Honoring Memorial Day and Our Fallen Soldiers

Memorial Day is a sacred day for our country, and it holds particular significance for many of our fellow Americans. A widow might pause to recall the moment she realized why the servicemembers had come to her door, a father might sit at a quiet piano where his daughter used to play, and a child might make a poppy poster in honor of a grandparent.

But even if you don’t have a loved one to remember, every person in the United States is affected by the soldiers who have sacrificed their lives for our country. Memorial Day is a time for all of us to take a step back and honor these lives through remembrance.

One way to honor these soldiers is to learn more about their sacrifice and participate in the traditions surrounding Memorial Day. The infographic below includes some information we hope you find compelling.

Memorial Day Infographic 2016 with Memorial Day Facts

The Beginnings – Decoration Day

In early May of 1868, Civil War veteran General John A. Morgan declared that May 30th should be “designated for the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

Though many Civil War remembrances had been previously observed, Memorial Day, known as “Decoration Day” at the time, was first celebrated that same month with a ceremony held at Arlington National Cemetery. There, General James Garfield gave a speech about the holiday’s significance and about 5,000 people participated in decorating all 20,000 graves of fallen Confederate and Union soldiers.

Originally, this day specifically honored those who had died in the Civil War, but after WWI, soldiers who died in any war were recognized. Even though this tradition has been in place since 1868, Memorial Day was not officially declared a national holiday until 1971. It is now observed on the last Monday in May.

Memoral Day began as Decoration Day, Arlington National Cemetery

New Traditions: Going Beyond the Backyard BBQ

Since Memorial Day is a national holiday, most schools and many workplaces have a three-day weekend for their students and employees. Thousands of families gather to usher in the summer season with a good barbecue. (And don’t forget the mattress sales and other flashy commercial events.)

But as fun as this family (and shopping) time is, many organizations worry that this is exactly what Memorial Day has become for many Americans. So in the spirit of never forgetting our fallen heroes, here are some other ways to show respect:

  • Visit a Veterans’ Cemetery or the Grave of a Veteran – Bring flowers, flags, or other significant items, and consider helping beautify the area by clearing away stray leaves or dirt or volunteering to help pull weeds. As specified in the infographic, leaving different coins at a fallen soldier’s grave traditionally signifies who has visited.
  • Wear a Red Poppy – To honor those who have died, many wear a red poppy on their clothing. This tradition was started in 1915 by poet Moina Michael, who wrote: “We cherish too, the Poppy red / That grows on fields where valor led, / It seems to signal to the skies / That blood of heroes never dies.”
  • Pause for a Moment of Silence – In 2000, a congressional resolution officially designated 3pm on Memorial day as a National Moment of Remembrance. Join the country in taking a moment to respect our fallen servicemembers.
  • Visit a Battlefield or Memorial – There are dozens of national battlefields and memorials honoring fallen soldiers and the places where they gave their lives to keep our country united and free.
  • Fly the American Flag – If your flag is on a flagpole, make sure to keep it at half-mast until noon. Or, if you have a mounted flag and it cannot be lowered, you can alternatively tie a black ribbon just under the ornament at the end of the pole. The ribbon should be the same width as the stripes on the flag and the same length as the flag.
  • Learn More about Past Wars and Battles – It might not be possible to travel to a battlefield, but you can read or watch a movie about one in your own home. There are several books, movies, podcasts, and documentaries you can use to learn about or remember different conflicts and experiences.
  • Volunteer to Help Veterans – A wonderful way to honor fallen military heroes is to volunteer. You can find groups that work to help disabled or injured veterans as well as those that focus on the families of current or deceased servicemembers.

Memorial Day Events Worth Experiencing

There are many Memorial Day events that you and your loved ones may want to be a part of. Here are just a few:

  • National Memorial Day Concert – On the eve of Memorial Day, this free concert is held outside the White House to honor military servicemembers. It is one of PBS’ highest-rated programs, with a lineup including performers and groups like Charles Esten, Leona Lewis, the Soldiers’ Chorus, and the National Symphony Orchestra.
  • National Memorial Day Parade – The American Veterans Center presents this parade every year in Washington, DC, honoring military servicemembers that have served throughout all of US history. You can stream the parade live on either YouTube or Military.com.
  • Rolling Thunder Motorcycle Rally – The Sunday before Memorial Day, hundreds of thousands of bikers ride through Washington D.C. in honor of Vietnam War POWs and MIAs.
  • National Memorial Day Choral Festival – This annual concert includes a large choir that performs with the U.S. Air Force Orchestra.

