, artificial hearts were developed, and the human genome was sequenced. These and other advancements have done more than just extend the length of people’s lives. They’ve also compressed end-of-life decline, meaning people live better lives longer.
#3 Poverty & Income
Globally, poverty rates have dropped by more than 50% since 2000. In the U.S., 8.4 million people have risen out of poverty since 2014. Also promising, average earnings in the U.S. have increased nearly 20-fold since the 1950s. Adjusting for inflation, some experts say wages have grown by at least 35%, increasing Americans’ purchasing power today when compared to 70 years ago.
Technological advancements have changed so much of how we live and navigate the world. Since 1950 alone, new technology has brought us credit cards, artificial intelligence, the internet, electric cars, cellphones, and GPS technology. These and other innovations have made our lives easier, safer, and better. In fact, while new tech can save time and reduce effort, it can also help save lives.
Despite the headlines, over the last 25 years, crime has dropped dramatically in the U.S. Violent crime, like assault, robbery, and homicide, has fallen by more than 51% since 1993. Over the same period, property crime, like theft and fraud, has followed the same trend, dropping by more than 54%.
#6 Working Conditions
Labor conditions and laws have come a long way since the early 1900s, creating safer environments with better protections for workers. From safety regulations and wage laws to discrimination and child labor laws, U.S. workers are better protected than ever. Beyond safety, workplaces are also more diverse than ever before. In fact, the U.S. workforce has seen a surge of older workers, minorities, and women over the past 25 years.
#8 Quality of Life
Quality of life has improved sharply over the last 100 years, with astounding improvements in living standards across all socio-economic divides. In fact, the average standard of living in the U.S. today would have been envied by even the greatest rulers two centuries ago.
By most standards, we’re living longer, happier, better lives than our great-great-grandparents did.
We’re dealing with more uncertainty than most of us have ever faced before. And as the months drag on, the stress of not knowing what comes next is taking a toll.
How do we make smart decisions when we’re stressed out and everything is uncertain?
We made a quick video talking about what we can learn from how Navy SEALs deal with stress and uncertainty.
|Chris Mullis, Ph.D., CDFA®
I hope you’ll allow me to share something very special with you. Fourteen years ago today we launched our financial planning and wealth management practice framed upon three starkly beautiful motivations:
- To do good
- To do well by doing good
- To be happy doing well by doing good
Helping families articulate, underwrite, and fully embrace their great lives is a profound mission that we take up with unyielding energy and commitment.
We are deeply grateful for all of the people who’ve helped us on our journey. From the early clients who trusted us from the get go to our friends and family who’ve lent their support in more ways than we can list here. We would not be where we are without each and every one of them.
It has been an exciting and educational arc of experience. As we look back, here are three essential lessons that we have learned:
- Time is the key, not money.
When we meet with prospective clients approaching retirement, universally they express regret that they didn’t get organized and motivated about finances until late in their professional lives. “I wish I would have found you 20 years ago” is the common refrain. Money is a commodity. Time is the precious resource.
- Inertia is the enemy.
“If you do the same thing you’ve always done, you will get the same thing you’ve always gotten.” Whatever path you are on, look up to the horizon to see where it leads. If you do not like where you are headed, you must pull up the stakes and change direction…NOW!
- All successful investing is goal-focused and planning-driven.
All failed investing is market-focused and performance-driven. All successful investors are continuously acting on a plan. All failed investors are continually reacting to the markets.
The bedrock of our enterprise remains, and will always be, the following:
Thoughtful planning and disciplined investing can be the keys that unlock incredible potential for the good of our clients, their families, and their cherished communities.
As we look forward to the decades to come of serving our clients and our community, know that we are constantly working to deliver superior financial outcomes and to see our clients live their best lives.
Thank you for allowing me to share this milestone and these thoughts with you. Here’s to your continued success!
With gratitude for the past and optimism for the future,
|Chris Mullis, Ph.D., CDFA®
So much is unknown.
Do we reopen or wait?
Are we past the peak? Or just over the first summit of a mountain range?
Are we safe yet?
After weeks of restrictions, it’s easy to feel that we’re swirling in a maelstrom of uncertainty, helpless to make decisions when so much remains unknown and out of our control.
The uncertainty, the personal losses many have experienced, and the everyday challenges of socially distant life can shake our foundation and cause us to lose touch with what’s most important.
I think that’s normal. We’ve traded a trip on the highway for an off-roading adventure. And we don’t know where it’s going to take us this year.
So let’s lean into the uncertainty. Let’s embrace it and use it as a wake-up call to explore and appreciate what really matters.
Our health. Our family, friends, and loved ones. Our home. Our community. Our compassion and creativity. Our resilience as human beings.
As for me, I have some moments of frustration, but I’m staying grounded by playing outside with our kids and working in the yard.
I’m also learning a lot about myself. I’ve learned that I really enjoy sitting face-to-face in the same room with clients, friends, and colleagues. I’ve learned that I’m not “camera ready” for Zoom meetings nor remote TV interviews, but I’m humbly trying to get better.
I’m working on gratitude and enjoying simple things like dinner-time conversations, our weekly visit with my parents, and fresh air.
