Tax Tips for the Self-Employed

Realities of Taxes for the Self-Employed If you are self-employed, as many of our clients are, you know there are many advantages beyond just being your own boss. There are also unique challenges involved, especially how to handle taxes. Whether you’re running your own business or thinking about starting one, there are specific tax rules and opportunities that apply to you. Here is a look at the … [Read more...]

The Markets in September

The Markets in September The third quarter of 2018 proved to be strong overall for US stocks, although September saw drops in several markets. Favorable economic indicators and good corporate earnings reports were enough to quell investor concerns over the continuing saga that is the back-and-forth trade tariffs between the United States and China. Toward the end of September, a new round of … [Read more...]

Student Loan Rates Increase

Students and Parents to Pay Higher Loan Rates College students were sad to see it will cost them more to borrow, as interest rates on federal student loans rose for the second year in a row. Undergraduate students can expect to pay 5.04%  in interest on new Stafford loans instead of the current 4.45%. Graduate students will see the interest rate on new Direct loans climb from 6% to 6.59%. And … [Read more...]

IRS Limits SALT Tax Workarounds

IRS Shuts Door on SALT Creative Workarounds The IRS said no to some of the creative workarounds for the new $10,000 limit on the deductibility of state and local taxes (SALT). Its new guidance appears to close the door on a strategy offered by the state of New York and some other states to circumvent the deduction limit by attempting to turn the taxes paid into charitable contributions not … [Read more...]

The Markets in August

The Markets in August Stocks had a record-setting month in August as several benchmark indexes reached all-time highs. Of the major benchmark indexes, only the Global Dow lost value. Otherwise, indexes representing large caps, small caps, and tech stocks posted noteworthy monthly gains. A strong employment situation, economic growth, and relatively low inflation have given investors confidence, … [Read more...]

Why We Watch Your 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 Maximums 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...]

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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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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