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8th Annual Wreath Event

Check out the DIY designer wreaths created at Harbor’s 8th annual wreath event!

Gorgeous wreaths, fun friends, wine, and chocolate-what could be better.

Visit Sturtz and Copeland for beautiful displays, holiday ideas and holiday cheer!

 

 

 

 

Harbor Furry Friends

The Harbor staff is doing a blog series about the furry friends in our lives.

My Name: My French grandfather named me Câline, which means ‘cuddly’, and everyone calls me Callie

Age/Breed: I am a 2.5 year old Goldendoodle

Who I live with: Denise & David (and I love it when either of my Grandmas come to visit)

What I like to do: Run with my dad, play at the park, chase snowballs, and take afternoon naps.  I have my mom and dad totally wrapped around my little paw!

My favorite toy: Do I have to choose one favorite?  I love balls of all sizes and tug toys, but any soft or cloth toy lasts about 45 seconds before I rip it apart

The best thing about me: I have a very sweet and gentle disposition, and I love curling up to get a belly rub

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So You Want to Get Away?

You are not alone! Americans are traveling more than ever.  Europe and South America both saw an 8% increase in American visitors in 2017.  Asia was an 11% increase and Oceania 13%.  All told 80.2 million Americans took a trip in 2016, which is just a bit less than 25% of the country.  But you know this by the crowds in all of the airports and in popular destinations.

Speaking of which, the least crowded spring destinations are South Padre Island, Austin, Myrtle Beach SC and Gulf Shores AL. The most relaxing?  Sedona, Kauai and Austin.  The most adventurous?  Surfing in Kauai/Hanalei Bay, ice climbing in Ouray, skiing in Alaska, hiking the slot canyons in Capital Reef National Park, spearfishing in Florida, rock climbing in Austin.  Austin appears to be the winner in all three categories!

Options on destinations proliferate each year. Do you want adventure? Relaxation?  One destination or many?  Plan ahead or decide as you go?

Travel outfitters and apps on your phone that can assist.

Outfitters can customize your trip and do the time consuming background work of choosing good hotels in your price range, arrange for transport and calculate connections.

Colorado Outfitters offers rafting, fishing hiking guided camping and many more.

Adventures Within Reach offers Africa, South America, Polar, Central America, Himalayas, South East Asia and Europe. They ask detailed questions about what you want to see, your budget and the type of travel you do and then customize a port to port trip for you.  Ours were always fully guided, fun to have a group of our family of six.  They send reminders, vaccination lists, packing lists and travel tips.

Inside Japan will plan your trip to Japan.

Tripit keeps track of your itinerary.

Roadtrippers plans out your driving route but lets you book hotels along the way. The app points out one of a kind places to visit along the way and good restaurants.

Happy traveling!

 

Hikes We Like

The trailhead for Lower Calf Creek Falls in the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument is between Escalante and Boulder, Utah off of Highway 12. The trail follows the creek and canyon bottom for a little under 3 miles ending in a 126-foot-high waterfall.  There is little change in elevation in the canyon but some areas with deep sand can make the walk a bit more strenuous.  Along the way are pre-historic rock art and granaries, beaver ponds and, in the spring, the multi-colored western tanagers are frenetically nesting.  In southern Utah, with its plethora of trails, Lower Calf Creek is an enjoyable warm up for some of the more difficult hikes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Big Adventures in Africa

A visit to Africa is a big adventure, the size of the continent, varied countries, wildlife and cultures all combine to make this trip one you will never forget.

We opted for a photo safari which was a long -time dream of mine. I researched and purchased a wonderful new camera and began to learn how to use it as part of my trip planning.  We chose to concentrate in Tanzania and planned our trip around the weather at the time of year best to see the biggest variety of animals and to be the most comfortable.  You are outside for long hours each day.  Our safari was 2 and ½ weeks followed by a week in Zanzibar to relax at the beach.

We used an outfitter, Adventures Within Reach who have helped us with other trips (Galapagos, Patagonia and Machu Picchu). We were a group of six so we had our own on the ground guide, and truck driver for the entire trip.

The adventure begins right away, the trip is long and once you arrive in Dar es Salaam we boarded an in country flight to Arusha. Flying over Africa and viewing the vast plains below reminded me of books I had read about the beauty of Africa.    