Remember that there are also smaller Memorial Day events. Check out one of the other big ones—like the Gettysburg Memorial Day Parade or the Chicago Memorial Day Parade—or research what’s happening in your area to find one near you.

Flag waving over stone etched with the words: "In Their Honor"

How Will You Remember?

In 1868, General Logan said, “Let no vandalism of avarice or neglect, no ravages of time testify to the present or to the coming generations that we have forgotten as a people the cost of a free and undivided republic.”

This Memorial Day, may we choose above all else to honor fallen US troops. How will you choose to remember the “cost of a free and undivided republic” this year? Tell us about your plans by commenting below or visiting one of our social media accounts and commenting on our Memorial Day post.

Follow the Flag to the Mountains’ Majesty

The morning of July 4th was bright even before the sun had crested the mountains encompassing Grove Creek Canyon—perfect weather for a program entitled “By the Dawn’s Early Light.” Just after 7 am, families started filling the trail head, setting up chairs and laying out blankets to watch and listen to the Independence Day program organized by Kyle Fox to honor the service members of the nation and celebrate the country they keep free.

At 7:30, the program began. A color guard composed of members of the military and Boy Scouts of America posted the colors while hundreds of onlookers placed hands on hearts in silent reverence. This was followed by an echoing cannon fire and a beautiful rendition of the National Anthem.

Independence Day Event in Pleasant Grove Utah

Old Glory in Grove Creek Canyon

The day before (Sunday, July 3rd) a procession of walkers and bikers had followed the flag as it was carried up the trail and hung across the canyon. Cords spanning the distance between mountains served as the support system for the main spectacle of the week—the national flag. The Star Spangled Banner unfurled from the cords and rippled in the wind. Its incredible 30-by-60-foot dimensions could be seen from miles away. Throughout the entire week, the flag hangs across the canyon as a standard and is even lit throughout each night by a huge spotlight sponsored by Low VA Rates. On Monday morning, the audience watched in awe as the flag was again unfurled, and they began cheering to see its stripes and stars waving.

These opening performances were followed by a commemoration of veteran and active-duty service members in the audience. A strong spirit of patriotism and respect permeated the group as each of those service members stood (some proudly, others a little hesitantly) before the crowds. To see veterans of the wars we always hear about joining us that day was truly an unforgettable experience. One veteran stood in response to the call for those who served in WWII, and everyone in the audience rose to their feet in yet another standing ovation to recognize this man who had served in a war that affected the entire world.

Giving Words of Thanks for Our Flag

At the conclusion of this commemoration, three speakers came to the mic in turn: Les Langford, Teresa Hunt, and Dennis Adamson. All three spoke passionately about military service, its effect on them, and who their heroes are today. Teresa Hunt, a mother who lost a son to military service, related tearfully the time she first saw the gigantic flag hanging over the canyon the previous year. She told us how she had buried her son under that same pattern. Each of these speakers reminded us of one simple yet hard truth; serving this country means sacrificing, and although the U.S. isn’t perfect, those sacrifices are worth it.

As the event drew to a close, the audience followed along with the lyrics in their programs provided by Low VA Rates to join together in singing My Country Tis of Thee. At the climax of the song, dozens of white doves were released. The birds flew in line with each other out of sight of the group. And this really was an incredible sight as hundreds of people gathered there sang, “Our fathers’ God, to thee, author of liberty, to thee we sing.”

Pleasant Grove Utah Community Contribution

Low VA Rates’ Contributions

Even at the conclusion of the event, people mingled to speak with those who contributed and to those who had served in the military. There were photos and flowers and overall a very strong community presence.
Low VA Rates was happy to contribute to Follow the Flag by providing the program booklets and the spotlight to light the flag at night. We know how important it is to recognize the country’s birthday and those who have fought and dedicated portions or all of their lives to make the country what it is today.

