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Levin: How to get tax benefits from giving in the post-tax reform world

In the movie “Knives Out,” an 85-year-old mystery author of enormous means has decided he no longer wants to financially support any of the adults in his family.

Needless to say, he doesn’t live much longer after he tells them (this is not a spoiler), and the question of whether it was a suicide or a whodunit colors the film.

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Levin: Enhancing your life shouldn’t be a chore, so get rid of that bucket list

en someone shares with you that they have an incurable illness, is one of the first things you want to know is how they are going to change their life?

Educator Bruce Kramer, in a memoir he wrote with journalist Cathy Wurzer after receiving a diagnosis in 2010 of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS, observed, “I know that I am dying. But this is not new knowledge, and it is not ALS. It has always been so. Disease only changes the circumstances and the speed.”

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Levin: You can plan for tomorrow and still enjoy life today

Why do people spend money they don’t have, burst through their budgets, and end up pinky-swearing that they will never spend money like that again — until they do it again the next time?

In the book, “Atomic Habits,” James Clear wrote, “The costs of your good habits are in the present. The costs of your bad habits are in the future.”

Think about that. Buying something that you don’t really need at the expense of saving for something that you do means that you are paying a future price to satisfy today’s want.

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Levin: Finding a middle way with money pays big dividends

The fog had come in over the harbor as the fireworks were set off. The sound was loud, but the colors were muted until the fireworks fell below the cloud covering and briefly sparkled.

We had not been to a fireworks display like this and before the fog became too thick to see much of anything, this faint display was transfixing. While this fireworks show did not create the rush of ones in the past, it stayed with me longer.

Let me make a case for the muted, or as I prefer to think about it, the middle way. Our attention is drawn to the extremes, but why? 

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Levin: Coming to terms with our weird relationship with money

We spend a lot of time talking with our clients about how to not spoil their children and why their children have a weird relationship with money. Here’s why: because they do. And you do. And I do. And so does everyone.

The people who don’t think that they have a weird money relationship are similar to the people who say out loud, “I don’t talk to myself.”

Let’s not get defensive, let’s make our own weirdness less impactful to those around us.

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Levin: Getting financial planning right means being open to adjustments

I was recently in a meeting going over a relatively big project and the presenter said, “We have to get this right.” I felt myself tense immediately. If we didn’t get it right, that means we got it wrong. And what would the consequences be for getting it wrong?
As the meeting went on, the conversation become more focused on the problems, not the opportunity. The stakes were elevated to a place where a decision was going to be unlikely.
Think about all the decisions that you have made in your life and how few of them you really had to get right. That’s because almost nothing is binary. There is a continuum of “rights” and most of the time we can’t know where we landed until after the fact.

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Levin: Getting comfortable with your buying decisions

Most people don’t want to be told what to do with their money. It’s
their money and they can do whatever they want with it. Well, almost.
You may be able to buy a black-market Oscar, but you can’t buy an Oscar victory. So while it’s your money and you can do what you want with it, not everything is for sale.
Things we may not think of as being for sale are regularly sold. Minnesotans are terrible at zipper merging because they feel like they may be budging in line, but most don’t think twice about paying for the right as a sole driver in the car-pool lane to pass everyone.

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Levin: Legacy letter can explain your money values to your heirs

Money and values are intricately intertwined. When you reach the stage of life where you want to pass on your life philosophy on the subject to your family, a legacy letter is a good starting place.

A will determines how your valuables are distributed, a legacy letter shares how you hope to have your values understood.

While it can be prescriptive of what you want for others, it is far better if it is instructive of how the decisions and choices you made in your life affected how things turned out for you, thereby potentially creating a lasting monetary and values culture.

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