The scariest time of year?

Happy Halloween! 

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Today marks the beginning of the time of year where so many of our spending habits AND eating habits change dramatically.  As a result, it can be scary to look in your bank account and on the scale!  Just yesterday I went out of my way (25 minutes to be exact) to visit a local apple orchard.  I walked out with not 1 but 3 bottles of syrup: Pumpkin Spice, Apple Butter, and Peach Cobbler!  So what if I love my protein pancakes! Don’t judge me!  This purchase made my day or hopefully my entire winter season if I plan it right!  Yes, I did come out with some delicious apples too, but let’s be clear I came for that syrup!

Our finances are another part of our lives that change from October 31st to January 1st.  Many people spend money on tons of candy to hand out to eager children disguised as their favorite character.  Then we begin spending money on a Thanksgiving feast that we have anticipated for approximately 364 days.  And less than 12 hours after that meal millions of shoppers begin their quest to find the perfect gift for everyone on their list and probably a few items for themselves.  This time of year is simply expensive.  And you could get caught unaware of all that is happening to your bank account if you don’t pay attention.  Stay tuned to my next newsletter for an exciting opportunity to learn how to manage this season.

In addition to the fall spending fiasco, we are making benefit choices because it is open enrollment season.  Companies across the nation are sharing health care and other benefit offerings available at work and you get to choose.  For many, the cost of health care is astronomical.  Sometimes the choice isn’t clear what you should do and why.  Here are a few guidelines as you consider what options to elect for 2019.

  • Review your health care spending for the last 12 months.  When you add up all your family had to pay out of pocket you can look at your choices with clarity.  A healthy family of 4 who doesn’t go to the doctor very often or only for preventive maintenance may be able to handle a higher deductible.  A single person with lots of medical expenses may want to look at a PPO with a higher premium because they know the out of pocket costs will be less on that plan. No matter what your situation is, having a clear total of your out of pocket spending is a great place to begin.

  • Understand if it makes sense to put funds for medical expenses in a flexible spending account or health savings account.  These funds are pre-tax dollars only to be used for health care.  But if you only spend $500/year do not put more than that in the account.  Typically, the flexible spending account funds will go away on Dec. 31st. The health savings account will continue to grow if you don’t use it.

  • If you have day care costs it might we worth your while to put pre-tax funds away for those expenses.  A family who spends $5,000 on child care could save $1,000 if their effective tax rate is 20%.

  • Calculate your need for life insurance.  You may want to max out what is available at work because it might less expensive than buying term life insurance outside of work.

  • If you are planning to have a child in 2019 it might be good to review your disability and maternity coverage with your company plan.  When I was pregnant I paid a higher premium for disability coverage, so I could have more take-home pay during maternity leave.

  • If you know you will have some expensive dental work to do next year consider the advantages of a plan that pays a higher percentage of the costs. 

  • For self-employed persons or anyone who has a high out of pocket health care premium at work (over $200 per family member) you may want to consider other options.  Medi-Share is a health care sharing community that could be a great alternative for many.  Everyone pays an annual household portion, members submit their medical bills to Medi-Share for payment, and the bills get paid by the Medi-Share community.  If you are a Christian looking for an alternative biblical solution to paying for health care you may want to check it out by clicking here.

 This time of year doesn’t have to break the bank or stress you out.  And it doesn’t have to be scary!  Make a plan and stick to it.  Slow down so you can make informed decisions. Give yourself the opportunity to enjoy this season and prepare for 2019.

If you want to discuss your options with me check out my calendar to find a time that works for you.

 

Are You Ready for the Holidays?

Well they are coming even if you aren’t ready! Now is the time to prepare for the next few weeks. The nature of shopping is changing. You must know how to navigate so you get the best deal and keep more money in your pocket. Here are some tips that will help get you through this holiday season with no regrets and happy gift recipients.

