Are you ready for Christmas?!?!?  

Yes... Thanksgiving is next week... but still.... it is probably about time to start thinking about Christmas.  

We have attached a checklist for you to use as you prepare your holiday shopping.  I have used this for years and it has helped me a TON!!!  

Happy Holiday Shopping!!!!!

Christmas Gift Checklist-Excel
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Christmas Gift Checklist - PDF
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I found this article on Mashable.com.  It had some good information so I thought I would share.  


If you’re a to-do list beginner or just like keeping it simple, Astrid is a great way to get on the to-do train. The free web app comes with pre-set lists that are easy to click on and fill out.

Developing a task system is also easy. Just click the desired list and add items. Users can tweak each list to prioritize and repeat tasks. For the social to-do taskmasters, Astrid also provides a system for users to invite their friends and assign jobs. In turn, Astrid sends weekly completion updates, and the service even tosses a nice complement your way once you’ve finished your checklist.

The free version of Astrid offers the mobile and desktop apps synced through the cloud. For just $5 a month, users can upgrade to premium, which features voice backup, completion charts, and up to 1 GB worth of attachments. Whether free or paid, Astrid is a good entry point in the digital to-do world.

2. The Minimalist: Todoist

If your work style is more focused on getting things done without all the bells and whistles, then Todoist is the low-key tool for you. On the surface, Todoist doesn’t really look like much. Its minimal white platform can look a bit bare, if not daunting. But filling in Todoist is really easy, and offers some big features.

For example, Todoist has enough power to take on a nearly infinite task list, meaning that there’s no data ceiling to hit. Once a project is developed, it can be broken down into sub-projects and those can also be broken into sub-tasks. Each task can have a deadline, and projects can be color-coded for even more organization. Mired in tons of to-dos? Todoist also has a smart “overview” mode, which isolates pressing tasks across all projects and can show how a week will shake out.

Though it’s minimalist, Todoist has plenty of integration with other platforms. The free version of the program adds access from mobile devices as well as plugins on Chrome, Firefox, Gmail, Outlook and Thunderbird. But if you want calendar integration, be prepared to pony up $29 per year.

3. The Multitasker: Remember the Milk

One of the challenges of a to-do list is actually stopping whatever you’re doing and adding a task to the list when it comes up. Switching over to a browser tab or a separate application can discourage on-the-fly additions. If you’re that kind of person then it’s time to adopt Remember the Milk.

Remember the Milk’s free program operates like a standard to-do app. Through the service, users can set tasks, organize them into lists, and get reminders when something is due. But where Remember the Milk really separates itself is the many ways you can connect to it. With widgets and add-ons, you can add tasks to Remember the Milk through Gmail, a bookmarklet, and apps for iPhone, Android and the iPad. In fact, you can even send a task to Remember the Milk through Twitter or Siri. You can also receive reminders for your tasks through nearly any service, including RSS, text, and Skype.

If you’re keen on keeping a to-do list but you need to have multiple access points, then Remember the Milk is the simple and easy way to keep everything in order.

4. The Collaborator: Toodledo

Having a personal to-do list can be easy to keep, but what about managing a project list for a group of people or a family? A seamless platform for group tasks can be a challenge, but not with Toodledo.

Toodledo creates a “workspace” to organize projects and tasks, rather than just a simple list. Users are able to categorize tasks by importance level, edit already existing tasks, and create a customized “hot list” to keep track of pressing concerns. But collaboration is really where Toodledo stands out, enabling users to “invite” others to their workspace instead of sharing tasks or projects. The result is one collaborative space where a group can list all to-dos, rather than delegating among different spaces.

5. The Cloud Champion: Wunderlist

Love the cloud? Then you’ll love Wunderlist, a free to-do list service available on Mac, Windows, Linux, and all smartphones.

