Archive for Fun Stuff

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!

Fun and Frugal Fashion Ideas from Wardrobe Guru Dana Lynch

danaPeople often ask, “Kristi, how do I look fabulous while keeping my financial goals on track?”  Okay, that never really happens, but it’s a fun blog topic!  Here are some fashion on a budget tips from my friend and professional image consultant, Dana Lynch (www.elementsofimage.com).

 

Q:  What are fashion purchases that should be avoided because they are usually a waste of money? 

 

Dana:  The biggest waste of money is an item you don’t love and feel great in.  Buying something because it’s “a deal” doesn’t make any sense unless you’re excited about the item, you know it’s your personal style, and it will go with at least one other thing in your wardrobe.

 

I don’t believe in buying trendy clothing at cheap prices thinking you’ll only wear it a few times and then throw it away. First, it’s not sustainable for the environment.  Poor quality clothing won’t hold up for more than a couple of washings, so then it can’t even be donated for someone else to wear. Those kinds of pieces don’t represent your quality personal brand. If you want to experiment with trends, consider whether it will last more than a season or two and then don’t break the bank on it, but spend enough that the item is of decent quality.

 

Q:  What are some wardrobe staples that are worth an extra investment?

 

Dana:  Basics in 3-season fabrics. The items are mostly neutral colors and are simple in design, so they will mix and match with most things in your wardrobe. Although I’m listing these pieces as “black,”  your favorite neutral color will also work. They include: the Little Black Dress, black blazer, black pants, black skirt, white blouse, cardigan, hoop earrings (your favorite metal,) black pumps, and a dress coat. And in today’s casual environment, a great fitting pair of jeans made from premium denim! (Trust me…there’s a difference!)

 

Q:  How can working with an image consultant such as you help actually save money on clothes? 

 

Dana:  An image consultant has no sentimental attachment to your current clothing that isn’t serving you. Learning how to look at your style, body, and wardrobe in a more objective way can help you save money because you’ll be more certain of future purchases. You’ll wear what you buy!

 

When I shop for clients, I have their personal style, body type, lifestyle, needs, and budget in mind. You won’t be trying on clothes for an imaginary life or what the fashion magazines are dictating. It’s important to choose a variety of clothing that mixes and matches well and covers a broad range of activities. You will have fewer clothes (if that’s what you want,) and you’ll wear them all.

 

An image consultant is also familiar with quality brands, so in the long you save money by helping you purchase fewer, higher quality pieces that look great in that can be worn in more ways than you ever thought possible!

 

Thanks, Dana! For more ideas, check out Dana’s website at http://elementsofimage.com.

 

the-biggest-waste-of-money-is-an-item-you-dont-love-and-feel-great-in

3 Easy Ways to Save Money During Football Season

#1:  Buy discount team merchandise featuring your club’s latest incarcerated player that was traded to the Baltimore Ravens.

 

#2:  For your tailgating or game viewing party, purchase beer that is on sale because it’s approaching 90 days since the born-on-date.  Your guests will never know the difference.  Also, stock up on Velveeta and Rotel when it’s on sale at the store – that stuff has no expiration date.

 

#3:  Save money on parking by riding the light rail to the big game.  Okay, it’s actually not any less than parking, but it could save you a DUI and those are REALLY expensive.

 

Now, of course, as your financial advisor, I’d like you to tally up the savings and buy a nice mutual fund with the money.

Hilarious quotes about parenting

Okay it’s the middle of summer and some of us may be questioning some major life choices – like the decision to procreate.

Here are some funny quotes about parenting to distract you for a few minutes.

 

 

“If you don’t want your kid to be late for camp because ‘the cat isn’t being nice to him’ then I suggest taking a pass on parenthood.” @est1975blog

 

 

“Raising kids is part joy and part guerilla warfare.” — Ed Asner

 

 

“Never raise your hand to your kids. It leaves your groin unprotected.” — Red Buttons

 

“As a child my family’s menu consisted of two choices: take it, or leave it.” — Buddy Hackett

 

“When my kids become wild and unruly, I use a nice, safe playpen. When they’re finished, I climb out.” — Erma Bombeck

 

 

“You know your life has changed when going to the grocery store by yourself is a vacation” — Unknown

 

“The first 40 years of parenthood are always the hardest.” — Unknown

 

“Having children is like living in a frat house — nobody sleeps, everything’s broken, and there’s a lot of throwing up.” — Ray Romano

 

What does this have to do with financial planning, you ask?  Well, kids, like divorce, are EXPENSIVE, so generally a bad option with the finances.  But, some days the little cuties can be worth it.

What if Money DID Grow on Trees?

money tree

Who hasn’t told someone or been told, “Money doesn’t grow on trees?”  Money through the ages hasn’t always been valued by gold, silver, and copper.  Money is often a reflection of what was valued as a society.

Here is a small sampling of ancient currencies to give you some perspective on our changing values over the centuries:*

Dolphin Teeth – Sadly, this isn’t even that old.  In 2008, the Solomon Islands currency was devalued, so locals went back to their original currency, dolphin teeth.  This resulted in an increase in slaughter of dolphins, until conservation groups stepped in and paid the locals NOT to kill the dolphins.  Yikes!

Salt – The history of salt and its importance in civilization is a long paper unto itself.  Ancient Roman soldiers were sometimes paid in salt packs.  The word “salary” even has its roots in the word “salt.”

