Although giving is important all through the year, we think of it mostly during the holiday season. Following are a few ways to give <a href=>YWCA adopt a family program</a> and <a href=<YWCA Unique Boutique</a>.

The adopt a family program had 35 families available for adoption, with seven families still in need of sponsors by December 15. On average it costs about $75 per person, so a mother and two children would cost $225. If you decide to do this as a family or group it doesn’t have be such a burden but helps others in need.

The Unique Boutique collects donations from businesses and individuals for residents to “shop” for gifts for their families. The boutique is available to current and past residents.

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Nancy Kvamme

While today is “Black Friday”, one of the biggest shopping days of the years, it’s also important to keep track of your spending. For some it’s more about the thrill of the shopping and spending time with their family or friends as an annual event.

In the Forum today, there is an <a href=>article</a> about keeping a handle on holiday spending. I was honored to be included in the article.

If you take a little time to plan ahead, you can take steps to make you holiday season a little less hectic.

Although shopping and giving gifts is a big part of the season, also keep in mind the importance of spending time with family and friends and making memories. One of my grandmothers used to bake us gifts when there got to be a large number of us. It has been many years and we still remember it. A few years, she bought us each a pair of socks. It is another thing we still remember.

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Nancy Kvamme

One of the most popular topics in today’s world is money and the economy.  I realize some people are in trouble financially because of health problems and other circumstances beyond their control.  But in many others, there are steps that can be taken to be more control of your finances.

Many personal finance “experts” got interested in it becaue they were in trouble financially and worked theri way out. of the trouble.

I have been fortunate financially but have always had a n interest in learning how to manage my finances and now want to help others with theirs.

There are a couple of blogs I follow regularly that are written by people that worked their way out of financial problems.  The first one is <a href=>The Simple Dollar</a> written by Trent Hamm.  The other is <a href=>Get Rich Slowly</a> by JD Roth and guest writers.

Both of the blogs offer information for both people starting out financially and also information to keep things on track.

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Nancy Kvamme

Check out Sherri Richards’ <a href=>post</a> about the Forum’s upcoming series, fianancial fix-up.  They are accepting applications from interested individuals and families. 

Those selected will be assigned a financial counselor from The Village Family Service Center and will record their progress on a blog on area voices.  They will also receive $500 from State Bank and Trust to help with their financial goals.

The deadline to apply is November 28.

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Nancy Kvamme

With the holidays coming up it is more important than ever to realize being with your family and people you care about is what this time is really about. The society has become so commercialized that the presents and parties begin to overtake us.

If you are in the situation where your income is not what it used to be. One of the first things you must do is cut back your spending to match your income. In many cases, when people lose their jobs or experience a decrease in income they do not adjust their spending. This is an easy way to get into trouble quickly. I realize this is difficult to do, especially with the holidays. It is not easy to let others know you are having difficulties or to cut back when it comes to spending on your children. But it is something you must consider or you will suffer worse consequences later.

Some of our most memorable gifts were the simplest. My mother came from a family of 10 siblings. When my grandmother got older and there were quite a few of us grandchildren, she still felt like she should get each of us something. First, she would make each of us some baked goods. Then in the later years, we each got a pair of socks. It has been many years but we still talk about getting socks from Grandma.

So even if you can’t buy all the latest toys and things the kids want, look for ways to make memories instead.

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Nancy Kvamme

Even though the best way to buy a car is by cash, most people buy with monthly payments. When deciding how much you can afford, there are a few things to consider. Most advertisements say a certain amount down and monthly payments, but if they are extended over 4-6 years you can end up spending much more on interest. Some experts say if you cannot pay off the car in 3 years or less, you cannot afford the car.

Along with monthly payments, other costs to keep in mind are insurance costs, gas mileage and licensing costs. In most cases, it will cost more for insurance and licensing costs for a newer vehicle. Sometimes, a newer car will get better gas mileage, unless you buy a larger vehicle or pickup.

Also, think about what your needs are. It may not be necessary to buy a larger vehicle with lower gas mileage if you don’t need a larger vehicle very often.

Another thing is some people go shopping for a car when they still owe on their current one. The salesmen are handy and roll the current payment into the new one. With this and other circumstances, sometimes people end up owing more on their car than it is currently worth.

So while having a vehicle is usually a necessity, with a little time and research it doesn’t have to break the bank.

Nancy Kvamme

Another opportunity to help out this holiday season is to donate to the YWCA Unique Boutique.  The <a href=>YWCA Emergency Shelter</a> hosts Unique Boutique every December. Brand-new items are donated from the community so that past and present YWCA clients can choose gifts for their loved ones at no charge. Along with the Unique Boutique, the Client Party features treats, activities and gifts for the clients’ children.

Donations can be dropped off at the YWCA Shelter or contact Lauryn at or 232-3449 or for more information to volunteer.

It is important to start teaching children about money as early as you can.  Some people say as young as 3 years old. One thing to remember is that with other things children watch and learn from what you do. There are easy ways to teach kids about finances without having to spend a lot of extra time and effort.

When you are at the bank, explain what you are doing when making deposits, getting cash, etc. Explain that you need money in the bank to write checks and use your debit card. Many times kids (and some adults) think that as long as you have check blanks or your “handy” debit card you can keep spending.

Last night I was talking to some boy scouts about money and asked “What are some things you can do when you want to buy something you cannot afford right now”? I was looking for saving up for it. One of the first boys to answer said, “Use a credit card”. Then I cautioned them about the dangers of using credit cards and that you have to pay interest when you either use a credit card and don’t pay it off or borrow money some other way.

In the book, “Money Doesn’t Grow on Trees” by Neale Godfrey, she tells of a friend who took his young sons across the country to see their grandparents. After each stop to eat one of the younger boys was always straggling behind the others. Finally, when they were almost home, the father asked why he was always late. The boy replied that he was picking up the money his father kept forgetting at the restaurants. He had been picking up the tips each time. But to a young child, without explanation, it may seem to them that his father was forgetting his money behind.

So with a few small steps and reminders you can help your children to manage money better.

This morning I attended the <a href=>Junior Achievement</a> Fundraising Breakfast. I started <a href=>volunteering</a> for Junior Achievement last spring.

Through Junior Achievement, business professionals volunteer their time in area classrooms to teach financial lessons to students. Each session is 5 visits to the classroom, with each visit between 30 to 45 minutes. It gives the students a different perspective to hear from someone other than their teacher and parents. It is also different to hear from people actually in certain jobs and professions.

The guest speaker this morning was NDSU President, Dean Bresciani. He opened by saying he was suppose to be a diesel mechanic or fry cook. His parents were immigrants and higher education was beyond the boundaries of his father’s aspirations for him. He told him that no matter the economy, everyone would need automobiles so the need for mechanics and everyone would need to eat.

I feel it is very important to teach children about money and finances when they are young and Junior Achievement is an important part in that.

Contact <a href=>Junior Achievement</a> if you are interested in donating either your time or financially. Locally, it costs $26 per student for Junior Achievement lessons.

A group of bloggers have come together to form a website, <a href=>30 Day Giving Challenge</a>. Although giving is important all through the year, it is especially important now during the holidays.

They will be providing ideas of ways you can give throughout the month of November and stories of how people are giving. Most of the time when we think of giving it is either of time or money. But giving can be as simple as smiling at someone you meet on the street or a simple hello.

I will be sharing ideas and links on this throughout the month as well as ways you can give locally during the next month and beyond.