Archive for Author Kristi Sullivan

Investment News asks Kristi Sullivan about Politics & Financial Planning

Investment News

It seems that more and more people are getting vocal about politics these days. So, when Investment News asked several financial advisers their opinion on politics and financial planning, I was only too happy to contribute.

The story

Politics, in general, and President Donald J. Trump, in particular, have become hot-potato topics that most financial advisers try to avoid when talking with clients.

In a political climate that some describe as more polarized and vitriolic than others in recent memory, advisers are quickly recognizing the need to tamp down personal political views and embrace some diplomacy in the interest of more harmonious relationships with clients.


Click here for more….

The Fiduciary Standard: Your financial adviser is now working for YOU

fiduciary standard

Do all financial advisers have your best interests at heart?

By now the long-awaited, much-debated Fiduciary Standard has been implemented.  Kind of.  Ish.

After lots of pushback from some parts of the financial planning industry and the new powers in Washington, members of the financial services community now have to put their clients’ interest above their own (some of the time) when giving investment advice.

Surprised that wasn’t always the case?

It’s true that for many decades, those in the business of selling financial products have only been required to meet a “suitability” standard.  In other words, if they sold you an investment or insurance product that generally fit your needs, but wasn’t the best product for you for the best price, that person was operating within the rules.  An adviser who is an investment broker or insurance salesman typically will adhere to the suitability rules.

A Registered Investment Adviser is required to interact with clients as a Fiduciary.  This means that his/her advice must be (to the adviser’s knowledge at the time) the best fit for the client at the best price.  The commission or fee paid to the adviser for the advice cannot come into the equation.

A game changer.

The new rules insist that financial service providers ALL act as fiduciaries. But here’s the kicker:  The Fiduciary Standard only applies to retirement accounts.  That’s right, your joint, individual, or trust accounts are still subject to the old suitability rules if your financial adviser is not a Registered Investment Adviser.

To cut to the chase: You as a consumer, want advice based on the Fiduciary Standard.  You want advice and investments based on your best interest, not your adviser’s.  AND you want that higher level of care on all of your accounts, not just the retirement assets.

So, ask your adviser if they treat you with the care of a fiduciary.  If the answer is no, or seems vague, keep looking.


Retirement: The ONE THING you shouldn’t do with your spouse.


Don’t do it….


Okay, I didn’t meant that title the way it sounded (although I do know a few couples who probably wish they weren’t retired together). By saying you shouldn’t “retire together” I mean you probably shouldn’t retire at the same time.

At least that was my advice when Investopedia asked me about staggered retirement.

From the article:

Many working couples dream of the day when they can retire and sail off into the sunset together. The investment and insurance industries have done much to convince the public that this ideal is possible only with the help of certain products and services, and the financial media has endorsed that idea.

However, working couples should take a moment to consider whether retiring at the same time is a wise course of action. This article will compare the financial ramifications of joint retirement versus one spouse working longer than the other, and why the latter option may be more advantageous in the long run. It’s a good idea to start thinking about these issues earlier than you may realize – say, at mid-career, when there is still time for each partner to map out a trajectory of how and when they’d like to leave the workforce and how those plans mesh together.

“A staggered retirement date is a great idea for financial and marital health reasons,” says certified financial planner Kristi Sullivan, Sullivan Financial Planning, LLC, Denver, Colo.


Looking to Lighten Up this summer? Thoughts about Downsizing

Is it time to lighten up?


This week, I interview Kristin Harris, Broker Associate for LIV Sotheby’s International Realty specializing in the Cherry Creek area about the ups and downs of downsizing into a smaller home.


Q:  Downsizing doesn’t always translate to down pricing.  What percentage of the bigger house sale price do people usually spend on the new smaller home?


A:  Indeed, downsizing doesn’t translate to down pricing.  In fact, I see that many home owners who downsize from a bigger home to a smaller home, move up in terms of location and fit and finish selection (there is a flight to quality). As a result, they end up moving into a smaller, but more expensive home.


Q:  Can professional staging help set the tone for getting rid of belongings prior to the move?  Or do people tend to just hang on to the extra furniture in storage?