Saying “Happy Birthday” to the USA

July 4th – More than just a Calendar Day

Celebrate Independence DayJuly 4th marks the 240th anniversary of the independence of the United States of America. It was the day that the Continental Congress actually approved the Declaration of Independence with all of its final edits of the draft Thomas Jefferson had delivered a few days earlier. With that final draft, the signers dated the document July 4, 1776, and that was the date that became etched in everyone’s memories.

There was heated controversy over the Declaration of Independence for several years after it was written, but by the late 1820s, copies were being recirculated, and it became more common to come across Independence Day celebrations. In 1870, Congress finally passed a bill that declared several occasions as national holidays, including the Fourth of July.

Learn more about America’s celebration of this special day in United States history.

Why Do People Light Fireworks on Independence Day?

Many people would say that you aren’t properly celebrating the Fourth if you don’t watch a fireworks display. But why exactly do we watch fireworks on Independence Day? How did this all start?

Just before the ratification of the Declaration, John Adams predicted that celebrations would continue to mark every Fourth of July for the rest of time, and he firmly believed that was how it should be. In a letter to his wife, he wrote that the day “ought to be solemnized with Pomp and Parade, with Shews, Games, Sports, Guns, Bells, Bonfires and Illuminations from one End of this Continent to the other.”

And his prediction proved true. The first fireworks were actually set off on July 4th, 1777, exactly one year after the final signing. Although the display was rough and small compared to shows today, they still fired off rockets and even arranged the fireworks to light up the sky with patriotic figures. Today, over 14,000 fireworks displays are shown across the country, including more than 200 million pounds of fireworks.

Celebrations of Independence across the States

Why Light Firewords on July 4thJust like John Adams wanted, traditional July 4th celebrations include barbecues, picnics, parades, and fireworks that are anything but quiet. The theme of the day is freedom, and you’ll see the nation’s colors of red, white, and blue at every turn. Although you’ll run into patriotism and celebrations pretty much everywhere you go, there are a few places around the country that offer a little more pizzaz.

Washington, D.C. Millions of people lay their lawn chairs and picnic blankets out on the grass of the national Mall to watch the incredible fireworks display over the nation’s capital. Leading up to the event, you can tour the numerous museums, monuments, and galleries that are all within walking distance. What better way to celebrate the nation than by viewing vehicles, inventions, and emotional memorabilia from all areas of its history?

Nashville, Tennessee hosts a “Let Freedom Sing” celebration every year. This free celebration usually features various music superstars and the Nashville Symphony Orchestra. To top it all off, the evening presents an incredible fireworks display that is one of the biggest in the nation. If you are a music lover, Tennessee might be the perfect place to take a trip to this Fourth of July.

New York, New York Another one of the country’s largest fireworks displays is held in New York City. Over 2 million people gather here each year to watch the Macy’s Firework Spectacular. This year will be the 35th annual celebration held by Macy’s on the 4th. Usually, four barges will set up on the river and shoot off the fireworks. The fire department will also set up their own display, shooting red, blue, and clear water across the river.

Celebrate the 4th of July with Us!

Low VA Rates is contributing to some awesome festivities this year in Pleasant Grove, Utah, called Follow the Flag. If you’re in the area, come stop by Grove Creek Trail where there will be activities, speeches, and performances all week. To know more about the event and Low VA Rates, visit our blog.

Get to Know Two Important Commanders-in-Chief this Presidents’ Day

Presidents’ Day is a wonderful holiday, but unless you actually know a thing or two about the presidents you’re celebrating, then it could end up being just another Monday when all the banks close. Don’t let it be “just another Monday” for you. Through the infographic below, get to know two of the greatest presidents in United States history: George Washington and Abraham Lincoln.


Abraham Lincoln and George Washington Presidents Day Infographic

The Most Celebrated US Presidents

You don’t have to be a history buff to understand and appreciate the lives, goals, and missions of these two great men who shaped America. We owe much of our everyday American ideology to these presidents. As our first president, George Washington took on the task of leading a country unlike any other. He became the precedent for all American leaders to come.

