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Blog: Minimizing Financial Clutter

Question: What should you and Santa Claus have in common?
Answer:  You both should make lists and check them (at least) twice.
List-making is a kind of therapy for me, especially when I am under a time crunch.  (And aren't we all, at this time of year?)  This weekend, I used up half a legal pad making Christmas lists shopping, menus and prioritized daily tasks.
But simply making lists is not enough.  The first draft of a list tends to be a "brain dump" a mish-mash of everything and everyone we can think of.  My first list was my Christmas gift-giving list.  I listed my husband and children, the Yankee Swap gifts I'll need to bring to a party, and all of my friends and relatives in between.  And believe me, I was raring to head straight to the mall!
Then I took a second look at my long list.  And I found that my wallet needn't get such a workout after all:
         I eliminated one cousin because he's now an adult.  I had forgotten that our families had called a gift-giving truce last Christmas!
         I decided to give my college roommate the gift of a lunch together sometime next year.  It gives us an excuse to get together and also postpones the expense for a few months.
         Another cousin is single and buys himself anything he wants or needs.  I'm going to make him a batch of our grandmother's butter cookies instead of buying some useless thing.
Your Homework for This Week
Make your holiday shopping list, but check it at least twice before you go shopping. 
         Who can be eliminated from the list?  Must you give gifts to all of your adult relatives?  They might be relieved to hear your suggestion that you draw names within the family and exchange gifts with one person only.
         Can you give a gift of service instead of spending money?  Perhaps you and your friends or family members could spend time together volunteering at a charitable organization this year, rather than exchanging gifts.
         Where can you give your time instead of your money?  Your grandmother doesn't need another sweater.  In fact, the ones you gave her for the last 5 years are still in the boxes in her closet.  Why not give her what she really wants:  time spent with you.  Give her a gift certificate to help her put her photographs in albums, or sort through the old things in her attic.
         Can you give consumable gifts, instead of more "stuff"?  Check your list again.  Do those people really need more stuff?  Many adults have more clothes and household items than they know what to do with.  Many children get so many toys that they don't even know what they have.  If you must buy something, consider things that can be "consumed", such as food, restaurant gift cards, and movie or theater tickets.

posted on: 12/6/2009 11:30:00 AM by Katherine Trezise
category: Finances

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by Kay on 12/16/2009 7:12:13 AM:

Thank You For all of the Great advice. Have a Happy Holiday.

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Minimizing Financial Clutter

by Katherine Trezise

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About Katherine:

Katherine Trezise is president of Absolutely Organized, based in Baltimore, MD. She is president-elect of the National Study Group on Chronic Disorganization. Katherine holds a masters degree in business administration, is a Certified Professional Organizer® and a Certified Professional Organizer in Chronic Disorganization®. Absolutely Organized specializes in helping people organize their homes, paperwork and financial records to make room in their lives for the things, people and activities that are most important to them.

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