The Trouble With Averages

The US stock market has delivered an average annual return of about 10% since 1926. But short-term results don't tell that story. In fact, in any given period, stock returns can be positive, negative, or flat. So it’s helpful to your peace of mind to look the range of historical outcomes. Exhibit 1 shows calendar-year returns for the S&P 500 Index since 1926. The shaded band marks the … [Read more...]

Self-Employed: Tax Issues

Being self-employed has many advantages beyond being your own boss. But it also comes with challenges, especially how to handle taxes. As we head into the final quarter of 2017, here are some things to know. Retirement plans for the self-employed If you are self-employed, you don’t have access to an employer’s 401k plan, but there are other avenues to save money for retirement. These … [Read more...]

How to Evaluate an Early-Retirement Offer

In today’s environment of corporate cost-cutting and restructuring, many employers are offering early-retirement packages. But how do you know if the offer is a good one? By evaluating it carefully to make sure that the offer fits your needs. What’s the severance package? Most early-retirement offers include a severance package based on your annual salary and years of service at the company. For … [Read more...]

The Markets in September

Trading during summer months is usually slow, and the third quarter of 2017 proved no different. The market regained some confidence in September, pushing stocks ahead of August closing values. Each of the indexes listed here posted gains, led by the small-cap Russell 2000, which rose 6.09%, followed by the Global Dow, the Dow, and the S&P 500, which each closed up about 2.0%. The tech-heavy … [Read more...]

How to Protect Against Internet Hackers

On the off-chance you haven't heard— maybe you were distracted by the horrifying natural disasters of Harvey, Hurricane Irma, or Mexico's 8.1 earthquake— but Equifax was a man-made disaster affecting the data of 143 million Americans. Between May and July hackers accessed people's names, Social Security numbers, birth dates, addresses and, in some instances, driver's license numbers, from … [Read more...]

The Markets in August

Equities saw several peaks and valleys throughout August, before rallying at the end of the month. Strong second-quarter GDP figures, steady job gains, and increased consumer spending sent stocks higher, despite stagnant inflation and heavy losses caused by Hurricane Harvey. The large caps of the S&P 500 and Dow posted marginal monthly gains, with the tech-heavy Nasdaq leading the way, closing … [Read more...]

Inherited IRAs: 5 Things to Know

If you find yourself the beneficiary of a traditional or Roth IRA, it’s important to understand the rules that apply to these inherited IRAs. When the owner of an IRA dies, the account becomes the property of the beneficiary – or to the owner’s estate if no beneficiary was named. The inherited IRA is not really yours While you keep many of the IRA benefits, you are generally not considered the … [Read more...]

Social Security and Medicare: Challenges

Every year, the Trustees of the Social Security and Medicare Trust Funds release reports to Congress on the programs’ financial condition and projected financial outlook. The newest reports discuss the challenges and project a Social Security cost-of-living adjustment (COLA) of 2.2% for 2018. Why are they facing financial challenges? Social Security and Medicare are funded primarily through the … [Read more...]

The Benefits of Diversification

Among your most important financial friends is diversification. After all, what other single action can you take to simultaneously dampen your exposure to a number of investment risks while potentially improving your overall expected returns? While “diversification” may seem like a buzzword, the benefits of diversification are well-documented and explained by some 60 years of academic inquiry. Its … [Read more...]

Forbes features Maura Griffin as Top Financial Leader in New York

Forbes magazine features Maura Griffin Forbes features Maura Griffin, describing her "softer, gentler" style of wealth management, as she helps clients identify emotions that can often cloud good financial decision-making. "I try to peel away the layers, to show that money is a neutral tool to help them live the life they want," she says in the article. Forbes writes: "Griffin's investment … [Read more...]

Winter 2015 Wine & Finance: Entrepreneurship

Our theme for this quarter's Wine & Finance event is Entrepreneurship: A Case Study. We featured Sarah Gross, founder and president of Rescue Chocolate. 100% of Rescue Chocolate's net profits are donated to animal rescue organizations. The chocolates are kosher, vegan, and organic. And delicious! Sarah spoke about her experience starting the business, the challenges and the joys. She talked … [Read more...]

New IRS Rules for Retirement Savings 2015

The IRS increased the contribution limit for employees who participate in 401(k), 403(b), most 457 plans, and the federal government’s Thrift Savings Plan to $18,000. The IRS also changed the catch-up contribution limit for employees aged 50 and over in the same plans: $6,000. New IRS rules do not include an increase for IRAs - the limit on those annual contributions remains at $5,500. … [Read more...]

Fall 2013 Wine & Finance – Entrepreneurs: Nuts and Bolts

Our theme for this quarter’s event is Entrepreneurship: Nuts and Bolts. Many here ARE entrepreneurs – or WANT to be entrepreneurs – or perhaps are recovering entrepreneurs. It’s a special breed. Entrepreneurs are, by nature, passionate, visionary and optimistic. The event’s speakers have much experience working with entrepreneurs. John Pompay is the owner of The POMPAY GROUP, which specializes … [Read more...]

How does divorce change your tax strategy?

Going through divorce is bad enough, the last thing you want to think about is your taxes. But after a divorce, you may be facing a very different tax situation, and it helps to determine your strategy well ahead of April 15. How does divorce change your tax strategy? … [Read more...]

Hidden costs of divorce

If you’re going through a divorce, you already know it’s expensive. Some of the costs are obvious, including lawyers, separate residences, and increased child care. But there are also insidious hidden costs of divorce to keep your eye on. They are often too small to notice until they add up. For example, the loss of “family discount” plans on phone, cable, and insurance bills. Even the need for … [Read more...]

Blue Spark Capital Advisors

We're a boutique fee-only Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) and financial planning firm based in New York City and the Berkshires.

We provide planning and investment management services and financial coaching to women, men and their families.

We believe in a holistic approach. Movement in each piece of your financial plan impacts the others, so we consider your entire picture.

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41 Madison Avenue (40th Floor)
New York, N.Y. 10010
(212) 537-3899

93 Church Street
Lenox, Mass. 01240
(413) 551-4445

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"Integrity without knowledge is weak and useless, and knowledge without integrity is dangerous and dreadful."
– Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
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