Strength does not come from winning. Your struggles develop your strengths. When you go through hardships and decide not to surrender, that is strength.

— Arnold Schwarzenegger

Christmas gifts.

Christmas gifts. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We know that that it’s the thought that counts, but after the thought, you still may have gifts hanging around the house that you just, well, don’t want need. And these gifts can be a burden in two ways if you in the midst of a separation.

1) They add to the things you have to pack if a move is in your future; and

2) They could be replacing things that you do want like other items or cash, both of which can be very valuable if you’re strapped for money due to a separation.

The good news is that by doing these 5 things, these gifts can keep on giving to you. Here’s a list as seen in the article,

5 Smart Ways to Turn Unwanted Gifts Into Extra Cash by Elyssa Kirkham (GoBankingRates.com).

1. Return Unwanted Gifts

Great for: gifts for which you have the receipt and/or know where they were purchased.
Go ahead and ask gift-givers for copies of the receipt if you need them; it might feel awkward, but if they are in a true gift-giving spirit, they will probably want you to end up with something you love. If they don’t have the receipt, you can still try and return the item as long as you know where it was purchased.
How to Return Unwanted Gifts

It’s easiest to return an unwanted present if you have the gift receipt, but there are ways to get around this.
Stores with the best return policies will accept returns or exchanges without a receipt, including Costco, Walmart, Target, Nordstrom and Macy’s. Most stores will require a valid government ID, such as a driver’s license, however. Additionally, many stores will only issue store credit for returns without a purchase receipt.

2. Resell Unwanted Presents

Great for: gifts you are unable to return, valuable or popular products, and gift cards.
If you can’t return an item, you can always try selling it. You might not get the full retail value in return for the item, but cash in hand is better than having to figure out what to do with an unwanted gift.
How to Sell Unwanted Gifts

There are a few venues you can try to resell your extra holiday goodies. The obvious choice is to sell the item yourself, through listing services such as Craigslist or eBay. This is a particularly good choice if you have items with a lot of inherent value, such as name brands or in-demand electronic devices.

If you aren’t up for the risk, responsibility or hassle that comes with selling directly to buyers, you can try the “Fulfilled by Amazon” service. You simply send in your unwanted items to Amazon, which in turn warehouses them and includes your price on the product listing. Once a buyer is found, Amazon will handle all the shipping and give you a check or credit after taking a small cut.

Lastly, if you were given a gift card to a store or restaurant you’re unlikely to frequent, there are several services that make it simple to get cash in exchange for your unwanted gift cards. Some top-reviewed sites to sell gift cards include CardPool.com, GiftCardGranny.com, Raise.com and CardHub.com.

3. Regift Your Holiday Loot

Great for: generic gifts like gift baskets, consumables (check expiration dates) or gift cards.
If you get a duplicate gift or already own a similar product that isn’t worth enough to sell, it could be the ideal candidate for regifting. Examples include accessories for electronics, entertainment media, jewelry, and health and beauty products.

How to Regift Unwanted Presents

Consider if there is anyone you know who you think would appreciate or use the item you have. If it is specific to your interests, such as sports memorabilia, chances are there is a family member or friend who is a fan of the same team. Just make sure to follow proper regifting etiquette to avoid any uncomfortable scenes.

Once you’ve decided who to regift the item to, label it with a Post-it with a reminder of the intended receiver’s name and occasion (i.e. birthday gift, anniversary, house-warming, etc.).

Items that have general appeal are ideal for regifting, as they can be given to a wide variety of people. General items can be kept on-hand as easy, last-minute gifts for any occasion. When an occasion comes up that calls for a gift, you’ll already have an item ready to be wrapped and given away.

4. Swap It For Something You Want

Great for: entertainment media, gift cards and apparel.

How to Swap Gifts You Don’t Want for Ones You Do

Gift-swapping parties are a great way to switch out something you’re not crazy about for something you are. One person’s trash is another’s treasure, after all. Arrange a get-together with friends or family and ask them to bring items they were given that they don’t love. Then guests can mingle and check out each other’s loot, and agree on a fair exchange.

If you would prefer a swapping system that is more automated, there are several swap sites out there to help get the job done, such as Swap.com or SwapAce.com for entertainment, and SwapStyle or ThredUP to sell or trade apparel.

For exchanging gift cards, try CardPool.com, which allows you to trade gift cards as well as sell and buy them.

5. Donate it For a Tax Write-off

Great for: unwanted toys, clothes and anything you feel would help someone in need.

How to Donate Gifts

There are several charities that will take gift donations, including Goodwill, the Salvation Army and Toys for Tots. In addition to those larger charities, many churches, synagogues and homeless shelters are in constant need of clothing, food and toys for needy families in their area or people without homes.

Donating gifts is a wonderful way to help those in need, but could also help you with your end-of-year finances. Many donation centers, religious institutions, educational charities and welfare foundations are 501(c) charities, which means that your unwanted Christmas present can become a tax write-off, potentially increasing your tax return next year. To make it easier to write off the donation, make sure to ask the organization for a receipt that denotes the value of the item given.

Do you have any other ideas?

Fear to a great extent….

TEDxConcordiaUPortland2012 - Cheryl Strayed

TEDxConcordiaUPortland2012 – Cheryl Strayed (Photo credit: TEDxConcordiaUPortland Planning Team)

Fear to a great extent, is born of a story we tell ourselves, and so I chose to tell myself a different story from the one women are told.

