Archive for Families and Finance

Retirees who don’t have built in caregivers

caregivers, denver financial planner

Not that long ago, words like “retirement” and “caregivers” weren’t part of our vocabulary.  People worked until they could no longer physically do so and then died shortly after.   Generations of families lived together, so Grandma took care of the grandkids while parents worked (no exorbitant day care costs!).  When Grandma got sick, the kids and grandkids took care of her.  It’s just what everyone did.


Aging today.


Fast forward 100 years and old age looks much different.  People stop working (if they have the finances to do so) just to have fun.  They live just having fun for 20-30 years.  If they need help as they age, an adult child (let’s face it, usually a daughter) will step in to supervise or provide care.  These people are called caregivers because in many cases they had to give up other jobs (accountant, teacher, nurse) to take care of Mom and Dad.  So, basically, it’s a career change and careers need names.

What happens if you’re on your own?


What happens to older folks who don’t have relatives close by, or at all, to help them with doctor appointments, living independently, and other decisions that come with aging?  There is a name for that, too.  It’s called being an “elder orphan” and there are a lot of them.

“Twenty three percent of boomers will eventually be without family caretakers, according to Maria Torroella Carney, who has studied the issue and is chief of geriatric and palliative medicine at Northwell Health of Great Neck, N.Y.”*


Here are some ideas for elder orphans to put in place before a crisis happens:*

Consider where you live

Is it walkable, close to medical care, and close to friends who you can rely on?

Get organized

Get your legal documents in order and accessible to those who will be making decisions for you if you become incapacitated.

Consider communal living with other seniors.

Pool some money monthly for a caregiver or service who can help all of you in one spot.


Develop your social network so that friends can stop by with a meal or help with decisions as you age.

Know your benefits

Be sure you are using the governmental programs available for seniors if you qualify. These include Medicare, Medicaid, Supplemental Nursing Assistance Program (SNAP), and Administration for Communal Living (see the website for programs and grants




Hoping someone will care for you is not a plan.  Taking a few prudent steps before retirement will help elders without family caregivers with peace of mind and control over their aging process.

What are the Odds? A look at sports scholarships.


Are you game?


I admit it. Often when we go to my kids’ sports games I bring along a guy who yells at my kids from the sidelines.  He is their father, so I don’t have much choice.  Occasionally, I’ve been known to say a few loud-ish words myself.


Why do we put such importance on performance in sports?  For our family, we are mostly concerned with the effort the boys are showing.  If they just sit back and chew their nails during a game, we are irritated even if the team won.  If our boys display hard work and effort, we are happy even if the team loses.


Some parents are hoping their little Bo Jacksons will do them the favor of paying for college tuition with their athletic efforts.  If that’s the case, you may want to know which sports to concentrate on to have the best chance.


Odds are….


From a study done by Patrick O’Rourke and quoted in this article of Market Watch, here are the sports in which kids are statistically most likely to earn scholarships (talent and effort not included).


For men, the best ratios of college scholarships to high school athletes are

  • gymnastics (20:1)
  • fencing (22:1)

The worst odds are in

  • wrestling (176:1)
  • volleyball (177:1).


For women, the highest odds are

  • rowing (2:1)
  • equestrian (3:1)
  • rugby (9:1)

(Of those, only rugby probably wouldn’t cost you a fortune before college.)

The worst odds are

  • track and field (64:1)
  • bowling (94:1)


The biggest surprise here is that you could possibly get a bowling scholarship at all.


Whatever the reason, we parents should just chill out and stop yelling from the sidelines.  Concentrate on who is bringing the after-game snacks for the kids and the during-the-game beer for the parents.

Everything But The House: Cleaning out someone’s lifetime of stuff

cleaning out

Cleaning Out + Emotions = Feeling Overwhelmed


One of the blogs that I have gotten the most response from was where I implored people to start cleaning out stuff so their kids don’t have to.  Okay, let’s say that proactive wish didn’t come true and now YOU must clean out someone else’s lifetime full of stuff.


How will you do it?  You’re busy with work, kids, and your life.  Plus, there are lots of emotions, logistics, and confusion.  How do you know if you are about to throw away a priceless painting or hang onto a worthless piece of a 3rd grade art project?