  1. Check online 1st. www.blackfriday2011.com already has the latest ads that have been leaked so do your shopping now before you leave your house on Friday. Also, check out www.cybermonday2011.com.
  2. Buy online and get the same deals you would in store.  Many times you don't have to fight the crowds because the stores have the same sale prices online.
  3. Search your favorite stores for coupons again before you leave your house. Signing up for email lists usually ensures you will get the latest information quickly.
  4. Be a fan! Like your favorite stores on facebook and check their updates regularly. Typically, companies run specials, coupons, and giveaways for fans only.
  5. Follow them! Twitter can be a great way to ask specific questions about hours, specials, and upcoming events. If your stores have a twitter page be sure to follow them.
  6. Subscribe to the many deal sites like www.groupon.com, www.livingsocial.com, or www.dealchicken.com. Be careful that you only buy what you will use though.
  7. Make a list! Too many people leave their shopping to guesswork. Lack of planning leads to overspending. This list needs to include all the people you’d like to buy for and how much you intend to spend on them. You may also want to include gift ideas. Then, make sure you total it up and take it shopping with you.
  8. Shop with cash. There is nothing worse than a holiday hangover on credit. Who wants Christmas shopping to follow them forever?
  9. Don’t forget the small stuff! Make sure you decide on Christmas cards and postage, family photos, meal planning, teacher gifts, decorations, party attendance, etc. Nowadays, very little is free but planning can keep your personal costs to a minimum.

Don’t allow the holidays to wipe you out. You can and should be prepared for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and the New Year. I hope these tips help you to enjoy a Happy Thanksgiving, a very Merry Christmas, and a financially prosperous New Year!

How much should you spend on groceries?

The size of your family and your household income are big influences on your grocery spending. Some experts believe that $200/adult and $150/child for the month is reasonable. Personally I believe that is a lot of money especially given that the U.S. average household income is $50,000. I like to give guidelines to people based on percentages of income. For instance, all food for the home including groceries, dining out, school lunches, etc should be between 5-15% of your take home pay. Higher income households will be able to have steak more often if there are also fewer mouths to feed. Lower income households may spend closer to the 15% of their income on food simply because the income is not as high. If you use this rule of thumb and your percentage is higher than 15% you have reason to be concerned because the food category is cutting into other living expenses. But of course you need to eat and you or your children shouldn't feel deprived when doing so. If you are spending 20% of what you bring home on food each month that is an indication that more income is needed to take care of your size family or you need to do some serious couponing and reduce dining out. If that is the case, you will also feel the squeeze in your budget in other areas like mortgage/rent, transportation, etc. You can also try several of the following things to reduce the food budget: 1. Shop wholesale markets (Costco and Sam's) religiously for items you use a lot. 2. www.thegrocerygame.com, www.couponsense.com, www.couponmom.com all match the store's sale items to the weekly newspaper coupons. If you clip coupons try these sites once and see big savings. 3. Always have a running list of items you need in the home so you don’t go shopping blind and overspend. 4. Plan your meals and write the items you need on your running grocery list. This way you will only buy what is necessary. 5. Reduce dining out or use www.restaurant.com for deals.

Food is necessity but it doesn't have to cramp your style and take all your discretionary money for the month. With a plan and a purpose you can feed your family on a reasonable amount.

Check that Book

Personal finance is just that… personal. In this day and age no one wants to admit to having trouble in the area of their money. We are responsible right? We know what to do right? No problems here… Well take a look at the housing market right now and see for yourself if we really know what we’re doing. We as American’s have not made good decisions with our money and now many of us are paying the price.

One of the most important things you can do to improve your financial life is Check that Book! Many people come to me because they are dealing with overdraft fees and bounced checks. We’ve all done it, but there is a lot of shame, guilt, remorse, and stress over making this particular mistake. I’m here to tell you that there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. Actually, this is the reason that I am doing this business. Making smart decisions with your finances begins with tracking where all your money is going. Miscalculations quickly lead to overdrawn accounts. How do we end this cycle? There are several things you can do to get on the right track if this has happened to you.

1. Start with today’s bank balance for your account. Write it in the checkbook immediately.

2. Write everything down!!! All of your ATM debits, checks, debit card purchases, withdrawals, automatic payments, service charges, dividends, and of course all deposits must be written in the checkbook. Many people forget about the automatic payments or checks that were written several weeks prior. If you authorized it, it will hit your account soon. Review the transactions the bank already took out. Insert any transactions that haven’t yet hit your account in addition to outstanding checks you’ve written.

3. On an ongoing basis it is imperative that you write down all transactions as soon as they occur. If you are utilizing a software tool for your checkbook like Money or Quicken then you must keep all receipts in a convenient place so you can record everything as soon as you can get to your computer.

