Christmas: Fishing Time

The Christmas season is upon us and you know what that means.

It means that retailers have already figured out where the fish (you) are and they are ready to release the bait (“the deal”) that the fish want.

On Black Friday - the day after Thanksgiving - mall parking lots and department stores will be crowded with people who will be seeking a deal.  On Cyber Monday, the Internet will have quite a bit of traffic to popular retail site by deal seekers.  A deal is a great thing, but this Christmas season, let’s not seek a deal.  Let’s seek what we are in need of.  The retailers want customer to exceed their budgets and they make it very convenient to do so.

Here is a short list of five things that you can consider before you go out seeking a deal during the Christmas season:

1.      Don’t rely on the fact that you will be receiving an income tax return check in January which you will use to pay off your Christmas spending bill.  Yes you may be receiving a check during the tax season but that check could go to invest in your future or assist you in getting out of debt.  Why not consider taking one of those actions with your anticipated income tax refund?

2.      Make a list of items that you need and only seek deals for those items.  (Need here simply means that the item is a necessity for survival.)  Don’t allow the retailers to reel you in.  You have to make wise decisions for your future and that of your family.  Buy what you absolutely need.  You will get a good price on something you need. 

3.      Consider donating some or all of the money set aside for Christmas shopping to those less fortunate than you.  There are many who are less fortunate than we are.  Let’s remember them during the Christmas holiday.  There will also still be people who are displaced from the storms in the northeastern part of the US.  Help someone out, the nature of Christmas is birthed in giving to those who are less fortunate and in need of assistance.  Lend a helping hand; let’s not forget about those who are in need.

4.      Consider giving your children, nieces, nephews or godchildren gifts that will assist them in the future.  One thing that you might want to do is by a share or a few shares of stock and offer this as a gift to your children or relatives who are in the earlier stages of life.  They may look at you funny but over time if the money is invested properly these young people will thank you greatly when they get older. Think investment. 

5.      Create a budget for your Christmas spending and stick to it. This should have been the first, second and third option.  Above everything on the list, establish a budget – parameters on what you are able to spend on Christmas shopping while still maintaining your monthly, weekly and/or daily expenses.  If you do not have a plan with regard to a budget, you are most certain to spend money that you cannot afford to spend.   

Less on Less

You may have already heard that there will not be an increase of social security payments for the 2010 and 2011. This will account for the first time since 1975 that this automatic increase will occur. In addition the Social Security Administration reports that nearly 6 million Americans will see a slight decrease in monthly payments in the coming years. This decrease is due to the slight increase in medical costs for those that have payment for medications deducted from their Social Security payments. What does this mean for those individuals who depend on Social Security?

Well it primarily means that we must discover more options. This should also serve as a notice to those who are ten or more years away from retiring. The message to you is to make sure you focus on saving for retirement now. What should those who are currently receiving Social Security payments do, here are a few things:

(1) Develop a solid budget immediately. There is something about writing out a plan or budget on paper. It makes the budget or plan realistic. Make sure you include everything in your budget, even the least expensive items. The budget should be on a monthly basis.

(2) Adjust your expenses. Cut any expenses that you can do without. We are creatures of habit. If you begin now to eliminate a particular expense, although it will be tough in the beginning, it will become easier to do without in the next thirty days.

(3) Increase your income if possible. After creating a budget and assessing your expenses you should examine your income options. Is there anyway of increasing your income without risking a decrease in Social Security benefits? If so, you may want to purse those options.

(4) Stick to your “new” lifestyle for the next 365 days. It is important to stick to this new plan for the next year. I would reassess the plan every four months to ensure that it is working. Adoption is one of the largest things for adults to deal with. Hang in there I know you can do it.

Maybe you know someone in this situation or maybe you are in this situation. There is hope for you. It is never too late to create the lifestyle you desire as long as you still have the desire to change your lifestyle!

What Can I Do To Produce More Money?

In today’s economy many people find themselves asking this very question. However there are numerous ways even in this distressed financial market to earn additional income. Here are five options to consider:

(1) Clean out your home of unwanted items and sell them on Ebay. There is old saying that “one man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” Why not rid yourself of unwanted things and make a profit at the same time.

(2) Turn your hobby into a business venture. Hobbies are not considered business by the IRS mainly because people are not engaged in hobbies to make a profit. What hobbies do you currently engage in? Could there be a market for this service or product? If so launch your business before the end of this year.

(3) Cut your expenses. Take some time in the next two or three days to write down your weekly and monthly expenses. Examine the list, is there anything that can be scaled back or eliminated? Usually entertainment related expenses like cable television, video games and movies can be scaled down or eliminated altogether.

(4) Change your withholdings on your job. If you are a W2 income earner and you usually receive a rather large tax refund you are able to receive that refund early. You may ask how? Sit down with a tax professional to examine your W4 status. By changing your W4 status it is possible to receive a raise from your job.

(5) Enter the direct sales industry. The direct sales industry is booming! Millionaires are literally being created by this industry every month. This industry is perfect for those with limited time and a limited budget. If you are eager to be successful and very teachable then this might be the option for you. Some direct sales companies maybe a better fit for you than others, so take a close look at these companies before selecting one.

These are just five very simple ways to earn additional income. There are others that you may think of as well. The bottom line here is to identify a stream of income and begin to work on it. Your success is directly linked to your activity, not luck or fate!