Sleigh Bells Ring

The holiday season kicked off early this year, with a big winter storm in parts of the country. Beautiful, yet treacherous, photographs emerged of cars and neighborhoods entirely submerged in snow; roofs, windows and doors collapsing from the weight of the precipitous precipitation, and once again motorists were stranded on highways and byways. The season began with a veritable wonderland that makes you wonder what it forebodes for winter this year.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “This Aerial Photography Shows Just How Arresting the Snow Storm in Buffalo Is,” from Business Insider, Nov. 20, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to view, “24 Pictures That Perfectly Capture How Insane the Snow Is Near Buffalo, New York,” from BuzzFeed, Nov. 19, 2014.]

Perhaps inspired by the holiday spirit that the heavy snow emotes — assuming you’re not having to dig yourself out of it — Americans have several things to cheer about this holiday season. With each passing year the economy grows stronger. Inflation remains low and gas prices are down. Real estate prices continue to rebound, and unemployment is back down to relatively normal levels. Many, though not all, shoppers have more discretionary funds to spend on friends and family this year — a sign that bodes well for the economy.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Falling Gas Prices Fuel Holiday Cheer,” from Guggenheim Partners, Nov. 20, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to view the data, “United States Unemployment Rate 1948-2014,” from Trading Economics, 2014.]

Holiday shopping also seemed to start earlier than usual, just after Halloween. Merchants appear more accommodating this year as well. Black Friday is no longer a one-day event; for some retailers it lasts two to four weeks. Keep in mind a few shopping tips for this year: 

  • If you find a better price after buying a product, you may be able to take advantage of the “price rewind” tool offered by some of the major credit cards, such as Citi and Discover.
  • Sales are expected to be early and brisk this year, so if there’s a must-have item on your list, you may want to purchase it early in case inventories run dry.
  • When shopping for clothes, consider that late-season sales can result in discounts of 60 to 70 percent; the same holds true for perennial gifts such as board games.
[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Tips for Braving (and Saving) this Holiday Shopping Season,” from Tampa Bay Times, Nov. 21, 2014.]

Holiday gifts for elderly seniors can often be a challenge given their limited mobility and the fact that many already have everything they need. Consider some of the newer innovations in medical technology — assuming you’ll take the time to teach the recipient how to use it. Consider a hand-held heart monitor, wireless blood pressure monitor or light therapy device if the recipient has a propensity for seasonal affective disorder (SAD) in winter.

For those likely to experience more harsh weather this winter, consider thoughtful preparation gifts such as a generator or snow blower.

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “This Holiday’s New Consumer Health Tech that Can Really Make a Difference,” from HL7 Standards, Nov. 20, 2014.]

[CLICK HERE to read the article, “Best Outdoor Power Gear Gifts for the Holidays,” from Consumer Reports, Nov. 20, 2014.]

As you enter this holiday season, we encourage you to take time to reflect on the past year and make plans for the future. We believe it’s always best to have a plan in place for your financial future to help divert any day-to-day trials and tribulations that may affect your long-term goals. As always, we’re here to help you develop a strategy that can assist you through any potential hardships, and we wish a warm and wonderful holiday season for you and yours.

Our firm assists retirees and pre-retirees in the creation of retirement strategies utilizing insurance products. Our firm is not affiliated with the U.S. government or any governmental agency.

This content is provided for informational purposes only. It is provided by third parties and has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable, but accuracy and completeness cannot be guaranteed. The information is not intended to be used as the sole basis for financial decisions, nor should it be construed as advice designed to meet the particular needs of an individual’s situation.

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