FAMILY • HOLIDAY 2013
The holiday season is synonymous with many things, including spending. Opening a Christmas Club account is one way shoppers exercise some financial savvy during the holiday season. According to survey from the American Research Group, the average family spends between $700 and $900 on Christmas gifts in a given year. Roughly 1.5 percent of the family budget is devoted to holiday giving. This doesn't factor in the additional expenses of food and entertaining, as well as travel and miscellaneous holiday necessities. The American Consumer Credit Council indicates that the average American carries credit card debt of roughly $8,562, and holiday spending can add to that already heavy burden. Setting aside funds for Christmas can help cut down on any additional debt from holiday giving. It helps to budget for the added gifts, decorations and food that make the holidays festive. Savings clubs have been offered through banks and other organizations for decades. It's never too early to establish a Christmas savings account, and most people like to get started right at the beginning of the new year. Although Christmas clubs have traditionally been offered through credit unions and savings banks, third-party organizations, including retailers, also offer these types of savings accounts. Such accounts may accrue a small amount of interest, and unlike accounts established with banks, the money saved must be spent with the particular retailer holding the account. The Better Business Bureau advises that Christmas clubs are good ways to budget and help avoid holiday debt. Here are their suggestions when establishing an account.
* Build a budget. Consider how much you spent in the previous holiday season to help determine how much you want to set a s i d e every month. * Start saving now. The sooner you start setting aside money every the better. By setting up a club account in January or February, you'll more from the interest rate and start the year off on the right foot.
* Shop around. While the interest rates on these accounts are typically not very high, they can vary, so shop around for the best deal. * Read the fine print. Christmas clubs are essentially short-term savings accounts, but there are a few details that make them different. In some cases, there might be a minimum required deposit to open the account or a minimum amount you must deposit every month. In addition, there is often a financial penalty for withdrawing the funds before the holiday shopping season arrives. * Automate the process. Many Christmas club accounts allow for monthly automatic deductions of the amount of money you determine from your bank account or paycheck. This helps lessen the pinch. Just make sure that you don't set aside so much that you run the risk of overdrawing on your accounts. Christmas clubs can be yet another financing tool that individuals use to help offset the additional expenses of the holiday season.
Where Family Comes First! • Leland F. Lamberty, M.D. • Wendy J.Gosnell, M.D.
• Janet E. Bernard, M.D. • Joseph J Kezeor M.D.
500 W. Leota Ste. 100 • North Platte, NE 69101
* Do set a budget. Establish what you can afford to spend on gifts and other seasonal trimmings early on. The National Retail Federation estimates that the average consumer will spend around $700 come the holiday season. But not every person needs to be a big spender. The "buy now, pay later" mentality that credit cards offer lands many shoppers in trouble, a sticky situation many only notice once the first bill comes due. If you cannot afford to pay your entire credit card balance off once the bill arrives, you face steep interest charges that can quickly add up. Instead, pick a set spending limit and keep to it no matter how tempting it may seem to overspend with a credit card. * Don't be fooled by false sales. Retailers understand that a good advertised deal lures shoppers into their stores. As a result, some retailers mark up the cost of certain items in order to slash the prices for holiday sales. Even if you are saving the assumed 50 to 60 percent, the final cost of the item still may be higher than normal. Comparison shop and do your research so you don't fall victim to clever pricing. * Do schedule time for shopping. Hectic schedules sometimes result in last-minute shopping that leads to impulse purchases. Schedule some distraction-free time for your holiday shopping so you're less likely to rush into purchases before thinking them through. * Don't double buy. Some shoppers use the holidays as an excuse to buy more for themselves than the people on their lists. While it's tempting to treat yourself come the holiday season, this is a great and quick way to deplete your budget. If you plan on using holiday deals to supplement your own wardrobe or household needs, reduce your spending the rest of the year and save money for year-end purchases. * Do collect coupons and look for purchasing incentives. Comparison shopping not only helps you get the best price, but also it can shed light on coupons, shipping discounts and other
incentives that lower the overall cost of products. Search online for Web sites that publish coupons and codes for online discounts, including free shipping. Join a store's marketing list and receive emails with deals sent directly to your inbox. * Don't be afraid to delay some purchases if need be. If hosting a post-holiday gathering where gifts will be exchanged, it's perfectly acceptable to delay buying those gifts until after Christmas or Chanukah, when many items can be found at even lower prices. Many stores reduce prices on merchandise come December 26, so you can wait until after the holidays to shop for items that will be exchanged with distant friends and relatives. This enables you to save more money and use any received gift cards toward shopping. * Do keep a level head. Some people forget the true meaning of the season is spending time with loved ones. Getting swept away by shopping and worrying about deadlines can make the season less enjoyable. Don't allow the stress of holiday shopping to compromise an otherwise joyous time of year.
FAMILY â€˘ HOLIDAY 2013
Thanks to sales featuring heavily discounted items, millions of people wait to start their holiday shopping until the season hits full swing. But in spite of such bargains, overextending budgets during the holiday season is too tempting for many shoppers to resist. However, shoppers need not risk financial peril if they shop smartly and heed some dos and don'ts of holiday shopping.
FAMILY • HOLIDAY 2013
By Diane Wetzel email@example.com
"Elf," starring Will Ferrel is number five on the list.
