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I’m just going to say it: some people think that those who work in the financial industry can be kind of smarmy.

Yes, that’s a word.

And there’s a reason they think that. It’s because some advisors can be.

There are people out there who don’t have your best interests at heart. They think about the bottom line and about what products they can sell you that will make them the most money. There are people out there who aren’t interested in your values and goals – they’re only interested in your money.

And then there are fiduciaries.

What’s a fiduciary?

There are lots of ads on TV that talk about being a fiduciary, but many people aren’t familiar with that term.

Investopedia defines a fiduciary as “a person or organization that acts on behalf of another person or persons, putting their clients' interests ahead of their own, with a duty to preserve good faith and trust. Being a fiduciary thus requires being bound both legally and ethically to act in the other's best interests.”

This means that as an investment advisor with LPL Financial and when providing advisory services, I must act as a fiduciary. If there are multiple options in which you can invest, I must recommend the one that is in your best interest. Practically, this means that I cannot and will not recommend a product that nets me a large commission if there is a less expensive option for you that is suitable. It also means that I must disclose any conflicts of interest.

All CFPs (CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM) are required to act as fiduciaries in our advisory practices, so that is already part of the service I offer. I’m also part of Aspen Wealth Management which is a Registered Investment Advisory firm (this means that we charge money for advice, rather than sell products), and RIAs always follow a fiduciary standard when assisting advisory clients.

This makes a big difference in the relationship I have with my clients. They know they can trust me, because they know my recommendations will always be in advancement of their goals, and not mine.

Are all financial planners fiduciaries?

This is such an important question. No, they’re not! I am so pleased to notice that over the past few years, many more potential clients are asking if I provide advisory services as a fiduciary. I’m glad it is now part of the conversation.

As you’re looking for the right fit, I encourage you really interview the advisor and ask important questions. CLICK HERE for some guidance.

And remember – your financial planner is working for YOU. If at any time you feel they are not working in your best interest, trust your intuition and make a change.

In our last blog, you likely saw yourself in one of our money personality profiles. Were you a…

We talked about how each of these personalities might handle the thought of budgeting. Now let’s discuss how each of these women might effectively put together a spending plan.


To recap, givers might put off crafting a spending plan because you are too busy with your commitments to other people. As a Giver, you should think of a spending plan as a gift you can give to those you love and charities you support. If you can shift your mindset from “budgets are restrictive” to “this is an opportunity to help others” the task may seem a bit easier.


As a keeper, you’re crushing it as a saver and because you have a hard time not saving, you may think you don’t need a spending plan. But keeping too much does not lead to a balanced life. The Keeper needs to add a category or two for items or activities that bring you joy. An exercise I like to use with clients is to picture what you would do if money were truly no object (like you just won that billion-dollar lottery). Whatever comes to mind should be part of your spending plan, in whatever way possible, even if it is small.


Who needs a budget? Life is short! Sorry, but as a Merry-Maker you likely need the most assistance with a spending plan. While living for the moment has its place, crafting a spending plan can actually bring you MORE joy than a devil-may-care attitude. How? By eliminating that nagging guilt that you often feel, or fear that you are not saving enough.

Take a look at what purchases of yours are the most impulsive and set aside a small percentage of your income to those. Don’t try to completely eliminate them (“No more shopping ever!”) because that is not realistic. By creating a pot of money to spend on what makes you happy, you give yourself permission to enjoy life AND be responsible.


You’re doing everything right, so creating a spending plan is a little different in your case. You don’t need a ton of help with creating a spending plan, but you do need to keep in mind that it is a guide. No one in the history of money has ever hit their spending plan exactly. Things come up!

A trick that can help the perfectionist is to set a percentage that your budget is allowed to “drift.” By allowing line items to vary by your plan by, say, 10% you are giving yourself the freedom to relax, because technically you are still within your budget. At the end of the month or quarter, determine if the drift was a one-time event or if your spending plan needs to be permanently adjusted.

Looking for more insight into your money personality? Download the eBook below!

If you’ve turned on the news any time during the last few months, it’s likely you’ve heard the dreaded word “recession.”

Investopedia defines recession as “a period of declining economic performance across an entire economy that lasts for several months.” The last major recession we experienced in the United States began in 2007 and ended in 2009 after the bursting bubble of the US housing market. 

These days, according to The Street, a possible recession could be because of a number of factors:

1. The Federal Reserve and higher interest rates

2. There was massive fiscal stimulus during the pandemic, financed by the Fed buying bonds

3. Rising input and wage costs

4. High oil prices

5. China Is decelerating sharply

But as with anything when it comes to finances, the big question is…what does a recession mean for YOU?

