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Kids vs. Clients: The Working/Non-Working Mom Dilemma

kids vs. clients

Darned if we do, darned if we don’t.

 

I had a hilarious conversation with a client who recently relocated to Arizona to be closer to her kids and grandchildren.  She is still working at a job she loves, but thinking of retiring soon.  She said to me, “I feel guilty when I’m playing with my grandkids and not serving my clients.  Then I feel guilty when I’m working and not with the grandkids.”

 

Do you ever feel this way?

 

My client described exactly how I feel over summer vacation (fast approaching!), when there are not enough hours to have fun with the kids and feel responsive to client needs.  So, a general pervasive feeling of guilt hangs over summers for me.

 

Well, darn it!  Here I thought that particular working mom dilemma would go away when my kids are grown.  Only to find out that I may have a reprieve from those feelings for about 12 years after the kids are launched…and then be right back in it when I become a grandmother.

 

The cycle begins again.

 

Kids vs. Clients. Oh, to be Wonder Woman….

 

And we wonder why there is a gender pay gap?  I guess trying to be Wonder Woman does not translate into Wonder Income.  Sheryl Sandberg, help!

 

Anyway, not much advice in this blog.  Just some random musing.  Next week, look for something more number-y.

One America News Network: My quote about YOUR emergency cash

emergency cash

Do you have emergency cash?

 

Building up emergency cash can be an uphill battle. So why not use that tax refund?

 

That was my advice when asked by OAN (One America News Network) about replenishing funds that you might have used for something else during the year.

 

“Now is actually an ideal time of year to do that because of tax refunds, says Denver adviser Kristi Sullivan. The average IRS refund last year was over $2,800, an excellent stepping stone to a fully-stocked emergency fund.”

 

Click here for more….

Your Social Security Number: How social do we need to be?

Social Security Number

So, I was cleaning my broiler pan….

 

Don’t ask me why, but this subject popped into my head while I was cleaning the broiler pan from making ribs in the oven.  It’s a really big mess to clean up, so there’s lots of time to think.

 

So, as I was scrubbing, I wondered, how many times to people ask for our Social Security numbers when they shouldn’t really need that information?  When is it acceptable to say “no?”

 

First, here is a list of people you can’t say “no” to:

 

  • Credit applications
  • Cash transactions over $10,000
  • Applications for certain federal benefits, including Medicare and Medicaid
  • Military paperwork
  • Interactions with the Department of Motor Vehicles

 

So, why does everyone else ask?

 

I’m thinking the doctor’s office, schools, landlords, employers, the trash collector, the veterinarian, the movie theater.  Maybe those last few are exaggerating, but still, it seems like it comes up a lot.

 

Mostly, people are looking for a way to track you down if you don’t pay your bills.  So, even if it’s not mandatory to disclose your SSN, a business could refuse to do business with you if you don’t fill in that box.

Just say no.

 

How do you get around providing your Social Security number if it’s not necessary?  Here are a few suggestions I picked up:

  • Just don’t fill out the box on the form. Sometimes, the business will just let it go.
  • If pressed by the business for your SSN, ask the following (P.S. Be nice about it – that will help):
    • Why do you need it?
    • Who will you share it with?
    • What law requires that I provide my SSN to you?
    • What will you do if I refuse?
    • What other forms of ID will you accept?

 

Just be prepared – anyone who is considering extending you credit or entering a financial arrangement with you will probably insist on getting your SSN.  However, your annual membership to the Zoo or the Art Museum shouldn’t require that information.

Everything But The House: Cleaning out someone’s lifetime of stuff

cleaning out

Cleaning Out + Emotions = Feeling Overwhelmed

 

One of the blogs that I have gotten the most response from was where I implored people to start cleaning out stuff so their kids don’t have to.  Okay, let’s say that proactive wish didn’t come true and now YOU must clean out someone else’s lifetime full of stuff.

 

How will you do it?  You’re busy with work, kids, and your life.  Plus, there are lots of emotions, logistics, and confusion.  How do you know if you are about to throw away a priceless painting or hang onto a worthless piece of a 3rd grade art project?

 

Enter my favorite solution to sticky dilemmas:  outsourcing!  Following is an interview with Alessandra Banno of the estate sale firm Everything but the House.

 

Q:  What is the benefit of hiring an estate sale firm to clean out a house versus doing it yourself?

 

A:  Many people who have done it themselves before can attest that preparing and hosting an estate sale yourself is incredibly stressful, arduous and time consuming! Also, our team often discovers many pieces that might be overlooked otherwise, and, because of our incredible exposure, our clients are able to achieve 3 to 5 times higher revenues than traditional avenues of sale would bring.

 

Q:  What should people consider when deciding to keep or sell items?

