Archive for Fun Stuff

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.


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 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 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 for more information.

5 Fun Quotes About Love and Money

“Money is not the most important thing in the world.  Love is.  Fortunately, I LOVE money.” – Jackie Mason


“Money and women.  They’re the two strongest things in the world.  There are things you do for a woman you wouldn’t do for anything else.  Same with money.”  – Satchel Paige


“Money can buy you a fine dog, but only love can make him wag his tail.” – Kinky Friedman


“Love letters can be very useful.  There are things that are not so easy to ask from your girlfriend face to face – for example, money.”  Henri de Regnier


“You can’t put a price tag on love.  But if you could, I’d wait for it to go on sale.” – Hussein Nishah


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 for more information.

Show Your Love by Working Towards Financial Goals Together

Here are some traditional gifts of love that you can replace with gifts of financial health with your sweetie.


Cost of one dozen red roses delivered:  $69.99

Invest $69.99/year for 20 years at 7% and you will have $3,070.  Enough to buy a 7-day Caribbean Carnival Cruise for two!


5th wedding anniversary:  Wood – furniture, wooden clogs, wood spoons, fireplace wood?

Wouldn’t you like to pay off your credit card debt together?  Talk through a plan for cutting down expenses and getting high interest credit card debt out of the way.


Cost of half carat diamond earrings at Blue  $610

Invest $610/year saved for 20 years earning 7% and you will have $26,750.  You could pay for a semester of college for your child.


Cost of 72% cacao dark chocolate bar at the grocery store:  $3.00

Invest $3/month for 20 years earning 7% and you will have $1,571.  Okay, that’s not worth the sacrifice.  Buy the dark chocolate and enjoy!


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 for more information.

New Year’s Wishes for Your 2016

Happy New Year!  As a financial planner I have some hopes for your 2016 to pass along.

May you find joy in the free (or very inexpensive) things in life – sunsets, walks with your dog, a home cooked dinner with family, or hugging a friend.  And then, take the savings from fancy vacations, dinners out, and paid masseurs and sock them into a Roth IRA.

Show your love to your family not with gifts, but by making things easier for them in your old age.  Have a long-term care plan, current will, and powers of attorney (medical and financial) that name people that you are currently on speaking terms with as your agents.

Be grateful for what you have and help those who have less by donating appreciated securities to charity.  Please do this before December 30, 2016 so it can count for your taxes this year.

Think long and hard about material purchases.  Will they really enhance your life? Or will they create more clutter, debt, and depression?  Devote time and money to more people and less stuff.  And then, sock that saved money into a retirement account!  So you can buy more stuff when you’re old.  By stuff, I mean food, medicine and housing.

I look forward to working with you in the New Year!


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

Quotes to bring you holiday cheer

“Mail your packages early so the post office can lose them in time for Christmas.” – Johnny Carson


“Christmas is the season when you buy this year’s gifts with next year’s money.” – Author Unknown


“Santa Claus has the right idea.  Visit people only once a year.” – Victor Borge


“There is a remarkable breakdown of taste and intelligence at Christmastime. Mature, responsible grown men wear neckties made of holly leaves and drink alcoholic beverages with raw egg yolks and cottage cheese in them.” – P.J. O’Rourke


“Most Texans think Hanukkah is some sort of a duck call.” – Richard Lewis


“This past Christmas, I told my girlfriend for months in advance that all I wanted was an Xbox. That’s it. Beginning and end of list, Xbox. You know what she got me? A homemade frame with a picture of us from our first date together. Which was fine. Because I got her an Xbox.” – Anthony Jeselnik


“People are so worried about what they eat between Christmas and the New Year, but they really should be worried about is what they eat between the New Year and Christmas.” – Author Unknown


“As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December’s bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same.” — Donald Westlake


“One thing I learned from drinking is that if you ever go Christmas caroling, you should go with a group of people. And also go in mid-December.” – Louis C.K.


“The Supreme Court has ruled that they cannot have a nativity scene in Washington, D.C. This wasn’t for any religious reasons. They couldn’t find three wise men and a virgin.” – Jay Leno


Contact me at 303-324-0014 or for more information.

The Following is Not Good for Your Waist Line or Your Bottom Line. Read at Your Peril.

Since this blog will be going out near Christmas, I’m going to skip the heavy mental work and provide you with a heavy recipe instead.

