Money is tight. We read that in the paper almost every day. Take home pay is shrinking, and the gap between rich and poor widening. Food inflation is high and our dollar is low.
Markets have had a lousy year, dragged down by the collapse of oil prices, while guaranteed deposit investments are paying almost nothing.
On the other hand, employment participation in the core of Winnipeg is growing significantly, young people can afford to borrow, gasoline prices are at a multi-year low and we are having the mildest start to “winter” in my memory.
So, I’m going to suggest we all count our blessings and list the things for which we are grateful. Actually write them down.
Yup, it’s that time of year when I stop to remember that there is so much more to life than money, and pass that epiphany on to you. We all have such a long list of things for which to be grateful, and research has shown that grateful people are happier and more productive than others. (For back-up to that statement, check out my You Tube video “Be Grateful - It’s Free and Priceless.”)
As you know from past years, my belief is that by being intentionally and consciously thankful for everything you have, and actually writing down your many blessings on a regular basis, you will become more personally and financially successful.
Listing your successes and accomplishments gives you more confidence. Confidence and better perspective allow you to make better decisions, about your money and your life.
Reminding yourself of the wonderful positive traits of your partner, family members or co-workers has obvious power and leads to great choices. Celebrating your financial successes and duplicating them can help you be a better strategist and investor.
Try this - write down ten things for which you are grateful. Feel how it changes your outlook. If you like it, keep going. Repeat as needed.
At this time of year, when so many of us are caught up in the rat race of trying to find the perfect gift, feeling the financial pressure of the season and getting frazzled by all the things you need to do to “get ready” for Christmas, taking a few minutes to tell someone what you appreciate about them might be the greatest gift you can give.
Take some time over the holidays and ponder what’s really important to you. Develop a life plan to focus on those most precious things. Develop that knowledge into a financial plan with specific goals and measureable milestones, starting this month and continuing throughout the next year. By then, setting goals and reaching them will be a habit and seem easy.
And before the holidays, offer to take on some of the chores and responsibilities from someone you love, that will allow her to have some time to relax and enjoy the season. There is usually one person in the family on whose shoulders most of the preparation and work falls. Step in to help.
Also think about how you can connect with family and re-connect with other people who matter to you.
Start your own traditions. We now insist on only presents that are obtained free, self-made or re-gifted. It is so much more fun and stress free.
To all of you who celebrate Christmas, have a very merry one. To those who don’t, enjoy the days off afforded by this annual pagan ritual, forgive us our trespasses in the malls and enjoy the fruits of the Boxing Day sales.
Happy Chanukah, Joyeux Noël, Feliz Navidad, Frohe Weinachten, Merry Christmas. Have a truly joyous holiday and a very Happy New Year!
* * *
Dollars and Sense is meant as an introduction to this topic and should not in any way be construed as a replacement for personalized professional advice.Please consult legal, tax and investment experts for advice on your unique situation. David Christianson, BA, CFP, R.F.P., TEP, CIM is a financial planner and advisor with Christianson Wealth Advisors, a Vice President with National Bank Financial Wealth Management, and author of the book Managing the Bull, A No-Nonsense Guide to Personal Finance.