The Markets in April

The Markets in April 2020 T.S. Elliot wrote “April is the cruelest month” in his poem The Waste Land, and he was not far off this year. The month began on a bad note for stocks as each of the major indexes lost value. Economic reports reflected the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic: historic job loss and unemployment claims that rose each week, shuttered businesses, negative crude oil prices amid … [Read more...]

Investing: Strategy vs. Reaction

Investing: Strategy vs. Reaction You can always count on market swings to challenge your patience as an investor, but these current swings – and the reasons for them – are unprecedented in their speed and depth. Tune Out the Noise The media generates news 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and they need to fill all that time. You can check the market and access the news any time and … [Read more...]

Key Benefits of the CARES Act

Key Benefits of the CARES Act - and a Note About Financial Literacy Financial Literacy for the Pandemic **NOTE: Our "Financial Literacy for the Pandemic" Zoom calls, which were held weekly during the first few months of the pandemic, will move to monthly as the questions have subsided but many people still need help with financial issues as a result of COVID-19. We will be sending the usual … [Read more...]

Cybersecurity Tips

Cybercriminals will always exploit the headlines, and they have not stopped with the Coronavirus. In this pandemic, we need to be extra skeptical about emails and social media. Hackers are always trying to take advantage of our fears and emotions. There are many new schemes and scams out there, some of them cleverly real. Here are some tips that cybersecurity expert John Sileo told us about that … [Read more...]

Time to Refinance?

Is It Time to Refinance? The Federal Reserve has just cut interest rates by .50% in response to growing concerns about the impact of the coronavirus on the economy. What does that mean for mortgage rates? The Federal funds rate doesn’t move in lockstep with mortgage rates, particularly 30-year fixed mortgages. But mortgage rates are indeed expected to fall alongside the lowered Fed funds … [Read more...]

Insuring Your Valuables

If you have valuable personal possessions – such as jewelry, furs, antiques, art, coin collections, and the like -- insurance is often necessary. But your homeowners' or renters' insurance might not be enough. Limitations on coverage Generally, homeowners’ insurance policy covers the theft, damage, or destruction of your personal property, and there are several limitations. Your personal … [Read more...]

The Coronavirus and You

We don’t know how bad this is going to be. That’s the scary part. We can wash our hands, wear masks, talk about morbidity percentages, but the extent of the coronavirus – and its impact on the markets – is unknown. So what to do? We can look at the historical context of previous plagues and pandemics and viruses and their impact. It does help ease our minds to look at the history of pandemics … [Read more...]

The Markets in February

The Markets in February Spurred by a growing number of new cases of the coronavirus and amid political uncertainty, the markets experienced a massive sell-off, the largest we’ve seen since 2008. Investors' fears during the month of economic tumult caused by the coronavirus were too much to ignore, despite a statement from Fed chairman Jerome Powell that the central bank was prepared to cut rates. … [Read more...]

The New SECURE Act

What's up with that new SECURE Act? We’ve had several questions from clients about the SECURE Act (Setting Every Community Up for Retirement Enhancement Act), which was signed into law in late December 2019 as part of a larger federal spending package. This legislation has some positives and some negatives among its new requirements. It gives incentives for employers to provide retirement … [Read more...]

The Markets in January

What happened in the markets in January January was full of ups and downs amid much lots of market uncertainty. The month began with many of the benchmark indexes losing value (except for the Nasdaq) only to surge ahead during the middle of the month. Then at month’s end, fears of a widespread coronavirus pushed down stocks. Only the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained value in the month, as each of the … [Read more...]

2020 Retirement Plan Numbers

Thresholds and maximums for retirement contributions and deductions The government left some retirement numbers unchanged and increased some for 2020. The maximum you can contribute to a traditional IRA or a Roth IRA in 2020 is $6,000 if under 50 and $7,000 if 50 or older (or up to 100% of your earned income, if that is less), the same as last year. You can split your contribution between a … [Read more...]

Increased Estate Tax Exemptions

Changes to lifetime tax-exemption totals The lifetime exemption for federal estate, gift and generation-skipping transfer (GST) tax has increased for 2020, to $11.58 million per person. When you’re doing advanced estate planning — when you're making transfers above the $15,000 annual exclusion for gifts — that is your lifetime gift/estate tax exemption. And it’s a good time to do it soon before … [Read more...]

The Perils of Market-Timing: A Reminder

There is no lack of unquieting news that impacts the markets daily. And volatility looks to be a big player in the markets for at least the near-term. Here are a few important reminders on the perils of trying to time the market – at any time. To take some kind of action may offer brief relief, but market-timing ultimately runs counter to your best strategies for building durable long-term wealth. … [Read more...]

Loneliness and Your Money

How Loneliness Can Affect Your Money Most people feel lonely at different times in their lives, but in a recent study, one person out of 10 reported being lonely or isolated from others “all or most of the time,” according to the Pew Research Center. Loneliness not only impacts mental health, it can also take a toll on finances. The Pew survey found that frequent loneliness is linked to … [Read more...]

The Federal Reserve

How the Federal Reserve Moves the Economy If you follow the news, you’ve probably heard references to “the Fed” as in “the Fed held interest rates,” or “market watchers are predicting what the Fed will do next.” So what exactly is the Fed and what does it do? I learned about the intricacies of central banks when I was studying at Columbia Business School, and here are some of the basics. 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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130 West 19th Street (8th Floor)
New York, N.Y. 10011
(212) 537-3899

93 Church Street
Lenox, Mass. 01240
(413) 551-7000

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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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