What If the World Isn’t Coming to an End? How the Media Affects our Financial Decisions

Recently we had a hesitant client tell us about all the reasons she was nervous about investing in the markets:

What if interest rates increase? What if they don’t?
What happens if we elect a Republican president? How about a Democrat?
What effect does global warming have on the markets?
What if we break out into cyber war? Continue reading

Inside the Economy with SH&J: January 18, 2016

As media headlines announce “plunging markets” and “warning signs of recession”, Larry Howes gives us the underlying details of the economy we are facing in 2016 and guides our expectations. He comments on the shrinking Federal deficit, consumer debt, and S&P 500 earnings. Why are Americans, on average, continuing to pay down debt, buy new cars, and increase personal savings? How has the interest rate increase affected the markets and consumers? Listen in and find out!

*Please note that during the commentary section, Larry mentions the $1.3 billion student loan market, which in reality is $1.3 trillion. Also, within the slide titled “The Fed trims its Bond-buying” Larry refers to liquidating $4.3 billion of the bond market when he meant to say $4.3 trillion.

Meet Mimi Hackley

Name: Mimi Hackley

Title: Shareholder and Certified Financial Planner™

SH&J team member since: 1998


You are admired for the way you are with clients. What advice do you have for building and maintaining strong client relationships?

Listen first. Be honest, yet compassionate. Do what comes naturally and is best for the client. Focus on practical and applicable solutions while keeping it as simple as possible.

What does your ideal weekend look like?

  • Family time with our children,
  • Unstructured as often as we can manage it,
  • Unplugged for much of it,
  • Plain-old fun playtime with cooking, laundry and administrative stuff thrown in on the sidelines.

We try to keep it simple and always manage to find things to laugh about even when we’re arguing (which happens a lot with two boys close in age – the laughter typically diffuses the spite!).

As a child, what did you dream of being when you grew up?

First, I wasn’t aware I’d grown up. As a child, I dreamed of always being a child, a la “Peter Pan”. My brothers and I had more fun as children than anyone I know – except my mom who still has more fun than the rest of the world.

Also, if I had to grow up, I wanted to be a teacher. My mom practically forbade my “Teacher” aspirations because, back then, teachers were not well paid nor well-enough respected for the great service they impart. It’s interesting that while I didn’t become a “teacher” I teach clients every day how to make wise financial decisions and thoroughly enjoyed teaching CFP students for several years.

You have been with Sharkey, Howes & Javer for over 15 years. What do you love most about your job?

The fulfillment that comes from helping people help themselves.

Finish this sentence: As a mother of two boys…

…I’m busier than I’d ever imagined was possible and am having more fun now than I did as a child… Wow! That’s really something!

10 Ways to Give Back: Time, Talent and Treasure

As the new year begins and we look to the future, many of us start thinking of ways we can give back to our communities. We’ve rounded up 10 ideas for you which include everything from financial giving to contributing your time or talents to support the charities and nonprofits you love! Check out the list to discover new ways to give back.

1. Give Money
Making a donation of money can be a very simple way of giving back. Charities and nonprofit organizations need capital not only to support their cause but also for operating costs. Make sure to save your donation receipts for your accountant.

2. Gift Appreciated Stock
Your favorite organization can benefit from a gift of appreciated stock by selling the stock at market value and realizing the full amount without paying taxes. Here’s a simple example: If you bought 10 shares of a stock at $25 a share and it is now worth $100 a share, the organization would receive the full value of $1,000 and you may be eligible to receive a $1,000 tax deduction. Donating the stock will prevent you from having to sell those shares and pay taxes on the gain and allow the charity to realize the full value of the appreciated stock. Donating appreciated stocks can be a wonderful way to give to organizations. Continue reading

Inside the Economy with SH&J: January 4, 2016

Larry Howes kicks off the New Year with his outlook on the economy in 2016. How did the interest rate increase in December affect mortgages? Will U.S. inflation reach the Fed’s target rate of 2%? What is expected from the U.S. economy and markets this year? What will happen to the U.S. dollar? What can we expect to see in Europe this year? Listen in as Larry addresses these questions and more!

10 Ways to Keep Your Finances Healthy in 2016

The New Year is here and it’s time to start thinking about how you’re going to keep your finances healthy in 2016. Looking at your finances now gives you time to readjust and put your finances on a healthy trajectory.

1. Review Everything
As you start out the New Year, go through your finances with a fine tooth comb. Leave no account unturned. It may be helpful to create a password protected spreadsheet. Make notes on the use of the account, the institution where it is held, and the interest rate (if applicable). Check bank accounts, credit cards, retirement accounts, and mortgages.

2. Plan for Emergencies
We all know emergencies happen, but are you financially prepared? From something small, such as a new appliance, to something larger, such as an unexpected medical procedure — it’s important to be prepared. Plan for the unexpected expenses and set aside funds accordingly.

3. Reevaluate Your Budget
You may have created a budget a year ago, or even 5 years ago, but when was the last time you updated it or made adjustments? Have your monthly expenses changed? Has your income increased? Do you need to increase your savings rate? Take a look at our 10 Beneficial Budgeting Tips for ideas on making and following an effective budget.

4. Invest
Consider increasing your overall investment contributions. Before making any investment decisions, consider meeting with your Certified Financial Planner™.

5. Consolidate Your Accounts
Do you have multiple 401(k) plans from old employers or IRA accounts you’ve been meaning to consolidate? Start the New Year off right by getting your accounts rolled into one. Your financial planner can help you decide on the best account type for your goals. We are happy to help you find and consolidate all of those old accounts. Your retirement funds should be easier to track if they’re in one place.

6. Check Your Liquidity Ratio
To determine your liquidity ratio, divide the total of all your cash assets (checking accounts, savings, non-retirement stocks and bonds) by your total monthly expenses. This will show you how long you could maintain your current lifestyle if you were to lose your income. It is generally recommended you have 3-6 months of money saved.

7. Evaluate Your Goals
If your goal is to retire by age 60 or upgrade your house in the next couple of years, use the New Year to evaluate where you are in reaching your goal. Plan on checking in on the status of your short-term goals monthly and long-term goals about once or twice a year to help ensure you stay on track. If you haven’t set financial goals yet, start the New Year with financial goal setting. Think about your goals for 2016 as well as the next 5, 10, 20 years and beyond.

8. Check in on Your Credit
2016 is the perfect time to take a look at your credit score, if this is not something you do regularly. Checking your score can help you detect (and dispute) errors, stop potential identity theft and save money. Also be sure to thoroughly review your 3 credit reports, which will tell you what you are doing well and what you could improve on. If your credit isn’t where you want it to be, you can resolve to take steps throughout the New Year to improve your score.

9. Protect Your Family – and Assets
Last year in the 2015 Financial Check-Up post, Julie Fletcher, CFP® said, “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.” What was true in 2015 is true in 2016. Check your insurance coverage to keep you and your family protected.

10. Visit a Financial Planner
If you find yourself feeling lost, talk to your Certified Financial Planner™. His or her job is to work with you to look at your goals, financial status, and discuss what is best for you and your family. We would love to meet with you to see how we can work together to help you plan, invest and succeed. Contact us for a complimentary consultation.

The New Year provides a great opportunity to check in on your finances and get them on the right path. Following the advice above will give you a good start to keeping your finances healthy in 2016 and beyond.