The Value of Objective Financial Planning

Starkey Howes & Javer Value of Objective Financial PlanningOutside of a portfolio’s rate of return, it’s often easy to overlook the value that objective, client-focused financial planning brings. Although many financial professionals offer “free” services, do you stop and ask yourself “Hmmm, I wonder how he/she is paid if it’s not by me?” (source).

As objective financial planners, we fully support the “you get what you pay for” belief. Below is a list of just a few of the values we believe objective planning offers. Please feel free to let us know your thoughts on any of the following.

1. An independent financial planner helps protect you from financial salespeople.

According to Bob Veres, “…the Wall Street firms that pretend to offer financial planning guidance are seldom (if ever) looking out for the best interests of their customers.” Unfortunately, as a consumer in our industry, it’s not always easy to recognize when there’s an underlying motive or incentive behind the financial advice you receive.

Brokers might have business cards with the title of “Financial Advisor,” but in reality are often simply salespeople who are paid by their company to sell you as many products as possible. Unless they are a fiduciary, they are expected to do what is in the company’s best interest, not what is in your best interest. They are rewarded when they meet sales targets, and bonuses are often based on the clients they sign (source). Continue reading

Avoid Being “House Rich, Cash Poor”

Starkey Howes & Javer Home Loans

Recently, a client was trying to understand how much home he could afford in the current Denver real estate market. Over the course of his home search, his maximum price point grew from $500,000 to $700,000 as he discovered how much it would take to purchase a home that fit within his criteria. The lender had approved him for the higher amount, so he assumed it was something he could comfortably afford. In addition, he had used several online “Home Affordability Calculators” that justified his inflated price point.

Thankfully he came to us before any of his offers were accepted. We calculated his new expected housing costs relative to his gross annual income, taxes, savings goals, and monthly obligations. In the end, he opted for the lower mortgage price point we proposed and was relieved that it would allow him to continue supporting his family and saving for long-term goals, many of which he would have had to forego had he chosen the higher priced home.

After our meeting, we reviewed several of the online “Home Affordability Calculators” by plugging in our own information and the results were breathtaking. The suggested home price points we received were also dramatically inflated.

Therefore, when you are shopping for your next home, we suggest taking a look at the difference between the approved home loan amount and the home loan amount that is appropriate for your own personal financial situation. Oftentimes, the two numbers are vastly different.

Why might this be the case? Although monthly obligations (debt, child support, etc.) and long-term savings are often considered in the mortgage lender’s calculation, the assumed savings (for retirement, education, etc.) are typically insufficient to reach your goals.

The term “house rich, cash poor” is a common term for being in the predicament where you’ve got lots of home, but not a lot of cash to meet your other needs. In order to avoid this destiny, we suggest working with a Certified Financial Planner™ to find the appropriate price point when purchasing a new home. If you are interested in a complimentary consultation or meeting with your current advisor, please do not hesitate to call us at 303-639-5100.

Meet Stephen Weatherby


Name: Stephen Weatherby

Title: Certified Financial Planner™

SH&J team member since: September, 2012


Having grown up in Texas, what prompted you to move to Colorado? Have you carried any specific Texas traditions out here with you?

My family was one of those “Texas Families” that clogged the roads in Colorado during the summer. We would vacation here every year. I always said that one day I would live here. After graduating college, and working in Austin for a while, I just decided to make the move. I love everything about Colorado, but miss the BBQ and Tex-Mex food from my home state.

Being someone who loves the outdoors, what are some of the activities you enjoy most? Do you have a favorite memory or specific moment that stands out for you?

I love to camp and go fly fishing. Some of my favorite memories are doing both of these with my son, Jack. One of my favorite memories is when Jack caught his first fish on a fly rod outside of Silverton, CO a few summers ago.

What do you love most about living in Colorado Springs?

I like the small town feel with the convenience of a larger city. There are also a lot of parks, trails, and beautiful scenery to enjoy on the weekends.

Living in Colorado Springs, and commuting to Denver every day for work means you spend quite a bit of time in your car. What helps you pass the time?

Audio books! I listen to a lot of books. Some of them are educational, but admittedly, most are for entertainment.

You have an extensive background in financial planning. Tell us a bit about your career path, including your work with the military, and how that ultimately led you to Sharkey, Howes & Javer.

