5 financial holidays I'd like to see
There seems to be a special day or week for everything, including turkey neck soup. How about some holidays to help us get our financial houses in order?
There are far too many holidays in this day and age, if you ask me. National Bagels and Lox Day or Turkey Neck Soup Day are little more than reasons to boost the food industry, and they are not something that most of us celebrate with vigor.
If you had me design next year's calendar, however, I would add a few holidays that would do quite a bit of good for the average consumer. Here are my proposed celebrations; feel free to add them into any day or month you choose.
Gift Card Balance Awareness Month. If you're like most Americans, you have a drawer in your office with random gift cards -- and possibly no clue as to the balance of each. It takes a bit of work, but you can call about each or check the balances online to see where you stand. Most major brand cards, like Starbucks, for example, can be combined into one gift card, making those small $1 or less balances useful again. Other cards, like those Visa or American Express gift cards, will need a bit more creative repurposing. (See also: "How to use up remaining balances on prepaid gift cards.")
Money Mentor Appreciation Week. Most of us can name one person, at least, who has influenced us in a positive regard to our finances. For me, it's my husband and this list of five financial gurus you've never heard of. If you know a blogger, author, financial professional or family member who has helped you take your finances by the reigns and get things right, it's time to say "thanks." You can send a letter, shoot them an email, buy their new book, subscribe to their RSS feed, or even make a donation to their favorite charity or their nonprofit organization. It's a fantastic way to show you how you feel.
Fed Day. It could be argued that every day is Fed Day (it does, after all, seem like the controlling arm of so many things). I would like to approach the subject from the point of view of an American living in this somewhat complex economy, however. If you don't know the ins and outs of our Federal Reserve System, it's best to schedule a day (or week) this year to do so.
Start out simply, with a reading from the Wiki page. Then graduate to commentary by political and economic analysts on both sides of the spectrum. You don't have to learn everything at first, but living in today's somewhat tumultuous times requires some knowledge of what's going on. It's best to set aside time to get ahead of the curve. (If you have kids, who likely aren't learning this in school, pull them in for some of the more basic principles.)
National "Give Back" Month. No, this isn't a feel-good attempt at giving people a chance to contribute to charities. It is, however, a great excuse to pencil in a month on your calendar to pay back loans; give back borrowed CDs, movies, and lawn tools; and return any favors you swore you would grant. People are generally becoming less and less good about keeping their word. (This is evidenced by the rising number of mortgage defaults and bankruptcies, and general attitudes toward paying back debt.)
If you can't pay it all back at one, work out a payment plan, consider counseling with a debt management service, or look into other ways to make good on your loan. We are as solid as our promises, after all. (Not sure you have what it takes to stare down tens of thousands of dollars in debt? Check out how I paid off more than $50,000 in credit card debt.)
Check It or Chuck It Week. We all suffer from variations of a common disease known as "too much stuff" -- except for a few of my nomadic or military friends. I have often wondered how much of my possessions I would miss in case of a natural disaster. As sad as this is, it is often just the process of deciding what to do with "stuff" that can be a burden.
Do you keep it? Sell it? Give it away? What if you need it later? While it's silly to assume that you can go through your home, garage and outdoor buildings in just one week, putting purpose to everything you own, picking just one room this week to purge of the excess is a great start. (Need tips for moving forward? How about starting with these tips for clearing clutter from a self-proclaimed clutter bug?) A decrease in clutter can save you money, free up some time, and get back much-needed mental and emotional clarity.
Looking for some real holidays to boost your financial intelligence or savings potential? Why not check out Financial Literacy Month, National Coupon Month, or even No Pants Day (which can save you a little on the cost of getting your pants pressed)?
What financial holidays would you like to be celebrated? Or do we just have enough to think about already?
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