Enter my favorite solution to sticky dilemmas:  outsourcing!  Following is an interview with Alessandra Banno of the estate sale firm Everything but the House.


Q:  What is the benefit of hiring an estate sale firm to clean out a house versus doing it yourself?


A:  Many people who have done it themselves before can attest that preparing and hosting an estate sale yourself is incredibly stressful, arduous and time consuming! Also, our team often discovers many pieces that might be overlooked otherwise, and, because of our incredible exposure, our clients are able to achieve 3 to 5 times higher revenues than traditional avenues of sale would bring.


Q:  What should people consider when deciding to keep or sell items?


A:  I encourage my clients to think about the last time they used the items. If they’ve been in boxes or out of sight for some time, then consider how you’re benefiting from these belongings: physically or emotionally. If it’s an emotional benefit, would taking and keeping pictures of the items suffice? If not, I always encourage you hang onto anything you’re emotionally attached to. I never want to persuade my clients to sell something they are not ready to let go of.


Q:  Are people realistic about the values of their possessions or do you find they attach a monetary value to memories?


A:  It certainly differs depending on the client. Most people understand the fair market value, but if they’re emotionally attached to the item, then we see them attaching a monetary value to the memories.


Q:  How does your process work to help people effectively dispose of their household items?


A:  At EBTH, we coordinate trash removals and donations for our clients, if necessary, and then we can photograph and catalog the sellable items for sale on our website.


Q:  What should people expect to pay for a service to help sell the family valuables?


A:  We charge either 40 or 48 percent commission depending on the distance and how labor intensive the project is for our team.


Alessandra Banno


Thanks to Alessandra for participating in my Spring Clean Out article!  For more information, check out the website:

A Fun Way to Punish Your Kids!


If you are an active mom on Facebook, this is old news.  If you are like me and employ someone to be active for you on Facebook (I’m talking to you Social Seed Marketing), you won’t have heard of this yet.


If your kid gets in trouble, there are fewer ways of dealing with it these days.  Making them go out and cut a switch from the tree so you can use it on them seems to have gone out of favor.  What does that leave?  Making them stay home for some period of time and taking away their screens.  NOW who is getting punished?


Now What?

So, someone came up with this genius list to let kids “buy” their way out of being grounded by doing extra chores around the house.  Here is an example, but you would probably need to modify it to fit your family’s needs.  For example, my kids have to mow the lawn, anyway, so it’s not going on the points list.  But, I could add cleaning off my greasy cabinet fronts or wiping down the baseboards.   

 chore chart


What does this have to do with financial planning?  It’s a stretch, I admit.  Mostly I just thought is was cool and wanted to share.  Maybe by getting your kids to do more around the house, they will become productive members of society sooner, therefore saving you money when they launch from your payroll at an earlier age.


Yeah, good luck with that!

Kristi’s Quotes: Giving the Gift of Financial Well-Being

Financial Planner

This one came out around Christmas from Fox Business, but it’s a concept worth thinking about whenever gift-giving opportunities arise.


While it’s long been possible to hand out cash, buy stock or contribute to college savings plans, financial institutions and retailers are making it easier to bestow a gift with lasting value.

Among them is Stockpile, a company that sells gift cards that can be redeemed for stock, which is rolling its products out to more than 14,000 stores this holiday season after seeing success at other retailers. College savings plan administrators, which see contributions peak at the holidays, have been adding new ways to donate. And Gift of College, which helps people to contribute to college savings plans or pay down student loans, began selling gift cards at Toys R Us and Babies R Us nationally this month.


Click here for more….

Kristi’s Quotes: Liz Weston Asks about Kids and Money

Financial Planner
Who was interviewed by Liz Weston with the Associated Press? Me, that’s who!


Financial planners and credit counselors see plenty of examples. The grown son who lost a job, moved home and stopped looking for work. The daughter who constantly mismanaged her checking account — and turned to payday lenders when parents stopped covering her overdrafts. The father working into his 70s to support spendthrift children in their 40s and 50s.

Kristi Sullivan, a certified financial planner in Denver, once worked with an elderly couple whose offspring constantly turned to them for help.