4. Bring the balance down! If you don’t subtract or add your last transaction and know the balance remaining then a checkbook is worthless. The whole point is for you to know exactly how much money you have currently in your account.

5. Accuracy is key. Never round up or down to make it look like more or less is in your account. All that says is that you don’t want face the truth. This whole process is about facing the truth. Your checkbook balance may be just the reality check you need.

6. Remember that using your debit card can also post as a credit card purchase. If you use your pin number during the transaction it posts to your account immediately. If you sign without using your pin number then it is run as a credit purchase and could take several days to show up. Do not allow this to be a checkbook catastrophe. Just because it doesn’t come through today doesn’t mean it is never coming through. Record it in your checkbook just as if it debited your account immediately.

7. Balance it. Be sure to check each transaction with your bank at the end of each month with your bank statement. I check off each transaction when it comes in. This way I know what is still outstanding. OK my engineering background is about to come out… Remember this equation.

Bank Balance = Confirmed Bank Transactions – Outstanding Transactions

You want to make sure not to forget any checks that are more than a month old. Sometimes it takes people a while to cash checks. At least this way you can give them a reminder call to let them know the check needs to be cashed. Otherwise you might feel that you have more money available than you truly do.

You can face the checkbook giant. Actually, conquering this beast will bring freedom and control. Knowing exactly what you have in your account at any given moment helps you to make sound decisions with you money all the time. Even if there isn’t much in the account at least you know. If there is a lot in the account… at least you know. Ignorance in this area is certainly not bliss and could lead to financial stress and countless fees. Make it a point to begin utilizing your checkbook.

“Be diligent to know the state of your flocks and attend to your herds”

Proverbs 27:23

What is procrastination costing YOU?

Procrastination is an evil that can cost you dearly. Sometimes we don’t realize the power it has over our lives until we literally add it up.

  • Have you ever checked out a book at the library and forgot to get it back on time having fees assessed daily?
  • Have you rented a DVD and ended up paying double for a lousy movie because you missed the 9pm deadline?
  • Have you walked in a store the day after a sale ended?
  • Have you failed to call a potential client when you said you would and lost business because of it?
  • I really hate is missing out on financial opportunities that truly could have been mine. I love a good deal, saving money, and getting the most for the least amount of money. I detest it when I could have saved money or ended up paying too much for something.

    Just last month I missed a sale at Dillard’s by one day and for the 2 dresses I bought could have saved an additional $47!! I forgot to go to the library and pick up a book that was on hold so a fine of $1 was assessed. I also paid an extra $50 for plane tickets just because I didn’t purchase them when they were on sale! All of this happened because I wasn’t paying attention to the details and taking action when I knew that I could. This may not sound like a lot of money today but if I continued to do this in various areas of my life for a year I might have squandered over $2000! Ridiculous!

    Maybe you procrastinate in other ways. We also procrastinate when we think we have more time. Here’s the definition:

    the act or habit of putting off or delaying, especially something requiring immediate attention

    Do you put off or delay financial matters that require immediate attention? Are you constantly backtracking because you failed to do something in a reasonable time period? Have you waited to start a budget or debt reduction plan? Now is the time to regroup. Think about the financial priorities you have in life. Think about what it would feel like to accomplish them. Then take action to make sure that no time is wasted.

    I purpose to slow down, do my research, and pay attention. We can get so busy that we miss out on financial opportunities and goals. I am not missing out on anything that saves me money from now on. I won’t wait to do something I can do right now. I encourage you to do the same. Don’t wait to start a budget or understand your debt position. If you have more time you can accomplish your goals sooner. Don’t allow procrastination to rob you of saving money or getting truly free.

    Never, Never, Never Give Up!

    A close girlfriend of mine used to have a message on her voice mail that said “Success is achieved through perseverance so never, never, never give up!” Every time I called her I knew that if we talked she would encourage me in some way and if she isn’t available at the time I’ll still be encouraged with her message. What a wonderful way to greet all who desire to speak with you. Today I encourage you with the same words.

    “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.” - Galatians 6:9

    We are entering the last quarter of 2011 soon. Have you made plans to stay on a budget, save a certain amount of money, or purchase a large item? How are you doing on your financial goals for 2011? It is easy to set our goals, but what do we do once they are written? Let’s not hide them in the office drawer. Pull them out and read them at least weekly. Make sure you are showing progress regularly. Show them to someone who really cares about you. It takes at least a few weeks of repetition before the new behavior becomes a habit. If you haven’t achieved your goals for 2011 yet, there still is time. Don’t give up before what you are striving for really becomes a part of who you are. Whatever it is that you are destined to accomplish this year is worth the effort required. And… you are more than worth the rewards that achievement will bring. Never, never, never give up!

