Archive for November, 2014

Shipping Shape: How to Ensure that your Gifts Arrive Safely and on Time this Holiday Season

Written by traderchris on . Posted in Uncategorized

Since many of us have friends or family that we’ll be mailing gifts to this holiday season, I decided it might be helpful to share a few packing and shipping tips that will save you time and frustration.

  1. Pack appropriately. Books and clothing are ok to ship in bubble mailer envelopes. Christmas ornaments are not. Anything fragile, including glass, porcelain, and electronics should be package in an appropriately sized box, ideally with 2” or more of cushioning between the item(s) and the sides of the box. If you’re sending multiple fragile items in the same box, be sure to wrap each piece separately in multiple layers of bubble wrap and/or clean newsprint. Consider double boxing the contents for added protection.
  1. Get tracking and insurance. USPS Priority Mail packages automatically include tracking and up to $50 of insurance coverage, while UPS and FedEx packages include tracking and up to $100 of insurance coverage. If you’re going to ship valuable items (such as jewelry or expensive electronics), be sure that the package is insured for the full value and consider adding signature confirmation to the package. After all, you don’t want Grandma’s new iPad walking off the doorstep, do you?
  1. Keep your receipts. If you do have problems with a package getting lost or damaged, the shipping company will need to know the tracking number, shipping cost, the value of the item(s), proof of damage (pictures), and a repair or replacement estimate. Gathering this information prior to filing a claim will help save you time and additional hassle.
  1. Avoid the lines. You can purchase postage from the USPS, FedEx, and UPS directly from their websites and sometimes at a discount versus their counter rates. The USPS will even pick-up packages for free at your doorstep (FedEx and UPS charge a $5 fee), providing you schedule a pick-up through their website. This can be a huge timesaver, especially if you have multiple or oversized packages to send.
  1. Don’t procrastinate. Remember last year when Amazon overpromised and UPS under delivered, right before Christmas? Don’t wait until the last minute (like everyone else) and expect your package to be delivered on time. Add at least 1-2 days to the handy holiday shipping guide available at and you should have a reasonably good change of your package(s) arriving on time.
  1. Be nice to your delivery person(s). They work long hours in cold weather and have families at home, too. USPS employees can accept gift cards valued at $20 or less, while freshly baked goods or cookies are usually welcomed by all delivery drivers.

Having the Holiday Chat

Written by traderchris on . Posted in Uncategorized

Lets be honest, kids have different tastes than their parents do. This is evident to any parent who has children that want to dress themselves, feed themselves, and decorate their own rooms. So why is it reasonable to assume that when we die someday, our kids will want to inherit all of our things?

With the holidays coming up, it’s a good time to sit down with parents, grandparents, or other family members to discuss downsizing and what they want to do with their estate someday. “Let the kids deal with it,” should not be the end of the conversation. Anyone that has ever had to deal with an unexpected death in the family or a large and complex estate knows that it can be a very hectic and stressful experience, especially combined with the mourning process and/or making funeral arrangements.

It’s typically much easier for parents and grandparents to gradually downsize possessions and to involve their families in their plans to distribute personal property, particularly if it includes any family heirlooms. It could be as simple as sitting down with family members individually or as a group and asking them what they’d like.

Assets not wanted by heirs can either be donated to a local charity or equitably distributed if the property is sold with the proceeds divided amongst the recipients. If you don’t think your grandchildren are going to enjoy your Hummel collection as much as you did, why not sell it and take them on a trip, add to their college fund, or do something nice for yourself?

The end of the year also serves as a good time to update wills, personal property inventories, and insurance coverage. While these activities are certainly not fun and exciting, they’re import and will provide a good deal of peace of mind if / when you need to use them.


The original article can be found in the November 2014 issue of Southern Neighbor available here:

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