Debt-Proof Your Christmas by Mary Hunt – Personal Finance Book Review

Late Thanksgiving Day recently joined Black Friday and Cyber Monday as part of the early buying frenzy for the holidays. As November dawns, holiday advertising is already appearing online, on television, and in print.

Before getting caught up in the commercialism of the season, take time to remember the true meaning of the holidays. They represent a time for rest, reflection, and joy.

Personal Finance author, Mary Hunt offers, an excellent balance between meaning and merchandise in her book, “Debt-Proof Your Christmas,” developed out of her own story of incurring holiday shopping debt more than 20 years ago.

Hunt acknowledges that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to celebrating the holidays, as she shows readers how to have an all-cash Christmas and avoid the bills that soon follow in January. Gift giving, holiday entertaining, and dressing the house are among the many topics she covers.

It’s imperative that you prepare and plan for the holidays to avoid accumulating seasonal debt. The best separator to deter becoming emotionally overdrawn into the holidays is time. “While you are not involved emotionally is the time you can think the most rationally.”

Hunt’s noteworthy holiday-celebrating thoughts include:

Attitude. “How you celebrate and how you pay for Christmas holidays are completely in your control if you make that choice,” Hunt says.

Courage. You may be single, a childless couple, or financially challenged, and part of a large family, expected to buy gifts for every relative. The solution is to develop courage to give as you want, not out of guilt or expectation. Spend what you can on what you desire, not what others say you must. Get creative with gift giving.

Cash in envelopes. Set an amount you’ll spend on each gift recipient, and place that cash in an envelope. When the money’s gone it’s gone and so is gift buying for that person.

Use cash and you’ll be a more disciplined shopper, compelled to find the best bargains.

Gift cards. The surge in gift card giving in recent years prompts Hunt to emphasize that they’re not the same as cash, but instead, specific store credit subject to that store’s rules and policies. Hunt’s gift-card giving advice includes:

  • Give a gift card when it tops the recipient’s wish list, not out of your own convenience.

  • Realize that many gift cards start losing value as soon as six months after activation.

  • Avoid giving gift cards to children, because they’re too abstract. Give cash instead.

Outlet stores. Outlets have morphed into their own kind of commercial experience, requiring savvy shopping. Hunt’s outlet shopping tips include:

  • Wait for the big sales. Outlets follow the same schedule as regular stores, with the best bargains around major holidays.

  • Ask sales associates if the merchandise is first quality, name brand, or lower quality made specifically for the outlet.

  • Inquire about out-of- season merchandise housed in the back of the store available for rock-bottom prices.

Family traditions. Traditions give families assurance that even in uncertain times, amidst a changing world, there are some things they can count on to stay the same.

One suggested tradition is to collect twenty-four books that align with your family’s values and beliefs for the holidays. Wrap the books, and beginning December 1, let your children select and open one book before bedtime and then read it together.

Hunt polled readers for their favorite holiday books (Christmas and Hanukkah) and lists the most popular twenty-four titles.

Readers of Hunt’s website share their inspiring stories of how they personalized their holiday celebrations.

One family started a memories box, encouraging members to contribute thoughts about the past year, and hopes for the future during the holidays. Each Christmas Eve relatives open the box and reflect upon their previous entries.

Debt-Proof Your Christmas features a treasure chest of holiday-enhancing websites, including an organization that distributes gifts to children in desperate situations around the world, and a no-frills site allowing you to bid on unclaimed items in the stolen property rooms of police stations.

Hunt advises on holiday tipping and charitable contributions. “The most reputable charities spend no more for administrative costs than twenty-five cents from each dollar donated.”

If you’re inspired by affirmations, Hunt offers nine to help you avoid holiday debt, including, “I will keep an eye on December 26, when I intend to wake up knowing Christmas is paid in full.”

Debt-Proof Your Christmas will reign as your year-round reference to achieve a meaningful, debt-free holiday season. Discover Hunt’s tips now to jumpstart your ability to experience an all-cash Christmas this year.

