Medicare Costs in 2019

What Will You Pay for Medicare in 2019? Medicare premiums, deductibles, and coinsurance amounts change annually. Here’s a look at some of the costs for 2019 for those enrolled in Original Medicare (Part A and Part B). Medicare Part B premiums Most with Medicare who receive Social Security benefits will pay the standard monthly Part B premium of $135.50 in 2019. However, for some whose premiums … [Read more...]

The Markets in January

The Markets in January Several markets indexes saw their best January performance in three decades. A strong labor market, low inflation, and a patient Federal Reserve Board all sent encouraging messages, and several market indexes rose to their best January results in three decades. That followed precipitous plunges in December and November. The Russell 2000 led, closing the month more than 11% … [Read more...]

Don’t Fear the Volatility

We have long known of the media’s – and our own – infatuation with extremes: Best! Worst! Delight! Despair! These sentiments fuel our dreams and inspire works of art. But if you allow superlatives to rule your investing, it could lead to trouble. If you get caught up in reports highlighting the near-term extremes and devaluing the tides of time, you risk losing a clear understanding of what’s … [Read more...]

Famous People Who Didn’t Plan

Famous People Who Didn’t Plan Properly It’s almost impossible to overstate the importance of taking the time to plan your estate. Nevertheless, many haven’t done so, for many different reasons. You might think that the rich and famous would be way ahead of the curve when it comes to planning their estates properly, considering the resources and lawyers presumably available to them. Yet there are … [Read more...]

2019: Key Retirement and Tax Numbers

Every year, the IRS makes cost-of-living adjustments that affect contribution limits for retirement plans and set thresholds for tax deductions, exclusions, and exemptions. Here are the key adjustments for 2019: Employer retirement plans Employees in 401(k), 403(b), and most 457 plans can defer up to $19,000 of their compensation in 2019 (up from $18,500 in 2018). Those age 50 and older can … [Read more...]

The Markets in 2018

Trade wars, midterm elections, and market volatility were hallmarks of 2018. In an attempt to reduce the trade deficit, the U.S. Administration pushed to rewrite trade agreements with several long-time trade partners. The White House amended the trade agreement with South Korea, imposed tariffs worldwide on steel and aluminum, and renegotiated the North American Free Trade Agreement (now the … [Read more...]

More Women on Boards

Why Aren't There More Women on Corporate Boards? Why doesn’t your company have more women on its board? That’s the question that BlackRock, one of the world’s largest asset managers, asked companies that had fewer than two women on their boards. BlackRock nudged companies that make up the Russell 1000  Index (the 1000 largest US companies) to explain their strategy, saying that a diverse board … [Read more...]

Sustainable Investing, Part 2

Sustainable Investing, Part 2 In the first part of our discussion of Sustainable Investing, we looked at key building blocks and summarized strategies for building them into a portfolio. Now we’d like to dig a little deeper into sustainable investing. A Standard Challenge   First the promising news: As we touched on before, there are ways to factor in Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) … [Read more...]

Medicare Coverage Gap

The Medicare Coverage Gap One of the most confusing Medicare provisions is the coverage gap, often called the “donut hole.” It may be clearer if you look at it as the uncovered portion of the annual Medicare Part D Prescription Drug Coverage. Here's a way to understand it better. This also applies to drug coverage that is integrated into a Part C Medicare Advantage Plan. Annual … [Read more...]

The Markets in November

The Markets in November November was a very volatile month for stocks. By the third week of the month, benchmarks had given back nearly all of the gains from the year. However, a jump during the last week of November pushed stocks higher, and all major indexes outperformed their October end-of-the-month closing values - led by the large caps of the S&P 500 and the Dow, followed by the Global … [Read more...]

Sustainable Investing, Part 1

Sustainable Investing If there’s a trait most of us share, it’s a desire to make the world a better place. That is why there is increasing interest in sustainable investing. Many of us want to try to earn solid or even stellar returns while contributing – or at least causing less harm – to the greater good. But what is the greater good? What is a decent return on your investment? How do we … [Read more...]

College Savings After Tax Reform

Students and their parents dodged a bullet with the final Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. Initial drafts of the bill had included the elimination of the Lifetime Learning Credit, the student loan interest deduction, along with the taxation of tuition waivers (used mainly graduate students and college employees). In the end, none of these provisions made it into the final legislation. But a few … [Read more...]

The Markets in October

The Markets in October October was a scary month indeed, as stocks closed the month well below their end-September values. The tech-heavy Nasdaq lost more than 9.0%, while the small caps of the Russell 2000 fared even worse, losing almost 11.0%. The S&P 500 fell close to 7.0% — its largest monthly decline in over seven years. The Dow dropped 5.0%, and the Global Dow sank over 7.0%. A slide … [Read more...]

Charitable Giving in 2018

Charitable Giving The landscape for charitable giving changed with the new tax law, but we are seeing that clients - with or without a tax write-off - still want to give to their favorite organizations and charities. After all, we give to support causes we cherish and to show gratitude for good fortune we have enjoyed. Financial incentives are nice, but not usually your main motivation for … [Read more...]

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...]

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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