Abraham Lincoln challenged a system that went against some of the most fundamental principles of freedom. He fought to keep our country together when our nation was divided against itself. Without these men, the land you’d be living in – the very life you’d be living – would be very different indeed.

Although we can’t thank the these two men for all that they’ve done for America, there are still heroes protecting the liberties they established today. Those heroes are the men and women in the United States military. Like our great leaders, many of these soldiers and veterans have sacrificed their health, safety, and even lives to ensure that everything America stands for remains unbreakable.

This Presidents’ Day, celebrate by thanking someone who preserves the freedom that men like George Washington and Abraham Lincoln established today. Take some time to remember the battles they fought and the sacrifices they made on your behalf. To put it as simply as possible, just thank a veteran! 

Thanksgiving for the Military

It’s Thanksgiving in America, and Americans certainly have a lot of reasons to give thanks.  Although you may dream of a plump turkey and pumpkin pie, the classic cuisine is just a fraction of this holiday.  After all, this day allows us to do so much more than eat poultry.  This day also gives us the opportunity to show our gratitude for those who make this holiday possible: our soldiers and veterans.


Celebrating Thanksgiving certainly would be different without the brave men and women who defend our country.  In fact, without them, there probably wouldn’t be any celebration at all.  This Thanksgiving, ask yourself how your holiday would be different without them.  What would your country become if you suddenly didn’t have brave souls willing to leave their homes to protect yours?

Remember, your freedom comes at a price.  The men and women who serve – these heroes who fight for your freedom – are the ones paying that price.  For some, it’s cost them their health, their lives, their opportunity to celebrate the way you are now.  This year, as you’re gathered around the dinner table counting your many blessings, make sure that our heroes, past and present, are in your thoughts.

Don’t forget to thank them this Thanksgiving.

A Celebration to Honor America’s Heroes

As we reflect on our heroes this time of year, there are some facts about our nation that we simply cannot ignore. Perhaps most important for us to remember is the fact that our freedom comes at a price.

Thousands of our soldiers and veterans have given their time, energy, and loyalty to fight for our freedom. They are the ones who paid the biggest portion of that price.

Veterans Day Infographic and Facts


You see, that price wasn’t just paid in tax dollars.

Some of our soldiers and veterans paid for it with their health.  Not only do our soldiers face the risk of physical injury for their service, but they also risk their own mental and emotional health.  Do you know how many of our veterans suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder?  Do you understand the kind of stress and heartache they endure because of PTSD?  Do you know how it affects them and their families every day?

Some of them paid for it with their lives. Each time their service is needed, some of these men and women will answer their call to duty and never return.  Do you know how many of our Americans didn’t return from overseas this year?  Do you understand the reason they’re not returning was because they sacrificed their own lives so you could keep living yours?  Do you truly appreciate that sacrifice?

And finally, remember the others who have paid a high price: the family, friends, and loved ones of these veterans have felt the burden of this cost as well.  Remember that they have sustained wounds as well.  Remember that they have sacrificed as well.  Remember to thank and appreciate them this holiday as well.

How will you celebrate these heroes on Veterans Day?  You can learn a little more about our soldiers to more fully appreciate their sacrifice with the infographic here, or even visit one of the listed links to show support.

Why We Should All Be Mad About Christmas Music in November

Why Be Mad about Christmas Music in NovemberIt’s the first day of November.  You’re at the grocery store, getting your regular necessities (and maybe some of that on-sale Halloween candy, too).  And that’s when you hear it.  As you casually stroll down the aisle on this beautiful, crisp fall day, you’re suddenly assaulted by an inescapable sound – “Jingle Bells.”

That’s right.  The Christmas fiends are at it again.  Halloween has just passed, Thanksgiving isn’t for weeks, and already they’re pushing this holiday on you like obnoxious a bunch of pesky holiday-invaders.

It’s not that you don’How Can You Celebrate Christmas Before Thanksgivingt like Christmas – it may even be one of your favorite holidays.  But come on – how can you begin to celebrate Christmas before you’ve even had a chance to celebrate Thanksgiving?  We can’t deck the halls and trim the tree before we even carve the turkey!

