Archive for Retirement Savings

Kristi’s Quotes: The Chicago Tribune Asks Kristi about Retirement!

Financial Planner

Working for yourself means giving up certain benefits, like a workplace retirement plan. But when it comes to saving for old age, you still have plenty of choices.


Which retirement account you choose depends on how much you earn and the amount you want to contribute in any given year, financial planners say. Here are your best options (assuming you work solo and don’t have employees).


What if you can afford to stash away more than $5,500 this year? Consider opening a simplified employee pension plan, or SEP-IRA.


SEPs are available through brokerages, such as Fidelity Investments and The Vanguard Group. And you can put away a significant amount, as much as 20 percent of your net self-employment income, up to a maximum of $53,000 in 2015.


“SEP-IRAs are easy and inexpensive to set up, and you can put in a good chunk,” said Kristi Sullivan, a financial planner in Denver….


Click here for more….

Social Security and Numbers to Know in 2017

Social Security

Sorry, this is not like a fortune cookie where I reveal your lucky numbers (“Confucius says buy stocks on days 14, 28, 200, and 360 of the year.”).  Rather, here is a quick update on new retirement savings limits and other info you can use when planning your financial year.*  You are doing that right now, aren’t you?


Social Security Cost of Living Adjustment:  A whopping .3%. That’s $5 to the average Social Security recipient.


Social Security tax for high earners:  The amount you earn before Social Security tax stops being deducted from your paycheck goes up to $127,200.  It was $118,500 in 2016.


Higher earnings allowed for Traditional IRA deductions:  If you have a 401(k) at work, you cannot deduct your IRA contribution if you make above $72,000 in 2017 ($119,000 for married couples).  If you don’t have your own 401(k) but are married to someone who does, the earnings limit is $196,000.  If you don’t have access to a workplace retirement plan, there is no limit to how much you earn and still be able to deduct your traditional IRA contribution.


Higher Roth IRA earnings limit:  The maximum amount you can earn and still contribute to a Roth IRA is going up $1,000 ($2,000 for couples) to $133,000 and $196,000 respectively.  Note there are phase outs to the earnings limits for both IRAs and Roth IRAs, but that’s too many words for  this blog.


Last, if you are taking Social Security before your full retirement age, the amount of earned income you can have before having 50% of your benefit withheld for 2017 has gone up to $16,920.


All contribution limits to 401(k)s and other retirement programs have stayed the same at $18,000 plus $6,000 catch up for those 50 and older.  IRA contribution limits also remain the same at $5,000 with a $1,000 catch up for those 50 and older.


There you are, Savers!  Now go forth and make good financial decisions!



Kristi’s Quotes: Marcum Financial Services Asks About Retirement!

Financial Planner

Marcum Financial Services quotes Kristi on the 10 Steps to Achieve Your Retirement Goals.


From Social Security to saving, these tips can help make your money last. Everybody wants to be safe from the buffeting that life can inflict upon retirement plans – to have the financial resilience to bounce back when things go awry. For starters, here are 10 mistakes to avoid in retirement planning.


Click here for more…. 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….

Kristi’s Quotes: The Best Way to Save if you’re Self-Employed

Financial Planner

Are you self-employed and wondering how to plan for retirement?  Kristi says you may actually may have more options than you think.  Check out her quote in the Chicago Tribune!


“SEP-IRAs are easy and inexpensive to set up, and….” (click here for more)

Contact me at

303-324-0014 or to talk about how I can help you achieve your financial goals.

Stay Informed and Educated

Kristi’s Quotes: Help Make Your Money Last

Financial Planner

In this AARP article, Kristi offers a key tip when it comes to achieving your retirement goals!

“Whether you’re near or in retirement, beware of taking on

large expenses that can wreck your budget. This includes….”(click here for more)

Contact me at

303-324-0014 or to talk about how I can help you achieve your financial goals.

Stay Informed and Educated — Subscribe to the SFP Blog! Use the quick and easy form to the right of this article.

Is my pension company trying to rip me off?


This blog is NOT meant to make you scared about your pension.  I personally LOVE when clients have a pension and rarely suggest they take a lump sum payout if offered.

However, it happens occasionally that people come to me with an offer from their former employer to buy out the pension obligation that is currently being paid.  Now, this can look pretty exciting at first glance.  There is usually a nice 6-figure number in that letter that can be all yours if you just give up your monthly lifetime pension payment.

