My New Year’s Resolution Challenge to You!

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Jane M. Young, CFP, EA

I am a huge fan of short and long term goal setting and the use of to-do lists. We can be much more productive if we organize our objectives and our time. I wouldn’t set out on a major vacation without an itinerary nor would I try to cook a complicated dish without a recipe. Without goals or to-do lists we are too easily distracted. We waste a lot of time and end up going down the wrong path.

I encourage everyone to start with a list of about 20-30 long term goals. From this list identify about 10 things you would like to achieve this year. Then develop a to-do list of things you need to accomplish this week or month. You are way ahead of the game just by writing down some goals and priorities. This forces you to think about your values, desires and objectives for the year. This will serve as your personal strategic plan to make sure you are on the right track.

I know everyone comes up with a list of New Year’s resolutions and we seldom stick to them. So why bother? I think the process itself is good because you have given some thought to what you want to accomplish. You may not reach all of your goals but some of your effort will come to fruition.

I have a special challenge for you in 2010. Think about all the things you would like to accomplish or change in 2010. Select just ONE thing that you must accomplish or change this year and write it down. Make a vow to yourself to do whatever it takes to accomplish this one goal. Create an action plan to reach your objective. Share your goal with at least one other person who will hold you accountable. Be sure to monitor and reward your progress.

If you want to share, I would love to hear about your “One Goal” for 2010 and how you are progressing.

10 Great Money Saving Ideas for the Holidays

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Jane M. Young, CFP, EA

1. Make a plan – who will receive a gift and how much do you plan to spend. Stick to your plan, keep track of your spending, and don’t spend on impulse.

2. Start early and give yourself plenty of time to select gifts and compare prices. We always over buy and spend too much when pressed for time.

3. Find creative ways to reduce the number of people for whom you plan to give gifts. Instead of buying gifts for friends make arrangements to make each other dinner or meet for an inexpensive happy hour. Remember that receiving a gift can be stressful and a nice a card or gesture may be more appropriate

4. Suggest that your family or group of friends draw names instead of buying gifts for everyone. It is difficult and expensive to buy gifts for a large number of people who already have everything.

5. Exchange white elephant gifts or favorite used books instead of expensive Christmas gifts. This is especially fun in conjunction with a Chinese gift exchange where everyone gets a chance to steal a gift from the other participants.

6. Gift a homemade present such as a homemade sauce, stew or soup, a painting, a knitted scarf, cookies, or a pie. You can capture a special moment by framing a photo or post card or you can create a calendar with some sentimental photographs.

7. If you have more time than money gift your services such as babysitting, home maintenance, faux painting, cooking a meal, house cleaning, shoveling snow, decorating advice, cooking lessons, a musical performance, or computer instruction.

8. Rather than providing all the food for your holiday party, ask your friends to bring a dish and a bottle of wine. Co-host a party with a few friends and share the cost. If you are planning a neighborhood party, consider a progressive party where each course is served at a different home.

9. Avoid purchasing expensive new holiday clothes. Make your existing wardrobe more festive through the use of inexpensive accessories and scarves. If you really need a new outfit check out your local consignment stores. Holiday and formal attire isn’t worn very often and is usually in good shape at consignment stores.

10. Lower the cost of Christmas cards and postage by using post cards, e-cards, e-mail or a simple phone call. It’s the thought that counts.