Poor Thanksgiving receives the short end of the stick way too often.  Metaphorically, it is the “middle-child” of our holidays.  Placed right between Halloween and Christmas, this significant celebration gets overlooked all too often.  Given the fact that this holiday gives us to the opportunity celebrate gratitude itself, it seems rather ungrateful of us to ignore it, don’t you think?  The irony there is almost funny.  Almost.

The good news is, you and a few courageous others have recognized this, and a push-back to defend Thanksgiving and its rightful claim to November has begun.  More and more, you and those who share your indignation are standing up to the big, bad Christmas intruders.  In fact, go ahead to take a minute and pat yourself on the back right now.

And then, try to wrap your mind around this: there’s one holiday that is even more neglected than Don't Forget or Neglect Veterans DayThanksgiving.  Think of it this way.  If Thanksgiving is the “middle child” of the winter holidays, then Veterans Day is more like your forgotten step-cousin.  Although it’s actually far worse than that.  It’s worse than that because this “step-cousin” is the very reason why we have the privilege of celebrating this holiday – or any other holiday.

So why don’t we have this same kind of outrage when comes to overlooking Veterans Day?  In many ways, the sad irony in this situation is even greater than that of Thanksgiving.  Overlooking Thanksgiving means we’re ignoring all our reasons to be grateful; overlooking Veterans Day means we’re ignoring the very reason we have anything to be grateful for.

The brave men and women we’re neglecting aren’t just the reason we can celebrate holidays; they’re the reason we can live freely every day.  They are the reason we have safety and security in our own homes.  They are the very support of America.  So why don’t we take the time to support them – to celebrate them – when this day rolls around every year?Celebrating, Respecing, and Remembering Veterans Day

This year is a chance for all of us to make a change.  This year, let’s recognize the people who make American life a possibility, and do it in the easiest way possible: simply celebrate.  Don’t treat the upcoming Veterans Day like just another Wednesday.  There are so many ways to do this.  You can donate to a charity that supports veterans.  You could call a veteran and thank them for their service.  You could even just spend a few moments in silence to remember what our heroes have sacrificed for you to live another day in a free country.

Don’t forget to appreciate the men and women who served and are still serving to ensure your freedom.  Don’t forget the sacrifices they’ve made and what you have because of it.  Don’t forget to celebrate this Veterans Day.

Don't Forget to Celebrate Veterans Day


Recognizing Their Fight for Our Freedom

If you were born and raised in America, then hopefully you know a little something about your nation.  You probably know you have the right of free speech and the right to remain silent.  You probably know that this is the “land of opportunity,” a great “melting pot,” and the “home of the free, land of the brave.”  You probably know plenty of other facts about America too, including its history, culture, and more.

But how much to you know about the brave men and women who have made all of this possible?  Do you think about them very often?  This upcoming Veterans Day, here’s your chance.  Don’t let this special day pass you by without reflecting on exactly what these heroes do to make your everyday life possible.

These men and women are the support of your country. Take some time to recognize their sacrifices.  It might help to start with the numbers, but don’t forget that there are real people behind each of these statistics.  These people have sacrificed time with their families and put their own lives in jeopardy.  These people are the reason that our freedom has been preserved today.

Do you know their reason for making that kind of sacrifice?  They do it for you, and millions of other Americans.  Your life and the lives of your loved ones are built upon their sacrifice. Take some time to recognize their fight for your freedom this Veterans Day.


Veterans Day Infographic 2015

After the 4th of July, Don’t Forget to Celebrate Independence

Remembering the Fourth

The 4th of July is America’s birthday and the day we look back and remember all the difficulties and trials our ancestors went through to ensure our freedom. People from all over the political spectrum come together to celebrate our independence and freedom. But now that the 4th of July has passed, it becomes very easy to slip back into our bad habits of getting caught up in our differences and forgetting what connects us.

The truth is that we should take the spirit of Independence Day with us all year round. Shooting off fireworks and barbecuing with friends and family is great, to be sure, but we should make a special effort to do our forefathers justice.