To organize your Christmas and simplify your holidays, visit Organized Christmas.

Source by Timothy Zaun

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Surprise Your Little Girl by Gifting Disney Princess Magazines on Her Birthday

Birthdays are special occasions that are waited anxiously both by the kids and their parents. While the kids expect pleasant surprises in the form of choice gifts from their family and friends, the parents want to surprise them with a gift that kids never forget. One such surprise for your little girl child is a Disney Princess Magazines subscription, which will bring alive her dreams and fantasies, and transport her to her favorite fantasy land.

If your girl is over 4 years and loves princess’ fairytales, then there is hardly any better birthday gift you can think of than Disney’s Princess Magazines subscription. Her childhood years can be made eternally memorable with a magazine such as Disney’s Princess magazine. She will relish each and every moment spent reading the magazine. The aficionados swear by the mesmerizing effect Disney’s Princess Magazines have had on their li’l ones. In fact, the effect is so profound that the memories remain with your child for years to come.

This magazine serves twin purpose. Where on the one hand, it gives your child the feeling of a wonderland, it also agitates her creative instincts and helps in her mental development. Both entertainment and educational aspects are adequately taken care of by Disney through Princess Magazine.

By gifting her Disney’s Princess Magazines subscription on her b’day, you are also showing her that her parents really care for her and are prepared to think ‘differently’ to fulfill her dreams.

Perhaps, the only factor that you need to carefully consider is the price of subscription. Generally, 10-issues subscription of this magazine could peg you back by $40. However, there are cheaper means available if you are prepared to explore a bit. Internet is full of websites offering cheap Disney’s Princess Magazines subscription at half the list price. Your task is confined to finding one of the safest websites that offers a handsome discount on the Princess magazine.

The Disney’s Princess Magazines features characters like Ariel from The Little Mermaid, Belle from Beauty & The Beast, Aurora from Sleeping Beauty, Snow White, Cinderella, Mulan, Jasmine from Aladdin, and Pochohantas. This fun-filled adventure magazine will definitely give a huge surprise to your little girl and keep her in good spirits for many years to come.

Source by Alex Richard

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Manage the Expense of Christmas

Christmas can place an inordinate amount of stress on a tightly managed household budget. A change in circumstances, a reduction in working hours or unexpected emergency can throw precarious finances into crisis.

Some families have been found to take up to three years to repay their Christmas spending. A desire to make this time of the year super-special can push already stretched finances to breaking point.

Here are a few tips to help you manage the expense of Christmas;

Set an upper limit on gifts for adults. Then everyone has to use their imagination and be more creative in their gift giving. Or use a Secret Santa where everyone selects a person to buy for, or a bran tub where there’s one gift per person, all ways to reduce financial pressure and expense of Christmas. It’s often such a relief when one person makes such a suggestion. Usually others are more than happy to agree.

– Give children experiences rather than gifts. Maybe commit to one special present per child, but then think of ways to give your time and attention so that you can do things together. Children often treasure those shared experiences, especially if parents are usually busy working or doing chores. A day at the beach, the park, a nature trail, time spent fishing, doing crafts together, playing football are often experiences remembered long after all the expensive gifts have been outgrown.

– Source imaginative gifts at craft fairs and local markets, where there’ll be unique foodstuffs and fancy goods, often with no discernible price tag. A delicious food hamper, locally brewed beers, jewellery, paintings, fabrics are often available for sale at artisan markets and are reasonably priced, so helping you to manage the expense of Christmas.

– Offer help rather than gifts. A voucher for an evening’s babysitting, help with gardening or ironing, a beautiful homemade cake, hair styling or a pamper session may be much appreciated. Any could be a lovely way to give the recipient some much-needed support.

– Source free entertainment and manage the expense of Christmas. Carol services, concerts and country walks are often enjoyable ways of passing a fun few hours and can provide welcome reasons to give everyone a break whilst getting some fresh air.

