th-1Personal finance geeks like to plan ahead: retirement, emergency fund, college plan, new-car-with-cash fund, et al.

We actually find this fun, or at least satisfying. You should try it sometime.

A lot of us will also set an amount to be spent for the holidays and other occasions important to us (mom’s birthday, an annual 10k, the Talkeetna Bachelors Auction and Wilderness Woman Competition, whatever).

But how many remember what I call the “milestone gifts” – weddings, graduation, babies, bar mitzvahs and the like?

This could come out of the “entertainment” section of your budget, but if you have a big family and/or a lot of friends then pretty soon you’d have no money left for the movies.

Gift-giving can be a very touchy practice. Is it the right present? Will they thank me but roll their eyes later? Is everyone judging my choice?

And, of course, the biggie: Did I spend enough?


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th-1Recently I was quoted in a U.S. News and World Report article about affordable Mother’s Day gifts. My suggestion was, of course, writing-related: Buy her a journal.

A written account of your days on Earth isn’t just a chronicle of the way you work, eat, love, parent, spend, vote and play, however. It can also be:

A safety valve. Write down what happened at work/on that first date/as you walked past a construction site, or risk having your head ’splode.

A historical document. Some day your descendants will be startled that you once earned only $50,000 per year or that you had to hold your phone in your hand in order to communicate. Preserving these memories will add to your family history.

An intimate friend. You can tell your journal anything, although it might be wise to have a stout lock on the thing.

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thRecently someone contacted Stacy Johnson of Money Talks News to ask for articles on non-costly ways to give back to the community. That assignment wound up in my lap, resulting in “You don’t need to be rich to lend a helping hand: 42 free or cheap ways to give.”

Researching it was fairly simple, because I do a lot of this stuff myself and also take inspiration from readers’ examples. The more I thought about it, the more I realized that giving is the perfect antidote to the midwinter blahs.

Here’s why.

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thLately it’s been all about holiday shopping, both here and elsewhere. Thank goodness the holidays are almost over.

Here’s my favorite gift suggestion: Breathing room.

Christmas gifts that keep on giving,” my recent post at Get Rich Slowly, suggests presents that can free up money in someone’s budget.

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thNot everyone is ready for a book about personal finance, even if it’s desperately needed. Some potential recipients believe they’ll figure things out for themselves. Some don’t believe that the economy will ever really work for folks like them. Some know they’re taking the last train to Brokesville but are frankly enjoying the trip too much to consider getting off at the next station.

That doesn’t mean you can’t give the gift of personal finance. It just means you need to be thoughtful about how you do it, including picking a time when the person is in a receptive frame of mind.

Which might not be on Dec. 25. But it also might be, which is why I’m once again offering a list of books to consider gifting.

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