“The clients couldn’t understand why their grandchildren had all the latest iPads and phones, but when a car or home repair came up, their adult children always had to ask them for money,” Sullivan said….

Click here for more….

Love and Money – What Can Possibly Go Wrong?

love and money

Counseling Center of Cherry CreekThis week, I am thrilled to get the expertise of Jenny Glick to talk about love and money.  Jenny Glick, MA, MSC, LMFT is a licensed marriage and family therapist, sex therapist and owner of the Counseling Center of Cherry Creek. She and her team of therapists focus on working with couples and individuals looking to improve the relationships in their lives. Visit the team at


With Valentine’s Day upon us, many couples feel pressure to show love by purchasing gifts.  What is a better alternative to showing your love to your partner?

I often to say couples that the definition of love is to “attend to.”  We love our children so we attend to their various needs — whether that is health, education, or sports activities. We love the idea of retiring so we attend to our retirement accounts on a regular basis by investing a limit bit regularly over a long period of time. Similarly, with one’s spouse simply paying attention and investing on a regular basis goes a very long way.


I cannot tell you how many times I’ve sat in a room with a couple and the wife says that she has felt ignored by her spouse and all that she wants is for her husband to notice her or help with the dishes. The husband (as cliche as it may sound) will often say in earnest, “I know that I have heard you say that before but I didn’t really know what you meant.”


And truly…he didn’t know what she meant because he was not attending to her…really paying attention to her needs.  Practice listening to your partner and really hearing how you can attend to him or her better.


When couples argue about money, what is commonly at the root of that fight?

When couples argue about money it is usually because they have not mastered an important developmental skill in marriage called differentiation. Simply put: differentiating is tolerating (and even supporting) your partner’s difference.


She wants A. He wants B.  She tries to get him to see how B is wrong and A is better.  He feels hurt and angry and she is criticizing B (and hence criticizing him) and puts down A.  She feels unsupported (“like always!”).  He feels rejected (“just like in the bedroom!”).  You may be familiar with how this ends.


Rarely is a money argument about money. You and your partner need to level up your skills to learn to be curious about your different rather than attack your differences.


What are some tips for couples looking to engage in a therapist?  What should they be looking for? 


First and foremost, always ask your potential therapist what percentage of their clientele are couples. Those of us who specialize in this work see at least 60% couples. That means that we have lots of experience and training in helping couples with things like communication, intimacy, and co-parenting.


Secondly, it is important to find someone who gets you — someone who speaks your language. Every therapist is different and personality matters so take the time to shop around and find a strong match. You are investing in one of the most important relationships of your life…your marriage!


Thanks to Jenny for this fabulous insight!  Here’s hoping your Valentine’s day is one of attending to your relationships, not adding to your credit card balance.

Baby, it’s Cold Outside! Budget Friendly Freezing Fun

As we head into shorter, colder days, what are some things you can do to keep Old Man Depression away but not break the bank?  These ideas will warm you like a comfy sweater!


  • Rent snowshoes and go for an outdoor hike. Snowshoes can be rented for $15 or less at many outdoor stores.  Strap them on over your sturdy winter boots and enjoy the frosty views.


  • Soak in a natural hot spring. After your vigorous snowshoeing, you’ll want to relieve your sore muscles.  What better way to enjoy the snowfall than from a 100+ degree tub of healing mineral water?


  • Drive around and look at Christmas lights. Most people have them up until mid-January at least.  Fill a thermos with hot chocolate, pile into the minivan, and enjoy holiday spirit without the pressure to find the perfect gift.  Use Google to find the best displays in your city.


  • Take in a local college sport. Cheaper and often more exciting than the pros, your hometown university probably has several opportunities to cheer on student athletes.


  • Make s’mores. Fire up that Weber or backyard fire pit and throw on your heavy jacket.  Who says the melty yumminess of marshmallows and chocolate is only for summer camping?


  • Go ice skating. Many outdoor shopping centers now have free winter ice rinks with skates to rent.  Show off your inner Dorothy Hamel, or just have an excuse to cling desperately to your sweetie.


  • Host a neighborhood Snow Day Party. Hey, if the schools are closed, you know your neighbors are stuck at home, so they can’t say no to an invitation.  Challenge yourself and your guests to create a last minute potluck with just the random ingredients left in your pantry.