    The Dreaded French Fry

    A large problem with budget planning is the dining out category.  Many people have the best of intentions, but when it comes down to it more budget breaking moves are made in this category than in any other category of the budget. Although we simply want a quick meal, we are probably sacrificing more: namely our hard-earned dollars and our health by eating out so much.  Personally, all my children ever want to eat when we go out is chicken tenders and French fries.  I find that they experiment more when we try new things at home rather than at a restaurant.  Since one of my goals is to raise healthy children who enjoy different kinds of food and flavors it is best to keep them in my own kitchen where they feel safe enough to experiment. 

    Let’s try it…

    See how much money you can save by dining in!

    Do Something Different!

    Have you looked in the room of your children or someone else’s child lately?  Toys are probably everywhere!  Are you tired of trying to figure out what toys they already have?  With Easter just wrapping up and the many Easter baskets given, filled with candy and toys, I'm reminded of a much more valuable gift to give to your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews; even if it's small amounts appropriate for holidays like Easter.  Maybe it is time to give a gift of future to the children we love and care about. 

    How about gifting some funds toward college education for the children in your life?  $20 or $30 may not sound like a lot of money to give towards higher education, but if several family members do it the savings can really add up.  College savings accounts regularly send coupons for giving to the manager of the account for just this purpose.  Send your family members a letter stating the importance of a change this year with the coupon inserted. 

    If the child is old enough to count money and understand the value of education then this could really be a teachable moment for him or her.  What an amazing gift to give a young person!  The parents will also appreciate this investment in their future too!

    I'm doing it this year.  Won't you join me?

    Refresh your Soul and Budget

    Sometimes when you are in a routine of budgeting, saving, or getting out of debt you forget to include in your planning the activities you enjoy doing.  Yes I am going to talk about that all important word BALANCE.  I have found that when we push ourselves too hard to save for something or pay off debt we can easily deprive ourselves of the things we enjoy the most.  Yes I have been just as guilty as anyone else, but now I truly believe you need to enjoy the journey you are on and not regret a thing along the way. Last summer I took the opportunity to participate in an activity that used to bring me such joy as a child and teenager.  When I was nearly 3 years old, my parents enrolled me in tap dance classes.  I couldn’t appreciate it then, but over 15 years of ballet, jazz, tap, modern, and African dance lessons inspired me and kept me in shape.  I began to thrive on the different moves my body could make.  I spent many hours every week practicing routines and my parents spent lots of money (remember: moderation is key).  For them it was an investment in a past time that I grew to love, for me it was recreation and my own personal creative expression.  While I did not become a professional dancer nor did I aspire to be, I grew to appreciate the art form and to this day attend performances that inspire the dancer within me.  

    A few years ago, I enrolled in a Hip Hop dance class that has challenged me to come outside my box.  I felt invigorated, refreshed, and 10 years younger.  It has changed the way I view my budget.  I consistently tell my clients and workshop attendees to incorporate goals into their budget for motivation and to develop positive saving habits, but I learned that some of the smaller things like a $40 dance class should fit as well.  Of course the budget numbers should balance, but the items listed should be balanced as well.  This class has helped me in more ways than I anticipated.  I get a few hours each week to myself and it is a great form of exercise.  It also allows me to refocus on my priorities when business must get done.  I’ve also witnessed a great leader in action.  My dance instructor has been teaching for 14 years and moves with such grace and passion that sometimes I can’t take my eyes off her.  She never writes down the moves that are taught.  They simply come from her heart.  She is absolutely driven to dance.  That is how we all should be about the work we do.  I feel that way about helping people gain control over their finances on a regular basis.  It gives me pleasure to see my clients reach levels financially they’ve never before achieved. 

    My challenge to you this month is to find out what activity you or your family members enjoy that would bring about the same excitement and motivation I have found.  I now refuse to allow 10 years to go by before I enroll in another dance class.  What steps are you going to take?  What is currently missing from your routine that would bring back a spark of enthusiasm, excitement, or a refreshing?  Take action today!

