Archive for Fun Stuff

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.

 

Will You PLEASE Get Rid of Stuff So Your Kids Don’t Have To?

Clean out your clutter

This month, I’m writing blogs on topics that people have suggested to me.  Today’s, about cleaning out your clutter, is dedicated to my parents who asked me to write it a few weeks ago.  It was while my mom was cleaning out their basement AGAIN.

Honestly, I think my folks’ basement must be like that scene in the movie National Treasure where they find the secret chamber under the church and after they turn on the lights the room is 20 times the size they originally thought.  Only instead of gold and jewels, the Mouton basement is 100,000 square feet of chairs and china.

How to not drown in it all?

From my favorite source of news and information, HGTV, get rid of:  Old shoes, clothing you’ve never worn, socks without a mate, old make up, medicine & personal care products, and old holiday cards.

From Family Circle:  Duplicate kitchen utensils, coffee mugs, little-used kitchen gadgets, vases, magazines, electronics, linens, toys.

And now, for the elephant in the room (or basement).

What to with all of the furniture passed down from generations of family?  That’s a hard one, since for generations my family has had really good taste, so who wants to part with all of these lovely things?

First, ask the heirs (kids, grandkids, cousins by the dozens) if there are items that they would want to have.  Make a note of those items.  I’m sure my estate planning attorney friends would suggest even adding that note as a codicil to your will so there are no disputes later.

What about the beautiful things no one claimed?

Here is how I seeing it playing out in my house.  By the time my husband I both die (hopefully!), my kids will be retired themselves.  They will likely be downsizing their own homes and looking to shed household items.  My grandkids will be in their 30s and have homes full of furniture and accessories they picked out to their taste.  My great-grandkids will be toddlers and not looking to furnish a place of their own for another 15 years.

What happens to my things?

Well, the entire house full of stuff that I was using, PLUS the basement full of heirlooms that I was saving now has to be hauled out and sold or donated by my 65-year old sons.  They will likely have bad knees and hernias, so they will need to hire someone to do the work and oversee it.

Conclusion:

If you aren’t using it and your kids haven’t asked for it, donate or sell it to someone else.  Don’t wait around for the grandchildren to get married or get an apartment.  Chances are, the things you are sitting on won’t be to their taste and their parents (your kids) will have overstock of their own they want to offload by that time.

There, I said it in the bravest way possible.  Not to your face, but through a blog sent to 200 people.  Mothers’ Day should be interesting.


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.

Are You Financially Ready for Change?

April showers bring May flowers and so my theme for this April is change.  I’m certainly ready for the change from winter to spring, but are my clients and friends ready for other changes that life hands them?  Am I ready?  Probably not.  So, here is my stream of consciousness list of questions to think about as a way to prepare.   My answers are personal to me and shouldn’t be taken as real advice.

 

Today, the change I’m thinking about inheritance or other windfall of wealth.  What if you sold your business to Facebook?  Or won the billion dollar winter Powerball that had many of us saying, “If I won, I would…”

 

Q:  Who would I tell?

A:  Most likely I’d tell my husband, but definitely not my kids.  Probably very few others as well, since I would be afraid of long lost relatives, scammers, and others with their hands out.  Also, people might treat me differently because of my sudden dazzling wealth.  Nope, no press conference with the giant cardboard check for me!

 

Q:  Would I continue to work?

A:  Of course!  Work is fun and gives purpose and structure to my life.  I’d just take frequent beach vacations and bring more people along for the ride.

 

Q:  Who would manage my money for me?

A:  Everyone says financial advisers should hire someone else to manage their money.  I don’t do that (yet), but if $300million landed in my lap, I’d likely spread the responsibility of investing it amongst a few friends in the business.

 

Q:  How would I use the money to make the world a better place?

A:  Ah, this is fun to think about.  Would I endow a scholarship at my alma mater?  Provide funding for weekend backpack programs to feed hungry kids in our schools?  Support families recovering from addiction or abuse?  Donate to arts programs in my community? Yes!  The more technical questions would be what vehicles to use to maximize the impacts of the financial gifts.  Such nice problems to have!

 

Changing the subject to something slightly more realistic, what about inheriting money or goods from family members?  Well, there are the above questions and a few more come to mind.

 

Q:  Do I know where the assets are kept of family members whose estates I may have to help settle?

A:  Kind of, I think.

 

Q:  Am I prepared to let go of sentimental objects in order to avoid family infighting?

A:  I think so, but it would be good to remind myself that stuff is just stuff and not worth losing a family member over.  And probably it’s better to do that now than when I’m in the middle of it.

 

Q:  Would I keep the money separate from marital assets or combine it into the usual household accounts?

A:  Although I trust my husband, I would want both of us to keep inherited assets separate from marital assets as a protection for our kids.

 

Example:  Jane and Joe have two children.  Jane inherits $100,000 from a relative.  Jane invests the money in their joint account.  Jane dies 10 years later with the money now worth $175,000.  Six months later, Joe remarries a lovely woman named Hester.  Hester has two children.  Prior to the honeymoon, Joe and Hester combine their assets.  Jane’s inheritance is now Joe and Hester’s.

 

On the honeymoon, Joe dies in a bizarre jellyfish attack.  Hester retitles all of the joint assets into her name.  Later that year, Hester dies without having updated her will to include her two stepchildren with Joe.  Hester’s two children inherit Jane’s money.  Jane’s kids get nothing.  There is no bad guy in this scenario, just bad planning.

 

So, you see, while we all dream of coming into sudden wealth, there are lots of things to be worked out.   Make sure your daydreaming includes meetings with an estate planning attorney, CPA, and financial planner!

 

 

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.

Your Passion Can Be a Money Maker!

There is an old saying that goes “love what you do and you will never work a day in your life.”   That’s great, but maybe not practical for everybody.  I really appreciate the people who collect my trash, deliver my paper, and plow the streets when it snows.  Are they living their dreams with their careers?  Does work feel like work every day?  Probably, but their work is important to the public and pays the bills.

 

Many of us might find ourselves in jobs that we don’t LOVE, but need to keep in order to feed the family.  However, maybe there is a passion you have that can be monetized.  After you get rolling, your passion could become your full time job or part-time retirement income.

 

  • A lover of plants works seasonally in a garden store.
  • A car lover restores old cars on weekends and flips them for profit.
  • An HGTV addict takes classes to become a home appraiser or stager.
  • A neat freak organizes closets for friends and family for a fee.
  • A golfer works in the pro shop of his local course.
  • A high school swimming champ gives private lessons to kids during the summer.
  • A fitness buff gets certified and starts teaching classes on evenings or weekends.
  • A math lover tutors students.
  • A photography enthusiast offers family portraits for friends.
  • A nutrition activist becomes a part time sales rep for her favorite supplement manufacturer.
  • An animal lover offers grooming or training classes.
  • A skier works at his favorite resort as a host and gets a free season pass.
  • A mega-reader writes book reviews for a fee.

 

The list goes on.  If you are looking at improving your income, think of ways to do so while engaging in something you want to be doing, anyway.  You’ll enjoy your time and the money will be a bonus!

 

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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