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Holiday Gifts Of All Kinds, For 2021 And Beyond

Jean Chatzky  |  October 26, 2021

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This Week In Your Wallet: The Gift of Bob

I’ve written before about my wonderful stepfather, Bob Cohan. Maybe I have mentioned the fact that he was the first one to discover any new British procedural, his love affair with his label maker, or his facility with duct tape (in a good way). He and my mother got together 13 years ago after both lost their beloved spouses and had found connection, comfort, companionship and, yes, love. And my brothers and I gained three new brothers and their wonderful families in the process.  

Bob passed away over the weekend after a bout with untreatable cancer to which we – and he – were blissfully unaware until the very end. He was surrounded by the people who loved him and who he loved.

And this morning, I discovered that he left us all with another incredible gift. Bob was a big proponent of writing what he called A Letter Of Instruction and Suggestion. As he had always described it, it was a road map to help those left behind sort out the details: names and contacts for the professionals who should be contacted, locations and numbers of accounts, insurance policies, details on how to find important papers, passwords and how to decipher them.  This much I understood. And that was the methodology I followed when I wrote my first Letter about a decade ago.

But I didn’t truly understand what this document was supposed to be until I read Bob’s. He expressed his wishes about precisely what should happen in the next few days, who should handle what, and how he’d like it to happen. He told us where he’d like us to gather, who should speak, noted a few folks he wanted called that he thought we might forget, and even provided some guidance as to the menu. He did it, like he did so much in his life, with grace, dignity, compassion and humor.  

In Bob’s honor, once I get my act together, I have some revising to do.

And now, to the other news of the week.

Financial Advisor 101 

I’ve heard from many of you lately that you’ve been considering turning to a professional for help managing your money. If this is the first toe you’ve dipped into the waters of financial advisors, understandably, you’ve got questions, which is why this week — with the help of my friend Pam Krueger, founder and CEO of Wealthramp — we’ve got answers. We answer all your questions about how to find an advisor, the minimums required to work with an advisor, how often you should meet, how to “break up” with them if they just aren’t the right fit, and so much more. Give it a listen and let us know if you have any questions we didn’t answer. 

The Supply Chain Cheat Train Rolls On… 

While the supply chain still isn’t a good excuse to break up with your significant other, it is definitely the cause of looming holiday worries — Amazon reassured customers this week that it’s prepared for what may be a “particularly challenging holiday season,” brought on by supply-chain woes and exacerbated by labor shortages. But just how bad is it, and what does all this mean for us? For starters, the number of out-of-stock messages online is up 172% over last year, and many experts say we should brace for extended delivery times and products that we just can’t get. 

Many retailers have not-so subtly let consumers know that starting early is the best way to avoid shortages and last-minute holiday scrambles. Amazon, for example, began “Black Friday-worthy” deals at the beginning of October, and many other retailers including Macy’s, Walmart, and Best Buy either already have Black Friday deals going, or will start promotions on Wednesday, Nov. 3. Here’s a rundown on where you can find some early deals for yourself. But beware that with the supply chain shortage, the discounts may not be as steep or as abundant as in years past. (Some products you should expect to pay full price for this year include Nike sneakers, Coach handbags, and Ralph Lauren shirts.) 

But the news of our impending holiday shopping frenzy begs the question: Should we all just rethink giving? And maybe not just for this nothing-is-normal pandemic year, but for all the years to come? We’ve seen reports of families deciding to go to Disney rather than buy gifts, and Buy Nothing groups, once a little-known Facebook oddity used primarily for swapping unwanted clothing and kitchen wares, are now a full-fledged movement with 6,700 independent groups in 44 countries. Buy Nothing has turned “the act of decluttering into a way to meet and befriend your neighbors,” and is building steam as more of us look to save money and the environment. (Reduce, Reuse, Recycle… And Buy Nothing) And while most of us probably won’t be trading dryer lint, there is something deeply special about giving unwanted things a new lease on life after a year with so much loss. 

The Lifesaving Magic Of IT Support

Finally, here’s a charming essay written by a professor who spent 44 years studying retirement only to be taken by surprise when he retired himself. Among his aha moments: The retirement send-off from his department (the sort he’d pooh-poohed for years) proved moving and meaningful, a new understanding about why retirees (who now seemingly have all the time in the world) are reluctant to take on even intriguing new commitments, and a realization about what it’s like to have to provide your own tech support. 

With much love to all of you this week, 


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