5 Funny Quotes About Skiing

skiing, denver financial planner

Not sure if I’ve mentioned it in this blog, but I love to ski.  As a naturally uncoordinated, slow person (no, I did NOT play basketball/volleyball/competitive swimming despite being almost 6 feet tall), skiing is the only sport I’ve ever even remotely looked good doing.  For fellow skiers, have a laugh while thinking about your next powder day!

 

“Cross country skiing is great.  If you live in a small country.”  Steven Wright

 

“Skiing combines outdoor fun with knocking trees down with your face.”  Dave Barry

 

“You’d think skiing wouldn’t be strenuous – all you have toe do, after all, is s tart at the top and let gravity pull you to the dessert bar in the lodge.  But at those elevations, you’ll find about as much oxygen as you’ll find kindness from your children.  It’s like spending six hours holding your breath.”  W. Bruce Cameron

 

“I didn’t start skiing until I was 50.  My wife Lois taught me to ski.  I’m proficiently conservative.”  Buzz Aldrin

 

“Skiing: The art of catching cold and going broke while rapidly heading nowhere at great personal risk.”  Author Unknown

 

Pray for snow, people!

 

Moving on From Relationships

As I slide ever more deeply into middle age, I can look back on many relationships that I thought would last forever, and for some reason did not.  Moving on made me feel guilty, strange, or sad.

 

To my hairdresser, Bill: I thought you were the only person who could ever cut my insanely curly hair.  For 10 years, I would drive over an hour to have you expertly shear my sheep-like mop.  But, every time you got to talking about your adult children, my hair would get shorter and shorter until I was nearly bald.  So, I had to embark on the most painful journey most women ever face:  finding a new hairdresser.  It took about 15 years, but the search was worth it.  Marissa, don’t ever leave me or retire!

 

We have friends with whom it is harder to keep up a conversation.  Co-workers with whom, as it turned out, the only thing we had in common was that boss we all hated.  Therapists who were good for one issue, but not as helpful for others.

 

Then, there are our professional advisers:  Accountants, attorneys, financial advisers.  We all like to think clients will never leave us, but maybe there is a time that the relationships must change.  Here are the life events that might cause you to re-think your professional advisory relationships:

 

Divorce

Rarely does someone want to stay with the same financial advisers as their ex-spouse (although some do!).  That’s okay!  Part of the metamorphosis into a single person may involve finding that fit that is just for you, not just someone your ex loved and you tolerated.

 

Retirement

Some financial advisers are great at helping you build a nest egg, but not as skilled at helping you spend it.

 

Starting a business

Here is where you want an accountant with real expertise.  Not someone who just files taxes, but someone who can advise on business structure (LLC or S Corp?), reasonable business write-offs, and retirement savings options.

 

Death of a spouse

Here, you will need guidance from a variety of people.  At a minimum, your estate plan will need to be re-done.  Is your old attorney even still in business? Is it time for a fresh look at your investment strategy?  Your life is in upheaval, but don’t let the long term planning languish for too long.

 

Don’t stay in a professional relationship because of a sense of guilt or misplaced loyalty.  Although advisors love our clients, we understand when they need to move on for one reason or another.  After all, that’s how we get new clients!

3 Small Things to Improve Your Finances in 2019

Improve Your Finances in 2019

Happy New Year!  Many of us look to improve our health with the turning of the calendar.  That health can be physical (1 in 8 new gym memberships are initiated in January!), mental, or financial.

Increase your 401(k) contribution

Did you know that in 2019, the maximum amount you can contribute to a 401(k) goes up to $19,000?  Seem unrealistic?  Try increasing your contribution by 2% over your current amount.  Keep doing that every year and watch the savings pile up!

Don’t have a 401(k) or other workplace plan?  You can open a Roth IRA and contribute up to $6,000 per year (or $7,000 if you are aged 50 or older).  If you are a small business owner, check out this helpful guide from Fidelity on the various types of accounts you can use to lower your taxes now, and have a nice nest egg at retirement.  https://www.fidelity.com/retirement-ira/small-business/compare-plans

Start a vacation fund. 

Is the pleasure of vacation ruined by the idea of paying back months of high interest credit card debt?  Give yourself the gift of an interest-free vacation by – yep, you got it – saving ahead!  That all-inclusive vacation in Mexico costs $2,000?  Save $200/month by automatically having the money deducted from your checking account to a Vacation Savings Account (this is not a real thing, just a name in your mind to make it fun).  In October, you will be ready for your margaritas and siestas.

