Thursday, December 11, 2008

The sound of credit cards charging...

I enjoy the Christmas season... really I do. But I don't enjoy the consumerism so much. Christmas isn't about who got the best and most expensive gifts. Some of the best gifts I've ever gotten are token gifts and didn't cost a lot. But they were thoughtful and sentimental to me. And I actually remember them for years to come, because they meant something to me. And Christmas is really about the love that God has for us. He loved us so much that he sent his Son to die for our sins. Now that's a gift! In the spirit of not giving expensive gifts... did you know that Amazon is giving away a free Christmas MP3 song per day? It's been so fun to download a Christmas song per day and listening to it. They're actually from well-known artists too. Click on this link and you can download them too! The first 11 are all still downloadable. You can put these in your chosen MP3 player, including iPods. Being a financial analyst at work and a financial planner of my household, this time of the year I have these financial things on my mind. Maybe they'll remind you to look at your financial situation and make some choices too.
  • Have you spent all your healthcare money in your FSA (Flexible Spending Account)? If you still have money leftover in it, be sure to go get some glasses/contacts or even some over the counter medications. If you don't spend it by Dec. 31st, you lose the money you've put in for the year.
  • Have you incurred a capital gains loss of $3,000 or more this year? (This is a rhetorical question this year, I suppose...) If you sell some stocks that you've lost value on this year, you can offset up to $3,000 of the loss against ordinary income, thus decreasing your income tax liability. Who doesn't want to pay less taxes?
  • If you've set a goal for yearly contributions into your company's 401k plan, now's the time to look and make sure you've contributed enough. If not, make a larger contribution in December. This year's contribution limit is $15,500. Same with IRA contributions. If you haven't made yours for 2008, start thinking about it. The limit for 2008 is $5,000, and you can contribute for the 2008 year all the way until April 15th of 2009. Don't be afraid to invest in your future. After all, the stock market is on sale right now!
  • Year-End Charitable contributions - we always evaluate in December whether we've given enough for the year. If we have some money to spare, we give to our usual charities that we support, picking one or two of them. After all, this IS the season of giving.
Oh, and one last thing... this came in the mail yesterday for me.
The Williams- Sonoma Peppermint Bark. It's one of my favorite Christmas time treats. But I'm willing to share! ;)


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