The Magic of the Holidays

The holiday season—from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day—is a magical time. Our thoughts shift from job and chores to family, friends, faith, blessings and those in need. It is a miraculous shift in focus, if you think about it.

We were putting up our tree the other day, and there were the usual hassles: getting the tree in the stand, into the house, getting the lights working and on the tree. But then we started putting on the ornaments. We have boxes and boxes of them- far more than our tree could ever hold. Some are from my wife’s childhood, many from mine. Others we’ve collected together or our son has made over the years. When I was young, my next door neighbor was a house-bound elderly lady who made and sold ornaments with nativity and other scenes assembled inside. She always gave my brother and me one at Christmas. And here I was, 40 plus years later, putting them on our tree. Amazing!

So what does this have to do with financial planning? Some. Life Planning- a lot. Holidays can be a stressful time, especially if money is tight. That’s where financial planning can help. But it can also be a rewarding time- and that’s where the Life Planning comes in. Rewarding how? There are so many ways- from creating cherished memories for your children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews to helping others have some joy or a step up. What are your goals and dreams? Do they involve helping a family member realize a dream? Do they involve helping an individual in need, or supporting an organization that does good work in the community? This is where sound finances and a clear Life Plan can help you help others and live a life of peace and joy.

It doesn’t take a lot to make a difference. Time, money or needed items are all valuable to those in need. Check out www.Volunteermatch.org or www.carolinaparent.com (Community/Get Involved/Volunteer Community Service…) for opportunities to donate your time and talents. We like to visit the Salvation Army Angel Trees. You pick an angel off the tree and buy for the individual listed (child or adult). We’ve found it a great way to introduce giving to our son. I know of trees at Northgate Mall in Durham and Crabtree in Raleigh. The Chatham Council on Aging (www.ChathamCouncilOnAging.org) has trees in Senior Centers in Pittsboro and Siler City with names of older adults who could be “adopted” by a business or individual for the holidays. How about buying a tree from TROSA, or giving a turkey and canned goods to a shelter (Durham or Raleigh Rescue Missions, Food Bank of NC, Interfaith Council in Chapel Hill) or organization in your community?

Don’t have time, or working a serving line isn’t your thing, or you’ll be out of town- there are other ways to help. Give some appreciated stock to the organization. You get a deduction and they can sell it without paying taxes. Give that old car that you were going to trade in but not really get much for. Moving or down-sizing- that furniture that won’t fit in the new place will sure brighten up someone else’s home and provide some income to the charity. Consider establishing a charitable fund at the Triangle Community Foundation where you can direct future giving, get a current deduction, and maybe involve your kids so they can take over in the future.

Happy holidays to you and your family. Enjoy your time with your friends and loved ones- it’s precious. Remember those less fortunate. If I can help you figure out how to make a gift, or how to help you be in a position to do more next year, please give me a call at 919.403.6633.

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