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Blog: If Your Money Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy
The Threshold of the Holiday Season…A 90 Day Financial Plan

Remember December is this week's blog. We've gone over what to do to prepare for September, October, November and all the holidays during this season except for December so far.  To give you an update on what I have done myself since I've written my last blog, my family went to an orchard and picked apples.  It was wonderful for our family to spend time together.  I also made some plans for some great autumn dinners just for the fun of it to help keep the costs down with dining out.  My first menu item for the first week of fall is venison chili with shredded cheese and sour cream to top it off and tortilla chips on the side.  For dessert, carrot cake from scratch…yes, my first time making a cake from scratch!  I might as well enjoy the position the gas prices have put us in to not be running so much but stay around home more. 
So the question many people are asking is how do we prepare for December when so many prices for everyday items have spun out of control?  This year you will really have to prepare, starting now, for December.  There are some pretty big financial commitments that happen during that month.  Christmas shopping, Food, Christmas Eve and Day and the last week of December is New Year's that has to be financed with December's paycheck.  I'm going to try to help you break down what you can do to prepare and NOT put all those expenses on plastic.  This is such a vital role in a successful holiday season.  We do not know what will happen in the days to come with the financial world, it has been a true roller coaster lately and the first American addiction that has to go is the debt on plastic.
Christmas Shopping
This may be the year all of us have to accept that spending more on Christmas gifts will have to be won over with creativity.  I always like to suggest the idea of themes.  Book theme, spa theme, relaxation theme, coffee theme, photo theme…you name it, you can have a focus on a theme that you can individualize to those on your list.  You can then purchase items that are similar but personalize them a bit too.  It may cut the costs of having to be so individual with each gift for each person.  Knowing how many people on your list and multiplying that by what you think you should spend on each gift will give you the total of how much you plan on spending.  If the figure doesn't fit into your budget than recalculate how much you can spend on each person.  Start looking for coupons to use, 20% off or $10 off a purchase, these can add up to some big savings.  Not to mention looking for items on clearance aren't picked over yet because the true shopping season hasn't started for most yet.  You know how the saying goes…the early bird catches the worm.  Be the early bird this year.  Remember the stocking stuffers, white elephant gifts, co-worker gifts and all those other gifts that add up really fast at the end of the holiday season…get them on sale!
Picking names for a large family may be the only way to survive this year for some, and it's alright.  Sometimes too much pressure is put on the almighty gift, but the gift of being together during the holidays or expressing your love to others may have to take some other shape or form this year.  Talk early about this with extended family since they may be feeling the same pressures you are and would welcome the idea or keeping to a dollar amount for every person. 
Holiday Travel
At gas prices averaging close to $4 a gallon, there has to be some careful consideration of traveling for Christmas or New Years.  It is a good idea to contact others now to see if they are planning on traveling or if their budget won't allow it.  If you are planning on air travel make sure that you start now with looking for your best deals or even think about renting a vehicle that gets high gas mileage if your vehicle is a gas guzzler.  Make sure that you really put some figures on a calculator to assess the realistic costs of holiday travel this season, since we don't have reindeer like Santa we're going to have to look at our options.  No wonder Santa's source of power for his sleigh hasn't changed after all these years! 
Food and Festivities
If gas prices aren't bad enough to think about and money is tight for gifts we still have to factor the negative thought of food prices on the rise.  I can't emphasize enough how less will have to make an impact this year.  It's just the times we live in right now. Just like your Thanksgiving menu, start planning your menus now for your December parties, including the one the last day of December, drop-ins, family get-togethers, dinners, etc.  Look for items in those recipes to go on sale and since you know how much you'll need you won't waste money on "maybe" items.  Don't be afraid to have everyone pitch in a bit more with a recipe you give them or one of their own to bring to the table.   
Remember also in December that birthdays and other expenses can sneak in really fast.  If you haven't prepared all year for the holidays then use these next 90 days to make it much more successful than waiting until the time when push comes to shove and the fun can be suffocated by tight finances.  Maybe next year will be better or maybe our planning this year will offset the financial situation that may continue into this time next year.  Plan wisely.  Think smart about the holidays.  Plan ahead and stay ahead.  Your pocketbooks will thank you…no more pocketbook panic attacks.  Save money and happy holidays!  If you need all the tips I've given for September through November just click at my previous blogs and read all the great ideas to start planning these months right now. 

posted on: 9/24/2008 11:30:00 AM by Triste Horrell
category: Finances

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If Your Money Ain't Happy, Ain't Nobody Happy

by Triste Horrell

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About Triste:

Being an organizing expert makes one want to be a "showroom" in all areas of life. However reality can hit hard when you're a mother of small children and a military wife and own an organzing business. Of course Triste would like to have a picture perfect Better Home and an even Better Garden. Throw a Pottery Barn in the backyard for exceptional creative time to become the wiz-woman for all the ideas and inventions that the world could not live without. But Triste has settled on the fact of telling herself "I can be perfect in my mind and no one can mess up my space there!" In reality Triste is very self-motivated and has true business accomplishments like having SYSTEMIZE since 1997, the first home and business organizing firm in the state of South Carolina. She has been repeatedly recognized in her Greenville, SC area for her organizing expertise and makeovers on local NBC and FOX news, Greenville News, local magazines such as Greenville Magazine and Upstate Parent and NPR radio. She has turned people's lives around by focusing on what she calls the "four building blocks of being organized" consisting of space, time, financial and personal. This is even represented in her business logo. "That's what I'm in business for, turning people's lives around!" Also applying her popular 3 Steps to Systemize have not only organized her clients but KEPT them organized for years.

Triste's Website:


Downtime Activities

  • Reading Magazines
  • Spending time at our cottage
  • Keeping our Westie pretty
  • Putting tealights around after the kids are in bed
  • Adventures with my awesome hubby
  • Making microwave smores...just for me
    1 graham cracker, broken in half 1 small piece of chocolate 1 big marshmellow On one side of cracker put piece of chocolate and marshmellow on top. Place in microwave and heat for approx. 17 seconds (while cooking replace marshmellow on top of chocolate if needed). Put other half of cracker on top, eat and enjoy and watch out for oozing chocolate!

My Organizing Tool-Box

  • Time - Outlook
    This is a great way to keep papers off the desk and track where you need to go, task list, jot down quick notes on the virtual "post-its, keep up with contacts in the virtual Rolodex
  • Personal Finances - Quicken
    This simple yet practical program keeps your bank accounts in tact...did I mention simple?!
  • Business Finances - QuickBooks
    I have used this program for years and have set many clients up on it. It is a must for keeping track of business transactions and keeping tax time easy...push a few buttons and out come the reports, your done and your tax preparer loves you.
  • Space - turntables
    I love these things! You can put them in cabinets, the fridge, garage, and closets. They are inexpensive, easy to find and available at any discount store and you can even find fancier ones. If you are not sure what they are, they are the white (or other fancier kinds) and spin around like a lazy susan, you can have a single or double-tier one for spices.
  • Personal - Magazines and Internet
    I love to look at magazines and the internet for good articles on personal development, pictures for decorating inspiration and fun projects to do with my family. I keep my magazine subscriptions to a minimum (3) so I can read them and enjoy each one. I look for things on some of my favorite websites for whatever fancies me at that time.
  • Online Recipe Boxes
    Use these on some of your favorite websites, bring the laptop into the kitchen while the recipe is up and you never have to have the paper clutter. One of my and my husbands favorites is Williams-Sonoma.

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