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Thinking of Buying a Vacation Home? Consider These 7 Things Before You Commit

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You found an area you love and you’re thinking of buying a vacation home there. Having a second home can make vacationing easier, but it’s not always the right choice. Before you buy a vacation home, do your homework and make an informed decision.

Here are our 7 tips for buying a vacation home:

Have a Clear “Why”

It’s easy to get caught up in the charm of a new area when you’re on vacation, but it’s different to love a place enough to buy a second home there. Make a list of what you love about the area and create a calendar of dates you plan to visit. Does the list of loves and your availability to travel justify the expense of a second home?

Give it a Trial Run

Before you make the decision to buy a second home, be extra sure you like the area. Take a few trips to your desired location and rent homes in different neighborhoods. This will help you get a feel for what you enjoy most about the area and identify target neighborhoods.

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Should I Consolidate My Student Loans?

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When Do You Consolidate Your Student Loans? | Sharkey, Howes & Javer | Denver Financial Planning

As we enter the back-to-school season, many college students may have applied and been approved for a student loan for the upcoming academic year. While students and parents alike welcome the additional assistance in paying for their tuition, the appeal starts to wear off upon graduation when the responsibility to pay back the loan begins. Recent reports show that “the average Class of 2016 graduate has $37,172 in student loan debt, up six percent from last year” and that the average monthly student loan payment is $351 (source). Often times loans are accumulated from various sources and consolidated down to one loan with the lowest interest rate or most favorable repayment option. However, depending on the type of loans you have outstanding, it may not be in your best interest to consolidate.

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10 Habits to Help Increase Your Productivity

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We often feel like there aren’t enough hours in the day because we have too much to do and not enough time to do it. But how much of our precious time is spent on activities that distract us from our goals? The key to maximizing your time and productivity is to be proactive, not reactive. Staying ahead of your tasks, schedules, and goals can give you more control over your time and increase your productivity.

Here are 10 habits you can adopt to boost your productivity:

1. Make Lists

Lists help organize upcoming projects and tasks. Create a list the night before with tasks for the following day. This will help you focus on the highest priority items of the day without wasting time in the morning trying to figure out which tasks should be tackled first.

2. Bundle Your Tasks

Tackle tasks in batches to make a long to-do list feel much smaller. Set aside time at the beginning of the day (or the night before) for certain tasks, for example: email catch-up and phone calls. Scheduling time for these allows you to continue focusing on the task at hand without constant interruptions. Also make sure to block off time for your most dreaded tasks, it’s best to take care of these in the morning so you don’t think about them all day.

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8 Creative Ways to Win Your Dream Home Without Making a Poor Investment

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In a hot real estate market it’s easy to let your emotions get involved possibly resulting in making a poor real estate investment. It’s not uncommon in today’s market for buyers to waive inspections or pay an amount over the listed value in order to get the home of their dreams. Instead of risking your investment with emotional decisions, we’ve put together some more creative ideas to help your offer stand out.

Here are 8 tips for standing out in a bidding war:

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7 Tips to Save for Winter Vacations

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Here in Colorado the snow has started to fly and many people are planning their winter escapes or ski vacations. As you are planning for some winter fun in the next few months, we suggest taking a look at your finances and creating a savings plan to keep the stress meter low and the fun meter high.

Here are 7 tips to save for your winter vacation while saving some additional money along the way:

Calculate the Cost

Start by figuring out how much your trip will cost. Be sure to include flights, transportation, lodging, meals, activities or excursions and souvenirs. If you have dates in mind for your trip, divide the total cost over the number of months you have before your travel. (Cost of Trip / Months Before Travel = Monthly Savings Rate) If the monthly savings goal is too much, consider pushing back your travel dates.

Create a Vacation Account

To keep from dipping into your vacation savings before the big trip, create a separate vacation savings account. Put your vacation savings directly into the account and don’t touch it until it’s time to buy airfare, put down a deposit, etc.

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To Stay or to Go: Should You Downsize or Renovate as an Empty Nester?

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The last kid has left for college or to start their career. As the past few years have gone by perhaps you have wandered from room to room wondering why you are paying for all this space or wishing your space was better used. It could be time for you to consider downsizing or maybe your home is in need of a few simple renovations.

Before you make the decision to stay or go, here are a few things to consider:

Have they really flown the coop?

It is becoming more common for college graduates to move back in with their parents for a while as they find a job and establish a career. Do you want to stay in your home and wait to see if they need their space again? Before making the decision to move, think through the possible scenarios with your children to determine if it makes sense to hold onto the family home for a while longer.

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3 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Financial Advisor

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Sharkey, Howes & Javer: 3 Questions to Ask When Choosing a Financial Advisor

Finances are intimately woven into our lives. Choosing a financial advisor to guide you in your financial decisions can be a stressful process, but an important one. Having the right financial advisor on your team gives you peace of mind and can put you on a good financial path.

Whether you are looking for a financial advisor for the first time or you are looking for a new advisor, here are some key questions to ask:

1. How are you compensated?

Starting with this question is key to understanding the type of financial advisor you are working with. They should be able to answer the question quickly and with specifics. Are they receiving kickbacks for recommending certain investments? Do they have sales quotas to meet? Are they paid by salary or commission? Are they recommending the same investments to all of their clients? Why or why not? A planner who is paid by commission or sales versus a salary or hourly rate could have an incentive to steer you in a specific direction.

Ask for information about all of their fees and how much you will be paying per transaction, product and service. Also, ask about any additional fees you can expect from other services they offer. If the advisor is unwilling to answer or vague in their responses, consider looking elsewhere for a financial advisor.

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Black Friday: 5 Tips on Spending to Save

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Sharkey Howes & Javer Black Friday Shopping Bag ImageBlack 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. Read More