    Count the Cost

    How many times have you written out goals or tackled a large project and failed to reach the goal because of a lack of planning in the beginning?  I’m sure everyone has had that experience.  We all want to go further in life whether it is personally, professionally, physically, spiritually, etc.  Striving for more is what keeps us going and motivated to do awesome things here on earth.  But what happens when we don’t reach our goals and we look back at what we wish we’d done?  Obviously nothing can change the past, but with proper planning ahead of time you can definitely change your future.  One of the keys to achieving any goal; be it financial, physical, professional, personal, etc. is to sit down and weigh what needs to be done before you get started.  This may take a lot of research depending on the situation, but wisdom and knowledge are worth all the effort needed to gain it.  This critical step may keep you on the path to reaching levels never before achieved because you know more of what to expect and you have check-in points all along the way.  What I am suggesting is that you count the costFor which of you, intending to build a tower, sitteth not down first, and counteth the cost, whether he have sufficient to finish it?  Lest haply, after he hath laid the foundation, and is not able to finish it, all that behold it begin to mock him, Saying, This man began to build, and was not able to finish.- Luke 14:28-30 KJV

    This passage of scripture describes the person who does not sit down and understand what is involved in an endeavor before he proceeds.  We don’t use the word “counteth” so I will use the word calculate.  To calculate means to reckon by exercise of practical judgment or to plan purposefully.  Failing to complete this step can cost your reputation, money, time, etc depending on the gravity of the project.  Budgeting is counting the cost on an everyday basis so that you can live beneath your means and reach your financial goals.  Performing mortgage calculations and estimates is counting the cost when purchasing or renting a home. 

    Counting the cost can be useful in many other ways such as determining:

    1. How long it will take to get out of debt.
    2. The affordability of moving up in home.
    3. How long it will take to retire.
    4. How much to save for your children’s education.

    Sometimes these goals are not financial.  You may need to count the cost of beginning an exercise program so that you know how much time and energy is needed to reach your goal.  Counting the cost may involve writing down the pros and cons of staying on a job or moving on to a new position.  Counting the cost is simply being thorough in your approach to a new situation so that you increase your chances of success.  In the passage above, the man didn’t even get past the foundation before he realized it was too much.  In what ways do you need to count the cost?

    We have saved $321 using coupons!

    In 2 months, my family and I have managed to save $321 in coupons!  This is not just at the grocery store or for items we will never use.  We shop at the normal places: Fry’s and Safeway, Costco (of course), Macy’s, Justice, Ulta, Lowes, etc.  But the difference is that I almost never walk into these places without a coupon.  So I decided to add up the savings!  So far I am on a roll to save at least $2000 in 2011 on coupons!  My husband is also on board now!  He called me to say that he looked online for a Lowe’s coupon, printed it, and the cashier took it even though it was expired!  He is getting just as excited as I am!  That $10 we saved at Lowe’s can now either be used for something else or saved!  I want you to join me!  Watch my video and get excited with me.  Post comments, questions, and your experiences on my facebook fan page and my blog.  Let’s all join in the savings!  Let’s see how much we can all save by simply looking for coupons before we spend our hard-earned money.   This could help you with your savings goal, a vacation you want to take, or get out of debt!

    In April, August, and December there will be a drawing for anyone who has participated in this challenge.  You could win free groceries at your favorite grocery store!  I look forward to chatting with you on my fan page or blog!

    Automate it....

    Each year we all attempt to start the year fresh with goals and dreams that we’d like to accomplish.  This is a great way to make sure that you are fulfilling your purpose, reaching your goals, and planning for long awaited dreams.  But, many times these efforts are lost by the time the month of January is over.  Our motivation wanes and we are back to our normal routine.  Before January is over try something new!  We live in such a computer and gadget-oriented world that just about everyone can use this advice.  Right now go get your list of goals and plug them into your PDA, phone, or Outlook on your computer.  Set it up to remind you periodically (preferably weekly) to make some progress on each one.  This way even when you forget about the goal, your electronic device has not.  Allow technology to do the reminding so you can execute!

    Bring in the New Year with a new resolve and a firm action plan!

    Happy New Year!