Our trip began in Arusha where we picked up our guide and driver. The safari truck had view windows on all sides but was well protected which is a good thing when elephants are running after you.   Lake Manyara National Park was our first stop.  This region is known for the flamingos at the lake, and is home to 400 species of birds.  Leopards, West African lions, cheetahs, elephants, blue monkeys, dik-dik, gazelles, hippopotami, Masai giraffe, impala and zebras are some of the animals we saw. We stopped at a hippo park where we could disembark the truck (not allowed elsewhere) where we were told we could observe form a safe distance.  After stopping I wonder about this, it is dangerous.  But it was fun to be so close.

Massia Mara National Reserve

From there we went to Norongro crater which was a natural wonder. Our tented camp in Manyara was a former hunting camp, now a preserve, our huts at the rim of the crater overlooked a beautiful forest full of leopards, and birds.  It was stunning.

We visited Olduvai Gorge in the Great Rift Valley to experience one of the most important archaeological sites in the world. Then on to The Serengeti to stay on the vast plains.  We arranged for a hot air balloon ride over the Serengeti at dawn, which was breathtaking, followed by a brunch in the bush.  A singular experience.

We were fortunate to see all of the big game, lions, hunting at night and during the day, leopard, rhinoceros, and elephants (my favorite) African buffalo, along with the hippos, various snakes (black mamba and pythons) and countless birds. The love birds flew in flocks of hundreds and were magnificent.

The people were wonderful and interesting, we visited an orphanage and walked through villages, stopped at a Maasi village, and talked to the women there, attended a prince’s funeral, participated in an annual Massai mating celebration, and were taken to a nomadic camp of Bushman where they showed us how to use their bows and arrows to kill scarce game.

Relaxing in Zanzibar was wonderful, the beaches are beautiful, accommodations perfection and the history of the spice trade very interesting. The Red Colobus monkey is beautiful, filled with personality and is only found in the forests of Zanzibar.

This is a trip I would highly recommend to everyone, it can be dangerous, tiring, sad, and thrilling, but is truly a singular experience.  I would love to go back to see the gorillas in Rwanda and Uganda-my next African stop!

 

 

 

Hikes We Like

By Justin Laue, Harbor Intern

Our first adventure of many in the summer of 2018 began with the classic outdoor activities of camping and hiking. We set off from Boulder headed towards the sparsely populated town of Gypsum, Colorado. We began to lose light as we approached the campsite and couldn’t quite appreciate the spot we had chosen until the next morning.

After a long weekend of campfires, tubing trips down the Colorado River, and lots of laughs we packed up and started our journey home. Along the way we saw a sign for “Hanging Lake Trail” and since everyone heard about this supposedly gorgeous natural landmark we decided to test our luck and drove up to the parking lot.

As we pulled up we were told that the lot was full and to ensure entrance most visitors arrive very early in the morning. However, luck was on our side as someone pulled out of a spot right as we were about to leave. The park ranger ushered us in and we couldn’t have been happier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The hike took about an hour and had a total distance a little over a mile. The tough part of the hike was the steep path and treacherous terrain. In the end, the energy spent to get up to “Hanging Lake” and “Spouting Rock” is more than worth it. This is one of the prettiest natural landmarks I have ever seen. The water is clearer than crystal with amazing views for 360 degrees. I would highly recommend this hike to others!

 

 

Saving for College: what are my options?

By Justin Laue, Harbor Intern

Education is something most parents want for their children, but saving for it can be difficult especially with the rising cost of college tuition nationwide. The burden of debt associated with student loans can be overwhelming for young adults. Setting up a savings plan to pay for your child’s education can relieve them of this headache and push them a little further up the ladder towards financial stability. The problem is that there are numerous savings vehicles to choose from when deciding where to put away money for college. A few of these options are explained:

529 College Savings Plan

One of the most attractive college savings options is the 529 college savings plan. Money is contributed, after-tax, into these state sponsored accounts and then withdrawn tax-free for qualified expenses related to an accredited higher education institution. Fund restrictions vary from state to state, but may be used for things such as room and board in most cases. Some states also provide a state tax deduction for contributions from parents and possibly grandparents. Parents own the asset directly and retain the ability to change beneficiaries as they see fit. If one child decides not to attend college or excess funds in the account exist after a child completes college, then the funds can be transferred to a new beneficiary.

Prepaid College Tuition Plans

Prepaid plans are similar to 529 plans in their tax implications, ownership, and potential to change beneficiaries. However, major differences are present. Prepaid plans will not fluctuate in value with changes to the market as they are used to directly purchase tuition credits at a set price. You are effectively locking in today’s tuition price for use at a later date. If your child is considering an out of state school this program may not be for you as it was created specifically for in state colleges. That does not mean it can’t be used if a child changes his or her mind, but penalties will apply and some value can be lost.

