Best of Jackson

by Caitlin Koppelman

Once all the holiday twinkle lights have been taken down and the Christmas carols aren’t playing on Home.FM anymore, winter can get pretty gray here in Southern Michigan. But Jackson has a host of fun activities to take advantage of this season. 

Visit a local restaurant, vineyard, or brewery. — There are many locally owned establishments to choose from. Just about every culinary option you could desire is featured downtown, or within a short drive from the city. If eating out isn’t your thing just yet, call ahead and order curbside. 

Take a class at a local dance studio or art venue. Local studios like Jackson School of the Arts offer adult classes, even ones for those of us who aren’t so coordinated! If dance isn’t your thing, try painting, crafting, or join a fitness class! Get a head start on those New Year’s resolutions for date nights away from the kids or getting fit in 2022. 

Walk or Snowshoe at the Dahlem center –– the trails of this beautiful preserve are open dawn to dusk. You can even bring your dog along! If you happen to visit Tuesday through Friday during the day you’ll be able to take in the exhibit areas and the Nutshell Gift Shop. Be sure to make a donation during your visit. Fun fact: Dahlem has a nature preschool! 

Try your hand at ax throwing – Axe Play invites patrons to visit downtown Jackson and try something new! Your one-hour time slot even includes a session with an Axe Master. If throwing sharp objects isn’t your idea of a good time, check out the owners’ other establishment: EpIQ Escapes – Jackson’s first escape game center! 

Stroll through outer space at the Ella Sharpe Planetarium — Virtual or in-person tours are available by request. This beautiful venue is even available to rent for private events. Call ahead to make reservations. 

Take in a show at the Michigan Theatre – show schedule is available online. Some events even feature local artists!

Don’t choose to let the gray get you down! You can find fun things to do on your own or with friends and support local business along the way. Enjoy!  

Moving Into a New Job? Consider this:

As you’re preparing to launch into your career, there are a few important things to consider in a compensation package. The wage or salary you’ll earn is just one piece of the puzzle. With student loans breathing down your back and housing expenses on the rise, it’s tempting to take a package with good dollar signs attached and ignore the other pieces. Do your future-self a favor and consider the following:

  • Does your potential employer provide disability insurance? There may come a day when you’re sick or hurt and can’t work. Do they provide short-term and/or long-term coverage if you’re disabled? Look into what percentage of your income the policy will replace (60% is common), and how long it will take the insurance company to begin paying. Make sure you have enough savings to (at least) cover the gap before they’ll start to pay.
  • Is there life insurance available? Some companies provide basic life coverage as a part of the compensation package. You may also be able to buy more for a reduced rate as a part of the group plan. Make sure you know how much insurance you can opt into when you’re hired, the costs to purchase additional coverage, and that you coordinate any policies you own personally with what is available from your employer. Some companies will even let your spouse or children be covered up to a certain amount for a reduced rate.
  • What health insurance coverage options are available? Are they offering a traditional HMO or PPO plan? Or is there a high-deductible health plan available? Some employers offer multiple plan options. Think about which would work best for you. Consider your typical medical expenses for the year, any medications you take, and any procedures or treatments you may be anticipating. Don’t just look at premium prices – although that’s important! – look at coverages, deductibles, co-pays, etc. Potential employers will provide more information on these plan offerings, but you must ask! Do the research so there aren’t any surprises after your hiring date.
  • Does the employer have a retirement plan? If they do, find out if you must maintain a certain numbers of hours to have access to the plan, or if you are only eligible after some specified numbers of days. Look into the plan type and the rules associated with it. Does the employer do a match? Or employer contributions? How long does it take to be vested (meaning you can take the employer’s money with you if you get a new job)? Again, if you have questions – ask! They have a plan administrator or a Human Resources coordinator that can get you the answers you need to be able to make an informed decision.

If you find yourself in the position of having multiple offers on the table, that is an especially good time to consider all these details. What appears to be the best at first glance, may not be the best overall choice. Good luck in your pursuit!

