Archive for Fun Stuff

Annual Scary and Sweet Investment Column

investments, Denver financial planner

As I sit here and eat the Take 5 bars that I will not be giving to trick-or-treaters, it seemed appropriate to offer a quick market commentary about what has been scary and sweet so far in the 2018 investment world.

 

Scary:

 

International stocks, which have been hurt by the rising US dollar and trade tensions.  But, don’t bail out yet!  International was a strong performing asset class in late 2016 and 2017 and will have its day yet again.  If anything, lower short term returns could be a reason to buy on sale.

 

Old Bulls.  There is a general holding of the breath as investors, still scarred by the Great Recession, wait for the bottom to fall out of the current expansion.  I don’t know when or how or how severe it will happen, but worrying (and sitting all in cash) won’t help.  Make sure you are diversified and have risk that makes sense for your time horizon.  Then, turn OFF the financial news and eat some candy.

 

Expensive Chocolate.  Speaking of candy, will these trade wars initiated by the US increase the cost of imports from cars to cocoa?  That seems to be the worry as our trading partners prepare to retaliate against our policies.  So far the results have been mixed with some industries benefiting from the tariff talk and others suffering.  Time will tell how our consumer prices, economy, and investments are affected.  In the meantime, I am hoarding chocolate.

 

Sweet:

 

Tasty Opportunities for Job Seekers.  In June of 2018 the number of job openings in America surpassed the number of people looking for work. That should mean good mobility for workers who want to make a career change.  However, the low unemployment numbers reported are probably not taking into account the many underemployed millennials, gig economy workers, and baby boomers holding on for dear life to their jobs.

 

Consuming Consumers.  The US confidence survey in August reported the highest consumer confidence rates in 18 years.  People are on services and planning to buy homes and other big-ticket items.

 

Corporate Earnings are Up.  All that consuming is helping US companies to continue their earnings growth.  Even perpetual brick-and-mortar retailers saw gains last quarter.  So, even though investors seem to hate this bull market, US stocks have been on the rise without the love of the public.

 

Is our economy a treat to be enjoyed or a trick just waiting to happen?  I won’t predict, but just remind you that expansions last longer than recessions.  Keep enough in savings to cover 3-6 months living expenses, and let your investments do their long-term thing.

 

Important Days in October!

october, Denver financial planner

My brilliant social media guru, Catherine Tidd of Social Seed Marketing, recently made me aware of the many opportunities to celebrate just about anything with International fill-in-the-blank days.

 

Sadly, I missed National Talk Like a Pirate Day on September 19th, but don’t despair!  There are plenty more opportunities.  Here are a few examples for October and how to make these days great for your finances, too.

 

October 10th is World Mental Health Day (#WorldMentalHeathDay).  You know what’s good for your mental health? Knowing you are making smart decisions with your money.  Use this day to reach out to your financial adviser for a check-up appointment.

 

October 13th is National Train Your Brain Day (#TrainYourBrainDay).  If this doesn’t scream personal finance, what does?  Train your brain to do one thing better for your finances:  Eat out one less day per week, increase your 401(k) contribution, institute 1 week per month as a no-spend week, read a personal finance article.  He possibilities are endless.

 

October 17th is International Day for the Eradication of Poverty (#EndPoverty).  A great reminder to check your investments for appreciated stocks or mutual funds for tax efficient opportunities to give to your favorite charity.

 

October 18th is Get to Know Your Customers Day (#GetToKnowYourCustomersDay). Salespeople and small business owners, use this as an opportunity to create a customer event.  Better sales mean better income mean better savings!

 

October 20th is World Statistics Day (#StatisticsDay).  Blah, let’s skip that one and move to…

 

October 21st, which is Reptile Awareness Day (#ReptileAwarenessDay)!  Feel like your financial adviser might be a snake in the grass?  Contact me for a 15-minute consultation.  Assuming, that is, that I’m NOT the slithery adviser you are thinking of.

 

 

And finally, October 25th is Greasy Foods Day (#GreasyFoodsDay).  A financial tie-in is hard here, but just go get a burger and fries and think good thoughts about me, who made you aware of this important day.

 

Con or Pro Probiotics?

As my faithful readers know, sometimes I get tired of coming up with new blog content, so I arm wrestle other people into writing for me.  And sometimes the content has nothing to do with finance, just something I thought was interesting.

 

Today, I welcome nutritionist Maureen West to tell us all about probiotics.  “What does this have to do with finance?” you say.  Well, there are few things worse for the pocketbook than being sick!  Read on for tips from Maureen.

 

Feeling Less Than? Could Probiotics Help?