UGMA/UTMA

An UGMA/UTMA account may be preferable if a child does not plan to attend a qualifying university under the 529 plan, or if he or she will need money for expenses unrelated to education. UGMA/UTMA are custodial accounts that transfer to the minor once he or she reaches the age of termination, specific to each state. These funds are then under direct control of the minor and can be spent how they choose. Tax implications differ for this savings vehicle as well. The first $1,050 invested are free of tax, while the next $1,050 is taxed at a very low (kiddie tax) rate. Unearned income (dividends, interest) in excess of $2,100 are then taxed at Trust tax levels. These plans can be preferential if your child is leaning towards trade school or has a big expense in their near future such as the purchase of a car or a wedding.

Any of these investments could be right for you and your child depending on your particular situation. The first and most important step is deciding to save. After that having a conversation with your child or trying to gauge their future aspirations is a good idea when evaluating your available savings vehicles.

Click here for additional resources.

 

 

Announcing ESG Portfolios!

Harbor Financial Group is excited to announce that we now offer two ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) portfolios as part of our investment models. One contains 100% ETF’s investments to keep investment minimums low.  We also are excited to offer a second portfolio which is a combination of actively managed Mutual funds and passive indexes which we believe as closely as possible mirrors investors ESG preferences.

ESG refers to 3 central factors in measuring the sustainability and ethical impact of an investment – environmental, social and governance. ESG funds are designed to help investors align their investments with their personal values. Our portfolio is comprised of carefully screened holdings designed to invest in clean technology and firms with socially responsible business models, especially those promoting fair employment practices and female leadership. Funds are also screened to omit investments that promote firearms/weapons, tobacco and fossil fuels.

True diversification is still difficult to achieve in this arena as many of the holdings are smaller corporations located in the United States.

Please contact us if you would like more information about these models or how you can incorporate these investments into your current portfolio.

 

 

Hikes We Like

Earlier this month we decided to do a last minute trip to Crested Butte over July 4th holiday.  Luck was on our side as we were able to find lodging that would accommodate our dog, Edna. We drove from Boulder and arrived late evening (next time, we will get an early start so we don’t miss the beautiful drive).

Our first hike was Judd Falls Trail. This was a fairly quick 2.5 mile out and back trail not far from Crested Butte. We did see some wildflowers, but were told the wildflowers are scarce this year due to lack of rain.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The next day we decided to drive over Kebler Pass and hike Three Lakes Trail. The drive was beautiful with many large Aspen tree groves.  I can only image how spectacular it would be in the Fall.

The hike was nice –  very shady, fairly flat and about 1.5 miles out and back.  Perfect for Edna since she is not much of a hiker. We only saw a two groups of other hikers and had great weather, cloud coverage and some sprinkles.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Crested Butte is such a beautiful area and we hope to visit again soon!

Personal Financial Planning Program

By Justin Laue, Harbor Intern

The Personal Financial Planning, PFP program is a new track offered through Leeds School of Business at CU Boulder that helps students majoring in finance to focus their studies on the personal planning sector. Coursework is geared towards providing students with the skills necessary to assist clients by creating a financial plan. Students will gain an understanding on a broad range of financial topics paired with instruction on how to build healthy client relationships. The program gives students a clear career path as it helps prepare them for the CFP® examination and has been approved by the Certified Financial PlannerTM Board of Standards.

Photo by Joey Kyber on Unsplash

This new and exciting program caught my attention immediately after Tom Nelson  introduced it during one of my finance courses sophomore year. A light bulb had lit up above my head, it fit all the criteria that I had set for my career search. Business environment working with numbers and analysis, check. Exposure to a wide array of subject matters with the possibility to learn about new companies on the investment side, check. Finally, the ability to make a difference in people’s lives by helping them plan for and achieve their financial goals, check.

After an insanely hectic, busy junior year I took some time to reflect on my choice to enter the PFP program. I weighed the pros and cons and ultimately decided I was still extremely excited about my decision. It had not been an easy two semesters, but they were definitely gratifying. The road ahead wouldn’t be easy, but the challenge would fuel and propel me forward.

Numerous professionals that I’ve had the pleasure to talk with about financial planning all seem to touch on how rewarding the line of work truly is. In the coming years I can’t wait to put in the hard work necessary for a bright career in the industry. The opportunities I have been presented with thus far have helped me learn and grow into an aspiring young planner.