Financial Advisor as a Coach

by Scott Blakemore

Pete Pultz was my Jackson High School swim coach.  As a student, I was certain there were training days he actually enjoyed watching us suffer through a rigorous workout.  But now, as an adult, I can appreciate that he made us better physically and mentally.  In my opinion, that is a sign of a great coach – one that pushes you, helps you see things you cannot and builds your confidence. 

The best athletes and musicians in the world have coaches because they know there is always more to learn.  Consistent training and having a great coach matter in your financial life, too.

How does a Financial Adviser act as a coach?  I’m glad you asked.

A Financial Adviser, acting as a fiduciary in your best interests (not theirs), can help you understand your financial future, anticipate things you may not have considered, and educate you on important issues.  But probably the most important ‘coaching’ moments occur during the difficult and emotional times that come with investing and life. 

Of course, it is rewarding to see a client accomplish more than they imagined.  Every coach loves those moments.  But coaches also deal with losses too, and it is sobering to help someone whose plan didn’t turn out as they had hoped.  In my experience, it is in the moments of illness and death that having someone help you navigate your critical financial decisions proves most valuable. 

Coach Pultz helped me be a better swimmer, but more importantly, a better person.   My life is blessed because he was in it.  I am sure you have people that have influenced you, too.  Don’t be afraid to seek help and coaching from professionals that will push you, help you see things you can’t, and build your confidence in your future.  Remember the best in the world still use coaches, so why shouldn’t you? 

Wisdom For The Ages

Wisdom For the Ages
by Mark Olson

What the world needs now are people and businesses that know how to live well in this fascinating, exasperating world. Eugene Peterson described it as living in robust sanity. Anyone for robust sanity these days?

The road to living well in robust sanity is paved with wisdom. Wisdom is the ability to discern inner qualities and relationships using practical knowledge and experience. I believe the high wisdom is always accompanied by heavy doses of empathy and humility. Through the centuries, wisdom is associated with attributes such as justice and compassion and virtues such as integrity and benevolence.

What follows is a collection of 20 paraphrased wise sayings that originated thousands of years ago and have stood the test of time.

• When you grab all you can get, the more you get, the less you are.

• Set your heart on a life of understanding.

• Find all the good trails.

• Keep your feet on the tried and true paths.

• Don’t lose your grip on love and loyalty.

• Wisdom is better than all the trappings of wealth.

• A thick bankroll is no help when life falls apart.

• Good character is the best insurance.

• The world of the generous gets larger and larger.

• A life devoted to things is a dead stump.

• The more wise counsel you follow, the better your chances.

The diligent find freedom in

their work.

• The thinking of principled people

makes for justice.

• Truth lasts.

• A plain and simple life is a full life.

• The mark of a good leader is loyal followers.

• Never walk away from anyone who deserves help.

• Sell everything and buy wisdom.

• The ways of right-living people glow with light.

• Never take love for granted.

My personal favorite is “find all the good trails” because it reminds me that every day, we each have the opportunity to learn and grow from all who have come before us. My hope is that each one of these wise sayings spurs you on to do and be more.

See you along the way.

Covid Update

We pray that you and your families have managed to stay well and safe during this continuing pandemic and that you are able to connect with friends and families in new and creative ways this holiday season! Please remember that your GuideStream Team remains available to serve you via phone, email and Zoom. 

