12 (Alternative) Days of Christmas
Try these 12 financial fitness moves with your true love.
“The 12 Days of Christmas” is a classic Christmas carol that has remained popular even though, except for the five gold rings, your true love doesn’t want any of the other 11 gifts. (Where do you even put the seven swans a-swimming, in the bathtub?)
Far better if these daily activities were updated, since the old list is for the birds.
Try these 12 alternative activities with your true love instead.
On the first day of Christmas…Family
Enjoy Dec. 25 with family and friends. Even Scrooge, in the end, recognized work could wait for another day.
On the second day of Christmas…Flexible Spending Account
On Dec. 26, if you have Flexible Spending Account, check out your remaining balance and come up with a plan to spend the rest of it. Depending on your employer, the funds in this account must be used up by year end, or shortly thereafter. If you don’t use it, you lose it.
On the third day of Christmas…Home repairs
On Dec. 27, you may still be home from work. Use the free time to check your home for leaks around doors and windows. If your doors and windows are not well insulated, you are paying to heat the great outdoors.
On the fourth day of Christmas…Homeowner’s insurance
On Dec. 28, review your insurance coverage to make sure it meets your needs. All renters need renter’s insurance. Homeowner’s insurance should be high enough to cover a full loss – and just because your home has increased in value doesn’t mean your homeowner’s policy has kept pace. Auto policies need to be high enough to cover the value of other vehicles in the accident if you caused it — and that can exceed the $25,000 property damage limit common with many policies.
On the fifth day of Christmas…Shop after-Christmas sales and save
On Dec. 29, hit the after-Christmas sales. Retailers will have marked down the items they did not sell before Christmas, so they can clear them out of the stores. Christmas wrapping paper and other Christmas supplies, for example, will likely be 75 percent off.
On the sixth day of Christmas…Charitable contributions
On Dec. 30, if you plan on making more 2018 charitable contributions, you better act right away. FYI, for the tax year 2018, due to the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, the standard deduction will be doubled to $24,000 for married tax filers and $12,700 for singles. That means a lot more people will choose not to itemize deductions since it will be a lower dollar amount.
On the seventh day of Christmas…Buy a vehicle
On Dec. 31, go buy a car. Many auto dealership salespeople are incentivized to reach targets each month or quarter. They may be willing to sell a car for less than normal on the last day of the quarter if it helps them reach an overall sales goal.
On the eighth day of Christmas…Make SMART resolutions
Eight maids a milking in your living room on New Year’s Day is not going to leave a lot of smiles, no matter how much you like milk. Instead, on Jan. 1, make one or two New Year’s resolutions. Most people fail with their resolutions because they make too many or get too ambitious. A key to success is to follow the SMART criteria where your goals are Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Time-bound.
On the ninth day of Christmas…Gift card swap
On Jan. 2, consider trading in that fruitcakes-R-us gift card for a store more to your liking. Services like Cardpool make this easy, and that fruit cake gift card can go to someone whose Christmas was ruined because they did not get one.
On the 10th day of Christmas…Create your 2019 budget
On Jan. 3, decide to make 2019 the year you get on top of your budget. Utah-based You Need A Budget consistently gets high marks for a budgeting program that helps people do a better job at spending and saving money.
On the 11th day of Christmas…Check your deductions
On Jan. 4, or the day you get you first 2019 paycheck, make sure the deductions are correct. If you signed up for life insurance or a different health plan for 2019, you want to check that it was done accurately.
On the 12th day of Christmas...Get healthy
On Jan. 5, consider joining a gym to shed those holiday pounds and get in shape for the New Year. Gyms know a lot of people are interested in joining a gym at this time of year, so they usually offer special deals to get you to pick their facility over the competition.
Your true love will be happy with the results of any or all of these activities. Plus, your home won’t look like the bottom of a bird cage.
Don Milne is Financial Literacy manager for Zions Bank.