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Preparing your finances for the holidays

Rudy Maldonado

Rudy Maldonado

By Rudy Maldonado, Vice President and Branch Manager (MUFG Union Bank, N.A.)

Every year, it seems stores start playing holiday music and decorating earlier than the year before.  By mid-summer, most national monthly magazines have already completed their special holiday issues, and many financial advisors agree that this a good time to start saving for the holidays.  Whether you are setting a gift budget, making travel plans or scheduling a holiday party, you’re more likely to have a realistic view of your finances and stay within your budget when you aren’t under the pressure of a tight deadline.  In addition to preventing a post-holiday spending hangover, getting an early start on your financial holiday planning may also allow you more time to enjoy the season. Here are some suggestions to consider:

Make a list and check it twice

Develop a list of the people you usually buy gifts for during the holidays.  Next, make a list of items you normally buy this time of year, such as greeting cards, contributions to charitable organizations, holiday meals and traditions, travel and entertainment.  Take inventory of what you already have – wrapping paper, decorations, stored gifts, etc.  Consider selling surplus items online or at a yard sale for extra cash to add to your holiday budget or savings.

Develop a budget and save

Once you’ve taken inventory, determine the maximum you can spend on each item to help determine your budget and the amount you will need to save over the next few months.  It might be helpful to look through last year’s receipts or billing statements to get an idea of how much you spent.  Developing a spending plan before you begin shopping may also help you avoid impulse buying.

To help boost your holiday savings, establish automatic transfers or have part of your paycheck deposited into a targeted savings account.  You might also consider additional seasonal work to bring in more cash, or cut back on your everyday spending.  If you’re still coming up short, early preparation will allow you time to manage the expectations of your family and friends accordingly.

Shop early and take advantage of sales

We all know that seasoned gift giver who completes his/her holiday shopping by September.  Start comparison shopping now for gifts, and keep an eye out for coupons and online deals.  Look into high-demand items that might be more expensive and difficult to obtain during the holidays, and make those purchases when you have the available cash.  It may also be prudent to take advantage of end-of-summer sales, Thanksgiving or Black Friday specials and other opportunities to save.

Keep track of purchases

Keep your holiday gift list handy by considering a smartphone application such as Santa’s Bag-Christmas Gift List (available through the AppleApp StoreSM) that helps manage gift recipients, shopping and budget lists.  Designate a secure spot in your home or garage where you can store gifts and other items, and if you also get a jump on wrapping, be sure to label each gift for easy identification.

Get crafty

Giving handmade gifts can help save on your holiday budget, and starting now will give you plenty of time to get crafty.  For example, if you have a green thumb, planting an inexpensive bulb in the fall will often provide you with a beautiful blooming plant to give in time for the holidays.  For other DIY ideas, there are numerous resources online.

Book travel early

Fares often increase closer to the holidays, so try to book airline and hotel reservations in advance for potential savings.  You will generally get a lower rate if you purchase at least 21 days in advance, so do some research now.  Check with your employer or organizations you may belong to, such as AAA and AARP, to explore travel discounts, or visit online travel sites that might also help you save.

The foregoing article is intended to provide general information about preparing financially for the holidays and is not considered financial or tax advice.  Please consult your financial or tax advisor.

About MUFG Union Bank, N.A

Rudy Maldonado is a vice president and branch manager of MUFG Union Bank, N.A.’s, Coronado Branch.  MUFG Union Bank, N.A., is a full-service bank with offices across the United States.  We provide a wide spectrum of corporate, commercial, retail banking and wealth management solutions to meet the needs of customers.  The bank also offers an extensive portfolio of value-added solutions for customers, including investment banking, personal trust, capital markets, global treasury management, transaction banking and other services.  With assets of $106.7 billion (USD), as of March 31, 2014, the bank has strong capital reserves, credit ratings and capital ratios relative to peer banks.  MUFG Union Bank is a proud member of the Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group (NYSE: MTU), one of the world’s largest financial organizations with total assets of approximately ¥258 trillion (JPY) or $2.5 trillion (USD)1, as of March 31, 2014.  MUFG Americas Holdings Corporation, the financial holding company and MUFG Union Bank, N.A. have corporate headquarters in New York City.