How can we hold onto the patriotism we feel this time of year? Check out our ideas in this article, and please let us know if there’s anything else you think we should add to the list!

Actively Learn About Our Country

One idea is to take time to read the US Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, or other historical documents once per month to strongly familiarize yourself with the words they contain. You could also make an effort to regularly read books or watch documentaries about American history and US presidents to learn more about how our country got to where it is today.

Along with building your historical knowledge, you could make a plan to stay current with political affairs and keep track of your representation, both in your state capitol and in Washington, D.C. Being an informed voter and working to make change you believe in are both major ways to honor our nation. Don’t be afraid to engage in some political philosophy and question your own stances as well.

Get Involved with Local and State Government

There’s almost always a need for volunteers in local communities. Working with your city or county government on a volunteer or even a paid basis can be a great way to build your appreciation for your community and increase your understanding of what government does (and whether you personally believe it should continue to do so).

Additionally, service builds a strong sense of pride and loyalty. When you help make something better, you feel more loyal and proud of it than if you just stood by and watched. By getting involved with local and state government, you can make the difference you used to hope others would make—and you never know, maybe you’ll find a new career path!

There may be no better way to connect with the nation by participating in local government meetings and letting your voice be heard on issues you care about. You might be surprised how much change can come from a few dedicated citizens getting engaged in local issues.

Follow the US Military’s Social Media Channels

American Social MediaIf you’re a fan of cool technology, inspirational stories, and exciting events, then following the social media channels of the branches of the US military can be a fun way to keep your patriotic feelings up.

Keeping apprised of updates to the military can also contribute to the paragraph above, as it helps you learn about what our country is doing both at home and on the world stage.

If you disapprove of what the military is doing, you can use social media to promote a better way of doing things. We all love this great nation and want it to go the best direction possible. You can engage in the conversation by following the branches of the US military and sharing their updates along with your opinion.

Make a List of Our Nation’s Symbols

There are a lot of symbols used in our nation. Our currency, for example, is chock full of them. If you make a list of our nation’s symbols and then learn what they all mean and how they work with each other, you’ll likely gain a finer understanding of and appreciation for our heritage.

Travel or Learn about Global Issues Get Involved in the Community

Learning about cultures and practices that are different from your own can be an eye-opening, humbling, and motivating experience. Having spoken with many veterans about the most meaningful times in their military service, I can attest that those who spent time in humanitarian efforts in foreign countries usually cite them as being the most powerful experience—and one that strengthened their appreciation for the country they live in.

Through travel and learning, you may also find that other countries have had successes and advancement in certain arenas that the US is working on. You can work to implement these kinds of things in the US, helping make it better.

This may only be an option for some people, but for those who are able, this can be a fantastic way to serve others and keep the spirit of patriotism alive in yourself and those around you all year round.


Holiday Freebies for Military Members

It can be difficult if you’re in the military and away from your family over the holidays, including Christmas and New Year’s. However, there are some benefits that come with being in the military during this special time of year. The infographic below highlights some of those benefits that we hope add to your joy this holiday season.

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Holiday Freebies for Military Members by Low VA Rates
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Flag Day Guide to American Flag Code

With Flag Day being celebrated tomorrow, it’s a great time to reflect on how to treat the nation’s star-spangled symbol.

The United States flag code prescribes specific etiquette to assure that the American flag is treated properly and taken care of correctly. To learn more, check out the infographic below, which breaks down the code and gives you a simple guide for treating the American flag properly. We hope you’ll join us at Low VA Rates in enjoying Flag Day.

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Flag Day Guide to American Flag Code by Low VA Rates
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Must-See Memorial Day Celebrations During Your Lifetime

In the spirit of Memorial Day, we created the following infographic with some of what we think are the best Memorial Day celebrations that everyone should see during their lifetime.

Let us know in the comments if you’ve ever attended any of these events and what your experience was. We’d also love to hear what you like to do on Memorial Day to honor United States veterans. We at Low VA Rates hope everyone takes the opportunity to remember those who have sacrificed so much for our country.