Not so fast, I say.  If a company is making this offer, you can be sure it’s not to benefit you – it’s to benefit their bottom line.

There is one easy way to figure out whether the offer is a good one.  If you have a financial calculator, or access one on the web, you can figure the average rate of return the pension company expects you to get by investing the lump sum on your own.  If that rate of return seems too high for a risk-free investment (like you currently have with your pension), the lump sum they are offering you it too low.

For example, let’s say Joe is 65 years old and getting a $1,500/month pension payment.  Assuming he lives until age 90, at a 2% risk-free rate of return (the current yield on a 10 year US Treasury bond), the present value of the lifetime payments is $354,000.

If his company is offering $200,000 to buy him out of his lifetime payments, they are saying the Joe could get a 7.75% annual rate of return with no risk.  Not possible in today’s interest rate environment.

So remember whenever someone offers you a big check – if it sounds too good to be true it probably is.  This is the time it will be worth it to pay for an hour of a financial adviser’s time to help you with the decision.

Kristi Sullivan is quoted by CNBC on consolidating old retirement accounts

Yours truly is talking about the benefits of consolidating old retirement accounts to one spot in this article on

Contact me at:

303-324-0014 or to talk about how I can help you achieve your retirement accounts.

Stay Informed and Educated — Subscribe to the SFP Blog! Use the quick and easy form to the right of this article.

Changing From a Worker to a Retiree. Are You Ready?

Do I ever stop talking about retirement?  It would seem not.  However, talking constantly about saving and investing for the future doesn’t really address the actual transition from earner to retiree.  So, here are some questions I hope pre-retirees are getting help with before they tell their bosses to “take this job and” – well, you know how the song goes.


  • How much will I have in Social Security and pension income?
  • How much will I spend each year in excess of my Social Security and pension payments?
  • Do I have enough saved to support the above spending? If not, what are my alternatives?
  • Are my investments aligned in a way that makes sense for short term withdrawals and future growth?
  • How will I handle tax payments now that there is no withholding from a regular paycheck?
  • Is my home the right one for retirement? Too big?  Too expensive?  Too far from family?  Too many stairs?  Too many repairs?
  • Do I still need the life insurance that I have been carrying?
  • When should I take Social Security?
  • Is Medicare A and B providing me with adequate medical coverage or do I need to supplement with a Medigap plan?
  • Who will take care of me if I am unable to take care of myself? How will that care be paid for?


This is not a total list, but it’s a good start.  If you are thinking of retiring soon and don’t have answers to these questions, consider meeting with a financial planner (like me!) to discuss those first steps into retirement.

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.

Learning to Love Stock Market Drops

That’s right, it’s February and my theme of the month is love.  “Why so obvious and cliché?” you ask.  Well, you try writing 52 blogs a year.  You’ll find yourself grasping for any holiday theme, too.


What investors and financial advisers don’t typically love is when the stock market goes down. No one likes seeing their balances drop.  Financial advisers don’t like for their clients to be unhappy.  So, what’s to love about stock markets going down?  Here are three things:


  1. It’s all on sale, baby!  When is the last time you ran to Nordstrom for a 50% higher price sale?  Never, right?  Ninety nine percent of the time, we like to buy stuff when it costs less than normal.  The other 1% is when stocks are cheap. When the stock market goes down, that is our cue to buy, but most people want to sell and keep their money in a Folger’s can.  Remember Warren Buffet’s fabulous quote: “Be fearful when others are greedy and be greedy when others are fearful.”  In other words, when the stock market is down, if you have extra cash, buy some stocks!


  1. It’s not unusual and it won’t last long.  First, a little vocabulary lesson.  A bear market is when stocks decline 20% off their previous highs.  A correction is when stocks are 10% lower than their previous highs.  Corrections typically happen once per year and bear markets once every 3.5 years.  The average correction recovers its value after 10 months and a bear market on average bounces back after 15 months.


  1. Celebrate your diversified portfolio.  You weren’t 100% in the stock market anyway, were you?  Your bonds are helping offset your (temporary) stock market losses.  Your financial adviser had you positioned with anywhere from 15% to 40% bonds, depending on your risk tolerance and time horizon, right?  Oh, you don’t have a financial adviser helping you with those decisions?  Time to contact Kristi for a 15 minute phone consultation!


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.

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