A:  Yes, professional staging absolutely sets the tone for getting rid of belongings. Many times when I stage a home, clients get rid of furniture and then mention how much they love living with less.


Q: What are some services you have used to help older people who may be in poor health with their downsizing move?


A:  So far, my clients have had family members help when an individual is in poor health.  However, when someone is in poor health in the future, I’d bring in a professional.  For example, Rick Bloweman with  Colorado Senior Care Advisors. (720-839-2864)

Q: In the Cherry Creek area, what is considered a “small” home?


A:  A “small” town home in Cherry Creek North is about 3,200 sq. ft.  Condos range from 1,200 – 2,000 sq. ft.  However, I find that most people want a minimum of 1,800 sq. ft. when moving to a smaller home.

Q:  How can adult children be more helpful to aging parents as they downsize?


A:  The adult children should offer to get all their old Junk (keepsakes, medals, books, pictures, bikes and scrap books) out of their parents’ house. The parents have probably been storing it for 20 years.


Q:  What are the hot areas of town that people are downsizing to?


A:  Cherry Creek North is wildly popular for downsizing individuals; the low maintenance yards and walkability are highly attractive for people moving from Parker, Greenwood Village, Cherry Hills Village, Littleton, Centennial. Wash Park, Bonnie Brae and Downtown are other popular areas for downsizing.

Q:  What are some surprise costs to downsizing (i.e. HOA dues, more expensive area of town, moving costs, selling excess furniture)?


A:  I think the most surprising cost is preparing the house they’ve been in for 20 years for the market.  In many cases, homes have been well loved, but not updated, freshly painted or landscaped, and new carpet hasn’t been installed for years. These costs add up, but are necessary, even in a Seller’s market.


Kristin Harris


Kristin Harris of Dwell Cherry Creek is a LIV Sotheby’s Realtor who specializes in the Cherry Creek North area of Denver, CO. Kristin is happy to address any other real estate concerns you have!

Just for Fun: Fourth of July Quotes from Funny Americans!

fourth july

This year, let’s toast our fellow Americans!

To celebrate the Fourth of July, I’d like to share some Facebook status updates that will make you smile this Independence Day!


  • Being an American is awesome. The end.
  • I am not understanding why Americans celebrate a movie. Sure it was a good one but geez!
  • Happy New Mattress Day!!
  • It’s 4th of July. You know what that means… Ten million status updates saying the exact same thing. Get ready.
  • 7,000 people were treated in emergency rooms for injuries sustained from fireworks. Don’t be a statistic, let your friend light the fuse. Happy 4th of July!!
  • Thank you to our Veterans on this 4th of July.
  • 4th of July is coming up and you know what that means! Time to use Sparklers as wands and shoot spells at people again!
  • Food, Family, Fourth of July, and Fireworks. The four best F words ever!
  • Let’s enjoy one of the last Independence Days before our complete dependence on China.
  • This July 4th, I’m certainly not above a Jim Beam-fueled “U-S-A” chant.


Maybe Freedom of Speech isn’t such a great thing after all.

Just kidding.

Happy Independence Day!

Want to Dump that Loser? Here are some tips from investing pros

investing pros

Hang on!


Tempted to buy more of your winners and dump your losing investments?  Read tips from investing pros (including me!) on how to avoid that mistake.

Tips from Investing Pros


The editorial team at ETF Reference surveyed 57 ETF investing experts in search of the best tips for exchange-traded fund investors. The response we received was incredible. Our panel sent us hundreds of amazing tips! We winnowed that list down to 101, which are presented below. Whether you’re a beginner or a veteran ETF investor, there are likely dozens of valuable tips in here for you.
We asked our panel, “What is the one piece of advice you’d give to an investor just starting to build a long-term portfolio?”

Mid-Year Financial Check-Up: 4 things you should think about now

financial check-up

It’s July already????


Yikes, 2017 has gone by quickly!  Time to do a financial check-up on those New Year’s Resolutions to see how you are doing.  I don’t know what your resolutions were, so here are a few common ones that there is still time to tackle.  BEFORE you are making your resolutions for 2018, that is.