 

A:  I encourage my clients to think about the last time they used the items. If they’ve been in boxes or out of sight for some time, then consider how you’re benefiting from these belongings: physically or emotionally. If it’s an emotional benefit, would taking and keeping pictures of the items suffice? If not, I always encourage you hang onto anything you’re emotionally attached to. I never want to persuade my clients to sell something they are not ready to let go of.

 

Q:  Are people realistic about the values of their possessions or do you find they attach a monetary value to memories?

 

A:  It certainly differs depending on the client. Most people understand the fair market value, but if they’re emotionally attached to the item, then we see them attaching a monetary value to the memories.

 

Q:  How does your process work to help people effectively dispose of their household items?

 

A:  At EBTH, we coordinate trash removals and donations for our clients, if necessary, and then we can photograph and catalog the sellable items for sale on our website.

 

Q:  What should people expect to pay for a service to help sell the family valuables?

 

A:  We charge either 40 or 48 percent commission depending on the distance and how labor intensive the project is for our team.

 

Alessandra Banno

 

Thanks to Alessandra for participating in my Spring Clean Out article!  For more information, check out the website:  www.ebth.com

Business Owners – Make More $$ in 2017!

marketing

If you are anything like me, you are still doing your 2017 business planning.  Yes, we were supposed to be good little soldiers and start this back in October of 2016, but that doesn’t make it too late to implement ideas to increase our top-line revenue this year.

 

To help us all out, I enlisted a guest for this week’s blog.  Robyn Frahm from The Social Crew offers these tips:

 

5 Things Your 2017 Marketing Must Have

Before you start panicking about the new year and your marketing plan, we’re here to help you stay organized and guide you through it. We’re The Social Crew, we help small local businesses navigate the stressful (and time consuming) waters of online digital marketing.

Here are 5 “must have” tips for marketing your business this year:

  1. Be mobile friendly: Although most businesses have already jumped on board to this essential digital requirement, there are still some websites out there that aren’t compatible to view on mobile devices such as phones and tablets. If you’ve still got your head in the sand, it’s time to move forward with the rest of the world – 80% of whom are actively searching and shopping online. If your website isn’t mobile friendly, you’ll miss out on business and may as well kiss good-Google-rankings good-bye.
  1. Make a plan: There’s no point saying 2017 is going to be a great year for business when you haven’t put any plans or campaigns together. Set some time aside and have a look at your hits and misses over 2016 and learn from it. Get a plan in place for campaigns and content to stick. You’ll find that you will feel much more in control and organized if you have a structured plan in place for the year. And remember, content DOES matter because search engines look for sites that have regular, and fresh content.
  1. Use Videos: Businesses are getting more used to the idea of video, which means the application will become only more frequent. Video can be used for much more than just content marketing, but also as the front-liner of the brand identity. Especially LIVE VIDEO; it’s an unfiltered, unedited look at the culture of your business and lets customers feel they have an immediate connection.
  1. Hashtags really do work: #Hashtags are an important way to promote your business across social platforms by connecting it to searches and discovery relevant to your target audience. Businesses use #hashtags to attract new customers and grow their online presence. Users searching a #hashtag can come across your account and become new followers or potential customers.
  1. SEO: Our favorite 3 letters, S E O. Search Engine Optimization is a big chunk of the pie when it comes to the success of your website reaching your targeted audience. There is a lot involved in understanding and implementing SEO but it is an essential element that must be used.

If you have questions, we’d love to hear from you at info@socialcrewco.com or call 720-310-5089.

How the RIGHT Social Media has Helped My Business

social media

In the last few months I’ve heard from several people, “You seem to be EVERYWHERE on social media. How do you do it?”

And I have a simple answer to that question: I hired the right person to handle my marketing efforts.

As you all know, I’m a huge advocate of working with experts to make life a little easier. From hiring case workers to assist with aging parents to working with an image consultant to make sure I look professional wherever I go, I believe in outsourcing things that I either may not have time for OR that I just know someone else could do better. And when it comes to promoting my business, I turned to one person: Catherine Tidd with Social Seed Marketing.

 

Q. How can social media help grow someone’s business?

Networking is always important when it comes to expanding your business and social media can be such an effective tool. No one has time to meet hundreds of people for coffee every week to promote their business, but with the right posts you can reach your target audience with just the click of a button.

It’s important to post often and use content that people will respond to and share. Networking and tagging other businesses widens your audience. Be friendly. Offer tips that show that you’re an expert in your field. If people trust you, they’re more likely to invest in you.

 

Q. Wait. Post often? I don’t want my clients to get sick of hearing from me!

Of course you don’t! It’s important to provide content that varies so that it’s always of interest to your clients. For example, when I encouraged you to create posts related to kids and money, I did that so that I could expand your outreach to parents and parenting experts who otherwise might not have seen your information about financial planning. I want to make sure everyone knows what a valuable resource you are!

