Simplify Your Holiday Gift Giving and Gain Financial Health

It is Money Monday!

We will continue to destress by having you work on decreasing your financial stressors. Worrying about how to pay for all of your bills can make you physically sick so we want to work on decreasing the amount of money that you owe. You can simplify your holiday gift giving and gain financial health.  

For those of you that are new to this group, I believe that each one of you needs to be financially literate. I don’t want you to stay in a toxic home or relationship because you cannot afford to leave. I do not have any special certifications in this field. I am just sharing my thoughts with you like I share with my kids.

We began our conversation about how to pay for Christmas on September 25th. Three months before Christmas.   I asked if you preplan, budget and prepay for your holiday gifts and expenses or do you spend what you want and worry about it the following year? If you are in the latter group, I want for you to take the next 18 months to convert to a plan where you prepay for all of your holiday gifts and expenses. Yes, a good old fashion Christmas Savings account!

Although the MarketPlace article is from 2018, the average Christmas debt was $1054 and half paid it off within 3 months. Another 29% paid it off in 5 months. Some were still paying on the debt when the next holiday season rolled around.

Let’s walk through an example using my immediate family to see what kind of money we are talking about.

I have 2 parents, 1 mother-in-law, 1 spouse, 3 children and 2 boy/girl friends, 5 brothers + spouses, 4 in-laws + spouses, and 20 nieces and nephews. That is 47 individuals. If I gave each of them a gift and limited my costs to the following this is how much it would cost me.

$10 apiece = $470

$20 apiece = $940

$25 apiece = $1175

$50 apiece = $2350

I will have to decide if I am going to give everyone a gift or do we draw names to limit how many gifts we will exchange. You know that I am going to give my spouse and kids more than one gift. What kind of limits will I place on myself? Maybe I can gift them my time or talents instead.

What about the other special people in your life? Do you factor in your co-workers, employees, friends, church family members, angel trees, mailman, newspaper carrier, sports team coaches, teachers, housekeeper, lawn service, Christmas family donations, etc. When we add them in, it gets scary really quickly. Where does it end? Which of these things can you remove from your list? Again, maybe your time or talents would be a better way to show them you care. Maybe you spread your gifts out over the year instead of all in one month?

What about decorations, holiday outfits, pjs, holiday cards, special meals and drinks? What else can you add to this list?

If it is too stressful to think about prepaying (saving) for this in 2020, then use this year to keep strict records so that you can use 6-9 months of 2021 to save up for the 2021 holidays.

This year is so different for all of us. You have 5 weeks before Thanksgiving week. Your financial situation may or may not be different this year but I am going to challenge you to use this time to make a promise to yourself that you will limit holiday spending in some way this year. Sit down for dinner with your family and talk about it openly. Talk about it at work. I guarantee you that someone will be grateful to hear that you will not have a gift exchange this year.

You can make this decision for yourself and can just announce that you are taking a break this year. You are allowed to do this!

Is this too much for you? Start small. Make a promise to yourself that you will not buy any new holiday decorations this year. What can you reuse or repurpose? How can you simplify your decor? Do you really need a Christmas tree in each room? If you do, do not buy anything new for any of them this year.

For today, without thinking hard, write down ONE thing you will not buy this holiday season.

Me? Christmas Santas.

What about you? Leave a comment below and share your first thought.

multicolored wrap bracelets on a women's wrist

Using Hobbies to Soothe Your Soul During COVID

Self-Isolation

COVID has changed our lives in so many ways.  My parents still live in their own home and have approached this time in a very different manner.  Initially, both of my parents heeded the recommendations from health officials to stay in their homes.  They had the support of several family members who lived nearby who could assist in running errands for them. Since March, she celebrated her 60th wedding anniversary, her 80th birthday and missed the graduation events of two of their grandchildren.

My dad, a very active healthy 85 year old slowly began resuming running some basic errands while being cautious.  For my mom, things were a bit different.  She had a heart attack last fall so she was still being mindful about her activities.  Due to her health issues, she decided to stay indoors without fail.  She did well at the beginning but as the confinement began to drag on, it was apparent that we had to find activities to keep her occupied.  My mom taught school for over 40 years and has always been a crafter.  She incorporated arts and crafts into her school work and then used this skill during her retirement phase to keep her entertained.  She is the type of person that can replicate anything after just studying it.  Being isolated was challenging but she turned to her love of crafts to help pass the time.  

Using hobbies to Soothe Your Soul During COVID

My dad resumed his outdoor activities but took precautions.  He was certified as a master gardener and used his love of all things green to while away his time in the great outdoors.  Piddling in his garden or work shed, cutting the grass at his lake lot or helping his sons on their projects, he took the stance that he wanted to find a healthy, cautious balance to life.  He just entered his 51st year of selling life and health insurance and has modified his work practice to meet clients in a safe manner.  

My mom decided to turn to her love of crafts.  She had been selling custom made rosary wrap bracelets to her friends and at local craft shows.  This fun pasttime came to a halt with the isolation orders.  We had a long talk about what she wanted to do.  I had time on my hands and had watched too many YouTube videos so we decided to open an Etsy store.

Bevasbracelets was born

She surveyed her craft room and realized that she had over 200 bracelets.  She loves to make rosary wrap bracelets so off we went.  We made some listings and learned all about SEO.  We made an IG account.  She has a strong following which delights her.  She now has something to look forward to.
She is now making all types of styles based on what her customers request. She has autism awareness bracelets, prayer bracelets, some NFL team bracelets and her breast cancer awareness bracelets.  She sells them through many venues including direct sales to friends, on Facebook and through Etsy.  This has been so exciting to watch as her bracelets are now all over the country.   She just made her 100th sale since going live mid-April.

