Often in this space I write about how you should envision what you want to change in your financial picture. This is because with a little reflection you can take the steps necessary to change and move to a position where you will have greater comfort and ideally an extra dose of happiness.
Those are ideas you’re going to hear a lot about as the calendar turns to 2020, and that is not a bad thing.
The start of a new year is a bit of a construct and is not necessarily some magic point in time where changes are easier to make or more liable to stick. It is, however, a time when one is inclined to take stock of where they are and where you want them to go.
No matter what changes you would like to make, they do require that bit of reflection, but then they also take a great deal of discipline and continued motivation. After all, if these were easy things for you to do, you would just do them instead of requiring a resolution to do so.
This can feel even more daunting when you see others having success where you struggle. They make it seem like it is so easy. First, keep in mind they have more internal struggles than you see. It is easier to see the successes from the outside than to appreciate the turmoil that someone combats. And second, people have strengths and weaknesses in different areas.
When you are envious of someone’s success in one area, they probably envy you in another.
But through all of this, one thing to remember is that success can be had if you remain on the path to it. So here is a wish that you find that success in whatever battle you take on and reach your hoped-for destination.
And next week, we’ll turn back to more of those financial concerns.
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I don’t know if you’ve realized this, but things aren’t the same as they used to be. You can see that a lot this time of year, for I imagine most of you did at least a portion of your holiday shopping online.
I also notice that our entertainment during this time of year is quite a bit different, too. The days when watching a holiday TV special was an appointment activity because that was the only time you had a chance to see it for a year are over. And yes, it is convenient when you can see essentially anything you want whenever you want, but it also leads to being able to push things off. Then by the time the holiday is gone, you may not have watched everything you wanted. And that probably also means you didn’t sit down with your family as much as you had planned.
Is there something you used to always watch when you were younger that meant something to you? Well, share it with those who are close to you.
And it’s not just TV specials. Is there an old dish you used to eat around the holidays that you miss? Is there an old family recipe that you wish was still in circulation? Those modern conveniences mean you can even send that recipe to many people and share it with those with whom you aren’t sharing a table.
Many of the changes we are experiencing in our world have been wonderful and open many opportunities. That doesn’t mean we should lose tradition, though, so remember to share things and pass along the things that make us happy.
Well, this is about it. By this time next week, it will be Christmas and a week after that brings us to New Year’s Day. Well goodbye 2019, you were an interesting one.
This means that there isn’t much left to do when it comes to your 2019 financial year. There are a few things to watch out for, though. For instance, a few weeks ago I wrote about charitable contributions, and if you are in a position where another deduction can do your tax picture good, you can still do that. Even if you’re not in a position where it will do your tax picture good, remember it will still do good for others.
Beyond that, I write often about scams and they do start to ramp up at the beginning of the year. The more taxes (and their inherent fears) are on people’s minds, the easier it is for scammers to play off them. So keep that in mind if you run into something that sounds fishy over the next couple of months.
And no one really wants to think TOO much about taxes yet, but it is time for you to start moving them up in your mind’s catalog a little bit. People don’t like thinking about taxes, because they aren’t fun, but giving them a little thought now can help spread out their pain. The pain intensifies if you don’t start preparing until the day before you have a meeting to prepare your return.
Most everyone will have a little extra time off over the next couple of weeks and I fully support spending most of it with the people you love. Once you get enough of them, though, maybe you have a couple hours that you don’t know what to do with.
Well first, take a nap. Naps are beautiful.
But when you wake up, you can do yourself some good by getting some financial documents in order. I’m not going to go into huge detail here about what you may need to prepare a full tax return (but fear not, I’m sure much more will be spoken of that in this space in the coming months). Instead, let’s institute a simple rule. If you needed it last year, you’ll need it this year.
So gather those things you needed for last year’s tax return that you already have. Beyond that, make a list of what you do not have yet. There will be some December statements that you won’t get for a few weeks and most of the tax forms you need will start arriving later in January. Putting a checklist of what you know you are expecting with what you already have will let you know when you are ready go make your appointment to prepare your return.
And wouldn’t it be great to get it out of the way as soon as possible?
We promise that we’re ready to see you when you’re ready. Consider us the family you see after the holidays.
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Sometimes inspiration comes out of nowhere, like in a bowl of cereal.
I was browsing the CNN business web page this week and saw a story about Twinkies being turned into a cereal. Now remember, it was less than a decade ago that Hostess filed for bankruptcy and the world was forced to go on without Twinkies for a time. Now, with some new thinking, it’s a brand getting headlines again. You know how sometimes (even in this space) you hear about how you can’t remain stagnant? It seems that’s even true for snack cakes that you would think could last for decades even when left stagnant.
This headline was next to another one about how Nestle is crafting some special KitKat bars. And these aren’t just the special flavors you see around in stores, instead they are so special as to cost about $17 a bar. You are paying that price to be able to choose from about 1,500 flavor combinations and get some personalized packaging. So, the bar costs a bit more, but you’re getting an experience that you cannot get elsewhere. Know how sometimes (even in this space) you hear about how you can charge more if you offer a specialized service? That’s even true for chocolate.
Now granted, some of those KitKats’ ability to charge that price has to do with timing and people searching for gifts during the holiday season. For alongside those two headlines was another saying how the Santa Claus business was booming. And sure, if it’s going to have a boom, this is clearly the season for it. But the article mostly speaks of how brick-and-mortar locations are using the presence of Santa to draw in customers by giving them a moment that cannot be replicated by shopping online. Now what was that about offering experiences one could not get elsewhere?
On the surface, none of these sound like world-beater experiences – I mean we’re talking about breakfast cereal, chocolate, and sitting on the laps of elderly gentlemen - but that goes to show that worthy ideas, good ideas, don’t have to be ones that are going to change the world. After all, there’s never a guarantee that those grand ideas are successful either. For remember, even unbreakable windows don’t always live up to their billing.
I think what this means then is that if you have an idea you believe in, believe in it. It can be easy to talk yourself out of something because it’s not new enough, it’s not big enough, it won’t appeal to enough people. Those can be good things to think about, because you need to know what makes what you’re doing different, but they should not have the power to completely dissuade you from something you are passionate about.
When you feel that passion, own it. Even if you worry that it might sound silly, there’s no reason that people can’t grasp onto whimsy, which is going to be the reason most people pick up that Twinkies cereal box. Be who you are, stand by what you love, and don’t be afraid to get people to follow.
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More than one young person has gone to their first job this year with a parent or loved one encouraging them to “take the free money” when it comes to their company’s 401(k). There’s a lot of reasons that is a good thing and even some that make it a terrible idea. For starters, the 401(k), a product of the 1970s, was never designed to be an individual’s entire retirement asset. Over the years, though, as pension plans have fallen away, we’ve come to expect it to do that, and many new retirees are only now realizing they’ve saved far too little. This month, let’s shed some light on alternate ways to create retirement assets.
Hope you are finding time to relax during this busy time of year!
Until next post,
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