It’s also important to pay attention to your platform. No, you don’t want to post something on Facebook or LinkedIn ten times in one day. But Twitter? Go for it!

 

Q. For those who are reading this and thinking they don’t have time for this kind of social media effort…what do you suggest?

Outsource – effective social media DOES take effort. There are companies out there who are happy to do this for you…but make sure they are really going to pay attention to YOU and your business. Some are very impersonal and that comes across to the people reading your posts. They want to feel like they know you and that takes a personal investment on the part of the marketing company.

One of the reasons I enjoy what I do is the collaboration between myself and my clients. I’m constantly looking for new ways for them to network within social media and maximize their efforts. One of my favorite quotes (that’s also on my website) is this:

content-builds-relationships

 

Thank you, Catherine! For more information about Social Seed Marketing, please visit www.socialseedmarketing.com or email Catherine at catherine@socialseedmarketing.com.

CNBC.com Quotes Kristi about 401(k)s!

Roth IRA

During the excitement that comes with taking a new job, make sure you don’t forget about the retirement money you socked away in your former employer’s 401(k) plan.

“People in their working years tend to switch jobs a lot and can lose touch with their [accounts],” said Kristi Sullivan, a certified financial planner and owner of Sullivan Financial Planning. “That can get messy after several job changes.”

Click here for more….

How Would You Like to Help Women Worldwide…Just by Having Lunch?

I am thrilled be participating in the 5th annual Alliance Foundation fundraising luncheon on September 8th at 11:30 a.m.  This milestone year will be celebrated with a special guest speaker, Amelia Earhart (not the missing one, that would be bizarre).  Amelia is a 9News reporter and most recently made headlines for flying around the world in 2014.  This is a unique opportunity to hear her story as well as from the women helped by the Alliance Foundation’s work over the past 20 years.

The mission of The Alliance Foundation is to support programs that improve the status and quality of women and girls by helping them achieve self-sufficiency and economic independence.  We fund the following:

·         Scholarships to 3 Denver women in their Junior and Senior years of college

·         Women and families in the Denver area who are overcoming abuse, homelessness, and addiction

·         Village Banks that make micro loans available to women in third-world countries who are starting or expanding a business.

I am so enthusiastic about helping these women that I am the emcee of the event and hosting a table (or three!) of people who would be interested in donating money to help.  Seating is limited, but if you are interested in being a guest at this inspirational fundraising luncheon, please e-mail me at Kristi@sullivanfinancialplanning.com.  I’ll put you on my guest list and get you the details.

 

Save The Date Jpeg

Are You Ready for a Job Change?

With the unemployment rate improving over the past few years, we’ve seen an increase in job changers.  People who were hanging on for dear life before are now looking to see if the grass is greener in other pastures.  Here are a few things to think about when you change jobs:

 

Is your retirement benefit the same, worse, or better with the new employer?  If the match with the new employer is less, you should save more of your own money in your new retirement plan to make up for it.

 

Are your old work retirement plans scattered all over the place?  If so, think about consolidating them so you have a better idea of your overall investment strategy and more control over the money.  You can use a Rollover IRA at the financial institution of your choice or roll previous plans into your new work account (most companies allow this, but not all).

Do you have more or less term life insurance through the new employer?  A job change is a good opportunity to look at your life insurance needs and buy extra coverage if your employer plan comes up short.

 

Does the new job require new clothes, professional certifications, a longer commute, or relocation?  These are things you may factor in while deciding whether or not to make a move.

 

These are just a few items to keep in mind when negotiating that new (hopefully much bigger!) salary.

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.

Retirement Income Strategy – What’s the Best Order to Withdraw Assets? Method #2

Last week, we talked about spending down retirement money starting with already-taxed assets, then tax-deferred accounts, and ending with Roth IRAs.

This week, we look at spend down Method #2:  Tax-deferred (Traditional IRAs, 401(k)s)  first, taxable (non-retirement) accounts second, Roth IRAs last.

Pros:

  • Spreads the taxes owed on tax-deferred accounts out over a longer period of time.  This could result in lower year-to-year tax bills and possibly keep you in a lower tax bracket, depending on your total income.
  • If there is any taxable money left over for heirs, they will get a step up in cost basis on the assets they inherit.  Also, they are not forced to take that money out on some IRS mandated schedule.
  • Roth IRA money must be taken out over heirs’ lifetimes, but the withdrawals are income tax free.  Of course, there is talk of changing that preferred tax treatment for non-spouse heirs, so stay tuned for tax law changes.  It may turn out to be more beneficial for retirees to spend Roth money than leave it for heirs.

Cons:

  • Larger tax bills in the early years of retirement when withdrawals tend to be higher to pay for fun stuff.
  • You are paying taxes on your kids’ inheritance as well as supporting your own retirement needs.

Next week, withdrawal order #3!  Fun stuff!

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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