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Hikes We Like

by Annika Spetnagel  – Harbor Intern

Having worked at an athletic club and as a nanny the two previous summers, my summer internship at Harbor marked my first “real job”. This summer has been a fantastic learning experience and I’ve really enjoyed my time here at Harbor, but the one thing I missed from previous summer jobs was the ability to spend the day outside enjoying my favorite season’s weather. Luckily, spending the day inside motivated me to really take advantage of the weekends and opt outside.

I love to hike and I was lucky enough to grow up in Colorado; a hiker’s paradise. My first hike of the summer took place at Coyote Ridge just outside of Fort Collins. I’d driven by the trailhead numerous times and swore I would get around to hiking it one of these days. Finally, in early June, my opportunity arose. The hike itself was a quick 4 mile round trip that started off level and got a bit harder as you reached the ridge. Along the way I had a great view of open plains and traditional Colorado scenery, which was enough to distract me from the numerous signs warning of rattlesnakes in the area. As pretty as the views were on the way up, the view at the top of the ridge (pictured below) definitely took the cake. Bonus points if you can spot me in one of the pictures.


I ventured to Rocky Mountain National Park for my second hike of the summer, with the goal of hiking to Emerald Lake. After completing the hike, my roommates and I agreed this hike definitely gives you your bang for your buck. Along the way to Emerald Lake, hikers pass three other gorgeous lakes and a multitude of stunning views. The hike, only 3.8 miles round trip, is easy and enjoyable, and a great hike for families.

I took this picture (bottom left) at Bear Lake, which marks the very beginning of the hike, just 5 months before in February. It made a fun side by side comparison, and reminded my how grateful I am for the warm weather.






Pictured below is the second lake along the hike, Nymph Lake, as well as a picture of one of the gorgeous viewpoints along the way.







My roommates and I posing in front of Dream Lake, the last stop before the aptly named Emerald Lake.













Elyse Quoted in WSJ

Elyse Foster, CFP® was recently quoted in The Wall Street Journal’s article “Talk Is Cheap: Automation Takes Aim at Financial Advisers – and Their Fees”

The Wall Street Journal explores advisory compensation by exploring fees for asset management and planning. The article addresses the question- Are robo advisors and other low cost platforms putting pressure on industry fees?

Harbor’s stance is to be proactive on lowering fees to stay ahead of the industry and continue to put client’s needs first.

We have shared the article in full on Harbor Financial Group’s Facebook page.  Click here to read the article: Talk Is Cheap: Automation Takes Aim at Financial Advisers-and Their Fees

Also, if you are not already following Harbor on Facebook, please do!

Investopedia: What’s the Minimum I Need to Retire?

Can you retire with $1 million dollars?  Now that’s quite a question. Many professionals boil this down to a 4% sustainable withdrawal rate known as the holy grail of retirement analysis. Writing for Investopedia, Jason Whitby consulted with several wealth management professionals including Elyse Foster, CFP® of Harbor Financial Group and found not everyone agrees that this withdrawal rate is sustainable in today’s financial environment.

“If you want to retire with $1 million, it is going to come down to a combination of: 1) how you define retirement; 2) your personal inventory of everything in your life, such as assets, debts, medical, family; and 3) what the future holds.

Remember, stuff happens in life. Do you really want to start this 30-plus year adventure with the bare minimum? Like most good things, retirement is much better when you are over-prepared than when you wing it. You can retire with $1 million dollars, but it’s better to be safe than sorry – shoot for $2 million!” – Jason Whitby, Investopedia

Full Article: What’s The Minimum I Need To Retire?

Original Source: Investopedia, Jason Whitby, May 4, 2017, What’s The Minimum I Need To Retire?

Hikes We Like

Another 14’er checked off the list.  Quandary Peak in Summit County is the highest summit of the Tenmile Range with an elevation of 14,265 feet.  We chose to hike the East Ridge route as it is the easiest (but the longest at 6.75 miles).  This is our 8th 14’er and possibly the prettiest.

To beat the rush (and to find parking) we got an early start at 5:30am. The first hour or so were in the woods, but the trail quickly became steeper and we were soon above treeline.


















We encountered many mountain goats who didn’t seem to mind being photographed.












It was a perfect blue sky day with no worries of thunderstorms.  Only 46 more to go…










Elyse moderator at Private Wealth Forum

On June 14, 2017, Elyse Foster, CFP® moderated a panel titled “Opportunistic Alternative Investing” at the Private Wealth Mountain States Forum held in Denver.  This yearly, invitation only, day-long investor education and professional networking event was attended by many large family offices, registered investment advisors, private banks and wealth management firms.  They were able to delve into the issues and strategies surrounding asset allocation and asset protection specific to the high-net-worth community of the Mountain States region.









Hikes We Like








One of the many things to love about Colorado is hiking.  You can do it in spring, summer, fall and winter and there are so many trails to explore.  Many of us here at Harbor enjoy hiking and will be sharing some of our favorite hikes with you this year.












Paying Off Student Loans

SOURCE:  Financial Planning Association

Actively managing your debt is an important step, and your student debt may be one of the biggest financial obligations you have. There are many strategies that could help you manage student loans efficiently. Here is a checklist.

Choose a federal loan repayment plan that fits your circumstances:

The Standard Repayment Plan requires a fixed payment of at least $50 per month and is offered for terms up to 10 years. Borrowers are likely to pay less interest for this repayment plan than for others.

The Graduated Repayment Plan starts with a reduced payment that is fixed for a set period, and then is increased on a predetermined schedule. Compared to the standard plan, a borrower is likely to end up paying more in interest over the life of the loan.

