Tuesday, December 29, 2015

No New Years Resolutions Try Goals Instead

Everyone tries to make a New Year’s Resolution including myself. Somewhere around February we forget about that New Year’s Resolution and go back to whatever it was we were doing before the New Year. This year I am saying no to New Year’s Resolutions. This year I am creating a goals list of all the things I want to accomplish in 2016 with a target date and action steps for each. Your goals should include at a minimum health, finances, family, career, spirituality and relationships.

This year make a decision to make at least one permanent change to become better in one area of your life. The key is to keep moving forward and practice that habit every day. Don’t beat yourself up too much if you forget to practice your new habit. If you forget one day, don’t worry, tomorrow is available for you to get back on track. Don’t look at your goals as negative; view them as positive things to improve your life.

Ask friends or relatives to provide support and encouragement for your new goals. Purchase self-help motivation books or practice meditation or positive affirmations to help strengthen your confidence to ensure you achieve your goals.

Look at the big picture and how your goals will help you, your family or your overall life. Examine the long-terms benefits of your goals and focus on the benefits to increase your motivation. Ensure your thoughts, words, actions, beliefs and behaviors align with your goals.

Here are six effective financial goals to achieve in 2016:

  1. Eliminate Debt. Pay down debt or totally eliminate debt. Keep credit card balances at 20% or less of the credit limit, below 10% is ideal. Pay more than the minimum monthly payment for credit cards and loans.
  2. Plug holes. Shared rides, entertainment, eating out, buying items just because they are on sale, paying retail prices, monitoring services (credit score monitoring, etc.), expired policies and warranties, shopping, name brand items, etc.
  3. Assess Insurance. Reevaluate insurance policies yearly or when a big event occurs – marriage, childbirth, death, illness, etc. Ensure you have adequate coverage.
  4. Plan for Retirement. Contribute as much as possible to your retirement account. Look for no load or funds with low fees. Calculate the minimum amount required to save in your account by multiplying your salary by 30, i.e. $40,000 x 30 years = $1,200,000. You will need at least that much in your retirement account by your retirement age, i.e. 65.
  5. Track Spending. Use tools to help track spending and increase cash flow such as PageOnce, Mint.com or mobile apps on your cell phone. Use online banking which categorizes spending and provides graphs.
  6. Save. Automate savings. In addition to retirement, create an emergency savings account to cover monthly bills and expenses for 9-12 months.

Don’t make unrealistic goals, however believe in yourself and write down all of your dreams and goals. If you 
believe you can achieve a goal you will. The only thing stopping your from achieving your goal is you. Wishing you much success in 2016!

Friday, December 25, 2015

13 Ways to Save Money When Buying a Christmas Tree

According to the U.S. Commerce Department 80% of artificial trees worldwide are manufactured in China. Most artificial Christmas trees are made of possible metal toxins such as lead, contain non-biodegradable plastics and are thrown in landfills.

Nielsen surveyed nearly 30,000 U.S. households on behalf of the American Christmas Tree Association and found that the average cost of a real tree was $46 and the average cost of an artificial tree was $78. That is an interesting statistic.

Real Trees outsell fake trees more than 3 to 1. Sixteen percent of consumers cut their own real tree. Real trees can be purchases from tree farms, nurseries, discount stores such as Wal-Mart, Target or Costco, hardware stores, retail lots, non-profit groups such as Boy Scouts and churches, some grocery stores and the internet. Christmas Tree are a great symbol of the Christmas holiday and make people feel joy and wonder. If you plan on buying a real Christmas tree this holiday season here are 13 tips to save money.

  1. Know the height and width of the room you want to put the tree. The width should be 80% of the height.
  2. Make a list of the specifications you want for your tree, species (type of tree), height, etc. Visit pickyourownchristmastree.org to view a chart that summarizes the traits of common trees.
  3. Negotiate you may be able to get a cheaper price.
  4. Buy on Black Friday.
  5. Buy on Christmas Eve or the week of Christmas.
  6. Get a permit from the National Forest Service for less than $20 and cut your own.
  7. Buy a damaged tree.
  8. Go to a hardware store, nursery, and discount stores such as Costco or small vendors and ask if you can purchase a floor model for a cheaper price.
  9. Pick a tree native to your area. If you don’t know which trees are native to your area, go to a nursery and find out. Then purchase a tree from the suggestions they provide. Trees not native to your area will be more expensive. www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,20159801,00.html
  10. Ask about pricing. Some vendors or stores charge by the foot while others charge a flat fee.
  11. Comparison Shop. Go to at least 3 stores to get price quotes to help you find the best deal.
  12. Shop online to find better deals.
  13. Use coupons. Groupon and Living Social offer coupons for Christmas trees.

Saturday, December 19, 2015

15 Ways to Save Money on Last Minute Christmas Gifts

Most Americans accumulate the greatest amount of debt during the December holiday season. It’s great to give but not at the cost of going outside your budget buying items you can’t afford. No one said to go into debt to give. You can give gifts from the heart not your wallet. The holidays should be filled with joy and laughter not anxiety, pressure or guilty about spending money during the holidays.

If you don't have the money to buy gifts, be honest and tell the persons who are expecting gifts just that. If you have a small amount of buy to buy gifts, buy what you can and don't use your credit card.  Pay for items in cash only if it won’t reduce the amount of money you will need to pay for monthly bills in December 2015 or January 2016.

Sometimes the Christmas holiday sneaks up on us due to work and family obligations. However, some people love doing last minute Christmas shopping. If you're that type, you must research your delivery options. Most businesses offer shipping solutions for last minute Christmas gifts.

When doing last minute Christmas shopping you have multiple options: shop online, shop at vendors, shop at retailers or specialty shops. Online shopping is a last minute shopper’s lifesaver.  Here are 15 ways to save money on last minute Christmas gifts. Happy Holidays!


  • Go through your house to find any items that are new or gifts you received but haven’t used and regift them.
  • Go through your house to find items still in good condition that could be passed off as new.
  • Look through your house to find gift cards that you have not used and that have not expired and give as gifts.


  • Avoid department stores where selection is limited.  Visit local vendors, you can probably negotiate a good deal on the same items you will find in the department store.
  • Negotiate. Be willing to negotiate. Take cash instead of credit cards especially when negotiating for a cheaper price.
  • Buy gift certificates or ecertificates from sites like giftcertificates.com.
  • Buy tickets to a sporting event, concert, play, etc.
  • Buy a magazine subscription, book or subscription to Kindle or Nook.
  • Buy small gifts such as a travel clock, hooded sweatshirt, small bowls or vintage trinkets, throw fleece blanket, slippers, gloves, shirt, mobile Printer, iPhone Case, Cell Phone Texting Gloves, designer scented candles, etc.
  • Visit the dollar store to find small gifts for children.
  • Use last minute shipping services such as UPS and FedEx. Some companies waive shipping and handling fees during the holiday season.


  • Make your own gifts using arts and crafts or sew clothing or quilts and give as gifts.
  • Think of creative gifts to give that you can make yourself.