Thursday, December 9, 2010

Keeping Finances Clear This Holidays

The other lecturer at the Hamilton Spectator Was Nina Lewin of Catholic Family Services. Nina has a background in the Banking Industry and a BA of Social Work.

It is always hard to get up the enthusiasm to speak about things when there are not many people in the audience but Nina was undaunted. Talking about financial matters with people is not an easy task at the best of times. It is not surprising that people may not show up at a lecture that would expose there financial hardships.

Nina was an enthusiastic supporter of choosing a realistic financial goal for the holiday season. We do not like to set limits on celebrations because they are by there very nature a time to forget the hardships and struggles of everyday life. However, what most of us continue to ignore is what Nina referred to as "The Holiday Hangover". The one that comes in January and February when the big bills start to roll in.

Nina offered her $$Million Dollar Tip$$. First a simple plan for a financially successful holiday season. Following this plan will help you reform your finances in under 1 hour.

Step 1 - Write down all of the money that you will receive between now and the last shopping day (the sooner you do this the better)

Step 2 - Write down all of the things that you must pay for, the essentials ( this may need to extend past the last shopping day to the next day when more money will come in.)

Step 3 - Subtract the amount in Step 2 from the amount in Step 1. The difference is what you can afford to spend on gifts this holiday season.

Afford is the key word because in today's day and age it is very easy to pass that amount. And once you pass it by a little bit what will a little more hurt.

$$The Million Dollar Tip$$.
Meeting unrealistic expectations is often the source of over spending!

A key phrase that Nina tries to teach the people who come to see her at her office is...
"The size of my gift for you can't match the size of my love for you this year"
She suggests that they share this with their loved ones as early as possible.

Nina also had some golden ideas that she has used to help prevent over spending.
  • Gift Certificates. - These ideas make it so much easier to budget because a $10 or $20 gift certificate is exactly that and you don't get caught spending more than you planned.
  • Redeem Points. - Some people forget that they have been collecting Air Miles or other such points all year. These points can be used to help buy gifts.
  • Name Draw. - As families start to grow with children and grandchildren, the amount of gifts needed can expand beyond reason. Try picking names from a hat so that each family member is only buying for one or two people.
  • Donations in Their Name. -Similar to Gift Certificates you can choose how much you are going to give and it can go to a worthy cause instead of to some unwanted nick knack that ends up on a shelf.
  • Just the Kids. - Instead of buying gifts for all of your siblings, parents etc.. just choose gifts for the young children. This can lighten the load of shopping.
  • Give Time. - Nina told the story of her grandparents who were getting on in years and who tended not to cook for themselves as much. She started earlier in the year cooking a little extra with each meal and putting it in the freezer, so come Christmas she would bring over all the extra meals and her grandparents could have great home cooked meals when ever they wanted. These kind of ideas take a little forethought but are often very appreciated.
The Catholic Family Services is located at 447 Main Street in Hamilton. They offer services like the debt reduction and financial help that Nina offers. Nina has a background in the banking industry and offers great advice like the above article. These services are available to anyone regardless of religion or personal beliefs.

Also, for people that are experiencing problems with mental illness or have Family, friends, or even neighbours who may be struggling and need help COAST (Crisis Outreach and Support Team) is a multidisciplinary team consisting of child and youth crisis workers, mental health workers, nurses, social workers and plain-clothes police officers in the Hamilton and Wentworth region. Hamilton Crisis Line 24 hours - 905-972-8338

We only found out about COAST recently and is a very helpful organization when dealing with difficult situations.

Have a happy holiday season!

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