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Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

snowy day in Colorado

Instead of financial wisdom today, I thought I’d give everyone a little time off from personal finance to reflect. Looking back on 2015, I’m very blessed and happy to have great family and friends, our health, a safe home, the ability to earn income that provides for our needs, and the freedom to live in a country where we have so many choices and opportunities. Change in Holiday Plans The big news at our house this week is that my parents, who were coming for Christmas for the first time ever, won’t able to make it due to some lingering health issues. While we are all disappointed, it was probably for the best. Southwest Colorado is getting pounded with snow that isn’t expected to let up until after Christmas. I’m not sure how happy anyone’s holidays would have been with family stuck somewhere in an airport! To make up for the lack of company, we decided to foster a dog. Originally, we were going to wait until after the new year, but when we saw Hazel, we knew she needed to spend the holidays with us. Hazel is probably about a year old and some sort of rez dog mix. ...

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Smart Financial Moves to Make During the Holiday Break

getting finances on track

As we count down the last few days until the end of the year, here’s to hoping everyone gets a little time off. Obviously, you’ll want to spend some time with friends and family, but hopefully there will be a little downtime as well. Sure it’s fun to binge watch a TV series or watch cute animal videos, but there are also some smart financial moves to make during the holiday break. Set up a System to Track Finances Whether you use Excel, Google Docs, or a notebook and pen, tracking income and spending is one of the most important financial steps you can take if you want to take control of your money. Spend a little time learning what you spend money on and where there is room for improvement. You can also set up a free account with Personal Capital and let them do the heavy lifting for you. Not only can Personal Capital track finances, they also offer tools to check investment fees and calculators to make sure you retire with enough money to live on. Start Planning for Next Year’s Taxes Sure you have until April 15th to complete tax filing, but now is the perfect time ...

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5 Ways to Beat the Holiday Blues

beating the holiday blues

  Although many people love the holiday season, others tend to side with the Grinch. Holiday blues can make people unproductive, less careful with money, and even mean. I made the mistake of asking the front desk clerk at the rec center if they were open on Christmas Eve and got a whole tirade of how unfair it was that she had to work on December 24! If you are one of the stressed, depressed, or downright cranky people who are struggling to find your holiday cheer, here are 5 ways to beat the holiday blues. Focus on the Positive Things Even if ten positive things happen in a day, it’s easy to dwell on the one negative that reared its ugly head. When I get stuck in a negative, it helps to make a list of all the good things going on in my life. Sometimes a mental list is enough, and sometimes I need to write them down. While this may seem silly at first glance, it’s hard to dwell on being late or not getting a job when you sit down and think about things like health, family, friends, and all the great opportunities that did go your ...

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Gifts That Cost More Than The Sticker Price

bad Christmas gifts

On Monday, we mentioned practical holiday gifts. It’s nice to find the perfect gift that will be appreciated and used frequently, but there are many gifts that cost more than the sticker price. Advertisers love to tell people that huge, sparking, expensive gifts are what it takes to show that special someone how much we love them, although I’m not sure saddling someone with a gift that continues to cost money or hours of work is the best way to say you care. New Cars It absolutely amazes me that a person would go out and finance something that costs thousands of dollars without telling their significant other, yet every year, one of my Facebook friends seems to do just that. We’ve all seen the post with the picture of a new car with a big bow that says something to the effect of “Look What Hubby/Wife Surprised Me With!” Then, all the comments seem to support this concept. I would love to be the person who has the guts to reply, “Wow, you gave 60 months of debt.” People need cars, and buying new or financing might make the most sense for your situation. However, if you feel it’s ...

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Practical Holiday Gifts

practical holiday gifts for everyone

I’ve mentioned many times in the past that I don’t especially enjoy giving or receiving gifts in most situations. I always appreciate gifts given for the right reasons, but sadly, most of the time, we feel the need to buy things for others out of obligation and we often spend too much. Right now is prime gift season, and since I’m not ready to be a total Scrooge, here are my best ideas for practical holiday gifts. Health Related Gifts Being in the medical field, I think giving practical holiday gifts that improve overall health and well being are fantastic. While giving a gift certificate to the dentist or eye doctor might not be mainstream, I can speak from experience that people who receive those are ecstatic. After all, who enjoys paying for contacts or teeth cleanings? Also, instead of giving cookies or fattening treats this season, why not help someone get healthy? Of course you don’t want to offend by making loved ones think they are out of shape or unattractive, but you probably have a gut feeling about who would be receptive to this sort of gift. There are tons of health related possibilities. Glasses (regular, computer, or ...

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