Tag Archive for Financial Planning

Kristi’s Quotes: Will a New Year’s Resolution Help Your Retirement?

Financial Planner

Striving to improve our lives is part of being human. We all have things, personal and professional, we want to accomplish, goals we want to achieve, things we want to change about ourselves. That’s why we have the New Year’s resolution.

Wavering in our resolve is also part of being human, which is why New Year’s resolutions can be so difficult to keep. But add the prospect of financial gain into the equation and suddenly a resolution seems far more attainable.

A little psychological gamesmanship can help in that regard. “The word ‘resolution’ has a negative feeling to it,” says Kristi C. Sullivan, a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) in Denver, Colo. “People dread New Year’s resolutions because they usually involve other negative words like ‘diet,’ ‘budget,’ and ‘gym.’” To overcome that negativity, she suggests….

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Kristi’s Quotes: CNBC.com Asks Kristi about Retirement Planning

Financial Planner

CNBC.com says: When people reach their 50s, a common realization is how close retirement is getting — and how far they are from having enough money to enjoy life after work.

While they know more of their money should end up in their 401(k) plans or individual retirement accounts, the path to get it there is often unclear. Given that the average retirement age is 64 for men and 62 for women, 50-somethings who are falling short need to get serious about fattening up their nest egg.

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Ask the Advisor – Should I refinance my mortgage to pay my holiday bills?

Ah, the holidays.  A time when you want to spend more money than usual, but your bills and paycheck stay the same.  According to the ubiquitous ads on the radio, you should be refinancing your mortgage and all of your financial dreams will come true.


Is this really the case?  I went to mortgage expert Dave Majcen, Vice President of Mortgage Lending at Guaranteed Rate Mortgage, to learn about the signs that you should refinance your home loan.  Here are his tips:


  1. Consider time frame:  Make sure you are staying in the house long enough to recoup the closing costs and monthly savings.  If you are unsure, look into a no closing cost refinance and let the lender pick up the tab.  This way your return on investment starts with your first payment.


  1. Don’t go backwards.  If you have been paying on your 30 year fixed mortgage for 10-15 years, don’t go back to a 30 year fixed or you will be paying interest on top of interest.  Consider a 15 year fixed with current rates below 3% and put more towards principal.


  1. Use a trusted local lender.  In Colorado, appraisers won’t even accept orders from out of state lenders.  If they do, it can take months and the costs can be much higher than average causing frustration.


  1. If you are paying mortgage insurance, consider refinancing now.  Values in Colorado have risen substantially which will allow you to refinance and eliminate mortgage insurance and reduce your interest rate.  A win, win!



Thanks for the perspective!  For more info or to see if a re-fi is right for you, contact Dave Majcen at 720-399-7065 or dave.majcen@rate.com.

Kristi’s Quotes: Is Kristi Expanding Her Business?

Financial Planner

It took almost two years for Gretchen Stangier, president of Stangier Wealth Management in Portland, Oregon, to find the right hire. But, she says, the effort has paid off in flexibility, the option of taking on clients with lower minimums, business continuity and a built-in sales plan when she’s ready to retire.

But Sullivan Financial Services President Kristin Sullivan, who opened her Denver practice in 2007, made a different choice. (Click here for more.)

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.



Index Funds vs. Actively Managed Funds Revisited

index funds, denver fee only financial planning

index funds denver fee only financial planningOne of the perils of working in financial planning is that you speak in this weird language that you think others understand, but they don’t.   This is where I rely on my friends to let me know when I am writing in financial-babble.

So, this blog goes out to my good, honest friend Dana Lynch.  Thank you, Dana, for telling me that my index fund vs actively managed fund blog was still confusing.  Since Dana is a wardrobe consultant extraordinaire (visit http://elementsofimage.com/), I will re-frame this discussion in terms of a closet.  We’ll see if that helps.

Think of your portfolio as your closet.  In your closet, you have different categories of clothes.  You have dress clothes for work, casual clothes for general running around, and spandex/ratty clothes for the gym.  In the same way, think of your investment portfolio as your closet.  It contains different categories of investments such as US stock funds, Bond funds, and International funds.  With me so far?

OK, now to get to index vs. actively managed.  In your closet, you have clothes that come together as a matching set (like a business suit) and clothes that you buy as separates (skirts, pants, shirts, belts).  A business suit is easily put together and it will always look average-to-OK.  You don’t have to search all over the mall to get all of the pieces to create the outfit, so the time and cost of a business suit is usually lower than creating your own unique outfit.

This is similar to an index mutual fund.  Index funds are based on a pre-created list and all the mutual fund manager has to do is buy the stocks or bonds on that list.  It takes little energy or time and so the cost of creating and managing that fund is low.  The results will always be average-to-OK (the fund will return whatever the list returned, no more or less).

You might be the type who is always out looking for original pieces to create ensembles that will make you stand out from the crowd.  This would be an actively managed wardrobe.  It could look fantastic (Blake Lively), or it could be a total disaster (Helena Bonham Carter).  Either way, you’re not following a style formula, you are creating something unique.  This takes more time, energy, and money to create than a matching business suit or sweat suit for the gym.

The same is true with actively managed mutual funds.  The manager is creating his own unique blend of investments and trying to beat the established pre-created lists.  Some years, he will far out perform the standard investment list.  Other years, he will do worse.  All of this research, creativity, and trading in the portfolio costs more money than the index fund investments that just follow the list.

I hope this analogy helps clarify the difference between actively managed and index funds.  If not, let me know.  I can probably come up with a comparison to food or sports.

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Financial Do’s and Don’ts of Divorce

financial-divorce-fee-only-financial-planning-denverFirst, let me be clear:  I am NOT a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.  There are such people out there and I highly recommend you visit one before starting divorce proceedings.  This is just a quick list of things I wish people would do BEFORE they slam out of the house and start sleeping with their spouse’s friends for revenge.


  • Take copies of all of your financial statements.
  • Keep track of the family spending for 2-3 months to see what your likely post-divorce budget will be.
  • Get used to the idea that your lifestyle is about to change for the worse.  Supporting two households is way more expensive than one.
  • Get some counseling lined up for you and your kids.  Budget for it.  This will be a necessity, not a luxury.


  • Cheap out on your divorce.  Pay for a financial consultant, mediator, attorney, or whatever you need to get the process over with as soon and smoothly as possible.
  • Hide assets from your spouse.  The only people who win when you do this are attorneys and forensic accountants.
  • Fight for the family home.  It’s probably got some huge mortgage that you can’t afford on one salary and it’s expensive to keep up.  Let it go.  Start fresh with something you can afford.  The kids will get over it.  See bullet #3 above.

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