I’m grateful to have a wonderful family, a comfortable home (aka The Bunker) and deeply meaningful work.
I’m grateful to have you.
On the professional side, I’m focused on what we can control on our clients’ behalf and staying abreast of what might come next. Our mantra right now is: “one day at a time.”
How are you? I’d love to hear how you are coping. What lessons are you learning about yourself? What have you had the courage to try for the first time? Hit “reply” and let me know.
This pandemic is scary. But it’s also a once-in-a-lifetime chance to hit the “reset” button and connect with the creativity, joy, and good old human ingenuity that can flourish within the limitations of pandemic life.
Eventually, we’ll recover from the pandemic. It’s not clear yet what that will look like, and we’ll likely see more hard days before we get there. Businesses will reopen, people will go back to work, the recession will pass, and the country will rebuild.
We will heal. But some marks will remain as reminders of our experience.
The Great Depression taught people to clip coupons and “make do or go without.” 9/11 upended our travel rituals and awareness of terrorism.
Some lessons from the pandemic will stay with us long after the immediate crisis fades. Some will be unconscious; maybe we’ll become a society of dutiful hand washers and social distancers.
Others will be lessons we consciously take with us about our values and ability to adapt to circumstances far beyond our control.
I’m hopeful and excited to see what we learn. Let’s make it good.
How has the pandemic changed your perspective? What new values and priorities will you bring out of your experiences? Email me at email@example.com and let me know.
|Chris Mullis, Ph.D.
NorthStar Capital AdvisorsFinancial Planning.
P.S. Do you know someone who is having a hard time and could use some financial advice? We’re holding a few spots open for folks who could use a professional’s help. If you can think of someone, please reply to this email or call (704) 350-5028 to let me know.
P.P.S. And don’t forget about our special COVID-19 pro bono planning we created to support individuals and families who can’t afford fiduciary advice and financial planning.
“The toilet paper had armed guards.”
“We celebrated my birthday with a dinner party over Zoom.”
“My officemate jumped on my desk and drooled on my keyboard during a meeting.”
One day, we’ll look back on these strange days and tell stories about the COVID-19 pandemic of 2020.
But right now, we’re getting through it. One day at a time.
How are you doing? What stories can you share with me about your life right now? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me. I’d love to hear about them.
In difficult times, it’s easy to think we are alone. Especially when our loved ones and support system are far away or reduced to virtual connections.
We are all learning how to adjust to a new world and stay grounded when headlines are blaring and our very health and well-being are under threat.
I’m working on being grateful for the great things in this life.
I’m grateful for my wife.
I’m grateful for our children.
I’m grateful for our family, friends, and neighbors.
I’m grateful for work that allows me to help people in my community get through times like these.
I’m grateful for you.
What are you grateful for?
Like WWII and 9/11, we’re living through days that will define future generations and change the very fabric of our society.
I don’t envy the policymakers making grim trade-offs between life, death, and the economy. How long do we socially distance? What about the 10 million+ who have lost jobs?1 Or the businesses that have been forced to close?
I hope with all my heart that each one of them has a financial plan and someone they can go to for advice. But my head knows better. I know that most Americans can’t survive a $1,000 emergency and only 17% have a financial adviser to help them.2
What trade-offs are we willing to make to protect those at greatest risk from the disease? We can’t put a dollar figure on human life. But we can put a dollar figure on the human cost of jobs lost and businesses closed.
The next few weeks are going to be tough for all of us. And I want you to know that I’m here for you.
Layoffs and furloughs are happening and I’m helping affected clients create a game plan to get through the next few months. If this happens to you or someone you love, please let me know immediately so I can help you determine if you’re eligible for special assistance. And, also please remember our COVID-19 pro bono program that we’ve launched to serve people who don’t normally have access to fiduciary advice.
How do we make good decisions with so much uncertainty and mixed information?
We make a choice:
We can choose to crumble under the weight of fear and uncertainty…
We can choose to simply hunker down and endure…
We can choose to grow, flourish, and come out stronger on the other side. We can be grateful for our blessings and focus on what’s within our control: our mindset, our behavior, and the actions we take.
I am fundamentally optimistic about humankind’s ability to weather this crisis and use it to grow.
I’m optimistic about how our society will adapt and change due to this crisis. Some of the greatest changes and innovations in history grew out of frightening, pessimistic times.
I’m optimistic about the heroes fighting the disease on the front lines.
I’m optimistic about the people helping friends, neighbors, and strangers stay safe and comfortable.
I’m optimistic that those with jobs will continue working to keep this country going while we wait and heal.
I’m optimistic about the innovators staying up late in labs, workshops, factories, and offices around the world to create vaccines, treatments, and tools to beat the virus.
I’m optimistic about the new inventions and technologies that will grow out of necessity.
I don’t know what challenges the world will throw at us in the coming days and weeks. I do know that I am grateful to be surrounded by smart, motivated people who push me to do better.
How can you show up for the people around you? How can you be your best self in these times?
How can I help you do it? Email or call and let me know.
Be safe and be well,
|Chris Mullis, Ph.D.
NorthStar Capital AdvisorsFinancial Planning.
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