Tag Archives: holidays

How to Manage Spending and Stress During the Holidays

budgeting-for-holidaysA few weeks ago, we posted an article about managing your money as the holidays approach. Nothing is worse than the reality check of opening the credit card bills from all the overspending you did during the holidays. And here we thought putting on those few ‘holiday pounds’ was the only problem! The good news is that it’s never too soon to start being smart with your money. It’s never too late, either. So, let’s get down to business!

Consumer Finance Protection Bureau recommends that you avoid holiday overspending by:

Making a spending plan. Be honest about what you can really spend. Not everyone needs a tangible gift purchased with money and people often appreciate things that don’t have a price tag. So, make a plan and work within that plan. Get creative: offer childcare, house cleaning, make dinner, or get crafty!

Make a list of gift recipients. Plan, plan, plan! If you make your list early, you have time to search for good deals instead of settling for what is available at the last minute. If your list seems long (is every member of your extended family on the list?), consider doing a drawing of names or make a family game where gifts are anonymous, like “Secret Santa”. This can be a great opportunity to bond and minimize cost when your recipients have common connections. If your budget is tight, but you feel like you have to purchase gifts, try to prioritize who needs something purchased instead of something homemade. Shop online and compare prices if you have specific gifts in mind.

Keep track of what you spend. If you save in one area, you can shift that savings to other areas of your holiday gift budget! Don’t forget to look for coupons. Many paper coupons can be redeemed online and vice versa. Consider putting any money saved into a retirement or savings account!

Avoid impulse purchases. Shop online to avoid the temptation of shelves crowded with overpriced stocking-stuffers and last minute purchases that you didn’t plan on. When you are in a store, stick with your list! Think twice about window shopping, the occasional splurge, or spoiling moment in an effort to keep more money in your wallet until after the holidays when you are back in a predictable spending routine.

Leave your credit cards at home. Using a credit card almost immediately busts your budget, or at least allows for too much temptation. Make a budget that fits within what you can afford in cash. If you will be purchasing on credit, make sure you have a pay-off plan that you can stick to. You can even save a little extra money elsewhere by making a creative spending plan in advance, like purchasing gift cards for an expensive item when those gift cards offer savings on something, like gasoline. Many stores, like AAFES, offer free or reduced fee layaway prior to Christmas. Always check your local installation exchange to see if they offer a layaway program.

Check details when purchasing gift cards. Some gift cards have special use requirements, like deadlines by which the card expires or fees for not using them within a specified amount of time. This impacts the useable value of the card, so check in advance for full redemption value.

There are lots of great ideas out there about ways to save, but I love this one from Military Saves: start a savings plan in January 2014 to budget for your gifts for next year! This is the perfect time to analyze how you spend during the holidays and put a realistic long term plan together that will have less of an impact on your pocketbook and relieve some of your financial stress.

What tips and tricks do you use for holiday spending and budgeting?

brookePosted by Brooke Goldberg, Government Relations Deputy Director

Send Holiday Cheer to Service Members!

The holiday season is in full swing, and while most of us are keeping the home front warm and cozy, we remember the brave men and women who are protecting our Nation at home, and abroad. No one wishes for peace on Earth more than military families. While we can’t make every wish come true, we can support the ones who wish. Join us this holiday season, in sending well wishes to our service members.

During the month of December, we’d like to feature you and your service member by allowing you to share a holiday message with them. Do you know someone who could use some holiday cheer? Deployed, or at home, let us help you share your love and gratefulness to a service member! Kids can join in, too!

spc-verlanderDear SPC Verlander,

You know all we want for Christmas is you. Well, Christmas is just going to have to come a little late for us, but that’s OK. We don’t care if it’s December or August. It just won’t be Christmas for us without you, but we’ll be brave while everyone else celebrates. We miss you and cannot wait for you to come home! So proud of you babe! Love you so very much!!

-Mandi

Share your message by emailing it to us at blog@militaryfamily.org. Feel free to send a picture of the service member you’re writing to! ‘Tis the season!

Shannon-SebastianPosted by Shannon Sebastian, Online Engagement Manager

Thank a Veteran today!

November 11 is observed as Veterans Day. Today, we take time to honor America’s veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. Leave your messages of thanks in the comment section below!

veterans-day-2

National POW/MIA Recognition Day

Today, the National Military Family Association recognizes and honors those still missing from our Nation’s wars and conflicts, and those who have paid the ultimate sacrifice and whose remains have not been recovered and returned home. You are not forgotten.

powmia1

Twelve Years Later: Remembering September 11, 2001

september-11-soldier-at-memorialThink about the love inside the strength of heart.
Think about the heroes saving life in the dark.
Climbing higher through the fire, time was running out,
Never knowing you weren’t going to be coming down alive.

Twelve years ago, I was in 10th grade French class. Before I knew it, televisions throughout the school filled with images of a plane crash. A burning building. Fear.

It didn’t register to me. Why would it? My innocence could never fathom such a reality.

Then another plane crash.

Silence fell over my school. Teachers tried as best they could to make sense of the senseless, but no one really understood what the clouded, smoke-filled pictures on the television meant.

Third period History class. An ironic place to be on that day and at that time. The towers fell. The Pentagon.  Flight 93.

We all remember where we were. How we found out. We remember the silence as we watched it all unfold. Each of us are bonded forever by a historic tragedy.

I am grateful for every person who left their fingerprint on the 9/11 story. I am humbled by the firefighters, police officers, first responders, paramedics, volunteers, and those who didn’t have to help, but did.

Today, I am married to a man who was born on September 11th, and who selflessly serves this great Nation. As a military spouse, some days are filled with emotion and unanswered questions. Why are we fighting this long war? Why did my husband have to spend his birthday in Iraq?

But on other days, the picture is clear. Twelve years later, the picture is still crystal clear.

Thank you to the men and women serving and protecting my freedom. For fighting overseas, under seas, in the air, and on the land. Your sacrifices, as well as your family’s, have not gone in vain.

2,977 lost on that day. We will never forget.

9/11/01.

Think about the chance I never had to say, “Thank you for giving up your life that day.”
–“Believe” by Yellowcard

shannonPosted by Shannon Sebastian, Online Engagement Manager

Image

Happy Labor Day

labor-day

Celebrating Presidents

GW

Whether you have the day off or not, join us in celebrating the eight presidents the Association has worked with since it was founded in 1969. During this year’s Inauguration we reviewed our work during the administrations of Nixon, Ford, Carter, Reagan, Bush, Sr., Clinton, Bush, and Obama. Check it out if you missed it the first time!

Do you have a favorite president? Who is it and why?