Users can develop their own lists through Wunderlist’s web application or a desktop app. Then, with a click of the sync button, Wunderlist automatically updates all lists across all devices that the app is also on. So, all tasks updated through your phone will be sent to your tablet and your computer with no hassle. Users can also share lists through the cloud, allowing friends to access tasks with an easy and secure URL.

If you’re constantly switching between different devices or spend a lot of time on the road, then Wunderlist will help you keep all of your tasks in order no matter where you are.

6. The Kitchen Sink: Workflowy

Perhaps a simple to-do list just doesn’t do it for you. If you’re the kind of person who fills notebooks and notebooks with ideas, projects, objectives and brainstorms, then you should get your hands on Workflowy.

Think of it as a long, continual outline. Users simply drop different sections in and then fill them with tasks, sub-tasks, and so on. Unlike other outline services, Workflowy enables users to collapse each list and focus on the task at hand. Every completed task can also be transferred into a permanent archive of action items and nothing will ever be lost.

Part task list, part brainstorm playground, Workflowy is perfect for those who love to write absolutely everything down.



1- Break down a big Job into manageable pieces

If you get Antsy about the small stuff you have to do around Tax time that takes time, remind yourself that small bite sized jobs take minutes to do. Tax time all in one hit can take days. Ask yourself if you'd prefer to spend fifteen minutes doing something now or fifteen days sorting the whole lot out next tax time? Getting into the habit of doing things this way may take some time to develop, but should be worth it in the end.

2- know the information you need.

Your information that you need can be a number of things: pay slips, receipts, previous tax advise or information. Basically it could be anything you will need to sort your taxes out when the time comes. You should know what you need unless this is your first year filing taxes.

3- Have a monthly Plan.

Make sure that you plan for each month. set out the things that you will need for taxes each month. You can forget about it and move on with other things in your life. Example. Make a habit of printing off bank statement every month. Make sure that you keep them in the same place each month.

4- File away and Categorize.

You can use a filing paper system as well as an electronic system that way things won't get lost you have backup if needed. Make sure that you get in the habit of filing things away as soon as you receive them. You will keep things in a system it is easier when tax time comes.

5- Use reputable financial software and tools.

Check out certain software and tools to see if they can help you get better organized.

6- Hang on to those records.

Create a financial system if need be or use an existing one that works. If you have your own business and you need to keep more in depth records, make sure you're up to date. Set aside maybe half an hour a day to organize your finances so you have all the records you need.

7- Hire an accountant or bookkeeper if necessary.

If you find yourself struggling with a lot of documents and paperwork, and you're finding it hard to keep up with things on your own, then maybe it's time to outsource some of the work to a professional who can help you.

Step 5 – Managing Your Spending Plan

Although family members use their income and make financial decisions jointly, it is generally more efficient if one person assumes the routine responsibility of money management: paying bills, balancing the checkbook, handling money and keeping records. The individual with more knowledge and skills for this task should be the main money manager. Adult family members may want to alternate the money management routine periodically. This is an opportunity to appreciate the rewards, and sometimes hassles, of the responsibility.

Set up a money management center to keep all records and supplies in one place. Include these important materials:

• Spending plan and past spending records
• Bills and receipts
• Checkbook, bank statements and canceled checks
• Charge slips, charge account and bank card statements
• Savings account records
• Income records such as paycheck stubs, Social Security records and pension receipts


Getting the most from your income requires careful planning and wise spending decisions. A spending plan based on what your family considers to be most important can help balance spending with available income and resources. Keeping track of spending will help ensure that money is available for the things your family needs most.

Monthly Spending Plan Worksheet
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We found this checklist from Maria Garcia.  She has some great tips on getting organized in November!  Thanks Maria!!!


____ Nov 1 Make it an outdoor fall clean-up day. Rake or

sweep any debris from trees, shrubs and garden plants off

of the lawn and/or walkways.

____ Nov 2 Prepare your boots, walking and/or hiking shoes

for winter use. Apply a conditioning polish and then treat

with a water repellant spray.