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Must See Memorial Day Celebrations During Your Lifetime by Low VA Rates
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Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

The start of the New Year is always a time to take a step back and examine our lives to decide what we need to improve on.  Every New Year millions of new resolutions are set and days later, millions are broken.

Every January the same New Year’s resolutions are used over and over again.  I asked my family and friends what they typically set as their New Year goals and here are the five most popular answers they gave:

1)      Lose weight/Get in shape

2)      Spend more time with family

3)      Better financial situation (new job, get out of debt, etc.)

4)      Quit a bad habit (Smoking, drinking, drugs, etc.)

5)      Provide more service/Help others

According to About.com, the top 10 list of New Year’s resolutions is pretty similar:

1)      Spend More Time with Family and Friends

2)      Fit in Fitness

3)      Tame the Bulge

4)      Quit Smoking

5)      Enjoy Life More

6)      Quit Drinking

7)      Get out of debt

8)      Learn Something New

9)      Help Others

10)   Get Organized

New Year’s resolutions provide a great way to refocus our priorities and help us remember what is really important in our lives.  However, the real question is how do we actually follow through with our resolutions?  Anyone can set a New Year’s Resolution, but not many of us have figured out how to keep our resolutions.

Work on setting a specific plan and creating a way to be accountable for your goals. This way, you’ll be much more likely to end this year a person who has changed for the better and kept your goals!

Good luck with the New Year’s Resolutions and hopefully you can have a wonderful 2013!

Making the most of your money during the Holiday Season

With Christmas around the corner and the New Year quickly following, now is a great time to start thinking about a few simple ways to ensure your finances are in order.

In 2012, the average American spent approximately $925 on Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s.  Making November and December the “most wonderful time of the year”, but also, the most expensive time of the year!

How can Americans save some extra money during the holiday?  There are a few simple things that can make a big difference in the long run.  Here are our 5 tips to create more money during the holiday season.


1)      Use Cash NOT Credit Cards

Research indicates that buyers using cash are less likely to spend more than their planned budget.  Using cash also ensures that families do not go into unnecessary debt during the holiday season.  It takes a little extra planning to use cash instead of credit cards during the holiday season, but will definitely pay dividends.


2)      Refinance Your Home Loan

Why pay unnecessary interest on your home loan when interest rates are at an all-time low?  Refinancing your home loan can have families hundreds of dollars every month and thousands of dollars over the life of the loan.  This is a simple way to free up some extra cash and save a lot of money.


3)      Create an online Christmas Card

Christmas cards have become a great way to stay in touch with families and friends.  However, they can be VERY expensive!  Since 99.9% of society now has some sort of online presence, an online Christmas card can save families hundreds of dollars and deliver the same message.  You can also spend a little extra time and effort to add some cool effects to your online Christmas card that are not possible with traditional cards.


4)      Assign family members to get gifts for other family members

If your family is a little older (out of the Santa Clause phase), try assigning each family member to buy a gift for another family member.  This technique usually works out very well for the giver and receiver.  The person giving the gift gets to experience the “giving” side of Christmas and the person receiving the gift usually appreciates the gift more knowing a sibling selected it for them.


5)      Pay off debt instead of buying presents for husband or wife

Let’s face it, once you are married and have children, receiving Christmas presents is just not as cool as it used to be.  Instead of spending hundreds of dollars on presents for your spouse, have a conversation today to talk about paying off your debt instead.  This obviously has to be a mutual decision between husband and wife (otherwise you can look pretty stupid with no present on Christmas morning!), but can pay huge dividends in getting your finances in line and possibly increasing your credit score.


The holiday season does not have to be a time to break the bank account and put Americans in financial stress.  Follow these 5 tips and brainstorm with your spouse other ways that can help you save some additional money during the Holiday Season so you can truly think of it as “the most wonderful time of the year!”

Christmas Around the World

Christmas is celebrated in different ways all over the world. This infographic gives some insight on how others celebrate their Christmas holidays. We hope you enjoy this infographic and wish you all a Merry Christmas and a holiday season.

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Christmas Around the World
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*Annual savings calculator based on 2015 monthly average savings extrapolated year-to-date.