 

 

“Don’t Do It”

Lou Coleman

Lou Coleman

By Lou Coleman

Don’t fall for Satan lies! Satan says, bow to me, turn to the ways of the world, submit to temptation, and I’ll give you whatever you want in this life. The devil is a bold faced LIAR. You bow down to the devil, and no matter what he promised you, even if he could give it to you, it’s a loose, loose situation. He is in the business of deceit and deception, and don’t give a care about you. It is your soul he is after and if he can get you to buy into his lies, your soul he will have and you both will end up in Hell!

So no matter what sweet deal the devil offers you, rebuke him in the name of Jesus…Yell at him like you yell at your kids, (just keeping it real) Get away from me! Get out of here! But know at the same time that even after you done all the yelling, the devil will keep coming. He’ll keep trying. That’s what the devil does. He thinks that maybe, just for a moment, you’ll forget who you are; forgot you belong to Jesus, and fall into his trap. He’ll put you on the slippery slope with little temptations, he’ll play on your pride and your ego, and eventually, when all else fails, just like with Jesus, he’ll offer you the world. But he’s a LIAR, and he won’t follow through and you will have sold you soul for nothing. Jesus remembered who He was and in each of His temptations He quoted from Scripture, and it STOPPED the devil cold. He knew that there was nothing of value the devil could give Him. It was all a trap that led to nowhere.

Anytime the devil hurls something at you, rebuke him in Jesus name. And let me remind you, the devil’s not your friend, he’s not your confidant, he’s your enemy!  Don’t play ball with the devil!  Seek to understand him. If you know what your enemy is like, and what he is apt to do, you can develop a battle plan to defeat him. We as Christians are at war with Satan, but we will never be victorious until we understand the enemy and learn to depend upon our Savior. If we are going to overcome we must adopt a spiritual warfare worldview and put on the whole armor of God, so that we will have the tools necessary to defeat our enemy.

You should understand this fact –. The devil wants to take you out- Period! He wants to murder your purity, he wants to kill your happiness, he wants to destroy your spiritual life, and he wants nothing more than your death. If you are a Christian, your death takes your influence out of this world. If you are not a Christian, your death delivers you into the Devil’s hands. He will tell any lie, and make up any accusation, in order to kill you. Make no mistake about it!

You better hear me now! Once you have heard the truth, you had better respond to it. When you’ve heard God’s message of love spoken to you, respond to it. When you’ve heard the Holy Spirit moving you to change something in your life or to do something for Him, respond to it. Do what He says. Because when you hear the Spirit speaking to you and you ignore it, the Bible tells us that you’re worse off than if you’d never been shown the light. You have no excuse anymore because you know the truth. You know what it takes to get to Heaven. You know what God wants you to do. The mercy of God will extend to great lengths, but God is a gentleman and He won’t keep on pushing you when you keep on ignoring Him. Listen for the voice of God and obey Him when He speaks.

You have been confronted with the truth. And it’s up to you to decide what you’re going to do with it. Are you going to respond to it? Or are you going to ignore it? It’s totally up to you. It’s your choice. But I plead with you to respond to it. Because when you stand before God on that final day and you say, “But I didn’t do anything,” His response will be, “I know, that’s just it; you didn’t do anything…Away from me, you evildoers!”

Walk For Peace!

peace rally

LOS ANGELES, CA- Help make a difference on Saturday, July 19 at the Peace Walk and Peace Talk, sponsored by the Trayvon Martin Foundation. This event will be hosted by Tracy Martin and Sybrina Fulton with celebrity guests like Nipsey Hustle, Big Boy of Power 106, and more. Be a part of the change in your community as you support this event at Historic Crenshaw High School located at 5010 11th Avenue in Los Angeles. For more information call (305) 600-8810. (By Noelle Lilley).