– Reduce Christmas food spending by preparing in advance tasty staples like casseroles, stews and pies. It’s often a treat to wrap up warm, enjoy a brisk walk and return to delicious homemade comfort food. Guests will appreciate those relaxed meals as a welcome change from lavish Christmas fare.

– Have you heard of safari suppers; each house provides one course, then moves on for the next course, including everyone in the cost and effort. Christmas and post-Christmas can be times when arranging some inexpensive social time can be a welcome break, especially if it’s local with no need to travel too far from home.

– Accept offers of help. If guests want to bring wine, food or make their signature dish, accept graciously and reduce your financial burden. Let others contribute and feel that they’ve participated in the day. It saves you time and money.

– Resist the temptation to keep on spending. All too often we’ll see another ‘perfect’ gift or some ‘must-have’ tasty treat. Stop yourself from looking! Those items are often unnecessary, no one will miss them and yet they can add significantly to the overall expense of Christmas. Stay with your master plan and avoid any additional temptations.

Christmas is about sharing time and food with loved ones, family and friends. It’s great to read that more Americans go home for Thanksgiving than for Christmas and yet no gifts are exchanged at Thanksgiving. When we stay with the underlying message of Christmas we can have a special, loving time and yet not need three years to recover from the expense of it all!

Source by Susan Leigh

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Ready For A Relationship? Ladies, Not So Fast

Relationships. They are a great thing when they are right. Two people coming together and sharing a deep, loving bond that is pure, honest, genuine and nothing short of divine – that is powerful. When two people are aligned to each other’s life vision and come together to better each other’s lives, what a dynamic duo. So if you’re single and want a relationship, I imagine that may be what you’re looking for. And that kind of love can happen for you. But not if you settle. A number of women today seem to be okay with accepting breadcrumbs from guys. They are desperate to be in a relationship or at least have someone so they put up with receiving mere sprinkles of attention or affection. The main reason I believe women settle is because we’re programmed to. They started us off with the baby dolls and doll houses from a young age conditioning us that our role is taking care of home and being good women to our husbands. So we grow up fantasizing about our wedding day, our knight in shining armor and raising a family – the picture perfect American dream. And 30 somehow became the magical age for which this perfect dream should occur by. So if you hit 30 and you’re single, then society leads you to believe there’s something wrong with you. And so we start questioning our worth as a woman. Contrary to popular belief, a woman’s purpose on this earth is NOT to just be a wife. It’s NOT just to be a mother. Every woman was blessed with gifts and talents by God so in addition to utilizing those gifts, she can choose to become a wife and/or mother. You are NOT defined by a man or your relationship status. Many women are getting into relationships for the wrong reasons and it continues to end in disaster. To avoid repeating the same cycles like a broken record, here are a few signs you may be getting into a relationship for the wrong reasons:

Rushing. You hit age 30 (or over) and you’re panicked. You believe you are old. Somehow you’re convinced that if you’re 35, for example, you’re old. Well that mindset is what will get you into the wrong relationship because your intent for a relationship is just so you’re not too old and have someone versus actually being with the right person. You believe you have to hurry up because your biological clock is ticking. And while some may argue that statistics show the older a woman gets, the harder it is for her to conceive, there are also plenty of women who birth healthy babies over the age of 30. According to, “many women today find themselves trying to conceive after the age of 35. This opportunity can be full of joy and riddled with questions. Despite some challenges, many women in their thirties and forties successfully conceive.” I understand that you want to give yourself the greatest chance regarding fertility but would you rather rush and be bonded for life with a child by the wrong man or wait for God’s best? I hope you prefer the latter. Rushing into a relationship cannot be good.

