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“Financial Fitness” For The New Year Financially speaking, are you better off than you were 10 years ago, 5 years ago, 3 years ago, 1 year ago? If so, what is your plan to keep from hitting a "financial plateau"? If not, what does your "financial fitness" plan look like for this year? Healthy bodies demand consistent, appropriate fitness activities to operate efficiently. Finances require the same thing and deserve nothing less. Go ahead and ring in the new year without a care in the world! Then, use this ... Many Happy Returns? Picture this...It's bright and early on Christmas morning. Santa has left bright, shining new bikes with matching coordinated helmets for the children. The Christmas tree lights are glowing and soft, holiday music is playing in the background. (It really could be a scene from a movie!) As the excited children are inspecting the new bikes and preparing to take them outside for a "test drive", they attempt to put the helmets on and find that they are the ... Priceless One way or another, Christmas shopping will come to an end today. The last store will close; the last delivery truck will run; and the family gatherings will begin. As the shopping ends and the giving begins, the "damage" to your wallet will have been done. Before you start dealing with the financial fallout from your Christmas shopping, enjoy the next few days. There are LOTS of things about Christmas that are, truly, priceless! children's bikes and helmets - $175.00 ... We Spend What We Want to Spend! For several weeks, there have been lots of "doom and gloom" press reports regarding the state of the U.S. economy and consumers holiday spending...predictions of desperate retailers "hoping" that holiday sales will get and/or keep them in the "black" for the year; stories of mortgage troubles; evaluations of the subprime bailout; and laments of high gas prices. According to the media, these numbers all but guarantee consumers won't be able to spend what they want to ... Money Motivation for the Middle of the Month Living on a budget is not nearly as difficult at the beginning and end of the month as it is in the middle. The days between the 10th and the 20th can be the most challenging for maintaining focus and discipline toward financial goals. These 5 strategies will help you stay motivated during the middle of the month when it can be the most difficult. 1. Update your records Budgets are powerful tools because they are right in front of you "... Give Freely One of the worst things that can happen to a holiday budget is "last minute" shopping. As the number of shopping days dwindle, credit card balances grow! Despite the commercial emphasis that has become Christmas, you don't have to go to the extreme (like not giving gifts AT ALL) to give gifts within your budget. The gifts below are things you can give freely. Some of them are actually FREE and others are very close to it! If you ... 8 Great Money Gifts for Kids Money is a great gift for any occasion! It appeals to people of all ages and "fits" everyone. There are times, however, when giving money to young people can be a little bit tricky. Until kids are old enough to understand money, it may be better to give something other than "cold, hard cash". Even so, there are great ways to give money and money related items to children. These 8 ideas are excellent ways to share your generosity with ... YES, it is possible to save money on utility bills! With gas and grocery prices on the way up, it seems that all the necessities are costing more with each passing day. Even if we have no control over prices, there are things we can do to lower our bills in other ways. Use these ideas to start saving money today! USE LESS Install programmable thermostats to control temperature settings. This is particularly helpful during times when your house is empty. There is no need to heat and cool ... Gift or Gaffe? Interesting Gift Card Facts On more Christmas mornings than not, everyone in my family opened a gift from my grandparents. It always contained a money holder envelope from the bank and crisp, new bills. Even though we knew the gift was coming, it was always fun to get it. It was free money and we could use it for whatever we wanted! Today, gift cards are the more common way to give "free money". Unfortunately, gift cards are not always "free" and they ...