The end of the year brings a perfect time to remind you of some financial “housekeeping” items:

  • 2020 IRS Form 1099-Rs should be mailed to all retirement account holders by January 31, 2021. More detailed tax reporting Information will be mailed to our GuideStream clients in January, along with the annual Black Diamond Performance reports.
  • If you are currently subject to RMD’s, the CARES Act enables you to defer your 2020 RMD. For more information, please see: CARES ACT & RMDS for 2020 – GuideStream Financial. If you have not yet, and wish to defer your 2020 RMD, please contact Debb or Lori at (800) 325-8975.
  • The SECURE Act passed into law in December 2019 pushed the Required Minimum Distribution age out to 72. To find out more, please see our article at Secure Act & Your IRA – GuideStream Financial
  • It’s a good time to take a look at the Beneficiaries on your account and make sure everything is as you wish it to be. Recent changes in the SECURE Act may affect your beneficiaries. To make changes or for additional questions, please contact Lori or Debb at (800) 325-8975.
  • If you haven’t had a chance to explore our BD3 client portal, please feel free to watch our tutorial: Black Diamond Account Access Training – YouTube
  • Make sure you’ve made your maximum yearly contribution amounts to your IRA and employer retirement plans.
  • Check your flexible savings accounts (FSA) and make sure you have used the funds in them before the end of the year.
  • And last, but certainly not least, don’t forget to donate to your favorite charities!

Budget Is Not A Swear Word!

Just like you know how to put gas in your car, where your air pods are, and how to work your Keurig, you should know how to control your money! Money is a tool.  A budget is a plan for your money. Without a plan, your money controls you instead of you controlling it. Here are some steps to get you started: 

  1. Track your expenses for 3 months. No rules, just keep track. 
  2. Sort those expenses into categories. Things like: Eating Out, Groceries, Pet Care, etc. 
  3. Figure out your average monthly expense in each category.
  4. Now label each category as one of the following:
    1. Obligations (things you must pay, like debt or tuition), 
    1. Needs (stuff you need, like electricity, groceries, or internet if you work from home), and 
    1. Wants (all the other stuff). 
  5. Add up all the averages. Is that more than your net income? If it is, then it’s time to downsize. Start with things labeled “wants”. Can you downsize those to fit the whole picture into your income? If you still need more, move on to “needs”. You might try shopping for new car insurance, getting on a budget plan with your utility company, or buying a gift card to the grocery store you prefer. When it’s empty, time to get creative with what’s left in the pantry!

A word of encouragement related to Step #5: Think about the kind of life you want to have. Don’t restrict yourself in certain areas because you feel like you should. If you want to spend $300 a month on clothes, that’s okay, but recognize that you may have to give up money in other categories to make that a reality. Ask yourself what you really want and arrange the maximum amount in each category accordingly. 

  • Once you’ve whittled down your wants and needs so all expenses fit within your income, that’s your budget! Continue keeping track of your expenses. There are many apps and software programs that can help with this (like, or EveryDollar). You could also build a good old-fashioned spreadsheet. 
  • Review the averages every 2-3 months. Maybe you’re consistently overspending in 1 or 2 areas? Then see what you could wiggle around in your other categories to make more room in the ones where you spend more. Maybe it would be helpful to be more specific in certain categories, so you can more easily expose overspending. Remember that 2-3 months is a long time in budget world. So, keep an eye on things and don’t be afraid to rework it if it’s not working for you. 
  • Don’t forget to factor in savings. If you have goals you’d like to save towards – either short-term or long-term – fit those into the budget. Then you’re managing your present and making steps toward the future! 

Remember that your budget is YOURS. Don’t let outside influences pressure you into making it look a certain way. You do need to pay your bills, but even those can be different from household to household. Your budget is a tool, not a millstone around your neck or a cage for your spending. It’s a way for you to get in control of your money and get some financial freedom!   