Consolidate at least 2 accounts into one. 

An area that leaves people feeling stressed about their finances is often plain old organization.  Got 3 old retirement plans out there?  Call up the 800 numbers on your statements and tell them you want to move those accounts.  You can open a Rollover IRA in your own name or move the accounts to your current workplace retirement plan.  Either way, you’ll have fewer statements and a more cohesive investment strategy.  And, like getting rid of old clothes that don’t serve you, you will feel great about having less financial clutter.

Need help prioritizing financial health goals?  Contact Kristi for a 15-minute phone consultation to see if there is a fit for working together.

3 Financial Tips for 2019

financial tips

Give yourself the gift of financial sanity going into the new year with these 3 easy financial tips:

 

Stop watching any sort of financial TV. 

MSNBC, Bloomberg, CNBC – they are all designed to sow fear and uncertainty in you so that they may sell more advertising.  Their very programming advocates short term outlooks, when most investors are looking 30 years out.  Financial magazines that help you plan for the long-term (Money, AARP, Kiplinger’s) are a better way to use your financial education time.

 

Make sure you are investing at least 15% of your own money into your retirement account. 

This will have two advantages:  Building a nest egg for future security AND getting you used to living off a smaller income.

 

Talk to your kids about money.

From saving a bit of allowance each week to smartly navigating the college tuition jungle, to saying, “we can’t afford that now,” helping your children understand money at a young age it will keep them from being a drain on your resources as you enter your golden years.

 

Happy New Year!

 

It’s Not Me, It’s You: Why your financial planner is crabby

financial planner

Since the stock market volatility of October, my financial planner friends and I have been pretty crabby.  “Well, of course,” you say, “down stock markets are terrible for investment advisors.”

 

Nope, that’s not the problem at all.  Getting mad at the stock market for going down is like being angry at a toddler whose nap you skipped to run errands and is now having a meltdown at the grocery store.  It’s the grown-up’s reaction that needs to be managed.

 

Who is the grocery store grown-up in the down stock market analogy?  Hopefully it’s the investor.  Handling the temporary fit in a calm manner and going about her business. But some days I have my doubts.

 

The stock market goes down some years/months/days/hours/weeks.  It MUST go down occasionally in order for it to go up.  Down stock markets are healthy, regular, and to be expected for good overall economic health.

 

If there is no risk, there is no reward.

 

If you don’t experience losses sometimes, there is no reason to expect gains.  You’ve heard it all before.  You tell your financial advisor that you are ready to take risk and get growth in your investments.  And yet..

 

You still are tempted to make the same bonehead moves every time the stock market experiences a down day.  You call your advisor and ask to move all your money to cash when the US stock market goes down by 3%.  When, of course, your advisor didn’t have you in all US stocks to begin with because he forced you into a diversified portfolio even though you WANTED to be all in US stocks 3 months ago because that’s what has performed the best the last 2 years.  Geesh!  You see where this is going?

 

It’s not the market, it’s the investor that is the problem.

 

So, please, for the sake of your investment advisor’s sanity, remember just two factoids:

 

In the twenty years preceding 12/31/2015, the S&P 500 averaged 9.85%/year compared to the average investor return of 5.19%/year. *  This is because investors tend to put more money into investments when they are high and pull money out when markets are low.  Buying high and selling low is no way to make money – ask any store owner.

 

You never know when to get back in after you’ve bailed out.  Missing a few great days can lead to sub-par performance over decades.  For example, a hypothetical (because it NEVER happens) investor remained invested in the S&P 500 Index from 1998 to 2017 (5,036 trading days) would have earned a 7.20% annualized return. Miss the 5 best performing days and the annual return shrank to 5.02%. Miss the 20 days best days, the returns were cut down to just 1.15%. If the 40 best-performing days were missed, an investment in the S&P 500 turned negative, with $10,000 dropping to $5,670. **

 

If you’d like a professional to help you craft a diversified portfolio you can live with for the long run, with occasional rebalancing, e-mail me to set up an appointment.

 

Just not right now.  I’m in a bad mood.

 

*Source:  https://www.thebalance.com/why-average-investors-earn-below-average-market-returns-2388519

 

**Sourcehttps://www.ifa.com/12steps/step4/missing_the_best_and_worst_days/

 

Defined Maturity Bond Funds: A New(ish) Investment Option

maturity bond funds, denver financial planner

In times of uncertainty (rising interest rates, tariff wars), investors understandably want predictability, even if it means sacrificing return.

