From the Editor’s Desk

Gary Foreman

 

Wishing You a Happy and Thankful Thanksgiving

Hello to all my Frugal Friends!

Can thankfulness and happiness be related? If you’ll give me a few minutes I think I can make a case that they are.

This week in the U.S. we’ll celebrate Thanksgiving. It was made an official holiday by Abraham Lincoln in 1863 at the height of the Civil War. In the initial proclamation, it’s clear that the focus was on thankfulness to our Creator for the blessings of the time.

In the middle of the Civil War, it might have seemed hard to find many things to be thankful for. Nearly 700,000 soldiers lost their lives in the war. That’s not to mention those who were wounded. Giving thanks when a loved one has been killed or wounded must have been hard.

We’re in a different time today. Thanksgiving has become about family, football and a big turkey dinner. All good things. It won’t surprise regular readers, but I think that we might be missing something.

Another way that we’re different today is that we have higher expectations. That’s to be expected. Our so-called standard of living is much, much higher today.

And, it’s only human to want more. There’s nothing wrong with striving to accomplish and acquire more. If we didn’t do that we’d never advance. As individuals or as a society.

But it can be dangerous to look at the possessions or positions that others have and want them for ourselves. Envy has a way of slipping in on us. Often without us realizing it.

Here’s the danger. Science (and common sense) tells us that we can’t hold two opposing views at the same time. That means that it’s impossible to focus on things you don’t have and be thankful for the things you do have at the same time.

Some of the saddest people I know spend much of their time envying others and thinking about the things that they don’t have. Social media and news tend to feed these thoughts. Often that sadness evolves into anger and depression.

That’s not to say that many people don’t have unmet needs. Food, clothing, housing – the essentials. We all want and need those things. In fact, it’s up to those of us who have an abundance to share with those in need.

So what does real thankfulness look like? Have you ever had someone say ‘thanks’ to you but you know that they were just being polite and weren’t really thanking you for anything? A quick but meaningless thanks.

How does this apply to you and I? First, if we find ourselves dealing with sadness and anger, it might be a good idea to see if we’re envious of others. It’s one thing to want life’s basic needs. That’s healthy. But, if we’re not wanting life’s basics, we might be better off being thankful for the blessings we do have.

We might also want to go beyond the football turkeyfest Thanksgiving. One way to demonstrate your true thankfulness is to help people in need. Not only will you bless someone else but you’ll be reminded of the things that you do have.

It’s easy to do. If you have a friend or neighbor who lost a job this year, why not buy them a bag of groceries or a gift card so they can buy their own? Don’t want to embarrass them? Do it anonymously.

Food banks help a lot of people during the holidays. You could help them replenish their supplies.

Don’t have extra funds this year? No problem! 12 Ways to Help Others Without Spending Money can provide you with some ideas.

I’d argue that a thankful person is more likely to be a happy person. So I’m going to wish you a happy and thankful Thanksgiving!

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!
Gary

Minimizing the Effects of Chaos

Hello to all my Frugal Friends!

Chaos. noun. complete disorder and confusion.

Ever feel like you’re surrounded by chaos? Either at home, at work or in the world at large?

Can’t speak for anyone else, but I don’t like chaos. A feeling like events and my life is out of control. Not sure if that makes me a control freak or just a normal human being!

One way that I minimize the effects of chaos around me is to stay organized wherever I can. Whether it’s my clothes closet, our pantry or my tool box, I’m better prepared for the unexpected when things are in order.

So I thought it might be a good idea to share some of the articles that we have on different aspects of keeping your home and finances organized.

For most of us, the easiest place to find savings is in the grocery budget. I know that everyone is busy. We tend to eat on the fly. Our chaotic lives cause us to make quick decisions on food. Sometimes to the detriment of our health and budget.

One way to protect our health/budget and get those savings is to have a meal plan. Know when you’ll be getting fast food and when you’ll be cooking. Mastering Meal Planning: Time and Money-Savings Tips for Beginners is a great place to start. After you’ve read it, take a look at Super Frugal Weekly Meal Plans (+ Tips for Cutting Food Costs).

Every kitchen should have a food pantry. You can’t make a good meatloaf with some ingredients! If you don’t want to continually run to the grocer, you’ll need to have some items on hand. A common problem is not knowing what you already have on the shelf. Keeping Track of Pantry Inventory Can Reduce Food Costs will help you solve that problem.

What about the home? Sometimes I look around and wonder how so much stuff found a way into our house. Mind you we’re not hoarders, but magazines, books and stuff just seems to accumulate! When Empty Nesters Reorganize and Declutter Their Home was written for a specific age group, but the advice is generally applicable to everyone.

Being primarily a financial newsletter, I couldn’t address this topic without looking at organizing our money/finances. Much as we all hate the “B” word, it’s important to know what’s happening with our money. That’s the primary purpose of a budget. To help you stay on top of your financial affairs.

A popular misconception is that budgets don’t work if you use credit cards. That’s not true. How to Stick to a Budget and Still Use Credit Cards will show you how.

Another area that’s often chaotic in our lives is in our financial and legal papers. Helping Elderly Parents Organize Must-Have Financial Paperwork is an interview with a Certified Financial Planner that discusses that topic. Of course, no matter what your age, the same thinking applies.

We may not be able to avoid or fix the chaos in the whole world. But we can do things to keep our own homes and finances organized. So here’s to a non-chaotic home!

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!
Gary

Our Gratitude for Our Country’s Veterans

Hello to all my Frugal Friends!

Seems like so many things aren’t normal this year. Especially our holidays. I’ll admit I’m not sure what Thanksgiving 2020 will look like. But one thing that shouldn’t be overlooked is Veterans Day on Wednesday the 11th.

“In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed a bill proclaiming November 11th as Veterans Day and called upon Americans everywhere to re-dedicate themselves to the cause of peace.” (source: Veterans Administration)

According to the VA, there are approximately 18 million Veterans living among us. We owe them a debt of gratitude. The VA estimates that over 650,000 service personnel have died in battle since the founding of the country. Another 530,000 died in service during wartime. Non-mortal woundings totaled over 1.4 million.

And not all wounds are physical. Many suffered emotional wounds that still haven’t healed. I have a friend who ministers to Vietnam-era Vets who are still living with the things that they experienced over 50 years ago.

While Veterans Day 2020 might not be completely normal, it (and they) shouldn’t be forgotten. Will There Still Be Veterans Day Discounts in 2020? explores what it will look like.

We found two links that every Vet should know about. Free Meals and Restaurant Deals and Discounts and Retail Deals and Discounts.

You often see people thanking Vets and first responders for their service. I do it myself. Let’s make it a habit. Not just something on one special day a year.

Oh, and please pass this newsletter along to a vet and tell them about the links in the intro. You might even invite them to subscribe.

Keep on Stretching those Dollars!
Gary

About the Author

Gary Foreman is a former financial planner and purchasing manager who founded The Dollar Stretcher.com website and newsletters in 1996. He's the author of How to Conquer Debt No Matter How Much You Have and he's been featured in MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Fox Business, The Nightly Business Report, US News Money, Credit.com and CreditCards.com. Gary shares his philosophy of money here. Gary is available for audio, video or print interviews. For more info see his media page.

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