A reprint of the June letter that went to our clients with investment accounts…

Our minds are racing these days. The arrival of the coronavirus has added unprecedented health and economic challenges to our everyday lives. Racial tension, cries of injustice, civil unrest, and protests have further challenged the status quo in America. It is easy to feel overwhelmed with such large issues and no easy answers. 
We could all use a bit more faith these days. Faith takes our eyes off the here and now and gives us much needed perspective. It is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Faith gives us hope that science will bring a solution for coronavirus, just like it did for smallpox. Faith also gives us hope that we will triumph over injustice. 
You have placed great faith in GuideStream Financial to help guide you financially through uncertain times. You have trusted us to help you make wise long-term decisions regarding how to invest for future needs. We help you steward your resources for decades, or even generations, to fulfill your financial and legacy goals. Keeping this perspective is critical for success. 
In the midst of all that is happening today, did you watch the SpaceX/NASA launch? What an amazing display of human creativity and ingenuity! It was an exciting and proud moment for innovation, collaboration, and our nation. Just one small example of this was the way the rockets returned to earth and landed themselves perfectly on a drone ship near Ireland, despite challenging choppy seas. 
Creative individuals working together enabled to SpaceX/NASA launch to happen. What was once thought impossible became possible due to a long-term plan and individuals committed to overcome the hardest obstacles they encountered along the way.  
Your financial plan has no knowledge of current events; it is oblivious to the “news of the day.” Instead, it thrives on long-term planning and a steady hand. At GuideStream Financial, our counsel is never based on emotion or the “news of the day.”  It is rooted in discipline, patience, faith in the future, and time-tested financial principles. We are here to provide you with wise counsel and the best opportunity for success. Remaining steady in uncertainty is our specialty.
We are already seeing glimpses of hope in these unprecedented times. Humans are created in God’s image and are therefore amazingly resourceful. We will get through all of this and come out better on the other side. If you are uncertain of your plan, let’s talk. We want you to have the faith, hope, and confidence that comes through understanding your needs and concerns. We are here for you.
With patience and faith in the future,
Your Team at GuideStream Financial


As we all find ourselves taking incremental steps back toward re-opening and recovering, the team at GuideStream wanted to give you an update. As most of you know, during the recent pandemic, the GuideStream Team stayed on the job, albeit a bit more creatively! We are so thankful that, with the help of technology, we had the opportunity to stay engaged with you via email, text, fax, phone and Zoom.  

So, where do we go from here? Our management team is still continually evaluating and assessing the safest way to return to “business as usual”.  So, what does that mean for you? Due to ongoing safety concerns, we will still be limiting the amount of traffic into our main office for the near future. We will still be available to you via all methods listed above and, if you would like to drop something off at our office, please just call from the parking lot and we will come to you. 

The difficult decision, in the interest of safety, was made to cancel the GuideStream Client Picnic in July. We’re planning to be back bigger and even better on July 31st, 2021. Our staff is fully functioning here to serve you daily. 

Thank you for allowing us to continue helping you Navigate Life’s Currents! 

Our Response to COVID-19

Helping You Navigate Life’s Currents Over the past seven years, we have methodically attempted to prepare you for what we are all currently experiencing and hearing in the financial news. While the exact events can never be predicted, history has shown that times such as these occur in a fairly regular cycle. The following paragraph was included in the quarterly letter we sent April 18, 2017:

We feel that this is an ideal time to remember that bear markets are temporary declines greater than 20%. They occur an average of once every 4 years and last approximately 17 months. We are highlighting those realities this quarter so that when a temporary decline of more than 20% occurs in the future, you will understand that this is normal and temporary and therefore not succumb to financial journalism’s phenomenon we refer to as the “apocalypse du jour”.

After 11 years (7 years longer than normal), we officially entered bear market territory on March 11, 2020. The coronavirus (COVID-19) and a price war on oil were the catalysts. While not minimizing the seriousness of the current challenges, we hope the following thoughts help put the present realities into perspective.

• Real-life investment success can simply be defined as avoiding “The Big Mistake”, i.e. selling holdings during a significant temporary downturn. Remember, this too shall pass.
• Markets respond most negatively to fear and uncertainty. Both of these factors are running at extremely high levels which correlate to the magnitude and pace of the current temporary declines. We have no control over uncertainty; however, we can (and should!) have perfect control over how we respond to it.
• The disciplined practices of asset allocation, diversification and rebalancing are built into your portfolios. Together, these comprise the wisest way to achieve your long-term investment objectives across all market cycles. This is where our disciplined investment principles and practices are focused.