 

Probiotics – you’ve heard the term, but if you’re like most people I know, you aren’t too sure about the benefits, protocols or differences between the numerous brands, strains and strengths available.

 

Here’s a Probiotic 101 to get you started discovering if your body could use a boost.

 

What are probiotics?

 

Probiotics are the tiny friendly bugs that naturally live in your gut and help keep it healthy and balanced… a big job!  Because the GI tract is where 70% of your immune system resides, it’s incredibly important you have more of the good bugs than the bad ones.

 

Do I need probiotics?

 

Most people can benefit from probiotic supplementation, given our modern-day lifestyles of less-than-stellar eating habits, stress and antibiotic use (which wreaks havoc on the gut!); probiotics can increase the good bacteria, and help your body heal.  They also help the body manufacture and absorb important vitamins and minerals for energy, nerve and brain function.

 

 

How do I increase my probiotic intake?

 

There are both food and supplement sources of probiotics that can recolonize your gut with good bacteria, and then help it stay balanced.

 

  1.    Food sources include fermented foods such as sauerkraut, pickled vegetables, kimchi, kombucha, sparkling water kefir, coconut water probiotic drink, and organic miso. If you tolerate dairy, you can consider organic yogurt and kefir.

 

  1.    You may need more than what food can provide. It’s fairly common to need a therapeutic dose in supplement form, especially if you have taken an antibiotic, are constipated, or suffer from allergic rhinitis, anxiety, chronic fatigue syndrome, acid reflux, or lactose intolerance.

 

How much should I take?

 

That depends on your specific needs. Probiotics have vastly different components, with different strains targeting and benefiting different parts of the body and affecting different health conditions. They come in a huge range of anywhere from 1 billion to 100 billion active probiotic cells. Like most things in health, there is not a one-size-fits-all approach.  It’s best to get advice.

 

probiotics, denver financial planner

 

Maureen West is a Certified Nutritionist based in Denver, CO. If you’d like to explore which probiotics would be most effective for you, making changes to your nutrition and/or improving your health, call, text or email Maureen at 407.921.9192 or Maureen@MaureenWest.net. Learn more at MaureenWest.net

 

Follow her on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn.

 

Five Funny Quotes about Back-To-School

school, denver financial planner

Education can get you the only thing that really matters in today’s world — an assigned parking space.”

— Gene Perret

 

You know there is a problem with the education system when you realize that out of the 3 R’s only one begins with an R.

– Dennis Miller

 

As long as algebra is taught in school, there will be prayer in school.

– Cokie Roberts

 

If there were no schools to take the children away from home part of the time, the insane asylums would be filled with mothers.

– Edgar W. Howe

 

The human brain is special. It starts working as soon as you get up and it doesn’t stop until you get to school.

– Milton Berle

The Costco Battle – Round 2

Welcome back to the Costco Boxing Ring!  This week, to counter the non-love of Rebecca Kennedy, we have Addie McHale, CFP ® to extoll the virtues of a Costco membership.

 

Kristi:  When did you get your first Costco membership?  Why?  How long did you have it?

 

Addie McHale: I have been going to Costco for probably 20 years, and I started out going to the Billings, Montana warehouse with a friend who had a membership when I lived in Montana. We would share things like produce.  This was my introduction to Costco.  At that time, I was actually running a natural food co-op group for about 20 families in my small town out of my garage!  I’ve always been a “healthy foodie,” and Costco helps me supplement my healthy grocery needs.  I usually go to Costco a couple of times each month.

 

KS: Can you quantify or just anecdotally say why you think a membership is a good/bad financial move?

 

 

AM: I am all about eating whole, unprocessed, organic food for health reasons, and as a side benefit eating this way generates very little packaging waste so it’s better environmentally too.  I am always surprised how much organic food Costco carries!  And since my particular store’s clientele gobbles up anything that is “organic,” they seem to stock more and more organic items.  I love the “vote with your dollars” aspect of Costco as they have such huge buying power.  My boyfriend recently pointed out to me that anything organic has a bright green price tag, so it’s really easy to pick out the organic produce that way. As well, they often carry bulk versions of local brands, and I think this really helps smaller companies get their product in front of a larger audience (a hummus made in Boulder comes to mind).

 

Kristi:  What do you love about your membership?  What do you hate about it?

