Why we watch the RMDs

What are Required Minimum Distributions? Some clients are surprised when they learn that the IRS forces them to take “required minimum distributions” – known as RMDs – after they turn age 70½. When they don’t need the money to spend, they question why the government makes them take money out of their IRAs. The answer is that the government wants to finally get some tax revenue, after allowing … [Read more...]

Gift and estate taxes after reform

Gifting maximum increased Many of our clients had been gifting (or receiving) the maximum $14,000 annual tax-free amount for years. For the first time in more than a decade, that maximum has increased and now stands at $15,000. The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, signed into law in 2017, also nearly doubled the federal gift and estate tax basic exclusion amount to $11.18 million in 2018. Gift … [Read more...]

The Markets in July

The Markets in July Positive economic indicators and encouraging corporate earnings reports helped propel stocks ahead in July. Markets grew despite trade wars between the United States and other trading partners, particularly China. In July, the two largest economies imposed tariffs of $34 billion on each other’s goods. Toward the end of the month, there was hope of reopening negotiations … [Read more...]

Should you buy an extended warranty?

Is an extended warranty worth the cost? When you’ve purchased an electronic device, major appliance, or vehicle, chances are you’ve been asked if you also wanted to buy an extended warranty or service contract. Extended warranties are offered by retailers for an additional cost to customers and provide repair or product maintenance for a specific period of time. Selling extended warranties … [Read more...]

Buying Time Increases Happiness

Time versus money Time is one of our most valuable resources, and sometimes money is the tool that allows us to buy more time with our families or to do things we enjoy. Does it increase happiness? Researchers took a look and found it does. This was the primary finding of a study by University of British Columbia psychology professor Elizabeth Dunn and other researchers published in the … [Read more...]

Impact of Inflation on Spending

Investing to Outpace Inflation One of the reasons we invest in markets is to protect our money from the corrosive impact of inflation. When prices increase over time, the earning power of a dollar is reduced. That’s what inflation is: the erosion of the real purchasing power of wealth. Inflation is an important aspect of investing. In many cases, the reason for saving today is to support … [Read more...]

Mid-Year 2018 Tax Planning

Half-Time: Taking Stock of the Tax Changes The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act passed in 2017 changed the federal tax landscape for both individuals and businesses. Many of the provisions in the legislation are permanent, but many others (including most of the tax cuts that apply to individuals) expire at the end of 2025. Here are some of the significant changes to factor in to tax planning right now. New … [Read more...]

The Markets in May

Despite a sell-off on the last day of May, equities held enough of their gains to post mostly positive month-over-month returns. The Administration imposed tariffs on steel and aluminum imports on Canada, Mexico, and the European Union. Just before scheduled trade talks with China were to resume, the President announced that he would place tariffs on Chinese imports and limit Chinese investment in … [Read more...]

Planning for Remarriage

If you are thinking of marrying again... For those courageous enough to remarry, there are many financial questions to answer together. How will you combine finances? This issue gets thornier the older you are. You’ll want to create a financial strategy that considers the assets, liabilities, and financial responsibilities that each partner brings to the marriage. Financial planning for … [Read more...]

Wise Words for Volatile Times

Wise words to soothe volatile times in the stock markets, from some of the best investors: "Investors should remember that excitement and expenses are their enemies. And if they insist on trying to time their participation in equities, they should try to be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful." — Warren Buffett "Most of the time common stocks are subject to … [Read more...]

Sophisticated Fraudsters

Fraud Is Becoming Increasingly Sophisticated Ever wonder why we want to hear your voice when you are requesting money? We have had this "double authentication" practice since Blue Spark Financial began, for the safety of our clients, and we understand that sometimes it’s a pain to take the extra step to pick up the phone after an email. But it’s in place to protect against hackers – and they are … [Read more...]

The Markets in April

The Markets in April April was marked by the threatened tariff war between the United States and China. Tensions between the world’s two largest economies certainly impacted stocks both home and abroad. Escalating strife in Syria gave additional reason for concern. However, surging energy stocks lifted the market as crude oil prices approached $70 per barrel for the first time in almost three … [Read more...]

Yes, There Is Still Time

Still Time to Contribute to Retirement Accounts Yes, there’s still time to make a regular IRA contribution for tax year 2017. You have until your tax return due date, not including extensions, to contribute up to $6,500 for 2017 ($5,500 if you are younger than 50). For most, the deadline for 2017 is April 17, 2018. You can contribute to a traditional IRA, a Roth IRA, or both, as long as your … [Read more...]

The Markets in March

The first quarter of 2018 began with strong market gains, but it did not end that way. March was not a good month for the benchmark indexes here, except for the small caps of the Russell 2000. Otherwise, each of the indexes closed March in the red, led by the Dow, which was followed by the Global Dow, Nasdaq, and the S&P 500. March brought more concerns for investors with the administration’s … [Read more...]

Financial Affidavits in Divorce

The financial affidavit When divorce proceedings begin, each spouse is required to fill out a financial affidavit. This form, which becomes part of the court record, shows income from all sources, debt (or liabilities), living expenses, and assets. Each party swears (under the pains and penalties of perjury) that the information contained on his or her affidavit is true. Judges use the … [Read more...]

Blue Spark Capital Advisors

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

We specialize in working with women after divorce, death of a spouse, or other life transitions such as retirement or job change. We provide financial planning and investment management services.

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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Contact Us

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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– Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)
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