A Two-Step Approach to Preparing Kids for a Giving Holiday: Part One

While you may not want to think about it yet, the holidays are right around the corner.  The commercial machine is cranking into gear.  My local Costco already has rows upon rows of Christmas presents for kids and Christmas trees and wrapping paper. . .Soon, there will be endless Christmas ads on television for all the latest toys and electronics your kids will beg for.

Each year, Christmas seems to become more and more about spending money and over consuming.  If you’ve come to dread the holiday season and the gimmes that come with it, now is the time to plan a different type of holiday.  Now is the time to plan a giving holiday.  Make a plan now, before the holiday is in full swing.

You can take a two part approach to this.  Part one is to allow your children to have an opportunity to give.  Part two is to reduce your child’s expectations for the gifts they will receive at Christmas.

Preparing Kids for a Giving HolidayToday, we’ll be talking about part one.

Strategies to Allow Your Children to Give at Christmas

While it’s nice to get things for Christmas, giving is also nice.  Well before Christmas starts, sit down with your kids (if they are old enough) and discuss how you’d like to give of your time.  If they’re still young, say under 5, you can just start a new tradition of giving of yourselves during the holidays.  You’ll experience very little resistance from the little ones.

Put in time.  One way to give, especially if you’re on a tight budget, is to give of your time.  You could volunteer to work in a soup kitchen or to help assemble thanksgiving meal baskets at your local church.  You could go through your closets and donate excess clothes or other items.

Give your money.  If you have more money than time, you can give your money to help make the holidays better for another family.  You could pick a name from a giving tree that pops up in December.  (The post office often has one as does Whole Foods and other grocery stores.)  Take your child with you to buy a present for the child in need.

Or, you could donate to a charitable organization like World Vision.  Look through the catalog and either choose to sponsor a child or to make a one-time contribution.  Let your child know how the money will be used and help him to realize how much more he has than the family of the child who will be receiving the money.

Another organization, Samaritan’s Purse, has a giving project, Operation Christmas Child.  You fill a shoebox with simple toys and school materials for a needy child.  This is a nice project to do with your children, and you can give without spending a lot of money, if your money is tight.

If you want to get away from the consumer driven holiday season, know that you CAN have a different kind of holiday this year.  However, you’ll need to start now and take the first step–teaching your children the importance of giving at the holidays.  Next time we’ll talk about the next step, adjusting expectations.

What’s your favorite way to teach your kids the importance of giving during the holidays?

Original photo credit: Theresa Thompson, on Flickr

Lending Club Returns Update 3Q13

Another quarter has come and gone.  We’re bracing ourselves for the coming winter.  It’s also time for a check-up on my Lending Club account, and the returns I’ve gotten.  In my 2Q13 update , my account was showing a return of 14.08%.  Keep reading to find out if I’ve managed to maintain that rate.

No More Defaults

One of the other things that I wrote about in last quarters update was that my portfolio finally suffered it’s first defaulted loan.  In this quarter, I had a few loans that went into the late categories, but ended up coming back to normal.  I’m still a little surprised that I haven’t had more defaults.  I’m glad that I’ve been lucky enough to only have the one default since January, 2010.

Active Passive Income

Beating Broke Lending Club UpdateThe closer you get to true passive income, the less work you have to put into it.  Lending Club portfolios are not true passive income.  I’ve discussed it before, and it bears reiteration.  They are awful close though.  In all, I spend about 20 minutes a month to reinvest the payments and interest that have come in.  It’s not all at once, usually.  With the $9-$10 in interest that my portfolio is earning each month, that’s a pretty good wage.  Maybe it’s an active passive income stream.  Oxymoron for the win!

Lending Club Return Rate

Now, for what everyone has been waiting for.  (Or scrolled down really quickly for)  Without any further defaults, and staying on top of reinvesting the funds as they come in, I’ve been happy this quarter with my return.  As of 10/4/13, my current Lending Club returns rate displayed is 14.69%!  It’s bounced back nicely from the default.  I’ve been investing the funds a little more aggressively over this quarter which helps explain some of that.  At this point, my reasoning is that I’ve been investing with Lending Club since 2010 and have only had one default.  The risk is still there, I think, but I don’t think it’s quite as bad as some would like to make it sound.

Where will my rate be at the end of the year?  I’m hoping it will remain steady.  I’ll be maintaining the same Lending Club investing filter, and hope that doing so will maintain the low default rate I’ve been lucky enough to have.

How is your Lending Club portfolio doing?

How to Choose a Company to Help You Sell Your Structured Settlement

Selling your belongings generally isn’t all that complicated until you get into the world of real estate. Selling a car doesn’t generally require any expert advice. Selling unneeded items usually only means having a garage sale. However, things get a bit stickier when you move into the world of financial products, and that includes your structured settlement. There are a lot of things that you need to know about selling a settlement, and the industry can be more than a little murky for those who aren’t sure of their direction. A seller services company can help, but you need to choose the right provider.

Length of Time in the Industry

The structured settlement sales industry is relatively new, but that doesn’t mean you have to work with a company that has no verifiable history. Make sure the company you’re dealing with has a long history (dating back to 2007 or so). Not only does having a verifiable history prove that the company has been around, but it proves that they’re doing what it takes to stay in business.

Your Advocate, Not the Buyer’s

One thing you’ll notice when you start looking to sell your structured settlement is that a number of companies exist to serve buyers, not sellers. That’s certainly not in your best interests. Working with a buyer’s company does nothing to ensure that you get the most money possible for your settlement sale, and there’s the chance that you’ll be taken advantage of by an unscrupulous company. Make sure you work with a company that serves sellers, not buyers. You want an advocate on your side, not someone working for a buyer.

How Much Do You Get?

Understand that selling your structured settlement will not give you access to all of the money you have coming to you. Buyers don’t work that way. The difference between the total value of your structured settlement and the offer you accept is called a discount (it’s the profit that makes buying these settlements worthwhile for a company). However, there’s no reason that you have to accept a mere pittance. Working with a reputable seller services company will ensure that you offer the lowest discount possible (thus, maximizing the amount of your lump sum payment).

Partial Sales Welcome

You don’t have to sell your entire settlement. You can sell as little or as much of the total amount as you like. A reputable seller services company will explain that to you upfront in an attempt to help you make the wisest possible decision regarding your sale and your financial future. For some, selling the entire amount makes the most sense, but for others, selling only a portion and keeping the remainder in reserve is the better decision.

As you can see, working with a reputable seller services company to help you sell your structured settlement is vital. With the brief tips listed above, you should be able to make an informed decision for yourself.