I graduated with a very specific degree from Texas Tech University. The degree was in Family Financial Planning. While it had the traditional Finance, Economics, and Accounting classes, it really focused on the people aspect of financial planning. We really dug deep into trying to understand people and their relationships with money, and how that affected all aspects of their lives. I knew I wanted to be on the Fee Only side of the business before I began my career.

One of my previous stops was with a government contractor that provided financial education and training for all branches of the military. This was appealing to me for several reasons. It allowed me to provide education and financial planning services to a group that traditionally may not have had access to financial planning that wasn’t geared around a product sale. It also allowed me to travel to places that I would most likely have never been able to travel to on my own. I loved every minute of the work during this job, but I was hardly ever home. I made the choice to start looking for a more traditional position with a fee only firm in Colorado. I looked for over 2 years before I found Sharkey, Howes, and Javer. After interviewing with SH&J, and hearing about their client relationships and how they approached financial planning, I was sold.

Inside the Economy with SH&J: February 15, 2016

As lack luster S&P 500 performance continues to plague media headlines, this week’s economic discussion provides reasoning around lower earnings and a high percentage of sales coming from struggling overseas economies with weak currencies. Low energy and material prices are also contributing to lower performance figures. Hear commentary about how a prolonged duration of low oil prices could cause a global sell-off of European stocks and what effect it may have on business and consumer sentiment, particularly in the U.K. Meanwhile, in the U.S., the labor market continues to improve with 5.61 million available positions, retail sales are up, banks are back in the lending business, and consumer spending and consumer sentiment are on the rise. Listen in to hear more!

Presidents Day: Fascinating Facts About 10 Past Presidents

For many, Presidents Day is simply a three-day-weekend. For others it is another day at the office. Presidents Day was first known as “Washington’s Birthday” and was established in 1885 in recognition of George Washington’s birthday. After the 1971 Uniform Monday Holiday Act, the day became commonly known as Presidents day. (source)

Join us today in learning a few facts about some of our former presidents:

George Washington (1st President 1789-1797)
George Washington’s estate was worth about $780,000 when he died which was about 0.19% of the nation’s GDP at that time. In 2014, his estate would have been worth about $34 billion in today’s dollars. (source) Continue reading

Tips to Protect Your Social Security Number

As the number of identity theft cases and hacking scams increase, it is becoming more and more important to be aware of where and how you are releasing your personal information. Announced by the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 17.6 million U.S. residents experienced some type of identity theft in 2014 (source). The most critical piece of information to protect is the master key to your identity – your Social Security Number (SSN)!

Below are 6 tips to help protect your Social Security Number:

1. Offer Alternate Identification
It is important to be aware of who really needs to know your Social Security number and who does not. Often times financial institutions, employers, and the IRS will require the use of your Social Security number to open a new account, run a background check, or file your taxes. If you are prompted to provide your SSN, ask if an alternate ID such as your driver’s license will work instead. For example, your SSN is not always needed to run a credit report. (source) Continue reading

Inside the Economy with SH&J: February 1, 2016

As the year begins with volatile markets, investor sentiment is a bit shaken and all eyes are on China as the media’s darling. However, China is not the only country with rising debt issues as emerging market nations (in general) are facing rising debt as well. Currency is flooding out of China’s borders in anticipation of the inevitable devaluation of the Chinese yuan. Yet, this could bolster foreign spending, specifically in real estate outside of China. There are additional bright spots as well; the U.S. seems poised for growth (albeit slow) but growth nonetheless, and Japan has implemented negative interest rates in an attempt to discourage savings (believe it or not) and encourage spending to boost their respective economies. Listen in as Larry puts perspective on all these issues and more.

5 Questions to Ask Before Taking on More Debt

The term ‘debt’ generally has a negative connotation. While being in too much debt or the wrong kind of debt can be risky, sometimes debt makes sense. If you are considering taking on more debt, sit down and answer the questions below first to make sure the new debt won’t get in the way of your long-term goals.

How much debt do I currently have?
When thinking about debt, it’s important to first analyze your current financial landscape. Be sure to review everything: credit cards, lines of credit, mortgages, loans and possibly IOU’s to family or friends. Once you have totaled all monthly recurring debt payments, divide that number by your gross monthly income to find your debt to income ratio (DTI). The lower the number, the better. Talk with your financial planner about your ratio and ask for his/her recommendation on whether you should consider taking on more debt. Continue reading