 

Cash (savings accounts, money markets) offer stability, but not much interest.  For people who are working, I suggest you keep 3-6 months of expenses in cash for emergencies and invest the rest for longer term growth.  For retirees, a bigger cash cushion (1-2 years of expenses needed from your portfolio) makes more sense to insulate your need to pay bills from a recession.

 

Bonds offer better interest than cash, less volatility than stocks, but still do rise and fall in value.  Buying individual bonds can relieve some of this uncertainty.  Bonds mature at a pre-determined date and pay a set amount of interest in the meantime.  However, bonds sell in $1,000 increments, so it can take a lot of money to build a diversified bond portfolio.

 

Just as with stocks, most investors get their exposure to the bond market through bond mutual funds.  Unlike individual bonds, bond funds invest in a large pool of bonds.  As bonds in the mutual fund mature to cash, the fund manager buys more bonds.  These products don’t have a set maturity date.  The interest earned is usually better than money markets, and the principal of your bond fund can grow over time.  The principal can also drop, with no set date when it might come back up.

 

Here’s another option

Enter a new-ish investment option:  Defined Maturity Bond Funds.  Sometimes they are also referred to as Target Maturity Bond Funds.  These mutual funds invest in bond that all mature in the same year.  As the bonds in the fund mature to cash, they are not reinvested to buy more bonds.  At the end of the defined year, the whole fund will be in cash, effectively maturing like an individual bond.

 

These products offer an interesting way to take some of the uncertainty out of bond investing without the hassle and high capital need of creating your own bond ladder or bond portfolio.

 

In researching the investment firms offering Defined Maturity Bond products, I’ve seen some things to look out for:

 

 1. Not all of the big brands are offering them. And those who do can have a limited selection.  For example, Fidelity offers municipal defined maturity bond funds, but those aren’t great for IRA investors.    Vanguard, an investor favorite, doesn’t seem to be offering the products at all.

 

 2. Much of the inventory in this space is sold as ETFs (Exchange Traded Funds), not mutual funds. This means that prior to maturity, the shares of your bond ETF trade back and forth between investors like a stock or bond.  The perception of the value of the ETF, not its net asset value (NAV) is what determines an ETFs pricing before maturity.  With a Defined Maturity Bond ETF, after the holdings all mature to cash, the cash is sent to shareholders and the fund is liquidated.

 

If you have questions about how different bond products fit into your portfolio, contact me for an appointment!

 

Wise Words to Live By

wise words

My husband recently forwarded me this great column that makes me feel better every time I read it.  So, why not share these wise words with my faithful readers?  The theme is life lessons the author wished he had learned by his 20s.

 

Click here for the full list, but here are my 5 favorites.

 

Don’t judge. You don’t know all the facts. That lady speeding down the road with her toddler unbuckled in the back seat may be panicked, heading for the hospital for an emergency that you can’t see. That “big kid” having a “tantrum” in the store may be on the autism spectrum, and is having a meltdown, which he/she hates as much as you do. The fat lady in the bikini may have lost 100 lbs so far, and she’s pretty darn proud of what she’s done. Don’t shame people for smoking, drinking, or being fat. We all have our faults and bad habits. As a pretty famous guy is alleged to have said, “let he who is without sin cast the first stone.”

 

Don’t beat yourself up about stuff. Do what you can to fix your mistakes, then move on. Guilt is only good for pushing you toward making things right again. After that, it becomes shame, and shame is a toxic substance which will eat you up inside. Same for worry.

 

“Fitting in” is highly overrated. Be you. Confidence is sexy. Besides, great leaders didn’t get where they are by following the crowd.

 

You’re probably a lot smarter than you give yourself credit for being.

 

It’s just stuff. Sure, stuff gets broken—oftentimes accidentally by people you love—and that’s annoying. But your stuff can be replaced. You can never erase the hurtful words you say to the person you love, because they broke your stuff. Stuff is never, ever as important as those you love.

 

No boring personal finance stuff this week.  Consider it my gift to you, but next week we are back at it with financial tasks to do before year-end.

Christmas Gift Guide: One-Stop Shopping HERE

Christmas gift guide

Looking for something different to put under the tree this year?  How about these beauties?

