What do you charge for your services?

We knew we didn’t want to be bound to selling products to our clients. We wanted freedom to offer objective advice to our clients without an agenda to sell them products. Therefore SH&J was founded and still is a fee-only or non-commissioned firm.

Fee-only means our clients pay us a flat fee for our advice, not for products. We do not work on commission and are only paid by our clients. One of our founders, Larry Howes, says, “All of our efforts are designed to get you a better result.”

Melissa does a great job of giving you a quick rundown on our fees.

Here’s a quick overview of the information Melissa shared:

Financial Planning

  • One-time fee depending on case complexity
  • Planning fees range from $500-4,500.00
  • No additional charge for planning updates

Investment Management

  • 1% of assets under our management up to the first million
  • Reduced rate on managed assets above $1,000,000.00
  • Fees billed at 0.25% at the end of each quarter in arrears

Other small charges may include a fee for portfolio design, strategic implementation and asset transfers.

We’d love to meet you to share our firm’s philosophy with you in person. Give us a call at 303.639.5100 to set up a time to come in.

Wishing You Happy Holidays and a Wonderful New Year

Christmas concept. Happy Holidays.With the holidays upon us, we pause for a moment to reflect and say thank you. Thank you for your trust in us and for allowing us to be part of your financial family. We look forward to many more years of working together to plan, invest and succeed. We wish you the happiest of holidays and a prosperous New Year!

Please note our holiday schedule:

Wednesday, December 24: 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Thursday, December 25: Closed

Friday, December 26: Closed

Wednesday, December 31: 8:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Thursday, January 1: Closed

Friday, January 2: Closed

Here are a few bits of holiday trivia to impress your friends and family this season.

  • Which witch? Italy has a tradition of a witch dropping gifts for children through the chimney at Christmas. (source)
  • Nog notes. The popular holiday drink, eggnog is an American invention. (source)
  • Dashing through the snow. Popular Christmas song, Jingle Bells, was actually written for Thanksgiving. (source)
  • Doe a deer. Vixen is the only reindeer named after another animal. (source)
  • Spelling bee. There have been 16 ways found to spell Hanukkah in English. (source)
  • For the rest of us. Seinfeld character Frank Costanza created the alternative holiday, Festivus. (source)
  • Royal tidings. Queen Victoria was the first English monarch to own a Christmas tree. (source)
  • Dreamers dream. White Christmas is the number one selling holiday song of all time. (source)
  • Too much time on their hands. Norwegian scientists have hypothesized that Rudolph’s red nose is caused by a parasitic infection of the respiratory system. (source)
  • Presents galore. The presents given in the Twelve Days of Christmas add up to 364 gifts. (source)

 

2015 Financial Check-Up

By Julie Fletcher, Certified Financial Planner™ at Sharkey, Howes & Javer

Piggy bank with stethoscope1. Even if you are “maxing out” your retirement plan contributions, is it enough?

The retirement plan contribution limits are set by IRS guidelines and reviewed each year. However, the IRS is not a personal financial advisor and does not know how much you need to be saving to meet your financial goals. Just because you are “maxing out” your plan does not necessarily mean you are saving enough. 

Many people choose to contribute to the company 401(k) plan, which will allow you to contribute up to $18,000 in 2015 (with an additional $6,000 catch-up for those over age 50). A 401(k) plan allows an employee to contribute a portion of his/her salary on a pre-tax basis to a retirement savings account. Taxes are not paid until money is withdrawn from the account.

Beyond the company retirement plan, another popular choice is contributing to a Traditional or Roth IRA, which will allow you to contribute up to $5,500 (with an additional $1,000 catch-up for those over age 50). When you contribute money to a Traditional IRA, you typically are making pre-tax contributions. Taxes are not paid until money is withdrawn from the account. However, a Roth IRA is opposite. The contributions are made after-tax and the money is withdrawn tax-free from the account (both the contributions AND the growth). Warning: Contributions for both Traditional and Roth IRA’s can be limited due to your adjusted gross income. Be sure to consult your tax advisor.

