Archive for Fun Stuff

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,

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



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


  • 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 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 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!



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 (


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



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!




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