Here’s the Good News

If you have a solid financial plan in place, you’ve likely already “recession-proofed” your finances. However, there are a few other things you could do to better prepare:

  1. Bulk up emergency savings to cover a possible job loss (just don’t keep too much in savings – CLICK HERE for my blog post about hoarding cash).
  2. Pay down high interest debt
  3. Streamline your budget. Now is a good time to trim the fat on budgets because you are probably more clear-headed and not under pressure from a possible decline in income. Review subscription services, cable and cell phone plans, etc.
  4. Polish up your resume and consider getting additional skills. You’ll be ahead of the game if you do find yourself looking for a job.

One thing I DON’T Recommend

Try to avoid cutting down on retirement plan contributions unless absolutely necessary. Missing even a small number of contributions can have a major impact on account growth. Also, down markets can actually be good for savers (hard to believe, but true!) because of dollar cost averaging.

Remember that there are always going to be periods of economic slowdown; this is inevitable in a modern economy. But taking some action, like the tips above, might minimize the impact on you personally while you wait for the economy to begin “growing” again.

Content in this material is for general information only and not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

Dollar cost averaging involves continuous investment in securities regardless of fluctuation in price levels of such securities. An investor should consider their ability to continue purchasing through fluctuating price levels . Such a plan does not assure a profit and does not protect against loss in declining markets.

Investing includes risks, including fluctuating prices and loss of principal.

I live in the beautiful state of Colorado. We experience glorious snow for skiing in the winter, the flowers bloom in the spring, the leaves change in the fall…and the fires happen in the summer (or even during a dry winter as we experienced in 2021).

“…while many residents may have expected safety in urban areas, fire experts have warned wildfire risk isn't limited to mountain areas. In 2017, state foresters estimated nearly 3 million Coloradans lived in fire-prone areas, which scientists refer to as the wildland-urban interface, known as the WUI. That’s about half the state’s population.” (CPR)

Colorado isn’t the only state that has to deal with the threat of forest and brush fires. That’s why it’s important to have a plan in place to keep your loved ones and your important documents safe.

Here’s what you should grab from your home:


Here are the documents and information your financial advisor has should you need to access them:

Your advisor might also have copies of the following information (if they have asked for it):

If your financial advisor does not have copies of these, your tax preparer or estate planning attorney may have copies. It is important that you ask them if they retain copies of these documents and for how long they keep them.

I hope you have a safe, fun, and smoke-free summer. But get your plan in place just in case!

The number of single people in the US is on the rise. According to the 2021 Census Report, “there are now 122 million Americans who are divorced or widowed or have always been single,” a number that has risen from 118 million in 2019. (Source)

Whether you’re single by circumstance or by choice, there are some things that you should be aware of when it comes to your future. Estate planning is something that every adult should check off their to-do list, and creating a solid plan can vary depending on your situation.

Power of Attorney

Estate planning for single women is less about making sure loved ones are protected and more about ensuring you’re protected when it comes to medical and financial decisions.

Designating people for these roles is something you should carefully consider and determining who they are now – before an emergency should occur – allows you to clearly outline your wishes. “For those who have trouble naming a proxy due to a lack of family, an estate planning attorney can help to identify a financial institution that can serve as a proxy and act as a co-trustee.” (Source)


Let’s say you have a cousin you can’t stand and haven’t talked to in 10 years. And let’s say something should happen to you and you haven’t designated any beneficiaries for your assets.

Guess what?

Your estate has now been handed over to a probate court which will decide how your assets are distributed. They’ll start with relatives and work their way through the list. And that annoying cousin could be who ends up with your hard-earned money.

Another thing to keep in mind is, if you’re single because of divorce, in some states, like Colorado, if you don’t want your money to be left to your spouse, this requires specific action. However, “a single person does not need to worry about ancillary documents, such as a marital agreement, in order to disinherit someone.” says Kim Raemdonck, owner of Legacy Planning and Probate and current President of the Women’s Estate Planning Council.

When it comes to your assets, indicating your wishes means that YOU decide what person or charity receives your money. If there are organizations near and dear to your heart, this is a great way to leave a legacy.

What Does this Have to do With Financial Planning?

When I work with a client, I’m looking at the entire picture – now and long into the future. It’s important that my clients know that everything within their control has been taken care of and it’s my job to make sure the boxes are checked.

If you have questions about living your best (financial) single life and are ready to take care of a few things you know you should…let’s talk!

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

This information is not intended to be a substitute for specific individualized tax advice. We suggest that you discuss your specific tax issues with a qualified tax advisor.