They are addictive, high fat, and by the time you buy all of the butter and cheese you will be broke.  However, they are super-delicious and worth it.   The recipe was my Great-Great-Aunt Kate Thompson’s shared by my mom, Alice Mouton.  Enjoy!

Aunt Kate’s Cheese Crisps


4 oz. sharp cheddar cheese, grated

7 tbsp. butter, softened to room temp.

4 drops Tabasco sauce

1 cup flour

1/4 tsp. red pepper

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup Rice Krispies


Mix cheese, butter and Tabasco

Sift flour, red pepper and salt and add to above.  (You will probably need to use your hands to mix.)

Add Rice Krispies and form into balls the size of small walnuts. Put them on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake in a 325 degree oven for 5 minutes.  Flatten with a fork that has been dipped into flour.  Bake for 20 more minutes. Cool on cookie sheet.  Makes about 40.


Contact me at 303-324-0014 or for more information.



Social Security Terms – The Last Romance Language

It occurred to me as I wrote the last blog that I maybe was putting the cart before the horse.  File-and-Suspend strategy is pretty complex and most people don’t understand even the basics of Social Security.  So, here are a few concepts that will help you speak that beautiful language that I call Social Securitese.

Qualifying for Social Security benefits – You must have put into the system for 40 quarters (10 years) in order to get any retirement or survivor’s benefits later.

PIA (Primary Insurance Amount) – The benefit a person receives if he/she takes Social Security at normal retirement age (about 66 or 67 years old for most current non-retirees).  This amount is determined by a formula using your Average Indexed Monthly Earnings for 35 years (not the 10 years used to qualify for payouts!).

AIME (Average Indexed Monthly Earnings) – A calculation used to determine your PIA.  The calculation adjusts your earliest earnings for inflation so you won’t lose the value of your past earnings when money was worth more.

Early Retirement – You may start receiving benefits as early as age 62.  If you choose to do this, your benefits will be permanently reduced (there are some cumbersome exceptions to this) due to the longer payout period.  Try to wait as long as you can to take Social Security!

Spousal Benefit – Your spouse does NOT have to be dead for you to get this!  You can file for ½ of your spouse’s benefit or your own work benefit, whichever will be higher.  Your spouse has to have filed for Social Security and you must be old enough to receive the benefit (at least 62 for a reduced benefit).

Speaking of spouses, or Ex-Spouses – If you were married for 10 years or longer, have been divorced for at least 2 years, and remain unmarried, you may choose to use your ex-spouse’s spousal benefit if it is better than your own.  If you were married multiple times for over 10 years, you can choose the benefit of the best earning spouse.

Your eyes are probably glazing over now so I’ll stop here.  For more help in how to best take Social Security, contact me for a one-hour consultation or comprehensive retirement income plan.


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 for more information.

Thanks for the Referrals!

It’s November and what a perfect time to thank my wonderful network of friends, clients, and colleagues for giving my name to their friends, clients, and colleagues!

So, here is a list (in no particular order and probably incomplete) of people who have referred Sullivan Financial Planning in 2015:

Erica Johnson, Ambler and Keenan

David Overton, Halbert Hargrove

Donna Patch, Innovest

Abbe Pensack, Abbe Pensack Insurance

Sally Isaacson, Nurse Family Partnership

Steve Schmitzer, Denver Water

Lisa Eastin, Buchannan and Stouffer, PC

Cameron Morgan, A&I Financial

Anne Angerman, Career Matters

Karen Van Cleve, Live Well Coaching

Kym Koontz

Claudia Carbone, freelance travel, ski and Italian food writer

Sabrina and Jessen Fahey, Fidelity/Columbia Management

Randy Kite, Ian D. Gardenswartz and Assoc., PC

Laura Srsich, Eide Bailly LLP

Robert Spicer, First Financial Equity Corporation


Of course, where would I be without my wealth adviser partners?  Thank you all for allowing me to work with your clients!

Denver Private Wealth Management – Darin Snow

Highwater Wealth Management – Dickson Griswold, Kathy Raabe, and Greg Guiffra

Gill Capital Partners – James O’Brien and John Winslow

Strategies Capital Management – David Halseth and Tom Gonnella

Private Client Wealth Advisors – Barry Steelman


Creating a brand with a tiny marketing budget is tough.  Without referrals, small businesses would not survive.  Thank you for your support!


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

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