  • Play in the snow. Building a snow man, snow fort, or just a snowball fight with the kids is a great way to burn off all of those holiday cookies.


  • Go to the dollar movie theater. Catch up on those flicks you missed over the busy holidays for a fraction of the cost.


As a financial planner, I hope these things will keep you from doing the following no-so-budget- friendly cold weather activities:

  • Online shopping out of boredom
  • Buying an expensive new car because you need more excitement on the road than just ice
  • Day trading in your 401(k)

Ten Things I for Which I am Grateful This Thanksgiving

I think this is the blog where I am supposed to gush about my wonderful family and brag to you about all of my successes in 2016.  Gobble, gobble, who wants to read that?  So, in no particular order:


1.The election is over, so I can quit coming up with excuses why I’m not watching the debates on TV. Hey, that laundry wasn’t going to fold itself!



2. Pumpkin and pecan pies for Thanksgiving dinner bought through the Project Angel Heart  fundraiser. So delicious and gives me an excuse to not make pies while supporting a great charity.  By the way, I wasn’t going to bake those pies, anyway.  This just makes me feel better about buying them!


3. The nice lady at the Winter Park season ticket office who fudged my son’s birthdate by 2 weeks so we could get one more year of free skiing for him. Thanks, nice lady!


4. This 5-year old laptop continues to work so I am keeping it another year in spite of my whole family mocking it. Who needs more than 1 hour of battery life, anyway?


5. People who dress up as turkeys, pilgrims, ballerinas, clowns, ancient Romans, storm troopers, and pies to run/walk the Turkey Trot every year. You make consuming Bloody Mary’s while watching the race so much fun!


6. The City of Denver hasn’t allowed a retail marijuana shop to open next door to my house.


7. None of the men in my family have chosen to sport a man-bun.


8. My kids haven’t gotten too cool to watch the Peanuts holiday specials on TV. Yet.charlie-brown


9. More and more retailers are choosing to stay closed on Thanksgiving Day.


10. The amazing network of clients, friends, family, referral partners, vendors, and all of you who have helped Sullivan Financial Planning grow into its TENTH year in 2017. Thank you all so much!

Should You Talk Money Over The Turkey?

“Thanksgiving is an emotional time.  People travel thousands of miles to be with people they see only once a year.  And then discover once a year is way too often.”  ~ Johnny Carson


Does this sound familiar?  What if this is the year that tough conversations need to take place with parents and siblings about caregiving?  How about if you know your kids are spending way above their lifestyle with no savings and it’s driving you crazy?


No one wants to ruin the holidays with awkward conversations or arguments.  However, with today’s spread out families, it can be hard to have face-to-face discussions about important issues at any other time.


Here are 3 tips to combining family business with holiday celebrations:


  1. Delay the conversation until after the holiday: If you need to stay an extra day this year to discuss family business, plan for it.  Also let your siblings, parents, or kids know that you have some ideas you’d like to discuss during the extra time together.  That lets the others know that it won’t all be about Black Friday bargains.


  1. Start with an outside example: If you are worried about your parents’ finances in retirement or your kids’ lack of an emergency fund, bring up  a story about another friend or news article you read about the subject.  Family may naturally open up about their preparedness for a similar situation.  Or you could ask an open ended questions like, “How do you see yourself spending time in retirement?”  Avoid confrontational questions like, “How much do you have saved in your emergency fund?”


  1. Prepare the adult kids for changes: Sometimes parents are planning to sell the family home, need to live on a tighter budget, or plan to move away from their kids for various reasons.  Boomer divorce rates are, well, booming, as people retire and realize they don’t want to spend the next 20 years of downtime with the person they raised the family with.  Again, this conversation may not be appropriate over pecan pie (you might ruin pecan pie for your kids forever and that would be sad), but you should carve out some time prior to everyone leaving to have the talk.


Remember, as life situations change, our relationships change, too.   It’s important to treat your family members as adults, prepare to compromise, and don’t overreact to big changes.  Some time to digest family news before making huge decisions or dramatic statements will benefit everyone.  Maybe we can all just relax over Christmas!