Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Time to give back (and collect the tax credit)

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There exists a young woman for whom I have the most respect, both for her talent and character. Among other things, she is generally very aware -- and usually ahead -- of any meaningful current trends.

Therefore, it was a slight curiosity that for years she had no tattoos, unlike most trendy young women in their 20s these days. But it turned out the delay was due to very patiently waiting for the right idea.

The right message turned out to be a very subtly applied single word -- Gratitude.

Her decision proved to me again that she is wise beyond her years. But I tell this story as we approach year-end and the holiday season, as I think that gratitude is the one word that will help each of us fully appreciate what we have. It can also instil in us the generosity and kindness of spirit that will make us feel as good as we possibly can at this time of year and throughout the year.

This is the point at which I always hear the editor's voice saying, "Wait a minute, Christianson, what does this have to do with money? This is Dollars and Sense, after all."

Well, I would put this in the "Sense" category. None of us can afford everything we want. It makes a lot more sense -- financially and emotionally -- to count your blessings and be grateful for what you have, rather than always wanting more material things than you can afford.

Unfortunately, the big financial danger, for both individuals and society, is the epidemic of people borrowing to buy more stuff. Every week there's another news report about higher and higher consumer debt levels. This is a powder keg for those people.

Sorry, this is not meant to be a lecture, just a reminder that the few days off that are approaching, and one when even the stores are closed, will hopefully give you some time to rest and reflect.

It's a great time to go easy on yourself and grant yourself permission to stop always doing things and producing results, and instead just be. Take some time for reading, visiting, watching movies, walking or whatever you really like to do.

Remember how lucky we are to be living in Canada, when the daily news is filled with wars, strife and recessions around the world.

Five years ago, I started a notebook where I listed each year all of the positives that had happened in the previous 12 months. This year it took two pages instead of one, so I can truly say that my cup runneth over.

One more thing... I can honestly say the feeling I get from making that list is the number one positive for me. Give it a try.

This may also lead you to a feeling that you want to give back, maybe to family, friends, co-workers or philanthropic organizations. There is still time to make donations and collect the tax credit before Dec. 31.

David Christianson, BA, CFP, R.F.P., TEP, is a financial planner and adviser with Christianson Wealth Advisors, a vice president with National Bank Financial Wealth Management, and author of the book Managing the Bull, A No-Nonsense Guide to Personal Finance.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 20, 2013 B7

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