  1. Starting a 529 plan for your kids’ college. It doesn’t have to be much.  Just $50 to start and $25/month can get you going in a Colorado Direct Investment portfolio managed by Vanguard.



  1. Increasing your 401(k) contribution at least 1% from last year. Most plans let you go online and change your savings amount any time during the year.  Don’t delay!  Save more today!

Health Benefits


  1. Use your Flexible Benefits Account money. Did you set aside pre-tax money this year to finally get those glasses, map those moles, fix that tooth, or other medical procedures you’ve been putting off?  That money has to be spent by year-end, so get those appointments made!



  1. Use an app to see how much you are really spending on…clothes, liquor, lunches out, fishing gear, workout clothes, kids’ sports, whatever! Try,, for free and easy ways to track spending.


Okay, that’s enough for now.  If you do even two of those four items before the Fourth of July fireworks, I’ll consider it a victory.

Debt-free would be nice. But SHOULD you pay off your mortgage?

pay off

The payoff?


Wondering if you should pay off your mortgage early or stick with those monthly payments? You’re not alone. In this article from, I’m asked whether getting rid of your mortgage is actually a good idea.

I advise….


“If a client thinks they’ll be in a house for 10 years after the mortgage payoff, I encourage them to do it,” said Kristi C. Sullivan, CFP and owner of Sullivan Financial Planning. “But if they want to move soon after they are able to pay off the mortgage, I don’t.”


Click here for more expert advice….


Investment News: How do you handle getting fired by a client?

getting fired

In the hot seat.


In this article by Investment News, I was asked how I handle getting fired by a client.


As is often the case in service industries like financial planning, client relationships can be fragile and sometimes advisers don’t recognize the breakdowns until the client is gone.


But in some cases, blaming the client might be the easiest way of coping with what is essentially a relationship gone bad.

My thoughts about getting fired.


“Because of the nature of my business, which includes hourly consultations, I don’t get so much fired as people just don’t come in as often or at all, which I think in the dating world is called ‘ghosting,'” said Kristi Sullivan, owner of Sullivan Financial Planning.


“It may be because they feel they’ve gotten what they need from me and are ready to be independent, or maybe they didn’t like me, but don’t want to tell me,” she added. “I figure if they don’t feel they need me anymore, then they don’t.”


Click here for more….

Fighting Summer Boredom: Colorado destinations for your family

Colorado destinations

That’s right! You are two weeks into June and the kids are bored.  What are some offbeat things to do that won’t break the bank?  These are Colorado destinations, so if you are out of town, I apologize.  You will have to come for a visit!


Morrison Natural History Museum

See rocks and fossils and even baby dinosaur footprints.  Awww, sweet!  Then, Mom can take in the cute shops in the area.  Top off your field trip with a drive up to Red Rocks or a hike on one of the close by trails.


Union Station

Let the kids run around in the fountain and grab a scoop of Little Man ice cream from Milk Box Ice Cream.  Maybe even play some shuffleboard in the main terminal and grab a book from the Tattered Cover to read before naptime.

Denver Story Trek

Discover historic local neighborhoods by bike, car, or foot.  You can create your own urban adventure using this resource.

Take a day trip

Tour the Argo Mine in Idaho Springs, climb around the rocks at Garden of the Gods, dip in the healing (and toasty!) waters of Hot Sulphur Springs, or visit one of our many ski resorts and check out their summer activities.

Chatfield State Park

From biking to boating, fishing to flying in a hot-air balloon, there is a lot to do just a little south west of town.


Castlewood Canyon trail (south of Parker)

Nothing beats this hike for views and a cool dip.  Wear your bathing suit under your hiking clothes and enjoy a natural “cool tub” in the stream after your hike.


Elvis is In the Building!

Looking for some air-conditioning on a hot day? What could be better than a not-so-new release the Elvis Cinema?  For a fraction of the cost of the regular theater, you can treat your kids AND their friends to a flick and some popcorn.  And, if you are like me, maybe a small nap during the movie!


I’d love to hear your summer ideas!  Email me at!

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