 

  1. Don’t be bored with your old board games!  Give these adult versions of classic games from Hasbro a try!  Clue (lost in Vegas), Sorry, not Sorry (get embarrassing confessions from fellow players), and Life:  Quarter Life Crises (paying off soul-crushing debt and dealing with a phone dropped in the toilet).  Many other fun options in this link: https://www.scarymommy.com/hasbro-parody-versions-games/

 

  1. She’s got legs (sing ZZ Top now)!  This is more of a pre-Christmas gift, but my favorite holiday accessory is candy-cane striped tights.  So warm AND fun for the office holiday party.  https://www.amazon.com/Leg-Avenue-Womens-Candy-Pantyhose/dp/B0148KL8WG  S.  I do NOT wear these with the 5-inch high stripper shoes and tutu as shown.

 

  1. But seriously folks…Who really needs more stuff? How about the gift that keeps on giving, without cluttering up the house?  That’s right, I’m talking charitable gifting!  You can give a goat, cow, or sheep to a family in need without the need to scoop poop.  heifer.org.  How about being a source of safe funds for women starting or expanding a business in a developing company?  https://www.capitalsisters.org/  Or, closer to home, you can help feed people all year round with a donation to your city’s food bank.  For a list, go here:  https://www.feedingamerica.org/find-your-local-foodbank

 

See, all the fun of the holidays, without fighting the hoards on Black Friday.  You are welcome!

5 Conversation Starters for your Thanksgiving Table

5 Conversation Starters for your Thanksgiving Table

Let’s face it, even the most animated family and friends can have conversation lags during a whole day spent cooking, snacking, drinking, snacking, basting, mashing, snacking, yelling at the football game, moving things around frantically in the oven, and finally, eating!

 

So here are 5 Conversation Starters for your Thanksgiving Table:

 

Thanksgiving Mad Libs, available for $5 on Amazon is always a way bring people together for a laugh.

 

Find a corny Thanksgiving joke for each guest and put it at their place setting.  Go around the table and read them.  Let the groaning begin.

 

Do a Thanksgiving Festivus a-la Seinfeld and tell each person what has annoyed you about them this past year.  I’m totally kidding, DO NOT do that!

 

Have everyone say one thing in the room they are grateful for.  It could be food, another person, the extra napkins, comfy chairs, or whatever.  Kind of like I Spy with a twist.

 

Ask everyone what their favorite movie or book was this year.  What was their least favorite?  It’s your own Rotten Tomatoes!

 

Have a wonderful Thanksgiving Day!

 

 

Rock Your Thanksgiving with This Recipe

thanksgiving recipe

I don’t mean to brag (well, of course I do – anyone starting a sentence like that is about to brag), but I have been making cornbread dressing for my family since my teens and it is really good.  I mean better than yours.  Or your mama’s. Or your Aunt Ethel’s.  And because I feel bad about you eating sub-par dressing on Thanksgiving, I am sharing my recipe with you.

 

First, you make the cornbread.  Bake cornbread 24-48 hours before making the dressing so it has a chance to dry out.  Break it into pieces so it dries out better.

 

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees

 

Mix the following dry ingredients:

  • 2 cups cornmeal
  • 2 cups flour
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 4 tsp baking powder

 

Combine the following 3 wet ingredients

  • 2 cups milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup water

 

½ cup melted vegetable oil (put this in your 9×13 pan while the oven is pre-heating)

 

Mix the wet and dry ingredients together.  Add the melted vegetable oil and mix.  Pour into your 9×13 pan and back for 25 minutes.  After it has cooled, cut the cornbread into chunks and let it dry for a day or two.

 

Okay, now for the dressing:

 

  • Brown 1 pound of Jimmy Dean Sage sausage in a LARGE (I use a pan that covers two burners) roasting pan over medium heat.
  • Add ½ – 1 whole stick of butter to the browned sausage.
  • Sautee with the sausage:  2 cups chopped white onion and 1 cup chopped celery.
  • After veggies are soft, add 2 cans Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom soup (warning, do NOT get the garlic flavored or low-fat kind.  It will ruin your dressing).
  • Add 4 Cups chicken stock.
  • Mix well and then add cornbread.  Stir until all ingredients are evenly distributed.
  • Last, add ½ cup chopped green onions and ½ cup chopped parsley.  Stir well again.

 

Transfer dressing to pans for baking. I like to use several glass loaf pans, so you can pre-heat in the microwave and finish browning in the oven.  Efficient when oven space is at a premium on Thanksgiving Day.  Before serving, bake at 350 until warmed through and a little brown on top.

 

A couple of tips:

  1. If the dressing seems too dry for your taste, add more chicken stock.
  2. Cornbread dressing freezes well. I typically make a giant batch (double above) in early November.  I freeze in multiple smaller pans and have enough for Thanksgiving and Christmas.

 

Enjoy!

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