We’re moving into vacation time when many of us start slowing down and enjoying the summer months. Couple that with people exploring options that allow them to work from anywhere and that means people might be considering purchasing a vacation home.

My parents were in the same boat 30 years ago as they looked for ways escape winters in Chicago. Eventually, after visiting different areas, they decided that St. Thomas was the right fit for them. They loved to swim and snorkel, and the weather and water is always warm enough to do so. It is also a United States territory which makes traveling and living there easy.

Here's a Different Way to Enjoy a Vacation Home

While my parents knew they wanted to be regular “snowbirders” in St. Thomas, they also hesitated to purchase a second home. Once they retired and were able to spend multiple weeks at a time at the beach, they opted to rent a condo.

Why Didn’t They Get a Place of Their Own?

Even though they have spent decades going to the same place, they were never interested in buying a vacation home in St. Thomas. The annual hurricane insurance alone is about what they spent renting. Beyond that, they have no worries about finding renters when they were not using it, dealing with the repairs, and many other headaches that come with owning property.

Less important, but part of the equation for my parents at least: the family from whom they have been renting for the last 20 years have not raised the rental rates; my parents were guaranteed income for them, and they treated the home like their own.

For example, one time the refrigerator broke during their stay, and they called the owners in New York. The owners asked if my parents could go buy a new one and they would pay them back. My parents said “Sure!” and took care of it. Having that relationship is a win for everyone.

Let’s Talk About YOUR Situation

How we want to spend our leisure time becomes more and more important as we age and start thinking about retirement.

When we work on a financial plan, many of my clients have purchasing a vacation home on their “wishes” portion and that’s great! For some people it’s a good fit. But I always like to make sure my clients know their options. I want their retirement to be as “headache-free” as possible – so that might mean considering renting rather than purchasing a second home.

Here are some benefits to renting:

Enjoy Spending Stress-Free Time with Family

One of the perks of my mom spending every January thru March in St. Thomas is joining her there! Family and friends visit when they can and I’m no different. This March I was able to work from her condo for 10 days and sneak in time to snorkel each day.

The best part? I was there at the end of my mom’s trip and when we left, all we needed to do was pack. We didn’t need to clean out the fridge, change the sheets, or anything.

We just packed our bags and headed home.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

With everything going on in the news these days, it can be hard to keep up. But one thing that has been on everyone’s mind is how these world issues could affect their personal finances.

So, let’s take a quick look at each one and discuss what you should consider when it comes to your money.

The War in Ukraine

As we watch the news unfold, it puts things into perspective for all of us. We’re seeing firsthand how families are struggling with basic needs and human rights issues. Our thoughts continue to be with those who are being displaced and going through this life-changing crisis.

When it comes to the financial world, uncertainty breeds market volatility, and right now the geopolitical situation is very unclear. Historically, conflicts of this nature have only a short-term impact on the stock market, but it is impossible to predict how this will play out. It is important to remember that this situation is impacting the markets, but it does not change your long-term goals. Making short-term decisions regarding long-term goals is never a winning strategy.

MY RECOMMENDATION: Stay the course. If you have questions about your accounts, contact your trusted advisor. That’s what they’re for!


This is a doozy. Inflation is higher than it has been in nearly 40 years. (Many current investors were not even alive the last time we had high inflation!) Last year, it seemed that inflation was only due to short-term supply issues related to Covid. Now there is a spike in energy costs due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict, and inflation is proving persistent.

It may seem counter-intuitive to invest more money right now but keeping too much money in a savings account is particularly harmful in periods of high inflation. (CLICK HERE for my blog about real rate of return.)

MY RECOMMENDATION: Talk to your financial advisor about investments that are designed to keep up with inflation, like Treasury-Inflation-Protected Securities (TIPS).

Interest Rates

The Fed has planned aggressive interest rate increases in 2022, and the first of those is scheduled to take place this month. Whether or not the geopolitical situation changes this plan remains to be seen.

It can be frustrating when something out of your control like fluctuating interest rates impacts your finances and can make planning difficult. But there are a couple of moves you can make that will help you.


I realize that watching the news might make you feel a little out of control. Remember that it’s okay to tune out every once in a while and it’s REALLY okay to ask for help and guidance. I love hearing from my clients and working on solutions that let them sleep a little better at night.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

All investing involves risk including loss of principal. No strategy assures success or protects against loss. There is no guarantee that a diversified portfolio will enhance overall returns or outperform a non-diversified portfolio. Diversification does not protect against market risk.

Okay, the title might have been a little misleading; I don’t know if checking off financial tasks will make you feel as spoiled as a trip to the Bahamas…but I do know it will make you feel like you’ve taken care of yourself.

