Giving Thanks

During a recession, there may be some who are wondering what they have to give thanks for during this Thanksgiving week.  “Are we grateful for the good already received?  Then we shall avail ourselves of the blessings we have, and thus be fitted to receive more.  Gratitude is much more than a verbal expression of thanks. Action expresses more gratitude than speech.”  (Mary Baker Eddy)

So during this time that is set aside in the United States every year for gratitude, find the things that you appreciate.  Even in the midst of dire circumstances, there are aspects of every life worthy of gratitude.  If our thoughts and lives are driven by what we’re missing, we’re not making room for the good that can come our way.  And once you’ve realized what you have to be grateful for, do something that will bless someone else.  The return on that investment is huge.

Holiday Spending During a Recession

The holidays are upon us and many people are saying “Bah Humbug!”  There is a way to enjoy the holidays without overspending.  Here are a few tips:

–         Plan your shopping.  Don’t go out shopping without a list of what you’re looking for and the price range you have for each purchase.  No impulse purchases!

–         Make gifts.  Take a little time to put together gifts with materials you already have or are inexpensive.  It can be a knitted scarf, a photo collage, homemade bread, or a bird house.  The personal touch is better than anything money can buy.

–         Make personal gift certificates.  We’ve done this with family for everything from an extended curfew for our teenagers to a home cooked dinner to doing a chore for someone.  The gift is appreciated and you can make it more festive by printing the certificate on nice stationery.

While economic indicators say that we’re on the way out of the recession, many are still feeling the pinch.  It’s not a time to burrow back into debt.  The holidays are a great time to give yourself the gift of making financially responsible decisions.

The Best Financial Advisor

There are some great checklists for choosing a financial advisor.  The good ones include asking about education, professional credentials, how long they’ve been in the business, and what services they offer.  But some of the most important information you’ll need isn’t on a checklist.  And it’s very hard to find.  You can’t ask it in a question and count on a reliable answer.  Your gut or the financial planner’s other clients might be able to answer it.  But some of these planners might not even have clients yet.  So what is it?

 Can you trust the planner?

 Because if the answer to that question is “no”, don’t bother asking other questions. 

 I’m fortunate to have many trustworthy financial planning colleagues.  One of them told a story recently that illustrates this.  About five minutes before a client came in for an appointment, he found an error his staff had made in her account.  It was – for him – a large error of about $10,000.  So the first thing he did when she arrived was explain the mistake and write her a check that made her whole.  That check pretty much cleaned out his firm’s operating account on that day.  That was several years ago and the woman is still a client.  He didn’t try to gloss over or hide his mistake.  And she appreciated that people make mistakes, but the best people own up to them and deal with the consequences. 

 So trust your instincts when choosing a financial advisor.  Technical knowledge and expertise are important.  But honesty is priceless.