If you are a business owner with no employees, you could consider contributing to a Solo (“Solo” is slang or shorthand for one-participant) Traditional 401(k) with profit-sharing provisions. Total contributions in the participants account are limited in 2015 to $53,000 (with an additional $6,000 catch-up for those over age 50).

If retirement plan contributions aren’t enough to reach your goals, you could also create a brokerage account to begin after-tax investing for retirement. There are no limitations to contributions and you could receive preferential capital-gain tax treatment. Although a brokerage account can be “ear-marked” for retirement, the account can technically be used for any purpose and does not have early withdrawal penalties. Taxes are paid “as you go” each year as reported on a 1099. Capital gains could potentially be offset by capital losses. Also, investment expenses (fees/commissions) could be deductible on your tax return.

2. Are you paying too much in taxes?

Meet with your tax advisor throughout the year to take advantage of tax strategies. Your tax advisor will help ensure you are taking the appropriate deductions for your personal and/or business tax return. A few items to review with your tax advisor throughout the year:

  • Are you paying more into FICA than necessary? FICA is the payroll tax paid by both employees and employers to fund Social Security and Medicare (in 2015 the maximum amount of earnings subject to FICA is $118,500).
  • Have you properly explored a home refinance option? If you are paying more than 5% in interest on your mortgage, it could be beneficial to explore ways to reduce your monthly payment dependent upon the number of years remaining on the mortgage and how long you plan to remain in the home.
  • Would a year-end charitable tax deduction benefit you and/or your business? Your tax advisor will help you determine how a charitable contribution would affect your overall tax liability.
  • Is your small business receiving Affordable Care Act (“ACA”) tax credits for employer-paid health insurance premiums? You can learn more about ACA at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services website (www.hhs.gov/heathcare).
  • Is there a need for new business equipment? Purchasing equipment for your business can have tax advantages if structured appropriately (Section 179 of the IRS regulations).

 3. Are your hard-earned business and personal assets protected?

You have worked extremely hard to build your personal and/or business net worth. Be sure not to leave any gaps in your insurance coverage that would leave you vulnerable. Potential gaps include premature death, disability, health, liability, business, car and homeowner’s insurance. Having the proper insurance in place is essential for your protection. During your insurance coverage review, revisit the Affordable Care Act and how it will affect your individual or group health insurance in 2015.

4. Where is your investment advice coming from?

Are your friends, family, or co-workers your main source of investment advice? Are you acting on “hot stock” tips or investing in your friend’s investment real estate? Have you thoroughly researched these investment ideas to ensure you are aware of all the pros and cons? Almost every investment has risks. Remember, just because investment advice is “free” does not mean it is appropriate for your personal situation.

Cheers to you and your financial health in 2015!

To schedule a complimentary consultation with one of the Certified Financial Planner™ professionals at Sharkey, Howes & Javer, please call 303-639-5100 or visit shwj.com.

Announcing a New Blog Series: Inside the Economy with Sharkey, Howes & Javer

At Sharkey, Howes & Javer, we have formal Investment Committee meetings. Every two weeks, we discuss recent market trends, the economy and strategize for the future.

Within each of these meetings, Larry Howes provides a very interesting and detailed report on the economy; questions are raised and insightful conversations pursue.

We have decided to open these internal economic discussions up to our clients by creating a new “series” where we record the economic portion of the investment meetings, and invite you to listen along with us.

The current audio was recorded in our meeting last Monday, December 8th. Please note that this was prior to last week’s market selloff, due to the ongoing decline in oil prices, and this will be addressed in next week’s economic discussion.

Please check the volume on your computer and have your headphones ready. We look forward to hearing what you think in the comments section below!

Talk to Your Kids About Money… Really

Talk to your kids about moneyTalking to kids about the birds and the bees is awkward and hard. But what about money? A report by the National Financial Educators Council recently found the average youth financial literacy score to be just 58% (source). [Your kids can take the test here if you are interested]. Another study by Capital One found 52% of teens want to learn more about how to manage their money (source).

