Did you achieve your financial goals in 2018? If you found yourself short on cash flow last year or didn’t reach the savings milestones that you hoped for then it may be time to set some new financial goals for the New Year.

Here are four ways to help set financial goals for 2019:

Prioritize for the short and long term.

Many people have short-term (within 2 years) and long-term (over 5 years) goals; the key to achieving all of them is to prioritize. The amount of money, time, and effort you dedicate to each goal depends on their importance a.k.a. their priority.

According to Investopedia “Setting goals is an important step toward becoming financially secure. If you aren’t working toward anything specific, you’re likely to spend more than you should. Setting short-term financial goals can give you the confidence boost and foundational knowledge you need to achieve larger goals that will take more time.”

Be realistic about all goals.

Setting, working toward, and achieving financial goals is a strong motivator for bigger accomplishments, but only if the goals are realistic. It can be extremely disappointing to want something that you don’t achieve.

When setting financial goals, be realistic about the time horizon, monthly budget allocation and affordability. It’s also important to set mini-goals and check in on your progress regularly. These actions will help determine if you’re on track to achieving your goal or if the plan of action needs to be adjusted.

Seek professional advice.

When it comes to your personal finances, goals are not always easy to achieve – that’s where the advice of a professional can become part of the plan. A financial advisor can help set realistic money management goals as well as create a plan to help you achieve them in a reasonable amount of time.

An advisor can also help create investment strategies for your financial goals that align with your risk tolerance and time horizon. According to Marketwatch “Median annual returns for 401(k) holders who got professional help were 3.32 percentage points higher than returns for people who invested on their own.”

Don’t just save. Invest wisely.

A major benefit of seeking professional financial advice is the advisor’s investment knowledge and industry expertise. Of course, the option to invest on your own is an option, but when it comes to money, paying for service from an expert is definitely worth the cost.

A financial advisor doesn’t just help you find extra disposable income to save; they help you invest wisely so your money grows over time. The more your money grows, the faster you’ll achieve your goals.

If you have specific financial goals for 2019, contact me today and let’s create a plan to achieve them!


Brian Littlejohn, MBA, CFP®, CFA is a fee-only financial advisor serving clients in Glenwood Springs, CO and beyond. His firm, Sherwood Investment Management, provides investment management, retirement planning, and comprehensive financial planning to help clients organize, grow, and protect their assets. Sherwood Investment Management is completely independent, acts as a fiduciary for its clients at all times, and never accepts commissions of any kind.

Brian has been selected to teach a retirement planning course for Franklin University as an adjunct professor in the spring. Here are the details:

FPLN-450 Retirement Saving/Income Plan (4 Credits) – 12 weeks in length

An introduction to retirement planning concepts, procedures, and issues for individuals, businesses, and business owners. Topics include understanding and evaluating client retirement objectives, qualified and non-qualified retirement plans, tailoring retirement plans to client needs, funding retirement plans and investing plan assets, retirement planning for individual clients, post-retirement monetary needs, tax considerations in retirement planning, and retirement plan distributions.

On this Veterans Day, if you know someone who has (a) been seriously injured while serving in the military or (b) lost a loved one who was serving, please encourage them to reach out to me (707-776-7331 or to see if they are eligible to receive free financial planning advice for life. It’s a great benefit for a truly deserving group of Americans!

The vast majority of Americans think that all financial advisors should be fiduciaries. However, less than 15% actually are. I think we can safely assume that there are MANY people out there who incorrectly believe that their advisor is required to act in their best interest at all times. The article below does a good job of sorting everything out.



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CFA Institute

Brian R. Littlejohn Earns Prestigious Chartered Financial Analyst Designation

NOVATO, CA, October 2, 2018 – Brian Littlejohn, a registered investment advisor at Sherwood Investment Management in Novato, CA, has earned the prestigious Chartered Financial Analyst® (CFA®) designation.

The CFA charter, the most respected and recognized investment credential in the world, represents a tradition of upholding the highest standards of education and integrity in the investment profession. The charter is recognized globally by employers, investment professionals, and investors as the definitive standard by which to measure the competence, integrity, and dedication of serious investment professionals.

Recipients of the CFA charter have successfully completed the CFA Program, a graduate-level, self-study curriculum and a series of three intensive examinations taken sequentially, which, in total, takes most candidates between two and five years. Candidate surveys report that preparation for the three exams typically requires at least 900 combined hours of study.

The CFA Program, which is administered by CFA Institute, the global not-for-profit association of investment professionals, sets a standard that is acknowledged around the world for measuring the competence and integrity of financial analysts, portfolio managers, and investment advisers. Currently, more than 100,000 investment professionals in 135 countries and territories hold the CFA charter.

The first CFA exam was administered in 1963. Due to the rigor of the program, only around one in five candidates who enroll in the CFA Program pass all three exams and meet the professional and ethical requirements to earn the charter. Earning the designation demonstrates mastery of the skills most needed for investment analysis and decision making in today’s fast-evolving global financial industry.

Administered worldwide in English, the CFA Program is firmly grounded in the knowledge and skills required every day in the investment profession and covers ethical and professional standards, securities analysis and valuation, international financial statement analysis, quantitative methods, economics, corporate finance, portfolio management, and performance measurement.

