Great Last Minute Gift Idea

I hate shopping, but I love to be creative. So when I got this idea for a gift, my heart leapt for joy!  Fun to do this, and glad that store was conquered. This year, on one side of our family, we are doing a minimal gift exchange for $25. It is so hard to come up with a good idea, that doesn’t turn out to be next year’s white elephant gift for them to give.


New Year’s Eve Celebration Basket: While strolling around Home Goods, looking for a Chotchky, which is Yiddish for trinket, or something of little value. I thought, wouldn’t it be cool if we could put together a New Year’s Eve date basket, for my brother and his wife (I hope they don’t read this article). We found a cool basket at Home Goods for $7.99 and headed off to The World Market to fill it.  I’m glad we got the basket at Home Goods because it was nicer and costs less than what saw at World Market. We filled the basked with a bottle of Champagne, cheddar cheese wedges, Carr’s Entertainment Crackers, Ghirardelli chocolate sampler square,s and a old-fashioned wooden pop gun to announce the coming of the new year. Total cost came to a tad over $30. All high quality items, and probably cheaper than buying a pre-assembled basket.

Here is a picture of it, although my wife Laura has yet to pretty it up with ribbons and paper. Laura found a holiday-ish napkin, and we might toss in a piece or two of fruit. Happy New Year!


Budgeting For Extra Charitable Donations

Here is a cool idea, consider adding a new category to your monthly budget for ‘special giving.’ While doing some budget planning with the program we use; YNAB, or You Need a Budget, I noticed for some months throughout the year, we gave to various causes. This was in addition to our regular giving.

This got me thinking, wouldn’t it be really good if for every month, we made a special donation to groups or people that we saw in need. Doing our regular monthly tithe seems mundane, from the standpoint that it is just a regular habit. Don’t get me wrong, I actually get excited to do it, because I feel it is an honor and privilege to be able to give. But on the other hand, I don’t always get to see who it helps, or have a more direct effect on a single person or special cause I like.

I asked my wife if she wanted to carve out an extra amount each month for special giving, either to organizations, or people that we want to help. She said yes- she was all for it. We are starting out with a pretty small amount that we can afford. We have only been doing this for a couple of months. It has helped with my electronic budgeting too, because now we have a place already in our program to track it- I’m kind of a nerd, and I like the numbers to match up. This helped us give to a group feeding the poor last month, and a special offering to help families that can’t afford Christmas for their children this month.

The YNAB software program is really easy-to-use, and I can add extra categories, or sub-categories to accommodate this change to our budget. YNAB can be used on PC, Apple, iPhone or Android devices.

I’m not mentioning this to bring attention to myself, because that is a really bad thing to do I think, but to give you an idea to try. Giving this way is fun and freeing. It frees me from some money worries- strange how generosity does that. Givers usually are blessed more in return in the long run than they ever give, but that shouldn’t be the motivation, but it is a cool thing that seems to happen.

Do you think this is a good idea? Also, if you already do something like this, or if you try it, let me know how it goes.

Giving Up- The Road Less Traveled

Have you ever had something that you really wanted and were getting ready to purchase, and instead of doing so you gave the money to some needy person? Have you ever considered taking a prized possession and selling it, and give the money to an institution that you believe in?

A friend of mine down sized their home, so that they could give to an orphanage. If you want to read more about this story go to this link at The Columbus Dispatch.

To do something generous like this is really good for helping others, and the giver benefits in secret indescribable ways; they experience true joy and contentment.  Things we buy may provide some personal comfort and fun but by taking the road less traveled and giving up things we experience more than the normal life can provide. Food for thought.

$7.5m Donation to You and Me

Billionaire David Rubenstein today made a $7.5 million donation to repair the Washington Monument, damaged from last summer’s earthquake, the government will pay the other $7.5m.

Tax Strategy Patents

Some providers of financial products and services, think that they have found or created a unique tax strategy and will submit that strategy for patent protection. Some believe that owning such a strategy provides them with market protection and potential income when others what to license their strategy. President Obama recently signed the America Invents Act (Public Law 112-49) into law, this patent reform legislation bans future patenting of tax and charitable strategies. With the new law the Patent and Trademark Office will not be allowed to approve any pending or future applications for tax strategy patents. What appears to be unclear is whether existing patents of this nature will be legally enforceable.

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