Meet Melissa Baldwin

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Name: Melissa Baldwin

Title: Certified Financial Planner™

SH&J team member since: January, 2011

 

What’s your favorite part of being a financial planner?

The outcome. I personally enjoy the process of putting together the puzzle, but the more rewarding part is the outcome. Many people find doing their own financial planning to be overwhelming because there’s so much information out on the internet. So being able to distill information down for clients and give them actionable recommendations that are specific to their circumstances, is the most rewarding and enjoyable part.

You interned with Sharkey, Howes & Javer over the summers while in college. How early did you know that you wanted to work in the Financial Planning field?

The intern work helped me decide that I wanted to be a Certified Financial Planner™. I started out as an accounting major in college, but working here over the summers and seeing how all of the advisors interacted with the clients, and how appreciative all of the clients were, is what geared me more towards financial planning instead of the accounting world.

How did you first get connected with Sharkey, Howes & Javer?

My parents are clients and when they came in for one of their meetings, they asked if there were any opportunities to learn and help with projects over the summers. I have my parents to thank for getting my foot in the door and I am forever grateful.

What’s something about you that would surprise us?

I’ve always wanted to go skydiving. When Groupon first started getting big, I saw a couple Groupons for it and I thought, “I don’t know if this is something that I really wanna go through Groupon for. Sounds a little dangerous.” I have yet to skydive!

What do you like to do in your time off?

I like spending time with my parents and friends. I’m a Colorado native so I enjoy the outdoors, both in the summer and winter with skiing, hiking, and backpacking. I also really enjoy baking.

What’s your favorite thing to bake?

Hmm, that’s tough, there’s so many different varieties. There’s a cinnamon chip oatmeal cookie that I really like. So instead of chocolate chips, it’s cinnamon chips.

Are you still running and competing in races?

No, I am no longer running due to the harshness of running on your knees, but I have been doing a lot of cycling lately.

What are some of your favorite travel destination?

Some of my favorite places are Prague and Germany. Some places I would like to visit are Austria and Nepal.

Inside the Economy w/ SH&J: Are We Heading Towards a Recession?

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On this week’s Inside the Economy w/ SH&J, we discuss what last week’s market sell off means for the stock market moving forward. Was it a signal of more to come, or does the outlook for the U.S. economy remain bright? With the recent tax law changes now taking effect, will personal disposable income increase, and if so, by how much? Tune in to find out the answers to these questions and more!

5 Important Years of Your Financial Life

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When it comes to your financial life, although every year is important, be sure to pay attention to pivotal years and turning points. Below we review 5 important years of your financial life and what you need to focus on.

Age 25

At age 25, you have likely completed your college and/or master’s education and have landed your first “real” job. As you grow accustomed to your new salary, it is a good time to start developing key financial habits to carry with you through your working career. You may be juggling various goals like paying off student debt, saving for a house down payment, and making contributions to a retirement savings plan. Target setting aside 10-15% of your salary for retirement from the get go and establish a debt repayment and savings plan. Also, your greatest asset is most likely your ability to earn an income for the next 40 years. Be sure to protect your income with proper disability insurance coverage.

Age 45

At age 45, you may be entering the height of your earning years making it a good time to put more emphasis on saving for retirement. If you have an employer sponsored retirement plan, target maximizing contributions to the plan each year. If you are self-employed, talk with a Financial Planner to review your options for establishing your own retirement plan. At this age, your family may be growing and it is important to periodically confirm you have adequate life insurance and disability coverage. Your children may also be getting close to starting college – do you have a savings plan? Are you on track?

Age 55

At age 55, retirement may be just around the corner. Before you exit the work force, put together a plan for the next phase of your life. You know exactly what you are retiring “from” but what are you retiring “to”? A financial planner can assist in evaluating if you are on track or if adjustments need to be made in order to achieve your goals. Do you need to save more, work longer, or adjust your investments? Your mid 50s is also a good time to start learning about the various long term care insurance policies available and considering if such a policy fits within your overall plan.

