Independence Day is one of our nation's greatest holidays. There's just something about fireworks, hot dogs, hamburgers and bomb pops that brings out our pride in the USA, a collective pride and patriotism that spreads across parades, air shows, firework celebrations and even the lowest key family grill outs. It's hard to resist the call to patriotism when kids are sporting flag face paintings and scrunchy patriotic top hats, when ten-foot tall Uncle Sams roam the parade route, when family and friends gather to celebrate our nation's birthday.

As we get closer to Christmas, it's possible you might be feeling a pinch in your budget. Affording Christmas gifts on top of a shaky economy and rising prices is enough to test just about anyone's income. However, before whipping out your plastic to take care of the gifts on your list, consider using the cash you'd normally spend on household expenses, such as groceries, and applying it to your holiday purchases.

This Christmas, many of us are thinking DIY gifts and even IOU “time with me” coupons.  While we’re saving money, though, why not take the time to explain to your kids a few important points about this time of year. 

If your child looks up at you with puppy dog eyes, silently pleading for that next gift that won’t come (it wasn’t in the budget), answer that plea with knowledge instead of longing.  After all, Christmas is a time for giving.

As 2010 winds down (where did the year go?!), there is still time to complete your 2010 finance resolutions and take care of other money-business before 2011 rolls in.  Wouldn’t it be nice to start 2011 with a clean, organized financial slate?  Let’s look at some ways you can begin the new year without adding 2010’s unfinished financial goals to your 2011 resolutions.

Clean Up Old Goals

When I was growing up, my mom managed to make the holidays the most magical time  of the year.  We always decorated the Christmas tree as a family.  "Frosty the Snowman" and "Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer" charmed us on family movie night, and cookie decorating was another holiday tradition.  Christmas dinner was always special (our holiday staples were green bean casserole and turkey).  Christmas Eve gifts never failed to please, and Santa's gifts were always over-the-top.  I knew that Christmas was the most wonderful family gathering of the year; but what I didn't know -- that we were terri