Filling a Void. Do you really want a relationship or are you just bored? Are you just lonely? Sometimes we get into relationships to fill a void. We look to a person to fill a void in our lives that can only be filled with our own self-love. You need to get back to some activities that you like. Get back to your goals and dreams. What are your passions? What enlivens you? You want a relationship to fill something internal. You’re seeking external validation to make you feel like you’re worthy; if you get in a relationship, then that shows that you’re still desired. Well if you get in a relationship looking for someone to show you your worth, then don’t be surprised if it doesn’t turn out well. Only you should determine your worth. Work on yourself. Invest in yourself. Give back to yourself. In other words, take time out for yourself. This way you’ll fill yourself up and won’t need to go looking for a relationship to fill a void in your life.

You’re Not Ready. Are you really ready for a relationship? Are you really ready to put in the work required to build a solid foundation from the ground up or are you just in love with the idea of being in a relationship? Many of us are simply not ready for love. We think we are because we watch romantic movies or read romance novels. Unless you are willing to take your time and really get to know someone beneath the surface, you’re not ready. You’re not ready to make someone else a priority. You’re not really in a space to give to someone else. Love comes to give. You have to take the other person into consideration when it comes to certain things. You can’t behave like or have a single mentality if you’re going to be in a relationship. You have to start preparing for it. Really think about if you’re really ready to commit to someone else fully or are you honestly just into the idea of it all? Give up the fairy tale. It’s not reality.

I believe in love. I believe that people can manifest true love. I believe we can all have the love we want and rightfully deserve but we must not settle. We need to do the internal work within ourselves as well. Let’s get clear on where we are in life. A relationship (or marriage) isn’t going to magically make everything better. Do the inner work and be honest with yourself about your intention for a relationship. Don’t rush and get into a relationship just for the sake of having one. You deserve so much more. You’re a Queen. Love yourself enough to wait for the best.


Source by Desh Dixon

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How to Play the Silly Game Called Pin the Beard on Santa

It seems that birthdays get all the attention when it comes to silly party games. Why should Christmas get left out? Everyone wants to have more fun at Christmas and it’s the perfect time to play silly games. Why not play a funny game of pin the beard on Santa with your friends and family?

Santa’s Face

To start, you need a cardboard cutout of Santa Claus. You can buy one at a party store, dollar store or gift shop. It can be large or small but should just show Santa’s face. If you don’t find one at a local shop, teacher and educational supply stores may have exactly the cutout you need for your pin the beard on Santa game. When you get the face home, cut off Santa’s beard. After all, why would you need to pin a beard on Santa if he already has one? Throw out the old beard or keep it to tape to the decoration later if you want to use it again for another reason.

Santa’s Beard

Create a few different beards for Santa from various materials. Cut out a Santa beard from a thick, white card. Make a beard from a flat foam sheet with sticky adhesive backing so you can peel the panel off right before you use it. Crumple everyday white paper from your computer into beard for Santa. Use a gigantic sheet of cotton or several cotton balls to create Santa’s beard. You need enough beards so each player gets one. For example, if you have 7 players, you need 7 beards.

Pin The Beard On Santa

Pin the beard on Santa is played the same way as the classic game pin the tail on the donkey. Blindfold the player, spin the player around and then have the player try to pin the beard on Santa. Self-adhesive foam beards work well because they don’t move after they are placed on Santa’s face. The blindfolded player can’t change their mind so the beard is stuck exactly where they put it the first time!

Santa Gets Pinned Many Ways

You can play several variations of this simple Santa game. If you purchase a full-sized Santa cutout you can play pin the hat on Santa, pin the boots on Santa or even pin a red button nose on Santa. Even if you can’t find a cutout of Santa’s face, you can play pin the boots on Santa!

Adult Santa Games

Adults like games, too. Consider an adult version of the game, such as pin the chest hair on Santa. Create your own Santa cutout complete with his suit unbuttoned to reveal his chest. You’ve never seen Santa look so macho before! Create chest hair from thread, yarn or fake fur. Attach double stick tape or stickers to the back of the chest hair so players can pin it on Santa just like the beard or boots.

Make sure to have prizes for the winner to make the game even more fun. You can offer the Santa cutout to the winner along with a gift bag filled with candy, pencils and other small holiday treats.

Source by Mary Jennings

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