On the surface, Prosperwell Financial might seem like any other financial agency. A team of agents can help clients build a portfolio, analyze assets or navigate seasons of life. But there’s one key difference: With a focus on “creating wealth from the inside out,” the Prosperwell financial planning process starts with figuring out life goals of the non-numerical kind.
Owner and CEO Nicole Middendorf, CDFA, lives with her son Parker, 7, and daughter Gabrielle, 6, in Wayzata. She’s developed a personal “live it list”—the proverbial “bucket list” with a little more focus on the living than on the dying. She loves pursuing new adventures, solo or with her kids, and checking off experiences like skydiving, flyboarding and swimming with dolphins. Her excitement about life drives her approach to motherhood, and it’s also the foundation of her business philosophy at Prosperwell. For Middendorf, success is all about appreciating what you’ve got, gaining confidence and making every day count. Financial decisions help clients gain that freedom.
“I never planned on being a financial adviser,” Middendorf says. “I knew I wanted kids. My mom was a business owner and was there at everything growing up. I wanted to be that woman—that mom—who had it all.” Middendorf leads a team of 10 in her Plymouth office, and they focus on empowering clients to name their objectives, take control and gain the confidence needed to reach their personal financial goals. “It’s really important that Prosperwell is a comfortable place to go. It’s warm, inviting, friendly,” says Middendorf. She notes that it’s not about having things buttoned up in a perfect three-point plan. “People can bring in their big box of [financial] statements,” says Middendorf. “We joke that we should probably have a big paper-shredding event!”
The Prosperwell agents don’t represent a specific investment company, so they come to the table with clients’ needs and a variety of options in mind. “We don’t do cookie-cutter,” says Middendorf, who’s also an author and prominent voice in local media. She spent five years doing a regular radio show on FM107, has had regular gigs on local stations WCCO, KSTP and KMSP, and she’s now on TV several times a month. Having gone through a divorce herself, and knowing that the financial field is dominated by men, Middendorf has a particular interest in equipping women to take control of their own finances. One of her most recent books, Lipstick on the Piggy Bank, focuses on helping women overcome barriers to financial independence, especially when dealing with the loss of or separation from a loved one.
Laura O’Neill is a partner at Cornerstone Insurance Agency in Victoria. She’s known Middendorf since they were students together at Minnetonka High School, and they reconnected through Facebook. O’Neill has turned to Middendorf for financial advice on a personal and professional level. “Nicole started selling Mary Kay in college. It was her first job, really,” says O’Neill. “That’s why she’s good at what she does—she’s always wanted people to feel good about themselves.” Putting people into a position to enjoy their lives, especially after divorce, is core to Middendorf’s mission, says O’Neill. “Women can have power; they don’t have to rely on a man to put bread on the table,” she says. “[Nicole] got me to start an IRA for my company. She’s also taught me not to just worry about money—that life is about experiences.”
Middendorf’s philosophy about life and money has rubbed off on O’Neill. “There’s more than an ‘I am woman, hear me roar’ thing going on with Nicole—she spends a lot of effort to make the world a better place,” says O’Neill. From organizing the Nicole Middendorf Foundation (which hosts events to benefit local organizations) to rappelling down the Ecolab building for charity, Middendorf benefits others on a large scale and one-on-one.
Middendorf says that when she was a kid, she wanted to be Secretary of State Madeleine Albright. “I wanted to change the world,” says Middendorf. “I feel like I am changing the world.”
Prosperous New Year
Nicole Middendorf’s top recommendations to help you start 2016 on the right financial foot.
1. Read. Middendorf’s Lipstick on the Piggy Bank is short and sweet—under 90 pages—and will help you get a big-picture perspective on your life and money.
2. Take baby steps. Get a cute 2016 calendar or pull up your favorite planning app and start mapping the year. “It can be overwhelming. If you have 12 goals, take one a month,” suggests Middendorf.
3. Freeze your spending. Literally. “If you’re going to get out of debt, you’ve got to change your behavior,” says Middendorf. She suggests putting your high-interest credit cards in a cup of water and—yes—freezing them. You can’t swipe them (or enter them at an online store) if they’re frozen in a block of ice.
4. Get insured. Make sure you’re properly covered with your various insurance policies. Read the fine print and do your homework.
5. Understand what you already have. What are your assets? Do you know what you’ve got in your accounts and how to access them? Start there.
6. Formulate a budget. Know your monthly expenses, be realistic and stick to your target dollar amounts for various areas.
7. Take stock. According to Middendorf, the first part of the year is a good time to make an investment plan and start fresh. Try setting up an automatic transfer to your IRA, annuity or retirement plan so you’re earning interest before you even make your monthly mortgage payment.
8. Talk with your kiddos. Are you talking with your children about money? Do you have a will or a trust that will benefit them long after you’re out of the picture?
Time to call in the experts?
Visit the website here to view short
videos on investment options, find out about upcoming events, meet the
Prosperwell team, or set up a consultation.
Lipstick on the Piggy Bank and Nicole Middendorf's other books are available at amazon.com and her website here.
Bella on the Bay provided Nicole Middendorf's hair and makeup styling for this photo shoot.