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25 Ways to Have a Financially Responsible Holiday Season

25-ways-to-have-a-financially-responsible-holiday-season

With Thanksgiving behind us, the stores are in full out competition for your dollars – flashing lights, bonus bucks, “free” gifts, and gimmicks galore! The temptation is to spend in the moment, go out to eat more, and treat ourselves to something well outside of our budgets. Without a plan, things can quickly get out of hand. So here are some ways you can be financially responsible, and without buyer’s remorse, come the New Year.

1.  Host a gift exchange or “Secret Santa”, instead of having the pressure to buy for every family member, coworker, or friend.

 

2.  Discover the deductions that can lower your tax bill and stop throwing money away. People who use a tax professional end up with $300-$800 more cash in their pocket compared to folks who do it themselves.

 

3.  Make homemade, meaningful gifts for family and friends. Forgo presents for adults in your family. After all, they are usually the hardest to buy for and already have much of what they want.

 

4.  Host simple family gatherings at home instead of going out for an expensive meal.

 

5. Plan ahead for extra expenses that can add up quickly – teacher gifts, party supplies, travel, etc.

 

6.  Always compare prices before making purchases.

 

7.  Set a budget and stick to it! Pay for Christmas gifts with cash. It creates accountability and helps you stick to the budget you’ve set.

 

8.  Save your receipts for a possible price-matching opportunity if the item goes on a bigger sale.

 

9.  Don’t purchase things just because they are a great deal. Remember your financial goals, and stick to your list.

 

10. Don’t get caught up in trying to get the best or biggest gift for kids or grand kids.

 

11. Find a charity that you are passionate about and donate some of the money you save to a good cause.

 

12. Stay out of the malls. Pick the stores you need to go into for a specific gift, or shop online.

 

13. Pack meals for road trips, instead of spending extra cash for out to eat.

 

14. Buy gifts throughout the year as you find things on sale. 

 

15. Have a pitch-in holiday meal, instead of taking on the expense of hosting the entire meal.

 

16. Search for promo codes, and free shipping codes for additional savings while shopping online.

 

17. Pass out Christmas cards to friends and family you see often, instead of wasting the postage.

 

18. Find ways to lower your monthly insurance costs. (Dave Ramsey’s ELPs can save most people at least $500 per year on their home and auto insurance.)

 

19. Grab groceries for Christmas meals now, during after Thanksgiving sales. Turkeys, hams, and other fixings will be marked down significantly, which makes it a great time to stock up.

 

20. Save on decorations by using what you have and shopping after Christmas clearance for next year’s trimmings.

 

21. Create meaningful, inexpensive holiday memories: Christmas movies in pajamas,
baking cookies for neighbors, caroling with friends to the local nursing home, driving around to look at Christmas lights, etc.

 

22. Go together with other friends and family for a combined gift.

 

23. Look for ways to serve others this season with practical gifts of love and time.

 

24. Pay yourself first! Don’t buy things that you’ll use for 5 minutes and then tire of. Instead, increase your retirement contribution before the end of the year to maximize your saving potential and save money on your taxes.

 

25. Most of all, don’t forget the MEANING behind the season.

 

What are some practical ways that help you save money during this holiday season? 

{Thanks so much to Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers for sponsoring this blog post and allowing us to share our personal financial story.}

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HOT Amazon Deal – Disney’s Monster’s University and Planes for $16.99 on Blu-Ray

disney's planes dvd amazon     disney's monsters university on amazon

 

Just noticed these 2 AWESOME prices on 2 of the season’s hottest Disney movies, both for just $16.99 on Amazon for the Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack, and knew I couldn’t keep them to myself!  

Planes Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack $16.99 (62% off)

Monster’s University Blu-Ray/DVD Combo Pack $16.99 (43% off) 

We haven’t watched either of these yet, but we can’t wait to see them!  For this price we can OWN them cheaper than go see them at the movies! 

What movies are on your family’s “Can’t Wait to Watch” list?

 

 Some of the links in the post above are “affiliate links.” This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a tiny affiliate commission – so THANK YOU. Know that I only recommend products or services I use personally and believe will add value to your lives, because I genuinely care about you!

 

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The Grown-Up Reality of Losing Health Care Coverage

A few nights ago, I got together with some of my close girl friends for dinner and catching up. It was a great dose of laughs and good conversation, until someone brought up healthcare. Instant mood changer. We vented together about crazy premiums, all of the unknowns, the challenges of finding affordable options as small business owners, all of the confusing terminology, etc.

And then we all laughed at each other and wondered how in the world we’ve gotten so old?!!! We even digressed to talking about putting robes on our Christmas list. Robes! Before you know it, our GNOs will be spent discussing Poly-Dent, knee-highs, adult diaper absorbency, and who owns the trendiest cane.

dave-ramsey-health-care-insurance-options

Regardless of how old you feel, you can’t change the channel on the television, browse a news site on the web, or even go a day without hearing a conversation about health care reform for 2014. Political preferences aside, there’s no denying that things are changing in a drastic way. Personally for Brad and I, it means losing our current coverage like millions of others across our nation. This means with very little notice, we have to somehow try and make sense of all these new terms, apply for new coverage, and have something in place in just the next few weeks.

Honestly, it’s all too overwhelming to process and complicated to understand on our own. Health Savings Accounts, PPOs, Open Exchange, Off the Exchange, Primary Exclusive Providers, Out of Pocket Max, etc. are terms I don’t use around the kitchen table with our family of six. We needed someone to sit down with us and explain some of our options for this coming year in a way that we could comprehend, and assess the best alternatives to what we currently have for insurance. We also wanted to explore our future options as we anticipate growth in our small business and other potential family medical needs.

Because we trust Dave Ramsey’s ELP referral program, we filled out a simple form to discuss our options with a health insurance professional (for free), and within a day we had an appointment made with someone locally who came to our home to discuss our options. Our ELP was prepared with several plans for us to consider, welcomed any questions, and was a patient teacher to help us wade through all of the unfamiliar terminology. We appreciated his honesty and easy-going conversation through the process, and then allowing us time to process our options after he left.

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Even if your policies aren’t changing for the 2014 calendar, expect major changes next year. Currently, there are endless unknowns about how this reform will affect policyholders and their health care, so it’s definitely something to pay attention to, and know your options (even if it makes you feel elderly).

Personally, we have a little bit of work left to figure out what we’ll do for coverage for this coming year, but I’m so thankful we were able to seek professional advice, and have our options explained in laymen’s terms. Although the changes are frustrating, confusing, and even disappointing, I’m thankful for the best healthcare in the world. We have been blessed as a family with amazing care during my pregnancy, when our boys were in the NICU, specialist referrals, and our amazing family physician. My hope is that nothing compromises the amazing care we are so fortunate to have experienced due to the dedication of our medical community in this country that we call home.

How about YOU? Is your insurance coverage changing this coming year? Have you talked to health insurance professional about your options? Are YOU asking for a robe this Christmas? ;)

{Thanks so much to Dave Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Providers for sponsoring this blog post and allowing us to share our personal financial story.}
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