Posts Tagged ‘debt’

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15 Days til New Year’s Eve…The Time is Now

December 16, 2010

Countdown to New Year'sWhile everyone else is busy counting days until Christmas, accountants are busy counting days until New Year’s Eve. And here’s why:

Do you itemize your deductions? If yes, look at your spending plan for charitable contributions. You have 15 days to maximize your gifts. Plus your favorite nonprofits are busily trying to meet their year-end goals, so gifts that come in during December are hugely appreciated! Have you spent out your Health/Flexible Spending Accounts? Now is the time.

Are you a business owner? If yes (and you file cash basis) then every dollar you spend in the next 15 days saves you in the neighborhood of 25 to 40 cents. Our advice to clients at year end: Any equipment you plan to buy in the next six months, buy it now. Any bills scheduled to pay at the beginning of January? Pay them now. And on the income side, for every dollar you put in the bank, you’ll be sending 25 to 40 cents to the IRS on April 15th. This is the one time of year you ease up on your receivables calls, slow down your invoicing process, walk to the bank very slowly.

And for my nonprofit clients? You have 15 days to maximize contributions for the year. Call one key donor every day until the 31st. You can ask for support, or just wish them a happy holiday and thank them for their support. Craft one last personal email solicitation. People want to give this time of year, and it’s your job to remind them.

Happy New Year!

(The accountant’s disclaimer: this is clearly generalized advice. It’s something to be discussed with your trusted advisor. If you don’t have a trusted advisor, we know some great ones!)

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Stories Are Gifts… Share!

November 17, 2010

Starbucks has a new tagline on their holiday cups: Stories are gifts…..share. What a great reminder that sometimes the most meaningful gifts don’t cost money. As we near the season of gift giving, I hope that this sentiment is taken to heart.

What if we all gave the gift of a story this year?

I heard that stores are opening not just at 5am on Black Friday, but on Thanksgiving Day itself. One more step toward the commercialization of what is meant to be a time of family, friendship, and for many, faith.

When people talk to me about the holidays, they often talk about the season with a sense of financial dread, or disappointment in themselves that they didn’t set aside a holiday fund…again, or about the credit card bill they know will be coming in January. They talk about not wanting to disappoint their children, about the expectations placed on them in their workplace, or about “this is how my family has always done it.”

If you hear yourself in any of the above, make a commitment to do it differently this year. Completely different, or just a little different. Here are some ideas:

  • Give the gift of a story: the day your child was born; a fun experience with a good friend; how a coworker has inspired you.
  • Give the gift of an experience, rather than a thing: a walk along the river; a Sunday morning brunch; a drive to the mountains.
  • Give the gift of memories: old family pictures; old family movies; old family recipes. (One of my most treasured gifts is a recipe book from my mother of favorite recipes and notes with each one about which family friend first introduced us to the recipe.)
  • Get your family to draw names. Or better yet, my unique neighbors instituted a family tradition of CrapMas. They each scour their homes for items that they no longer use, but know that someone else might find of value, and then do a sort of live auction based on who declares they need it or want it the most. They have great, great fun with it.
  • Give the gift of service: spend the holiday serving others at a homeless shelter.
  • Give the gift of self-esteem. I asked some important people in my daughter’s life to share a word or a sentence about how people see her, and then I compiled them in a book. $8 at ritz.com and….priceless.

What ideas do you have?

 Stories Are Gifts...Share