____ Nov 3 Organize and store your garden tools and

supplies. Be sure to clean tools before winter storage so

they are ready to use in the spring. Also, bring in hoses

from outside.

____ Nov 4 Today turn clocks back one hour to standard

time. Now you have an extra hour in the day to change the

batteries in your smoke alarms. Replace all smoke alarms

every 10 years or sooner if they are not working properly.

____ Nov 5 Today is a good day to take out of storage any

storm doors and windows. Clean them before installing.

____ Nov 6 Today is Election Day. Be sure to vote before

the day is done.

____ Nov 7 Clean your car before hard winter weather

arrives. Take out all trash and remove clutter. Take out

mats and wash, also dust dashboard, clean windows, vacuum

floors and seating. Finally, schedule a winterizing

appointment for your car.

____ Nov 8 If you are preparing Thanksgiving dinner, make a

menu list of all foods you plan to serve. If you are not

preparing the meal this year, call the host today and ask

what you can bring to the meal, whether food or other items

such as extra folding chairs, serving ware, etc.

____ Nov 9 Where do you store your ‘good’ dishes or china?

Now is a good time to take everything out, clean and take

inventory of supplies for upcoming holiday dinners. Check

for chips and cracks. Maybe some dishes need to be

replaced. While dishes are out of storage, thoroughly clean

the cabinet or shelves before replacing the dishes. Replace

only the items you will be using. Put less frequently used

items in the back of the cupboard.

____ Nov 10 Finish storing your summer wardrobe. Be sure to

check clothing before storing for repairs and cleaning. Put

summer items in labeled storage containers.

____ Nov 11 Today is Veteran's Day. Honoring and thanking

anyone who has served in the armed forces is appreciated.

Make a call if you know a veteran. If possible, attend an

activity for this purpose.

____ Nov 12 Check for cobwebs in your home. Look at

ceilings and light fixtures during daylight hours,

especially when the sun shines in a room. A lamb's wool

duster on a long handle works best for the removal of


____ Nov 13 Take all winter blankets, quilts or afghans out

of storage and wash. Get them ready and handy for cold

winter nights.

____ Nov 14 Take a fall day stroll on a park trail. Notice

autumn weather signs and color. Make caramel apples when

you get home.

____ Nov 15 Organize your table clothes, placemats and

napkins. Take everything out of storage and then sort

putting like items together. Then put back only the items

that you use, love or need.

____ Nov 16 How many hot beverage mugs do you need?  Go

through your supply looking for chips and cracks. Also, get

rid of mugs that are not used or liked. Before replacing

the mugs you love and use to the cupboard, wipe storage

shelf clean of dust and dirt.

____ Nov 17 When was the last time you backed up your

computer? Unless, you have an external hard drive connected

that does this automatically for you, you will need to be

sure and do this yourself. Picture files can be duplicated

on an external source and then stored in another location

such as a locked firebox or a safe-deposit box at the bank.

____ Nov 18  Sort and clean out your purse and wallet.

First empty all of the contents, and then evaluate every

item and sort. Try to make at least two sorting piles. One

sorting pile will include items you need to put somewhere

else or throw away. Another pile will include items you

will return to your purse or wallet.

____ Nov 19 Dusting is great for keeping furniture and

surfaces looking fresh. Dust areas that are more commonly

not covered with a weekly light brushing, for example: door

frames, blinds, valences and under counter top small

appliances and electronics.

____ Nov 20 Vacuum areas that do not usually get cleaned on

a typical vacuum day such as under sofas, coffee tables,

lamps and end tables.

____ Nov 21 Prepare any foods for Thanksgiving that you can

prepare in advance. These might include salads, desserts or


____ Nov 22 Think of at least 10 things for which you are

grateful. Studies have proven that keeping grateful

thoughts and showing others gratitude makes life happier

and less stressful. Happy Thanksgiving!