Cheryl Strayed

English: Christmas joy at the Xscape, Braehead

English: Christmas joy at the Xscape, Braehead (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

We know that major holidays can be a rough period of time for the recently separated. The period can be even more difficult if you have kids. So today we thought we would share these tips from independent i.e (Surviving Christmas: 10 Tips for Separated Parents) on how to make the period less stressful  and more enjoyable for everyone involved.

If you’re reading it today, some of these tips may serve as a reminder. If you read it after the holidays, jot them down for next year.

And as you go through this year, make note of what works and what doesn’t in your own planning. Let us know what tips you have.

There is no right way, or wrong way, to organise Christmas as a separated family. All you can ever do is your best to try to make sure your children get to spend time with each parent and that any conflict between you and your ex is kept to a minimum.

Here are 10 tips to consider that might make this process easier:

•       Do try to put other conflicts aside and try to negotiate a fair distribution of the children’s time with each of you.

•       Do consider the children’s preferences about where they want to be on Christmas morning, especially if they are old enough to voice an opinion.

•       Do make sure you, your ex and your children are all clear about the arrangements that have been agreed. Keep your children aware of the plans and any changes that might occur.

•       Do make sure to surround yourself with other family and friends so that you don’t feel too isolated or alone without your immediate family around you.

•       Do give yourself permission to feel sad about not being together with your children for the whole of Christmas, or for missing other traditions your family may have engaged in over Christmas.

•       Don’t criticise your ex-partner in front of the children, even if you are upset about the final arrangements that are made. Your children will still love you both and it is very hard for them to listen to either parent putting the other one down.

•       Don’t unintentionally set your children up, by trying to find out what your ex got up to during the holiday period. They won’t want to upset you or their other parent.

•       Don’t use your children as messengers. Talk (or type) directly to your ex about any arrangements or about any dissatisfaction you have with the arrangements. If direct communication is impossible right now then consider mediation or a neutral third party.

•       Don’t overdo the treats or presents for your children to try to make up for the separation. If they are sad or upset then so be it.

•       Do be warm, understanding and considerate of their feelings, rather than trying to brush their feelings under the carpet or distracting them.

Give yourself permission to enjoy the holidays. Remember that it is a time for peace and joy.

Bee seeks flower for intimate relationship

Bee seeks flower for intimate relationship (Photo credit: ZaraBaxter)

You’ve probably seen it. It may have even happened to you.

Two people meet. They’re physically attracted to each other and va va va voom.. it’s love at first sight and the two people get married. Only  to find out that they aren’t compatible. This revelation usually leads to divorce.

Are there lessons to be learned from this? Yes, and here they are.

1) When you first meet someone and everything is new, it’s natural that interacting with them awakens your senses. This happens with anything that is new. But once it become familiar, the novelty wears off and so does the excitement that goes along with novelty. Think of a kid with a new toy and the same kid with the same toy a few months later.

Maybe this was the case with you and your ex or ex-to-be. If it was, don’t beat yourself up over your separation because, sorry to say, the odds were kind of against you if sexual attraction was all you shared.

2) Not all couples  (or people) are compatible. Of course it’s best to figure this out before you get married, but if you didn’t, remember it for the future.

3) Familiarity is a funny thing. Even though it can lead to decreased physical excitement, going beyond the physical and getting to really KNOW your partner can lead to more intimacy. While people who have been married for a long time might not say it this way, when you observe them you see that they really do KNOW each other.

This leads us to think that sex therapist David Schnarch is right on in saying  that instead of searching for validation (I do this and that for him or her and he or she never notices, or says thank you, or always criticizes me, or, or, or) people should seek to be KNOWN by their partner and to get to KNOW their parter.

And since people change and grow and there is something to always learn about your partner, there is aways novelty and thus excitement.

This level intimacy may have not existed in your last relationship, but that doesn’t mean it can’t exist in your next one.

Grace Hightower De Niro, wife of Robert, or Bobby as some may say, stopped by (Katie Couric’s talk show) to talk about her marriage – and how she met the award-winning actor.

“What is your secret to a happy, long lasting marriage?” Katie asked.

“I would say a lot of give and take, standing your ground, because then you keep the respect you started out with,” Grace said.

The pair have been together for 21 years…..

From “Katie”

Personal Budget Plan

Personal Budget Plan (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Divorce creates the need to gather and track lots of financial information.

  • Your assets make up one set of financials.
  • Your expenses as you go through the divorce make up another. These may include money that you’ve spent on expenses the you should not have paid.
  • A final set may be based on the budget you may create.

This means that there’s going to be lots of numbers and papers floating around. How do you keep track of all this necessary paperwork during a time when you have so much other things to deal with?

Well some of you may already be using a spreadsheet to track the numbers. Still, you have to take the time to put everything in.

And then some of you may be scanning receipts and other financial documents to keep them all on one place, but you still have to take the time to enter numbers into your spreadsheet.

Wouldn’t it be great if you all you had to do was scan and then have the data automatically be converted to your Excel spreadsheet?

Well, there is — with a PDF to Excel converter.

Now we just heard about this and haven’t tried it ourselves. But it sounds like a great productivity tool and a good way to keep track of all of the financial data that can play a big role in the divorce process.

It seems as if you can buy these converters or get free ones online.

Have any of you tried this type of product? What tools do you use to keep track of financial data?