Archives For Holiday

Each year I pick my Lent. Gross! No, I’m not talking about belly-buttons.

I’m talking about the traditional 40 days of fasting before Easter. Fasting is basically giving up something for a period of time and sometimes involves reflection and prayer.

I don’t practice Catholicism, but I’ve learned to embrace this ancient tradition each year. Why is that?

Why I Practice Lent

1) Helps me focus on what is important: faith, family, friends, fitness, finances.

2) Shows me how I rely on the material world much more than I ought.

3)  Lent has been practiced by many historical role models, who accomplished  much in their lifetime.

4) Teaches me about delayed gratification and saying “no” to myself.

Delayed Gratification

I believe the ability to give up something for a short time, in order to have something more or better in the future is an invaluable skill to develop.

Did you hear about the Stanford marshmallow experiment with kids? Watch a video of the recreated experiment. What would you do?

 

What I’m Giving up for Lent

I’ll share one ‘vice’ I often give up for Lent. Coffee. It is a ritual steeped in mysticism. Some would even call coffee a miracle drug.

Drug indeed. I find that I sometimes get a headache and moody if I don’t get my ‘fix’ in the morning. It is something that I come to rely on. I don’t want to rely on some liquid in a cup. That’s why I give up coffee each year during Lent.

Will I go back, probably so, that smell is intoxicating…the aroma, the foam on a Peet’s latte…ah must focus!

*I’m substituting chocolate in 2015 since we just had a newborn and I foresee sleepless nights ahead.

Ideas for Fasting During Lent

What can you give up (fast) for Lent? A few ideas to spark your imagination:

  • Time- What do you spend a lot of time on each week? Facebook, TV, News, Angry Birds?
  • Energy- Is there something that sucks up a lot of energy from you each week? Perhaps giving that up for a time period? No, you can’t fast your family.
  • Creativity- Is there an activity that limits your creativity and ability to think deeply?
  • Stomach- This is the easiest and most common activity to give up. Coffee, Chocolate, Butter, etc.
  • Health- Do you endanger your health by doing something each day? Perhaps another candidate for Lent.
  • Relationships- What is keeping you from your important relationships and times of connection to God?

Lent may not be for everyone. If you come from a religious Catholic background, you might have even been forced to practice Lent.

I encourage you to revisit this practice and see if it can be a time of refocusing and reflection for your life.

Will you practice Lent this year? What does Lent mean to you? 

Photo Credit Professor Bop (Creative Commons)

New Year Resolutions

New year resolutions. I’ve never been a fan. I don’t keep them because I don’t make them. I don’t make them because I don’t keep them either.

New Year’s Day: Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual. ~Mark Twain

Most new year resolutions are about how to loose weight and how to manage your money. Why is that? Probably because Americans and Brittans spend and eat too much.

We all need improvement and a new year is a great chance to make these changes.

Make Goals for the New Year

2014 is almost over and you want to change. You want 2015 to better than 2014. Twenty Fourteen has been a tough year for many of you economically, relationally, spiritually…in short its be hard and you’re tired of crying, going backwards, and being hurt. It can be a better year.

This year make goals instead of resolutions. You might have heard this before, but have you actually done it? Have you taken the time to sit down and actually write down goals?

If you choose not to make goals, then you are actually choosing not to achieve and be better. Not deciding is a decision.

5 Easy Steps for Goal Setting

  1. Get away to to a quiet place with a pen and paper or use your I-pad if you are techie for a few hours.
  2. Reflect on the past year. Read a journal (aka your Facebook page), look at your pictures, and journal about the past years pain and triumphs.
  3. Pray (talking and listening) and think about what you need to change. This might included adding or subtracting things, people, or activities.
  4. Write down those things that you are going to change. Yes, write them down and put them in a place where you’ll see them every day. *Bonus Make your Goals SMART
  5. Tell a friend who’ll keep you accountable and help you reach that goal.

SMART Goals

S- Specific 

M-Measurable

A- Attainable

R- Realistic

T- Time Bound

Action: Write your goals and share with a friend or you can share below in the comments. Happy New Year!

(Photo by Rob & Jules)

In honor of Halloween, I’ve made a top ten list of the Scariest Financial Products. Mind you this is my list and using these products could be dangerous to your financial health.

Coffee Art: Skull

Are you scared yet?

  1. Viatical Settlement– Care to make some money on someone’s death? Buy a viatical and you get the leftovers from their life insurance policy. Basically you get more money if they die early. How morbid!
  2. Gold Futures– Want to loose sleep for 3 months and become a walking zombie? Investing in gold isn’t a great idea, but gold futures are one the riskiest investments around. Play this game and you could loose your sleep and your shirt!
  3. Zombie Insurance– Need protection against the undead? Look no further…ok this one is a gag, but great idea!
  4. A.R.M.- Want to loose your arm, a leg, and your house? Well, these Adjustable Rate Mortgages will scare the life out of you when the interest rate adjusts beyond your paycheck. Be sure to get a fixed rate mortgage and avoid loosing your body parts.
  5. Post Apocalyptic Insurance– Think you’ll need to eat after the apocalypse happens? There is a solution: Food insurance.  I find it funny that all the pictures on the website are of smiling people.Wipe that smile off your face! The earth is destroyed and almost everyone is dead, but smile because you bought food insurance and you’ll live to see another day.
  6. Whole Life Insurance– This product is scary indeed, especially with all the low cost of term life insurance. You might roll over in your grave when you realize your whole life insurance policy was terrible and you could have bought much better coverage for a cheaper price.
  7. Pay Day Loans– The interest rates you’ll be charged will make you think they are bleeding you to death.
  8. 401K Debit Card– You’ve been saving for retirement for years now. Great….now can I get a card that lets me spend all that money I’ve been saving and investing? What? I have to pay it back with interest? When I leave my job I have to pay it back in full ASAP or I’ll get charged huge tax fees? Yes! This little piece of plastic could make your retirement years a living hell. You’ve been warned.
  9. Any insurance company whose main mascot is a lizard or duck….these talking animals just creep me out. (Some of their products are legit and some are unnecessary)
  10. Tax rates when I “retire“- O.K. this isn’t a financial product, but who knows how high our tax rates will be in 30 years? This one is the most frightening of them all, especially since our national debt keeps growing.
(Photo by Alice Carrier )
Christmas Gifts Storm Trooper