____ Nov 23 Today is a day to enjoy and rest, turkey dinner

left overs and family time together. Enlist as much help as

possible with household clean up, and restoring furniture,


____ Nov 24 Make homemade turkey soup today. Here is a

simple recipe:

* 4 cups chicken broth

* 1 carrot, sliced

* 1 stalk of celery, sliced

* 1/8 teaspoon ground pepper

* 1/8 teaspoon ground dry sage

* ½ cup noodles, uncooked

* 1 cup cooked turkey

Heat broth, carrot, celery, and spices to a boil. Add

noodles and chicken. Reduce heat to simmer cook for 10

minutes until noodles are tender done. Serves 4 to 5.

____ Nov 25 Designate a give-away box to put items you no

longer need or want. When the box is full take everything

to Goodwill. Keep the box in the garage or a closet.

____ Nov 26 Take inventory of all your household cleaning

chemicals. Reduce clutter by purging any chemicals that are

old and/or not used. For environmental reasons, be careful

with disposal. Contact your local poison control center for

this information. Consider using less toxic cleaning

products, such as, vinegar, baking soda and rubbing


____ Nov 27 Check for outdated medications in your medicine

cabinet. These can be prescription and other-the-counter

medications. Place in Ziploc bags prescription medications

that are no longer used or outdated. Call your local health

department for proper disposal.

____ Nov 28 Go through your gadget drawer in the kitchen.

Take out everything. Then replace and organize what you

truly use and need. The rest of the items can be donated to


____ Nov 29 Is it time to turn the mattress. To be sure

your mattress has even aging, it is recommended that a

mattress is turned every month. You should also flip it


____ Nov 30 Take out all Christmas lighting for tree and

outside. Check for condition and working ability of all

bulbs and wires.

When Getting out of debt-Do not forget your savings

Most people when they think about getting out of debt, they throw all the money that they make at the problem. We need to also not forget about setting some aside for "that rainy day". When there is nothing wrong with trying to get out of debt as quickly as possible. It is important to have that little extra set aside for those unexpected emergencies.

Most experts will recommend setting aside 10-15% of their income every month for retirement. This is a good goal to have but an individual trying to get out of debt may not have the luxury of setting that much aside every month. While cutting spending and paying off bills is crucial to living debt-free, that does not mean that a person should completely give up on the idea of savings altogether until they are out of debt. Even if it is a small amount, it is still important to set something aside regularly.

The importance of having money in savings if difficult to overstate. Because unexpected occurrences befall everyone, having money to fall back on rather than going further in debt to cover unexpected expenses is crucial to getting out of debt and staying out of it. Without that little extra set aside you may find that you have no choice but to borrow from the bank or use high interest credit cards. Whether a person find themselves needing extra money because they have lost their job or are facing unexpected repair bills, having interest-free money that they can use is always better than the alternative.

Make sure that you look carefully over your expenditures and income to decide how much you can comfortably set aside. Remember when those extra bonuses come in don't go blow them on things you don't need set part of that extra aside for the future. Rather than being discouraged by small amounts that you can set aside. remember every little bit helps. A little is better than nothing.

Step 4 – Review, Track Expenses, and Revise Spending Plan

Once you have developed an initial spending plan that provides for essential family needs and balances expenses with income, review the proposed plan with your family. Spending decisions will affect the whole family, so it is important to talk with your family and explain that everyone needs to be involved with the process of developing a spending plan.

Family members can decide what their needs and wants are and rank these needs according to importance. Becoming aware of your family’s needs can help you work out the details of a spending plan. If family members understand that tough choices must be made, and if they have a voice in deciding, they will be more willing to accept decisions that require a sacrifice on their part.

Keep a record of what is spent in each expense category to discover if the amount matches what was budgeted for that category. If more was spent in one category than planned, a reduction of spending in another category will be required.

Be sure to involve other family members in tracking expenses. One suggestion is to give each family member a small spiral notebook for daily expenses or use a shoe box or drawer to keep receipts. Label receipts so you know the expense category for each one.