More than 1,400 people voted in a recent poll to share their favorite Christmas or holiday movie that the whole family can watch. With so many home entertainment options available these days, the thought of a family sitting down together with a bowl of popcorn to watch a holiday movie together may seen antiquated. But it’s still a wonderful way to spend time together as a family during the holiday season. Dim the lights, get out the popcorn and settle in to watch a movie that celebrates the spirit of the holiday season. According to www.whattodowiththekids.com, an oldie is still a goodie, as "How the Grinch Stole Christmas", made in 1966 is still number one on the list. "They’re finding out now that no Christmas is coming," The Grinch said. "They’re just waking up. I know what they’ll do. Their mouths will hang open a minute or two. The Whos down in Whoville will call cry "boo boo." In second place is "The Polar Express," made in 2004. The Frank Capra classic "It’s A Wonderful Life," filmed in 1942, starring Jimmy Stewart is still a family favorite at number three.
Three movies tied for sixth place. They are the animated classics "A Charlie Brown Christmas" 1965, and "Frosty the Snowman," and "The Santa Clause," 1994. Director Ron Howard’s "The Grinch" came in at number seven on the list, with the classic 1947 film, "Miracle of 34th Street" at number eight. "National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation" starring Chevy Chase as the ever optimistic Clark Griswold is number nine on the list. Rounding out the list at number 10 is "A Muppet Christmas Carol," the retelling of the popular Charles Dickens Christmas classic. Finding ways to enjoy the holiday season as a family can be a challenge when the adults are occupied with holiday preparations and the kids just want to chill out while on vacation from school. Taking the time to be together to watch a classic holiday movie is one way to enjoy the season.
5 â€˘ FAMILY â€˘ HOLIDAY 2013
"Oh, by gosh, by golly it's time for mistletoe and holly. Tasty pheasants, Christmas presents, countrysides covered in snow." As exemplified by this holiday hit by Henry Sanicola, Frank Sinatra and Dok Stanford, holly and mistletoe are an integral part of holiday imagery and tradition. Holly is used to adorn a home in green and red finery alongside evergreen boughs and wreaths. In addition, it has become customary to hang a bouquet of mistletoe under which people are encouraged to share a holiday kiss. While these elements of celebrations are now incorporated into many of the secular and religious components of Christmas, they have very different origins. HOLLY Holly has been used since the days of the early Pagans as a decoration for midwinter festivities, when it was brought into homes to keep evil spirits away. The ancient Romans also believed that holly prickles drove away evil spirits, and it held a place of honor at D e c e m b e r f e s t i v a l s dedicated to the god Saturn. To avoid persecution during the Roman pagan Saturnalia festival, early Christians would participate in the tradition of hanging evil-repelling holly on their homes to appear like the masses. Eventually as
the number of Christians grew, the tradition became less of a pagan one and more associated with Christians and Christmas. Some people have inferred that holly and its prickly edges is symbolic of the crown of thorns Jesus wore at his crucifixion, with the red berries representing blood. MISTLETOE Mistletoe was once held sacred by the Norse, Celtic Druids and North American Indians. It is actually a parasitic plant that grows on a wide range of host trees. Heavy infestation can dwarf the growth and kill these trees. In cultures across pre-Christian Europe, mistletoe was seen as a representation of divine male essence (and thus romance, fertility and vitality). The plant also was thought to be a symbol of peace, and anyone standing below it should receive tokens of affection. When enemies met beneath mistletoe, they had to lay down their weapons and observe a truce until the next day. This is how the tradition of kissing under the mistletoe likely began, and why a ball of mistletoe is now hung in homes during Christmas, a season of peace and affection. Homeowners who hang mistletoe and holly around their homes during the holiday season should be mindful of pets and youngsters around the plants. Mistletoe and holly are considered to be moderately to severely toxic, and ingesting the leaves could be dangerous. Therefore, keep these plants away from curious hands. Mistletoe is commonly hung up high, which should make it less problematic, but holly should be hung high as well. Now largely associated with Christmas celebrations, holly and mistletoe were once part of pagan rituals and ancient superstitions.
FAMILY • HOLIDAY 2013
7 â€˘ FAMILY â€˘HOLIDAY 2013
The holiday season means it's time once again for parents to take their youngsters to visit Santa Claus. Pictures with little boys and girls lining up in their dress clothes with Santa are a holiday tradition, and youngsters are often anxious for their chances to share their Christmas gift wishes with the jolly man in red. But as integral as such photo sessions are to the holiday season, parents know they are one crying fit or meltdown away from having this tradition turn into trouble. After waiting in long lines to see Santa, it's understandable when everyone's patience starts to wear thin. The combination of antsy children and aggravated adults could set off a chain reaction that culminates in tear-stained cheeks and a sullied holiday memory. Pictures with Santa can go much more smoothly when you employ the following tips. * Prep children. While kids may love the idea of Santa, youngsters face to face with a man in a red suit and a big, white beard may be nervous. Begin talking up Santa a few months before Christmas, mentioning how nice and friendly he is. Gauge how kids act around costumed performers at fairs, circuses and birthday parties and help them grow accustomed to people in costumes. If costumes elicit screams of horror, wait another year before seeing Santa. * Visit during off-peak hours. Weekends and evenings are the busiest times to visit Santa. This means long lines and longer wait times. Instead of dealing with the masses, try to get to the mall when the doors first open. Otherwise, let the children skip a day of school and visit during the week when the lines are shorter. * Consider another venue. Many different places of business host events where kids can meet Santa. Families may be able to share a meal with Santa at a restaurant or visit him at a nursery while selecting Christmas trees. A different environment may be less intimidating to children and take the pressure off waiting in line in a busy mall. * Go well-fed. There's little worse than waiting in line and doing so hungry. Hunger pangs can turn even the most placid child into a menace. Pack snacks to enjoy while waiting. Opt for items that will not stain lips and teeth or drip onto clothing. * Make it a family photo. Sometimes the only way to entice a little one to take a picture with Santa is to provide some added security. Dress your best and be prepared to have to step in and cozy up to Santa to ensure your child is all smiles.