What does a  Stormtrooper give his little troopers? Credit Kalexanderson.

Christmas is a season of giving. It is about blessing others because we ourselves have been blessed. It is a time to remember the gift of Jesus. We want to express our love and appreciation. Plus there are other reasons to give that I wrote about if you need more motivation to give.

You may be convinced that you should give gifts for Christmas, but there are other thorny questions lingering about giving that we should address.

Should I give if I’m in debt?

Yes, I suggest to my clients that you should continue to be in the practice of giving. Be cautious about your heart that it doesn’t become greedy, even though you’re in debt. Decide to give a certain percentage of your income each month as a practice. If there is no way you can give money this year, then give your time volunteering at a local non-profit.

I don’t want to give ‘Stuff’. What should I do?

Give relationally! Give gifts that will have you spend time together. Puzzles, games, outings, events…etc. Relationships are more important than boxes. Have you heard of the Advent Conspiracy?

How much should I spend on Christmas gifts?

You’ll have to decide for yourself of course. I do suggest you make a budget and stick to it. There is no reason to go into debt to buy stuff for others, especially if it involved co-signing or loans.

Can I give too much at Christmas?

As long as you don’t go into debt, go crazy giving. Just be wise in how you go about it. You don’t want to make a relationship awkward by giving too much. If you’ve got the dough, go and bless others!

I’m not a Christian, can I still give gifts for Christmas?

While Christmas is largely a religious holiday, it is also part of Western culture. If you want to give, then give. There are no restrictions. I’m sure both you and your receiver will be blessed no matter your spiritual views.

Whom should I give to?

Again, a personal decision. If you feel obligated to give to someone out of guilt or shame, then perhaps either your motivation needs checking or that relationship mending. If you’re in business don’t forget your boss, co-workers, clients, and vendors.

Should I give my boss a Christmas gift?

Why are you giving to them? To show thanks? To get a promotion? Giving to your boss or co-workers can be tricky. Whew! I’m glad I’m self-employed. Here is a good guide for shopping for your boss and coworkers.

I got a gift last year that I didn’t use. Is re-gifting ok?

Yes, but don’t get caught or give something cheesy unless it’s funny and the recipient will get your humor. Remember Seinfeld’s “The Label Maker”?

Is it ok to give cash for a Christmas present?

Of couse! Especially in hard economic times or if you don’t know what to get someone, then cash or a gift card is acceptable.

I want to give to charity. How do I know if my charity is legitimate?

First off, I’d ask them. This is a common question and they should have a ready answer including reports, recommendations, and facts. You can also check out Charity Navigator or Guidestar to see if your nonprofit is listed.

Action: What are thoughts about giving? Please share in the comments below. Merry Christmas! 

Guarding this pot of gold is tough during the "New Normal" economy.

Guarding this pot of gold is tough during the “New Normal” economy.

This economy is tough, even on Leprechauns. Think it’s all about playing tricks, rainbows, and pots of gold?

Think again.

Even though that pot of gold is worth more than it was a few years ago, Leprechauns face a harsh economic landscape that is causing many Leprechauns to adapt to new changes.

Maybe Leprechauns aren’t so lucky after all.

7 Harsh Economic Changes for Leprechauns

1. Their hole in a tree is no longer considered a “residence” by the IRS. Leprechauns are no longer allowed to deduct hole mortgages from their taxes.

2. The Pot O’ Gold Corp instituted new changes in their work at home policy. Now all Leprechauns will have to redirect their rainbows and bring their pots of gold to the corporate office.

3. The “End of the Rainbow” is now considered to be an Off shore account (OFC). Leprechauns have 30 days to notify the IRS of any pots of gold that may be held at the “End of the Rainbow”.

4. Leprechauns are looking for alternative non-sugary foods (besides Lucky Charms) since Mayor Bloomberg has sugary cereals on his next list of foods to ban in NYC.

5. As shoemakers made trade, Leprechauns are having a tough job finding local jobs since all shoes are made in China.

6. Leprechauns are having a tough time getting job interviews since recruiters think they are hipsters. Think about– Green jeans, fedoras, beards, and funky shoes.

7. The Social Security retirement age of Leprechauns has been raised from 1,200 years to 1,300 years as part of Ireland’s Austerity Plan.

More St. Patrick’s Day Resources

Create Your Own Luck of the Irish– Solid financial advice inspired by St. Patrick’s Day.

5 Low Cost St. Patrick’s Day Activities for Kids   Good ideas by Living on the Cheap.

17 Ways to Serve Potatoes on St. Patrick’s Day- Save money with these cheap recipe ideas you’ve never heard of by WiseBread.

How to Make Green Beer- A DIY guide to green beer making.

Official National Leprechaun Museum– Yes, it really does exists.

Have a fun and safe St. Patrick’s Day!