 

AM: I love the demos!  I bought my amazing high-powered blender there that I have used over 2000 times in 3 years (with an extra year of warranty thanks to Costco).  Recently on a trip with my mom, we purchased a special foot massager that was being demoed and it has been absolutely life-changing for her.  It was $100 less than its normal price and it has eliminated my mom’s arthritic knee pain — she can walk much easier now.  And the samples — my mom is often not up for doing much anymore but she’s almost always up for a trip to Costco on sample day. And we sometimes meet interesting people at the Vita-mix demo.  Costco just makes shopping a little more enjoyable. Nobody gets excited to go to Safeway but people do actually get excited for a trip to Costco.

 

I like the no-frills, no advertising aspect too — it’s just very simply food in a warehouse. I value efficiency and Costco has this down — you can get in and out pretty quickly if you stay away from the busy times (I’ve found the best time to go is AFTER dinner an hour or less before they close).  They take care of their employees with decent pay and good benefits.  And I like that they re-use boxes to pack up your food so there are none of those terrible plastic bags that eventually end up in the ocean.  And where else can my boyfriend get tires put on his car while we are shopping?

 

One of my issues with Costco is that like anything, used the wrong way it can be detrimental.  I see a lot of junk in people’s carts when I’m there, and I agree with Becky in that there are certainly many temptations and ways to part with your money.  If you don’t have a plan going in, it is very easy to buy things you don’t need, and like any good marketer, they know all the tricks (we call the line up of the wares they are pawning when you first walk in “Costco porn”).  Including the samples.  But for me, I go in when I’m not hungry and with a list, and I don’t succumb to the temptations.  If you are someone that is not disciplined, Costco is probably not a safe place for you to shop.

 

I also don’t like how they sometimes stop carrying an item I have become hooked on.  This tends to make me stock up a little more sometimes due to fear of it not being there on my next trip.

KS: Can you quantify or just anecdotally say why you think a membership is a good/bad financial move?

 

AM: I’m pretty price conscious (thanks to my parents for having a strange love of grocery store price trolling it seems to be in my genes).  I definitely am saving money on the items I purchase at Costco.  What comes to mind is 4 pound bags of frozen organic fruit for $10 (very expensive in other stores) and actually all of their produce prices are significantly lower.  I discovered matcha, a Japanese green tea powder, at my local Costco last summer and it is now a morning ritual.  One bag for $35 makes at least 100 servings, if not more.  One hundred matchas at my local coffee shop would cost over $500!

 

I also pride myself on wasting very little food (again, genetics).  If I buy something that can’t be eaten before going bad, I freeze it, and split it up into smaller containers so it’s easy to just thaw what I need (diced green chiles and tomato sauce come to mind).

 

Before going into Costco, you definitely need a plan. If you can be disciplined and stick to a list and not shop when you’re hungry, you can get a lot of great healthy food and save a significant amount of money doing so. Bonus points: setting a dollar amount from which you allow yourself to stray, and/or putting the tempting item down and thinking it over at home. If at that point you really decide you need/want it, you can pick it up during your next Costco adventure.

 

Kristi:  Thanks, ladies, for your solid arguments on both sides!  As with any debate, there are pros and cons, but the one thing we can all agree on is DISCIPLINE makes all the difference.  This is true in our savings and spending habits, as the Costco debate shows so well.

 

addie mchale

Addie McHale is a Certified Financial Planner™ who believes that the best financial planning happens every month by the spending and saving decisions you make with your income, and she teaches her clients how to master their cash flow. After building thousands of financial plans for a Fortune 50 company, she founded her firm Moneyfull, and her philosophy and tagline — Plan a richer life™— means YOU define your life, your values, and your goals.  Aligning your money with what’s important to you = your richest life!  Addie lives and works in the Denver Highland neighborhood.  Visit her website, moneyfull.com.

I LOVE a good yard sale!

yard sale, denver financial planner

I hate clutter.  And most anything that doesn’t have immediate use to me is clutter.  My mom once said about me, “Don’t stand still in Kristi’s house for more than two minutes or she’ll donate you to Goodwill.”  Some people might be insulted by that statement, but it made me proud.

 

Now it’s summer and time for my favorite activity: A yard sale!  Getting rid of stuff makes me feel like I’ve lost weight.  So light and happy!

 

Once I’ve decided to do a yard sale, I start looking at everything in my house with a critical eye.  WHY do I have two manual potato smashers?  Really, why do I even have one?  There has got to be a point were my kids have too many Legos.  That point is now.  Is anyone going to read those two 500-page volumes of Henry Kissinger’s autobiography?  Doubtful.  What about those margarita glasses that have the cactus shaped stems?  Haven’t been used in 12 years?  Gone!

 

Here are my top five reasons for giving a yard sale:

 

  1. You can get rid of big stuff and not have to worry about how to transport it to Goodwill. People bring their own trucks!