While self-care is often thought of as getting a massage or taking time to meditate, sometimes it involves doing things that might not feel like you’re pampering yourself…but rather doing something that will alleviate stress in the long run.

I can’t tell you how often something is on my to-do list FOR MONTHS and when I inevitably get around to it, it only takes 15 minutes and I feel SO much better. I always think “I shall learn from this!”

Do I? Not really. I truly am working on this, because I really do feel great when I finally get rid of that task that has been hanging over my head.

It’s a Scientific Fact

In an article in Psychology Today, they even discuss why this makes us feel so good.

It’s possible to manipulate your dopamine levels by setting small goals and then accomplishing them. For instance, your brain may receive a spike in dopamine if you promise yourself that you’ll clean out the refrigerator, and then you do. This is one reason people benefit from to-do lists: The satisfaction of ticking off a small task is linked with a flood of dopamine.

So, what do you say? Let’s do some “feel good finance!”

3 Financial Self-Care Tasks

  1. Calculate your net worth. Subtract the dollar amount of your liabilities (debts) from your assets. Making a lot of money isn’t really helpful if you spend it all. This leads to #2…
  2. Spend just a half hour categorizing your spending. Working up a full budget can seem really overwhelming but spending just a bit of time looking at where you are actually spending money can provide a great deal of information.
  3. Make an appointment with a financial advisor to see how they can help. I frequently hear from people that they are not “rich” enough to be able to utilize the services of an advisor. Yes, many firms have minimum investments in the hundreds of thousands of dollars, but many don’t. Using a financial advisor can help you get to your definition of “rich” much sooner!

Again, none of these tasks are meant to be overwhelming. But envision how you’ll feel by taking care of just one. To quote a study by Wake Forest University, “While tasks we haven’t done distract us, just making a plan to get them done can free us from this anxiety.”

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

When the market is volatile it can be tempting to hide your cash under a mattress until it passes. But hang on before you decide to cash out.

A True Understanding of Inflation

Inflation is the increase in prices over time, or a decrease in purchasing power. If inflation is 3% a year, an item that cost you $1.00 today, will cost $1.03 in a year.

It might be hard to believe because the news makes it seem so dire all the time, but inflation in general isn’t a bad thing and is considered healthy for an economy. It’s when inflation is too high that it is cause for concern.

That still doesn’t mean you should hold on to a bunch of cash.

Anyone who is a client of mine or reads my blog will know that I think everyone should have an emergency fund in a savings account. However, too much cash, especially in times of high inflation can have a detrimental effect on your long-term financial health.

Cash that is parked in a savings account (please don’t tell me you have huge amounts of cash in your house!) right now is earning a half percent at best, and the purchasing power of that money is rapidly decreasing. Earning a rate of return higher than inflation is the only way to maintain the purchasing power of your money.

Here's What’s Really Happening with Your Money

What we’re talking about here is what is known as “real rate of return.” According to Investopedia, “Real rate of return is the annual percentage of profit earned on an investment, adjusted for inflation. Therefore, the real rate of return accurately indicates the actual purchasing power of a given amount of money over time.”

The math on real returns is quite simple: The return on your investment minus the rate of inflation is your real return. If your investments grew by 7% in a year and inflation was 4% that year, your real return is 3%.

It Might be Time to Tune Out

Seeing or hearing everywhere that inflation is out of control or that we are doomed to “70s level inflation” can be nerve-wracking or downright scary.

It’s important to keep in mind that news outlets want to scare you so that you’ll click or tune into their channel. But there are strategies you can implement to help you feel in more control during times of high inflation.

  1. Keep emergency cash in high interest savings accounts. You still won’t earn enough to keep ahead of inflation, but every little bit helps. Many online banks offer a higher interest rate than the bank with multiple corner branches. Credit unions are also a good place to check.
  2. Don’t have more money in emergency savings than necessary. Figuring out exactly how much to keep in an emergency fund can be tricky – and that’s something an advisor can help you with - but too much isn’t really keeping you “safer.”

Something to keep in mind as you work on planning for the future: an advisor isn’t just there to help you put money in the right place. We’re also available to answer your questions when you feel unsure about what’s happening in the market. Dealing with money can be emotional and it’s important to have a resource you can turn to when things feel uncertain.

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.

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Securities offered through LPL Financial. Member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advice offered through GPS Wealth Strategies Group LLC, a registered investment advisor. GPS Wealth Strategies Group LLC and Aspen Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial.

The LPL Financial registered representative associated with this website may discuss and/or transact business only with residents of the states in which they are properly registered or licensed. No offers may be made or accepted from any resident of any other state.
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