Sal­ly — “If it seems too com­pli­cat­ed, make it easy on your­self – just send mon­ey. How about tens and twenties?” 

My how the times have changed!  This quote from “A Char­lie Brown Christ­mas” is 52 years old this year.  The 1965 hol­i­day clas­sic cen­tered around Char­lie as he strug­gled to find the mean­ing of Christ­mas in the midst of all of the “com­mer­cial­ism”.  Can you imag­ine what he might think today?

Sally’s request for tens and twen­ties wouldn’t get her very far this day in age, but the sto­ry and mes­sage remain very much rel­e­vant.  Dur­ing our dis­cus­sions on finan­cial plan­ning, we explore the con­cept of “Enough­ness”.  Its def­i­n­i­tion can mean so many dif­fer­ent things to so many dif­fer­ent peo­ple; how­ev­er it is crit­i­cal in one’s quest to find pros­per­i­ty.  How can one be and feel pros­per­ous if they some­how feel they don’t have enough?  Let’s use some more hol­i­day sto­ries to explore this idea further.

What are frank­in­cense and myrrh?  Resins – dried tree sap if you will.  The son of God is born and only 3 peo­ple both­er to show up and two of them have tree sap for a gift.  Hmmm, maybe there is some­thing to be said here.  It wasn’t about a show, it wasn’t about lights, and it wasn’t about impress­ing the oth­er gift givers that might stop by.

Dreams in Christ­mases of old go far into the realm of the unknown for many of us.  I am sure sug­arplums are love­ly, but to dream about them (They are small round pieces of can­dy, FYI, not fruit.)?  I am sor­ry, but how many of us would be thrilled to see 6 geese a‑laying eggs on our floor Christ­mas morn­ing.   Bet­ter yet 8 maids a‑milking.  Mind you if they are milk­ing, there are prob­a­bly 8 cows also in the liv­ing room.

Fun­ny to laugh about today, these were the dreams peo­ple had long ago.  The items men­tioned were signs of pros­per­i­ty and wealth that few peo­ple had and so many desired.  Today our obses­sion is about iPads, win­ning the neigh­bor­hood dec­o­ra­tion con­test, and see­ing how few peo­ple can be fed with a 20 pound ham.  Years ago sim­ple, prac­ti­cal, use­ful gifts were so much desired they made it into the prose of the day.

Think about the self-suf­fi­cien­cy some of the items in “The Twelve Days of Christ­mas” would bring us, if we only had the room to store them.  Sure­ly the dairy prod­ucts, poul­try, and fresh fruit would feed us.  And we would even have the gold to fight infla­tion.  That is what “Enough­ness” is about to many peo­ple.  It doesn’t have to be about the lat­est and great­est gadget.

This hol­i­day sea­son we could take some lessons from these fun­ny sto­ries.  Con­sid­er val­ue and util­i­ty when mak­ing your last minute hol­i­day pur­chas­es.  The stock mar­ket is almost always a great long-term gift, so con­sid­er buy­ing stock as a gift.  I made this same pro­pos­al in Decem­ber 2008.  Let’s see how we would have done with a $50.00 stock gift:

Dow Jones                            $141.00 up 182%

S&P 500                                  $149.00 up 197%

NASDAQ                               $220.00 up 340%

Emerg­ing Mar­kets                $92.00 up 84%

Now that is a gift that keeps on giv­ing!  Some of the sim­plest things can make us feel safe and fru­gal yet very pros­per­ous at the same time.  Con­sid­er your Christ­mas wish this sea­son and con­sid­er the wish­es of those around you.  Help some­one either though gen­eros­i­ty or edu­ca­tion, find “Enough­ness” and ulti­mate­ly prosperity.

PS:  As always don’t miss the annu­al Christ­mas Price Index released each year by The PNC Finan­cial Ser­vices Group.  This year the cost of giv­ing some­one “The Twelve Days of Christ­mas” is up, but in check.  If you’ve got time to waste, click here, for Christ­massy finan­cial fun!

Here’s to you and yours this hol­i­day sea­son and Hap­py New Year!