Brian has worked in the financial industry for 11 years. A graduate of Clemson University, Brian began his financial career at The Wealth Conservancy as an investment advisor in Boulder, CO in 2007. He then founded Sherwood Investment Management in 2014.

“I am thrilled to finally receive my charter,” Brian said. “It represents the successful culmination of hundreds of hours of study and a demonstrated commitment to professionalism and ethics. I’d like to thank my family and friends for all their support and understanding over the past several years.”

John Bowman, CFA, Managing Director, Americas at CFA Institute, explained what motivates candidates to make such a significant investment of their time and energy to seek to earn the CFA designation.

“For 50 years, candidates have sought to earn the CFA charter for two chief reasons,” Bowman said. “One, to expand and test their knowledge of current practice across a broad range of investment topics, and two, to demonstrate to clients, employers, and peers their mastery of a demanding body of knowledge.

“In the past decade, as the CFA Program has been adopted as a worldwide standard, the charter also has become an ‘international passport’ to work in financial markets anywhere in the world,” Bowman concluded.


Notes to Editors

About CFA Institute

CFA Institute is the global association for investment professionals. It administers the CFA and CIPM curriculum and exam programs worldwide; publishes research; conducts professional development programs; and sets voluntary, ethics-based professional and performance-reporting standards for the investment industry. CFA Institute has more than 115,000 members, who include the world’s more than 100,000 CFA charterholders, in 138 countries and territories, as well as 138 affiliated professional societies in 60 countries and territories. More information may be found at


Brian was recently interviewed by a reporter from a large national publication about the extraordinarily long bull market run we’ve seen — and whether investors should be bracing for a drop. Part of their exchange is below:

REPORTER: Are your clients worried?

BRIAN: No, they know that our stock market takes two steps forward and one step back and then repeats. We plan accordingly.

REPORTER: What are you advising your clients to do?

BRIAN: There’s no doubt that this bull market is getting long in the tooth. I’m currently advising clients to dial back the risk a little bit. For example, if a new client walks in the door tomorrow and their risk tolerance points to a 60% stock allocation, I’m probably going to recommend a 50-55% allocation to stocks instead.

REPORTER: It seems the folks most at risk are those who might need the money soon — for retirement, to pay for college, etc. What sort of advice can you provide to folks who may be tempted to make changes?

BRIAN: This is true. One disciplined way to de-risk is to decrease the stock exposure in your portfolio by X% for each Y% the stock market increases. If investors don’t want to go that route but feel the need to do something, they can help ensure that their risk exposure doesn’t increase by doing things like not reinvesting the dividends that their stock holdings generate.

REPORTER: Who should make changes — and how can you gauge whether you should make any changes?

BRIAN: The closer you are to needing the invested funds, the more seriously you should look at taking steps to cap and/or reduce your risk levels. In other words, your time horizon should play a critical role in this type of decision-making. 

REPORTER: Are there any questions investors should ask themselves?

BRIAN: How close am I to needing the money I have invested in the stock market? What’s my Plan B if the market takes a dive? Can I really live with Plan B?

REPORTER: How can retirees or pre-retirees protect themselves?

BRIAN: Speak with your financial advisor about doing a risk review. If you don’t have a financial advisor, get one. This is more important than ever since such a small percentage of employees are covered by defined benefit retirement plans these days.    

Are you on track for a comfortable retirement? Get a good idea by using our retirement assessment tool here. If you have any questions about your results, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!

Planning to pay for a college education or two? Unsure whether you’re saving enough? Check out our new education assessment tool here to find out.


Are you a last-minute filer? If so, this link is for you!

Trimming college costs up front can help families avoid excessive college borrowing and the burdensome student loan payments that come with it. Here are some ideas:

Pick a college with a lower net price.

You can use a college’s net price calculator (available on every college’s website) to estimate what your net price (out-of-pocket cost) will be at individual colleges. A net price calculator does this by estimating how much grant aid a student is likely to receive based on a family’s financial and personal information. Colleges differ on their aid generosity, so after entering identical information in different calculators, you may find that College A’s net price is $35,000 per year while College B’s net price is $22,000. By establishing an ideal net price range, your child can target schools that hit your affordable zone.

Investigate in-state universities.

Research in-state options and encourage your child to apply to at least one in-state school. In-state schools generally offer the lowest sticker price (though not necessarily the lowest net price) and may offer scholarships to state residents.

Research colleges that offer generous merit aid.

All colleges are not created equal in terms of how much institutional aid they offer. Spend time researching colleges that offer generous merit aid to students whose academic profile your child matches.

Graduate early.

Earn college credit in high school by taking AP/IB classes and then graduate a semester or two early. Or look at colleges that specifically offer three-year accelerated degree programs.

Seek out free room and board.

There are two ways to do this: The first is to live at home (though transportation costs might eat into your savings), and the second way is to become a resident assistant (RA) on campus, a job that typically offers free room and board.

Work during college.

Working during college and contributing modest amounts to tuition along the way — say $1,500 to $3,000 a year — can help students avoid another $6,000 to $12,000 in loans.

Combine traditional and online courses.

Does the college offer online classes? If so, you may be able to earn some credits at a lower cost over the summer or during breaks.

Broadridge Investor Communication Solutions, Inc. Copyright 2017