Right now most of our financial literacy education comes from our parents. It’s not standard in children’s education. Talking to your kids frequently about money is one of the best ways for them to learn how to handle their own finances as they become adults.

Here are a few tips to talk to your children about money:

Make it part of everyday conversation. You’re at the store and have a budget to stick to. Share with them how and why you came to your budget as you are shopping. Are your kids begging for a trip? Sit down with them and have them help make a plan to save for the trip as a family. Review basic bank statements with them so they can learn how to read financial information. Try inserting conversations about money into your everyday conversations and you won’t have to schedule time to have the ‘financial talk.’ Plus, it will be more effective if your kids can learn as they grow.

Be as open as you can about family finances. There are some topics that won’t be appropriate for all ages, we understand. But try to be open about finances rather than having those discussions behind closed doors. If times are tough, don’t fake it for the kids. Have a family savings meeting to discuss how you can all cut back. If you just received a raise or maybe an inheritance, talk with the kids about how you should invest it as a family. Decide as a family how you want to give to charities, etc. Being open about finances will help set kids up for financial success and make them more willing to talk about financial issues in the future. Continue reading

Our Thoughts on the Economy: December 2014

Stock Market GraphsAs 2014 winds down, the United States continues its painfully slow but steady recovery out of the Great Recession.

The Deficit

The huge Federal budget deficit that was created to help the U.S. economy crawl out of the Great Recession is shrinking faster than many people predicted, in part because of reduced Federal spending, but mostly due to significantly higher tax bills. The U.S. consumer is paying more in taxes but has also been a more prudent spender compared to the freewheeling habits of acquisition and consumption we saw only a decade ago. So the ongoing recovery will likely remain slow but steady.

Foreign Investment

With some of the world in war-torn turmoil much of the rest is experiencing economic stagnation, so it is not surprising that the U.S. is attracting lots of foreign investment money, much of which is buying companies listed on the S&P 500 index. In spite of a strong dollar (which makes the U.S. more expensive), foreigners are also buying U.S. Treasury Bonds, Real Estate, Shopping Centers or simply parking their cash here because it is the only place in the world still considered a safe haven. The U.S. economy is adjusting to the current low-interest rate and slow-growth global investing environment and we at SH&J recognize how the marketplace is changing. We continue to seek global opportunities, knowing that we can and should buy investments abroad while they are so cheap, but recognizing that we need time and patience for some of the economies to recover and ultimately reward us. As usual, we continue to balance our foreign opportunities with significant investments in all of the U.S. markets. We will continue this global approach into 2015.

Unemployment

The U.S. unemployment number in October was 5.8% – the best result since July 2008. We created 200,000 new jobs for the 9th consecutive month in the U.S. Meanwhile, Europe, with the exception of Germany, is in recession with painfully high unemployment rates, especially for those under age 35.  It has become common throughout Europe that the ambitious and college educated must seek employment opportunities elsewhere, and send money back to the old country to support those less fortunate. The European Central Bank has promised to provide some belated stimulus that may ultimately stimulate some activity, but this shift from austerity into stimulus is much more effective when implemented at the early stages of a recovery and not, as in the current situation, when teetering on recession.

Japan

Japan is trying hard to recover from over 15 years of stagnant economic growth. In an effort to get consumers spending again, the Bank of Japan is injecting huge quantities of money into their domestic and the global financial system by buying Government Bonds, Stocks, Real Estate, almost anything. It is making our Federal Reserve Quantitative Easing program look timid! The outcome is impossible to predict but it’s hard to imagine Japan will be able to print enough money, fast enough to get their economy moving when consumers are standing in the wings.

China

China is seeing its growth slow from an optimistic 7.5% to a more likely 7% or even less. The Party spending on infrastructure is shifting away to other priorities, and consumer spending is in need of stimulation. China is one of the few nations where consumer spending as part of their total economy has been actually shrinking for almost a decade, so the Bank of China is attempting to encourage more (non-housing) borrowing. The outcome of these programs is also uncertain.