The Extended Repayment Plan allows loans to be repaid over a period of up to 25 years. Payments may be fixed or graduated. In both cases, payments will be lower than the comparable 10-year programs, but total costs could be higher. This program is complex and has specific eligibility requirements. See the Extended Repayment Plan page on the U.S. Department of Education website for details.

The Income-Based Repayment Plan (IBR), the Pay as You Earn Repayment Plan, the Income-Contingent Repayment Plan (ICR) and the Income-Sensitive Repayment Plan offer different combinations of payment deferral and debt forgiveness based on your income and other factors. You may be asked to document financial hardship and meet other eligibility requirements. See the U.S. Department of Education’s pages on income-driven repayment plans and income-sensitive repayment plans for more information.

Take an inventory of your debt. How much do you owe on bank and store credit cards? On your home mortgage and home equity credit lines? On car loans? Any other loans? Consider paying extra each month to reduce the loans with the highest interest rates first, followed by those with the largest balances.

Free up resources by cutting costs. Consider eating out less, reducing snacks on the go, and carpooling or using mass transit instead of driving to work. You may also be able to cut your housing costs, put off vacations and reduce clothing purchases.

Think about enhancing your income. A second job? A part-time business opportunity?

Consider jobs that offer opportunities for subsidies or debt forgiveness.

Federal civil service employees may be eligible for up to $10,000 a year for paying back federal student loans. See the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Student Loan Repayment Program for more information.

Nurses working in underserved areas may be eligible for loan assistance through the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ NURSE Corps Loan Repayment Program.

Service members in the U.S. Armed Forces are eligible for support. Check out the service-specific programs offered by the Air Force, the Army, the National Guard and the Navy.

Teachers can consider programs such as Teach for America and the Teacher Loan Forgiveness Program.

Sign up for automatic loan payments. Many loans offer discounted interest rates for setting up automatic electronic payments on a predetermined schedule. A reduction of 0.25% per year may look small, but over the life of a 20-year loan, it can reduce your total interest cost by hundreds or even thousands of dollars.

A last resort is seeking loan deferment or forbearance. Students facing significant financial hardship may be able to put off loan interest or principal payments. To see whether you might qualify, look to the U.S. Department of Education’s information on Deferment and Forbearance.


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What I’m Reading…

Hillbilly Elegy

By J.D. Vance


An interesting, poignant and often humorous memoir of growing up poor and white in the Rust Belt, Hillbilly Elegy has been on numerous bestseller lists for months and has been heavily reviewed.  Valued and respected by conservatives and liberals alike, the book has also been touted to a certain extent as a explanation for the political division and turmoil surrounding the recent election.  All this by an author only in his early 30s.  J.D. Vance makes it out of Ohio and the Appalachian hillbilly culture he was born and raised in; the book is about how he does it, the people who help him and his thoughts on why others in his same situation often don’t make it.



1st Annual Employee Volunteer Day

We recently had our first Harbor sponsored employee volunteer day and were all pretty excited about the agenda for the day. We had a bit of work to do at Harbor that morning, then lunch at the office to celebrate Megan’s 5th year at Harbor (actually she has been here longer if you count her time as an intern), and then off to the Humane Society of Boulder Valley.)

Lisa, the director, gave us a tour of the amazing facility and explained how they take in new animals for adoption and the different services they provide based on the needs of each animal. They provide behavior modification training, medical and veterinary services which are also open to the public.  They also assess the animals and are then able to suggest what type of home environments they would best thrive in – this is most helpful in placing cats.  The last stop of the tour was the adoption area where we were able to see and love on some sweeties that were awaiting adoption.

The Humane Society of Boulder Valley provides shelter and care to more than 7,000 animals each year, with about 93% of these animals being adopted.

After our tour we were ready to get to work. The HSBV’s annual fundraiser, Puttin’ On the Leash 2017, would be held soon and they had asked us to wrap up raffle items.  We also worked on some of the table decorations.  I was hoping we would be walking dogs or petting cats, but when we toured the facility we were told they have over 600 volunteers throughout the year and over 150 on an average day– so many that they had to set up a system to prevent the dogs from being over-walked!  So, no, they did not need us to do any dog walks.

Next we cleaned up our work areas because they had a surprise for us….. puppies!  I really don’t think there is anything cuter than a puppy.  Unless, it is two puppies.  Click here if you want to see more puppies….

Thank you Harbor and HSBV for a wonderful day! Looking forward to the next Harbor Employee Volunteer Day.





Megan Miller has earned CDFA® Accreditation

Megan has earned the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst accreditation.  A Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA®) provides:

*Expedited understanding of assets in a divorce from an expert-saving time and money

*Determining which assets fit each spouses needs saves time and money

*An understanding of your financial future is reassuring and allows more time for other negotiated aspects of the divorce

*Proper analysis and planning can avoid costly mistakes

*Developing a realistic budget assists in a more fair settlement

Megan’s experience includes creating settlement scenarios, detailed cash flow analysis, and development of a process for the assets division during a divorce negotiation. She is available to review proposed settlement scenarios with regards to future financial implications.  This will include a detailed cash flow analysis for 10,15, 20 or more years, as well as a future net worth statement to illustrate the long term effects on the asset division.  Megan’s extensive background in finance uniquely qualifies her for this specialty.

In addition to her CDFA® accreditation she is a CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and CIO (Chief Investment Officer) for the firm.

Megan will be presenting a Second Saturday Divorce Workshop July 8, 2017 at Harbor’s office. For details, please contact our office.