Rai Stones – Measuring as large as 12 feet wide and 4 tons, these limestone “coins” were used by the people of Yap in Micronesia staring around the year 500AD.  The dangerous (sometimes fatal) design and transportation of the currency increased its value.  What sized purses did those women carry?

Wampum beads – This was America’s first currency.  The colonists learned quickly that Wampum were sacred to the Native Americans and could be traded for much needed goods and services.

And, my personal favorite – Cocoa Beans! – The Aztecs used several currencies, but the cocao bean was ranked even higher than gold dust in value.  Of course!  When you run out of things to buy, you can grind up your money and make delicious hot chocolate.  Gold dust tastes horrible.

What makes our currency worth the goods it buys?  Some people think that gold is what backs up the US dollar, but that is not the case.  Our dollar hasn’t had a physical metal backing its worth since the 1970s.  It is the faith the world has in the US government’s ability to make good on its debt that ultimately gives the dollar its value.

But, to give the old greenback more worth, may I suggest it also double as something edible?  Chocolate flavored preferred.  Those Aztecs had the right idea!

 

 *Sources:  http://www.mba-in-finance.org/10-bizarre-forms-of-ancient-currency/

http://encyclopedia-of-money.blogspot.com/2010/01/cocoa-bean-currency.html

 

5 Funny quotes about the Fourth of July

4th of july

Even a dedicated financial planner has to take a break already from the endless nagging to save, save, save.  How about a little humor to break up the monotony?

 

“It’s Fourth of July weekend, or, as I call it, Exploding Christmas.” — Stephen Colbert

 

“Kiss is a Fourth of July fireworks show with a backbeat” – Gene Simmons

 

“Canada Day comes and goes modestly every year.  Sure, there are retail sales promotions and a long weekend.  But there isn’t bluster or commodity in Canadian celebration.  Canada isn’t big on bunting.  Or jet flyovers, fireworks, marching bands, or military pomp.” – Rick Moranis  “Poor, sad Canada.” – Kristi Sullivan

 

“You have to love a nation that celebrates its Independence every July 4, not with a parade of guns, tanks, and soldiers who file by the White House in a show of strength and muscle, but with family picnics where kids throw Frisbees, the potato salad gets iffy, and the flies die from happiness. You may think you have overeaten, but it is patriotism.” – Erma Bombeck

 

“Just to be different, I cry about being single on the 4th of July, and celebrate Valentine’s Day with explosives.” – Anonymous

Summer fun in the Rockies

summer fun

Here are a few things I plan to do with my kiddos this summer.  I hope to see you there!

  • Red Rocks for movie and a band – Probably not Citizen Kane, but what kids doesn’t love Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? http://film.redrocksonline.com/fotr
  • Hiking without the long drive – Yes, they will totally complain about it, but we WILL experience some great outdoors close to Denver. http://dayhikesneardenver.com/best-hikes-with-kids-near-denver-colorado/
  • Winter Park Alpine Slide and other fun base activities – This is an annual tradition. My youngest is always afraid on that first run of the alpine slide, then, we can get him off of it.  If you plan to do it more than one day, the season pass is a good deal.  https://www.winterparkresort.com/the-mountain/summer
  • Hang out at anyone’s neighborhood pool who will have us – Living in Denver, our pool options aren’t awesome. Cue the grandparents and friends who live in the suburbs.  Thanks in advance, and I’ll bring wine and snacks for the post-swim happy hour.
  • Use the kids’ My Denver Cards for free activities – Okay, so our pools may be lacking in the big city, but the good folks at Denver Parks and Rec have all sorts of fun and FREE activities for the kids. Drum lessons?  Sure as long as it’s not at my house.  Pick-up basketball games for kids?   Fishing in the lake at the park.  Good stuff.

Let me know if you have some ideas to supplement my little list!

Is Your Kid Really Going to Get a Sports Scholarship?

As I write this blog (I write them in advance of them coming out), I’m waiting for yet another cancellation notice for my sons’ games this weekend due to weather.  We will be playing spring sports make-up games until August at this rate.

It’s not so disruptive to my schedule because I am a very relaxed mom when it comes to kids’ sports.  I don’t care if their teams win or lose.

My main concerns about my children’s athletics are these:

  • Are practices and games convenient to my home? Walking distance is preferred.
  • Is the time commitment reasonable? No more than 6 hours per week is ideal.  Tournament avoidance is desired.  Overnight travel is not tolerated.
  • Are the coaches competent but not abusive?
  • Are the other parents people I like to hang out with? If so, I will provide the drinks and snacks!
  • Is the registration cost reasonable?

 

Of course, you can always find something on the internet to support your way of thinking.  And so I did:

  • Travis Dorsch (former kicker for Purdue and the Cincinnati Bengals) conducted a study that found spending on youth sports has grown to up to 10.5% of family gross income.
  • The percentage of kids who get college scholarships to play sports is low – 3% – 5%, so putting a ton of money to sports hoping for a payoff later is not a great investment.
  • Putting too much pressure on kids for something that is supposed to be fun is emotionally damaging. The best memories of professional athletes of playing sports as kids are often of unstructured games with friends.

 

The source for these juicy tidbits is a New York Times article by Paul Sullivan (no relation!), “The Rising Cost of Youth Sports, In Money and Emotion,” published January 16, 2015.  Check it out for the full quotes and sources.  http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/17/your-money/rising-costs-of-youth-sports.html?_r=0


 

If these topics sound like they would be of interest to your employees, sales conference, or professional organization, contact me at 303-324-0014 or kristi@sullivanfinancialplanning.com for more information.

 

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