It’s Thanksgiving Day and there is much to be grateful for.  I’m personally grateful to you, dear reader, for taking a few minutes to read this post.  Maybe someday in the near future you readers will have a baby or three and catapult this blog viewership into the double digits.  Glorious times ahead.

Today is one of my favorite holidays not just for the gratuitous gorging and the all-day football-fest, but for the reminder about how we should think/act on a daily basis.  I don’t mean we should eat 10,000 calories each day, though Michael Phelps makes it look okay, I mean we should focus on gratitude.  Are there times where life could be a little brighter?  Sure.  But start with the fact that you are here and able to give thanks.  Everything else builds on that.

A few family and friends who have graduated that we’ll be thinking about today – Jim, Gladys, Joe, Pam, David, Helen, Pete, and Eric.  We love you and miss you and give thanks for the joy you brought us.

Thanks for bearing with me on this day of gratitude.  I am truly thankful that that you have made it to the end of this short post and promise that more thoughtful editing is on the horizon.

Happy Thanksgiving!

It just doesn’t matter

I feel like I’m getting older because I’m getting nostalgic.  I remember a time when political campaigns were limited to the several months leading up to the election.  And when a difference of political opinion did not automatically mean someone was evil/racist/heartless.  Sadly, that’s where we are today and there does not appear to be an end to the madness in sight.  This topic comes up on Thanksgiving eve because families rarely escape the drama of the national crazy scene.  Just remember, whiskey is bipartisan.  And so is gravy.

This blog has a personal finance bent to it and there is an inverse correlation to how we think about national politics and how we handle our money.  How much influence do you have over the national political scene?  More importantly, how much impact does it actually have on you?  Not how much impact do you allow it to have on you, how much does it actually have?  Unless you are reading this from a powerful seat in Washington D.C., the answer is that you have virtually no influence on the national political scene.  And, believe it or not, the drama impacts you much less than you think.

Your choices in your financial life matter.  National politicians don’t.  Focus your energy on the decisions that impact your life and make sure your use of money lines up with your values.  Just like politics (but much more important), all holidays are local.  So, check your verbal weapons at the door tomorrow.  And make the drink a double.

Wait, phones are distracting?

Imagine hiring an assistant whose job consisted of walking around connected to you 24 hours a day and would pinch you whenever he or she felt like it.  This is the equivalent of what our phones are set to do by default.  Notifications for text messages, emails, and every app you have downloaded come standard.  I didn’t include calls in this list because if someone is old school enough to actually use your phone number to call you, it’s probably important.

Your wealth is impacted by every area of your life and time is still our most valuable asset.  When we allow our phones to hijack our time based on the default settings, we are giving up control of our most valuable asset.  Time.  Connections we are building with people right in front of us, projects we are working on at our jobs or schools, appreciating a walk outdoors, all take a back seat to the quick dopamine hit of a new announcement.

It’s possible you have already taken control of your phone and, if so, you are one step ahead.  For the rest of us, we need to make a quick change to the settings in each application we have on our phones.  If you receive notifications from an app, open up the settings and turn them off.  Clearly if you have something that is important for work or your kids, that needs to stay turned on.  Otherwise, shut them down.  It will feel a little weird for a few hours because your phone will remain relatively quiet and you won’t have growing numbers of red dots on your screen.  After a while it feels liberating.  Once I turned off the Facebook notifications I realized how often I was opening the app just to see what the red dot would reveal.  Not only have I not missed it, I have been able to take back control of a little bit of time.  Win!

The growing red dots on the phone are similar to the kid in the commercial who has “Skittlespox”.  ‘Mmm…are they contagious?’  In the commercial, no.  In real life, the red dots spread like wildfire because we’re the combination the five people closest to us.

Once you have pared back the number of notifications on your phone, work with your parents and children to get them on board.  If you have parents that are new to the smartphone, they will appreciate it.  Just like oxygen in an airplane, be sure to fix your phone first before helping your loved ones.  And don’t forget to do this before Thanksgiving!