Age 65

At age 65, you may no longer be covered under employer health insurance, which means you will need to sign up for Medicare. It is important that you enroll prior to your employer coverage ending to ensure that you have no gaps in coverage and to avoid late enrollment penalties. Once you have attained age 65, you should also refer to your county website to find out if your county has a Senior Property Discount program. As you transition into retirement, periodically review variable expenses and determine if your spending is consistent with your retirement planning goals.

Age 70

At age 70, it is good practice to do some tax planning prior to turning 70 ½ when you will be required to start distributing funds from your Traditional IRAs and any employer retirement plans that have not been consolidated to an IRA. If you delayed collecting Social Security benefits, contact Social Security to begin receiving your benefits – there is no benefit to waiting beyond age 70 to start collecting. Lastly, as difficult as it may be, take the time to start fine-tuning your estate planning and talking to your kids about your will.

No matter your age, it is never too soon or too late to meet with a financial planner to review practices for building a strong financial foundation for any stage of life. Call Sharkey, Howes & Javer at 303-639-5100 to set up a complimentary consultation with a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional.

Source: http://time.com/money/4329616/retirement-five-most-important-years/

Inside the Economy: Fed Funds Rate, Bitcoin, The S&P 500 & More

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On this week’s episode of Inside the Economy, we look at Bitcoin to see how its recent price surge compares to some of the most famous asset bubbles in history. Global stock markets have gotten off to a strong start in 2018, but will this trend continue throughout the year? We also discuss the Federal Funds Rate, and what kind of hikes we expect to see through 2019. Tune in to hear about these topics and much more!

Bitcoin

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What is Bitcoin?

Bitcoin is the most popular virtual currency to date. People use bitcoin as a digital representation of value, similar to how we use U.S. dollars as a medium of exchange. There are a couple differences between bitcoin and the U.S. dollar, however. The most obvious is that Bitcoin is entirely virtual and relies on the Blockchain for transactions. The Blockchain is a public ledger of all transactions involving Bitcoin and serves as its permanent database. Users of the Blockchain verify all of the transactions and once a transaction has taken place, a new “block” is created. Compare that to the U.S. dollar, which is printed by the U.S. Treasury and backed by the “full faith and credit” of the United States Government.

The U.S. dollar holds value because the U.S. Government says it does. With Bitcoin, it derives its value because there are people willing to use it as a medium of exchange. It is the law of supply and demand: the higher the demand, the higher the price, and vice versa. With the mainstream media picking up on Bitcoin over the last several months, the demand for Bitcoin has skyrocketed, thus substantially increasing its value.

How do you invest in Bitcoin?

The easiest way to invest in Bitcoin is by using an online broker exchange, such as Coinbase. Coinbase is a firm headquartered in Silicon Valley and is the most well-known Bitcoin exchange. You can create an account online and link it up to your bank account to make transfers more efficient. Coinbase also allows you to buy partial bitcoins rather than having to pony up a large dollar amount to buy a full coin.

One of the drawbacks of exchanges like Coinbase is that as traffic picks up, the sites have been known to crash. This poses an illiquidity risk if you are actively trying to get rid of or purchase bitcoins.

Should you invest in Bitcoin?

When you purchase stock in a company, you are purchasing a share of a company’s future earnings and stocks have a tangible value based on expected future earnings of a company. When you hold bonds, you receive interest payments that make bonds easy to value (assuming the debtor doesn’t go bankrupt). Unlike these traditional investments, the value of Bitcoin is not determined by any kind of cash flow; it is purely based on public sentiment and demand for the currency.

Investing is based on taking calculated risks to achieve a rate of return on your money. We invest in stocks and bonds because over long periods of time both asset classes have shown they can outperform inflation. Bitcoin is an asset that has experienced exponential growth in the past 12 months, and no one knows where the price will go from here.