• Avoid “The Big Mistake” by being patient and maintaining the long-term investment plan and strategy we have helped you develop.
• Don’t hesitate to call our team for any reason. Part of our primary responsibility is to assist you through times like this. We are here for you and welcome any questions and conversations you would like to have.

It is a humbling honor for our team to advocate on your behalf by being objectives guides, wise investment counsellors
and “steady hands on the tiller”. We count it a sacred privilege to be entrusted with such important matters at all times,
but especially in these days.

With Appreciation,
Mark Olson, CIMA®
President/ Chief Investment Officer

Please remember that past performance may not be Indicative of future results. Different types of investments involve varying degrees of risk, and there be no assurance that the future performance of any specific investment, Investment strategy, or product
(in duding the investments and/or investment strategies recommended or undertaken by GuldeStream Financial, Inc. (“GuldeStream Financiar), or any non-fnvestment related content, made reference to directly or indirectly fn this newsletter will be profitable, equal any corresponding indicated historical performance level(s), be suitable for your portfolio or individual situation, or prove successful. Due to various factors, including changing market conditions and/or appl!cabte laws, the content may no longer be reflective of current opinions or positions. Moreover, you should not assume that any discussion or Information contained in this newsletter serves as the receipt of, or as a substitute for, personalized investment advice from GuideStream Financial. Please remember to contact GuideStream Financial, in writing, if there are any changes in your personal/financial situation or investment objectives for the purpose of reviewing/evaluating/revising our previous recommendations and/or services, or if you would like to impose, add, or to modify any reasonable restrictions to our investment advisory services. GuldeStream Financial is neither a law firm nor a certified publ!c accounting firm and no portion of the newsletter content should be construed as legal or accounting advice. A copy of the GuideStream Financial’s current written disclosure Brnchure discussing our advisory services and fees continues to remain available upon request.

CARES ACT & RMDS for 2020


On March 27, 2020, The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was enacted. What does this mean for Required Minimum Distributions (RMD)? Under normal circumstances, federal laws typically require individuals of a certain age (historically age 70½ but recently changed to age 72) to take mandatory distributions from their retirement savings. Under the CARES Act, these mandatory distribution requirements are waived for 2020.

Individuals Already in Distribution Status
For individuals who were already in required distribution status (generally, those who turned 70½ prior to 2019), the law waives the mandatory distribution requirement for 2020.

Individuals Just Beginning RMDs
For individuals who reached age 70½ during 2019 and were required to take their first RMDs by no later than April 1, 2020, the law waives the mandatory distribution requirement for 2020 and, in some cases, the 2019 mandatory distribution as well. Only individuals who did not take their 2019 RMDs during 2019, however, are eligible for a waiver of the 2019 RMD.

RMD Relief Also Available for Beneficiaries
In addition to providing RMD relief for plan participants and IRA owners, the law provides temporary relief from the required distribution rules that apply to beneficiaries of deceased plan participants and IRA owners.

For beneficiaries, the form of relief varies depending on (1) when the plan participant or IRA owner passed away and (2) the beneficiary distribution option to which the beneficiary is subject. The 2020 RMD is waived for beneficiaries taking some form of life expectancy distributions. For beneficiaries subject to the 5-Year Rule, the 2020 calendar year is to be excluded when determining the applicable 5-year distribution timeframe.

Although the mandatory distribution requirements have been waived for 2020, individuals still have the option of taking distributions at their discretion. The law change merely provides IRA owners, plan participants and certain beneficiaries with the option of foregoing all or part of the required distribution amount if they wish to do so. Individuals who have already taken mandatory distributions during 2020 but would have preferred to leave the amounts in their IRAs or workplace retirement plans may wish to consult with a tax advisor to determine if some or all of their distributions may qualify either for conventional rollover treatment or for repayment treatment as a Coronavirus-Related Distribution.

If you would like to defer your 2020 RMD, please contact either Debb or Lori at (800) 325-8975.

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