After tracking expenses for several months you may find your family is operating “in the red.” If so, a couple of things must happen: expenses must be reduced, income must increase, or both. Arrange for a family conference. Lay out the records of income and monthly expenses. Were there differences between your family’s priorities and its actual spending patterns and income? Discuss where cuts can be made with the least sacrifice in family welfare. Examine spending by category. Discuss ideas for either increasing or decreasing the amounts.

If the spending plan did not adequately provide for your family’s needs, it may need to be revised. If the plan suited your family’s needs but members had trouble sticking to it, stricter self-discipline and better management may be required in future months. Enlist better cooperation within your family on spending.

A spending plan is something to keep working and reworking until it suits your family and satisfies individual members. Do not expect to have a perfect spending plan the first time. With each revision, improvement can be expected. Although you may be satisfied with the present plan, it may need to be changed from time to time because of changes in family circumstances, such as a serious illness or accident. As conditions change, reorganize your plan around new goals, needs and wants.

Monthly Spending Plan Worksheet
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A Savings account is a type of bank account used for deposits and withdrawals of money saved for future use.


A Savings account benefits the bank and the account holder. The bank benefits because it raises the level if deposits made into the bank. The benefit to the customer  is that the money deposited over a period of time can have financial benefits. The money in a savings account can pay for emergency expenses or help an account holder during a difficult financial period.


There are different types of savings accounts. Some financial institutions offer a variety of options for customers to save money. Make sure that you talk to a bank representative about all the benefits of the different types. Make a decision on the type based on what is going to work best for your budget. Also make sure to check out the interest rates see which one is going to benefit you for the money that you are going to be putting into your account.

A bank draft reminder record allows you to monitor how much you are paying for your various insurance policies and, with the help of a trusted advisor, pinpoint where some modifications can be made.  I speak with people about insurance policies every day and most are not aware of exactly how much they are paying. 

For example, life insurance is probably the most common "out of sight, out of mind" type of insurance policy.  Many bought a policy several years ago but have little if any recollection of the terms of the policy, how long the policy and payment will remain level, or how much they are paying currently.  Just by digging a little deeper, it is usually discovered that the policy they have is outdated and could easily be upgraded for little or no extra premium!! 

So please fill out the bank draft reminder form so that when you have your annual consultation with your insurance advisor, you will have the information readily available.  As a result, it will be much easier to determine where improvements can be made to get you and your family on track and save money!!  

Bank Draft Reminder Record
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Step 3 – Balance Income and Expenses

As you think about what was spent in each of the categories and plan how much to spend now, ask these questions:

  1. Which expenses are essential to your family’s well-being?
  2. Which expenses have the highest priority?
  3. Which areas can be reduced to keep your family’s spending within its income?
  4. How much can be afforded in each category?

Subtract total monthly expenses from total monthly income. The result is the amount that is “extra” or must be “cut” from expenses. If cuts are necessary, adjust the amounts you plan to spend in each expense category.

Add up the revised expenses and compare the total to current income. You may discover you don’t have enough projected income to cover current fixed obligations, or to pay necessary living expenses. If this is the case, some difficult decisions must be made. What can be done if expenses are greater than income?

  • Increase income. What are the possibilities for part-time or temporary work to help supplement income. Can other family members seek employment?

  • Cut spending. You may be able to cut back on utilities, food, gasoline, clothing, recreation, contributions or gifts. USDA has low cost menus and other resources that help families reduce expenses (http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/USDAFoodCost-Home.htm).

  • Reduce your fixed expenses. If too much income is going to fixed expenses, such as housing or debt payments, there may not be enough money left to cover your other living expenses. This dilemma may make it necessary to refinance loans, move to lower-cost housing, or sell the property to reduce fixed expenses. 

  • Look at other assets. What savings, investments or property could be used or converted to cash to meet expenses?

What can be done if income is greater than expenses? Allocate the extra dollars to savings for future short-term and long-term goals (education, buying a home, retirement).