Annual Rebalancing

We make selective changes in portfolios each January. We ask that each of you check your needs for cash for 2015 (New car? Trips? Tax payments? Help others?)  We will always keep sufficient cash in your portfolio to provide a small cushion for unexpected items, but if you need to replenish your personal reserves, contact us before we complete our rebalancing and reinvestments for you.

2014 Client and Friends Event Recap

SHJ_CrowdOur annual Client Appreciation Event took place on October 9th at The Cable Center, which is located on the University of Denver’s beautiful campus. Our guests enjoyed a large spread which included prime rib, build-your-own tacos, lettuce wraps, a chocolate fountain, and even mini root beer floats. Despite the rain, the night was entertaining, mind-stimulating and very enjoyable.

To start off the presentations, Eileen gave us an interesting review of the firm’s most recent business trip to Indonesia and Singapore. Then, for the second year in a row, we welcomed Chief Political Strategist Greg R. Valliere to share his thoughts on the political and economic landscape. He shared the following 6 big themes he feels the media has gotten wrong or has exaggerated:

  1. Washington is hopelessly broken
  2. The Federal Reserve is gridlocked
  3. The budget deficit has plunged and we don’t have to worry about it
  4. The Republicans are now resurgent
  5. Hillary Clinton would be terrible for the market
  6. ISIS is the most frightening geopolitical issue facing us today

To hear Greg’s thoughts on each of the themes he feels the media has gotten wrong, watch the complete presentation below.

We hope you enjoyed the evening as much as we did. For those of you who weren’t able to join us this year, you won’t want to miss our 2015 Client and Friends event as we will celebrate the 25th Anniversary of Sharkey, Howes and Javer. Until next time!

Black Friday: 5 Tips on Spending to Save

Black FridayBlack Friday, for some, has become a post-Thanksgiving tradition. Finish the pie, clean up the kitchen, bundle up and go camp out. Now, many stores are opening for Black Friday on Thanksgiving Day, making it a 2-day “door buster.” If you plan on indulging in the deals this holiday season, here are a few tips to keep your bank account in the black.

#1: Start with a Budget

If you start by looking at all the deals, you can quickly go above what you want to spend. Remember, Black Friday isn’t the only time of year to snag a great deal. Decide early on how much you want to spend. Write it down or make a spreadsheet to hold you accountable.

#2: Go in with a Plan

The most important part of Black Friday shopping is to go in with a plan. Create yourself a list. Know exactly which items you plan to buy at what stores, and how much they will cost. Focus on the bottom line prices, not the percentage of discount. Prices can be inflated so stores can offer more of a ‘discount.’ Take time to compare prices across similar stores and look at the total savings.

#3: Befriend Google

If the idea of standing out in the cold and battling for a space in line doesn’t sound appealing, remember, retailers are offering more and more Black Friday specials online as well. Online shopping makes comparing prices easier. Keep in mind, Cyber Monday is just a few days behind Black Friday. You can avoid the crowds and enjoy shopping from the comfort of your own home or office.

#4: Use Credit

Going in with a wad of cash might help you stay more accountable to your budget, but it does little to protect you. The Washington Post’s Michelle Singletary says, “If you are going to make an expensive purchase — a new iPhone 6 or iPad, or iWhatever — it’s best to charge it. Credit cards offer a lot of consumer protections that cash does not. If a product is damaged or not delivered, you can dispute the charges and you have an ally.” (source) Just be sure to pay off your balance by the next billing cycle to avoid paying any interest!

#5: Skip It Altogether

Spending time with family, friends and loved ones is what makes the holiday season so special. We suggest taking some time to just be together and make memories. But, if anyone is going to be out on Black Friday, we might have a few items to add to the list…

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Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at Sharkey, Howes and Javer. We are thankful for you and wish you the best of luck on your Black Friday adventures!

Please note, our offices will be closed on Thursday, November 27th and Friday, November 28th to allow our employees time with their families.