 

If you get a chance, visit her Etsy store and see what she has. You can sort by category. Here is a picture of all of the breast cancer survivor awareness bracelets. There are 16 different styles and they are all on Etsy under Bevasbracelets if you want to look at the close up pictures.

 

Feel free to share this post with your friends. I would appreciate you helping to spread the word.

Celebrating a New Start After Graduating From College

Congratulations to all of our new college grads on beginning their new jobs. I feel like a proud mama watching my daughter and her friends achieve this milestone. They are moving to new cities and establishing new homes. What advice can we share with them? What advice can we share with any of our friends who are returning to the workforce?  Let us share their excitement as we begin celebrating a new start after graduating from college.

Here are 12 things that I would tell you if you were my child. Following some or all of these recommendations will ensure that you become financially independent. The goal at the beginning is to keep as much money in your pocket as you can.

• Continue to live like a poor college student for as long as you can.

• Learn how to cook.

• Do not buy a new car or lease a car. If your car needs to be replaced, buy a used car.

• Continue to rent.

• Become financially literate.

• Plan a budget and live below your means.

• Sign up for any employer match retirement programs.

• If allowed, stay on your parent’s health and dental insurance (until you are 26 years old.) Sit down and review what your parent’s premium cost is with and without you. Most plans have a flat ‘family rate’. Figure out what your portion of this is and pay this premium to your parents instead of your company’s plan.

• If your employer’s health insurance cost is zero to you, you may want to take the benefit and use your parent’s plan as your secondary insurance.

• If this is not an option, sign up for an employer HSA if it is offered especially if the employer makes a contribution to help fund it.

• Do not sign up for the ‘extra’ employer benefits during your first year. You do not need long-term care, cancer insurance, whole life insurance, or whatever other ‘benefit’ they are offering. Contain your costs and hoard your money. As you educate yourself, you can decide what other benefits you truly need. Remember that the company representatives are there to sell you something.

• Pick up a side hustle and pay down your college debt as fast as you can.

What advice would you give your 22 year old self? Share your advice in the comments below.

2020 is the Year of the Staycation

It is Funday Monday! The week of July 4th is usually a relaxing time for most families as it is usually a short work week with fireworks, cookouts and maybe a long weekend.

COVID is disrupting normal summer travel plans with many vacation trips being cancelled.  We need look at alternative ways to enjoy the great outdoors this year. Better yet, with some preplanning, you may be able to do it in an inexpensive manner as well.

As with everything that has hit us these last 3-4 months, this week may be a bit subdued. Just because you cannot take your normal vacation does not mean you cannot dream about what you would like to do. Better yet, with some preplanning, you may be able to do it in an inexpensive manner as well.

Do we all agree?  2020 is the Year of the Staycation!

Begin researching what there is to do in your hometown, county, state and region. Even better, look for no-cost or low-cost forms of entertainment.

Since we need to factor in social distancing, I recommend looking at outdoor activities. Alltrails is a great website or app that lets you search by zip code, town, state, etc. I entered my zip code and it gave me a list of 68 places to go take a hike! 68!!!

Not every location will have that many options but it is a start. You can also search for your state or national parks in your areas.

Let’s start brainstorming how you can fit one into your plans. This is a great way to practice some self-care. Focusing on your mental health is so important right now and engaging with nature will help counteract depression and anxiety.

After you pencil in your destination, let’s plan your budget. Food? Housing? Transportation costs? Entry fees? If you can keep it to day trips or one night stays, even better!

Remember that you are not going to go into debt for these mini-trips. Plan your budget and when you have the money in hand to take your trip and can cover all costs, then away you go!

Visit our Resources page https://whoistakingcareofyou.com/resources/ for the Plan Your Trip Activity worksheet to help you begin the planning process.  

Happy Trails!

Woman daydreaming as she looks at a beautiful sunset.

Aligning your financial information

DeStress Your Life With Newfound Financial Literacy

It’s Monday so you know the drill. Eat less meat, go for a walk, practice some selfcare and watch a rerun of your favorite Star Wars episode!
We will need the force to be with us as we move in the direction of exploring the financial side of our lives. Why did I include financial literacy on the Facebook poll? Did you know that financial stress is one of the top reasons that relationships have issues? Financial stress also impacts your personal well being. A few examples are listed below.
  • Anxiety/depression
  • Panic attacks
  • Guilt
  • Weight loss
  • Weight gain which can lead to diabetes
  • Denial
  • Inadequate sleeping patterns
  • Harder to control your blood pressure

Over the last 30 years, I have spoken to so many women who are at a loss when it comes to their own finances. Not because they are being lazy but because they either relied on their partner to ‘take care of all of that’ or they feel overwhelmed about how to get the financial information that they need.  Financial literacy had not been a priority.

Either way, I feel that it is crucial for all of you to become financially literate so that you can take control of your personal finances and have a say in how your money is spent. You need to be in a position so that you can walk away from a toxic work environment or a toxic relationship.

So I have a homework assignment for you for today. Put on your favorite episode of Star Wars and gather all of your banking account information, pay stubs, and all of your bills while you are watching it. Put it all in one stack and we will begin working our way through a simple process so that you can organize the information and make a plan for how to ensure that you fully understand what is in front of you.

“This is a new day, a new beginning.” – Ahsoka Tano