    Get Real

    One of the things I often ask my clients when preparing a budget plan is:  Are you really eating all of the groceries you buy?  Many times we have the good intention to eat a certain way or buy certain foods that are good for us, but in reality our lifestyles cannot support preparing all of the foods we just bought.  We have events, meetings, or are too tired in the evenings and because of this we don’t always want to nor do we have the time to cook.  Be realistic with yourself about categories like groceries, dining out, and clothing.  This is the key to maintaining a good budget.  You must be able to accurately determine how much you spend on groceries and if it is realistic for your household.  For one month, add up all of your grocery receipts and see if it is higher or lower than you expect.  What you find should be very revealing!

    No Christmas This Year

    Recently someone asked me, "How do you handle the holidays when you are unemployed?"  That was such a great question that I thought I'd share it with everyone. The holidays are a special time to spend with family and friends.  We share our love for others with gifts, time and celebration.  However, if your funds are limited this year you might be tempted to say "We aren't having Christmas this year."  I am a firm believer that Christmas is not all about the gifts and hustle and bustle.  Americans, store advertising, and our flesh have created this spending frenvy during this time.  You can and will have Christmas regardless of what you spend. 

    Here are some ideas to celebrate without spending any or very little money:

    1. Make sure that your friends and family know what is going on.  You don’t want people you normally buy gifts for to be caught off guard if they don’t receive the usual $100 Christmas gift.  Support is good when you need to scale back or not spend for the holidays.
    2. Make crafts.  Create some journals, scrapbooks, baked goods, etc as gifts.  You don’t need to spend a lot to say you love someone.  Those that you love will understand.  Also give of your time.  Think of ways you and bless family and friends that don’t involve money.
    3. Re-gift.  Some people consider this taboo but it is very useful.  You may want to look around your home and find gifts that may not have worked for you but could work for someone else.  Don’t feel bad about it either.  It may work out for you both! 
    4. Volunteer your time to groups who have even less than you do right now.  That will put unemployment in perspective.  You must remain appreciative of what you do have.  Soup kitchens really drive this home.
    5. Celebrate the true meaning of Christmas.  Give cards or letters to friends and family that say what you truly feel.  I remember those clearly when people have done that for me.
    6. Don’t host for the holidays but do take a dish to someone else’s home.  Saves you time and money!
    7. Do a one gift exchange.  Everyone in your family buys one gift with a low limit ($20).  You exchange them anonymously so there is no pressure.  Make it a game!

     The bottom line is you can still have Christmas without going into debt, the poor house, or forgo paying bills.  Keep your basic necessities first and find new and creative ways to celebrate the holidays.

    Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas!

    How will I survive the holidays?

    Sometimes it is hard to believe how fast time flies!  It really did just seem like we rang in the New Year last week!  Now it is time to celebrate the holidays!  If Christmas has crept up on you, have no fear.  You can survive and enter 2011 with no new debt!  Let me tell you how. Just remember three things this holiday and you will have a successful time enjoying family without the guilt of a holiday spending hangover!

    First, make a plan!  If you don’t know who you are buying for you will buy for too many.  Basically you will spend more if you fail to write out what you truly desire to do.  Put together a gift list.  This should include recipient’s name, gift idea, and amount you will spend on each.  Decide which events you will attend and if you are baking goods, bringing a gift, or dressing up.  Also, think about the decorations for your home.  Do you need to spruce things up a bit?  Personally, I love to shop for these items December 26th when everything is 75% off.  Don’t forget Christmas cards, pictures, and postage.  Once you have a plan be sure to add up your potential expenses.  This is the one step many people miss.  It only works for you if you add up the total amount needed.

    Next, use cash!  I can’t stress the power of cash enough!  It helps you focus on only the items on your list while reminding you of your limits.  Christmas is an emotional holiday and we want to bless those we love.  However, it doesn’t have to put you into a financial coma in January! 

    Finally, just say NO!  It really is ok to say no to parties and gift giving that we don’t need to participate in.   We can’t do everything and buy for everyone.  This is especially true if you are working your debt reduction plan.  Now may not be the time to splurge on the latest and greatest for your kids.  It is not the time to buy a whole new wardrobe the day after Thanksgiving.  Stay focused on your goal.  Remember the true meaning why we celebrate Christmas.  And believe that God will add His super to what you do in the natural.

    Stop the madness, buy only what you can afford, and bring in the New Year with a smile instead of a frown!  Keep these three things in mind during the holiday season and you will survive successfully!