 

  1. A yard sale is a fun social event where you make money. You get to meet new neighbors and chat with old ones.

 

  1. It’s a great way to get your kids involved. They can see the value of used goods, work on their sales skills, do some manual labor by helping set up, and make a little cash.

 

  1. You just can’t believe the stuff people will buy from you. When in doubt, put it out there with a $.25 sticker on it.

 

  1. Christmas in summer. Meaning, you can get rid of all those Christmas decorations that never get displayed and use the cash to go buy yourself some presents.

 

Happy selling, everyone!

Funny quotes about Mother’s Day

mother's day, denver financial advisor

Well, these are more like quotes about motherhood, but what better time of year to share them?  Happy Mother’s Day!

 

“Mothers of teenagers know why animals eat their young.”
~ Author Unknown

 

“It would seem that something which means poverty, disorder and violence every single day should be avoided entirely, but the desire to beget children is a natural urge.”
~ Phyllis Diller

 

“A suburban mother’s role is to deliver children obstetrically once, and by car for ever after”
~ Peter De Vries

 

“There are three ways to get something done: hire someone to do it, do it yourself, or forbid your kids to do it! “

~Author Unknown

 

“I do not like broccoli. And I haven’t liked it since I was a little kid and my mother made me eat it. And I’m President of the United States and I’m not going to eat any more broccoli.”
~ George Bush

 

“Parents often talk about the younger generation as if they didn’t have anything to do with it.”
~Haim Ginott

 

Source:  you-can-be-funny.com  http://www.you-can-be-funny.com/FunnyMothersDayQuotes.html

How’s That New Gym Membership Working Out?

gym membership

According to a survey of 5,000 people by GoBankingRates in 2016 the top five New Year’s Resolutions were:

 

  1. Enjoy Life to the Fullest
  2. Live a Healthier Lifestyle
  3. Lose Weight
  4. Spend more time with family and friends
  5. Spend less, save more

 

In order to achieve Resolutions 2 and 3, many people joined a new gym in January.  Unfortunately, that may not be the way to realize Resolution #5.  Some interesting statistics from statisticbrain.com:

 

  • Average cost of a gym membership: $58/month
  • Amount of gym membership money that goes to waste from underutilization: $39/month
  • Percent of people with gym memberships that never use them: 67%

 

Okay, so 43% of us are hitting the gym regularly/sporadically.  Great!  Enjoy your group sweat.

 

For those of you who are flushing $58/month down the drain, consider an investment in some modest home gym equipment would save you money and actually get used.  After all, you don’t have to bundle up and drive on snowy roads to go to your basement and work out.  Bonus, you can pick whatever music or TV you like to enjoy while pushing around the weights.

 

I never thought I’d be using a website called askmen.com as a source for my blogs, but here is a nice list of small, inexpensive home exercise equipment.  Thanks, Men!

 

  • Adjustable Dumbbells – starting at around $130 on Amazon
  • Stretching Mat with Exercise Guide – $30
  • Jump Rope – $7 – $20
  • Resistance Bands – $15 – $30
  • Core Training Wheels – $40
  • Exercise Ball with Guide – $25

 

Happy sweating!

Are you a last minute shopper or a planner?

Let’s face it there are just some traits you are born with.  For example, you are either a runner or not a runner.   I fall firmly in the not runner camp.  You are a dog/cat/reptile/no-pet person.  You are a saver or a spender.  You are a morning person or a night owl.  You are an early or a last minute holiday shopper.

 

You can try to overcome these tendencies, but it’s hard.  Why not embrace the real you and just be the best non-running, over spending, late night, python loving, last minute shopper that you really are?  To that end, here are some benefits to being both types of shopper:

 

According to US News & World Report, early shoppers are happy because:

  • Better selection – those last minute shoppers will only get the pea-green iPhone covers for their kids
  • Space out the spending – smaller gift bills throughout the year are easier to pay than a huge one in January
  • Lower shipping costs – you don’t have to pay those 1-day urgent shipping charges for your online gifts
  • Spending more time with family over the holidays – versus panicked trips to the mall

 

ProgressNewspaper.org suggests that last minute shoppers enjoy:

  • Smaller crowds – those early shoppers are all home drunk on egg nog and watching Elf
  • Discounted prices – stores are trying to clean out before the dreaded January inventory count
  • Lower chance of discovery – kids have less chance of finding their gifts if they are only in the trunk of your car for 10 hours
  • When all else fails, your local grocer has gift cards for every personality!

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!

pumpkin-1323131_1920

 

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!

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