The holiday season is my absolute favorite time of the year — the decorations, the gift-giving, the eggnog, the focus on financial planning.

Okay, so maybe the last one isn't exactly part of the American tradition, but maybe this year is the year to make a change and make finances and “fa la la la la” go hand-in-hand. According to the National Retail Federation, Americans are estimated to spend an average of $688.87 each on holiday-related shopping.

I love gift-buying as much as the next person, but I’m confident that amount would be put to better use in my 401(k) than spent on yet another holiday tie or reindeer sweater for the distant relatives.

As a merry and bright holiday reminder about the importance of sound financial planning, I give you the work of Ilene Davis, financial planning expert and poet. Tuck it into employees' mailboxes or with their holiday ham to remind them that $688.87 goes a long way with compound interest.

Creating the path from wages to riches
By Ilene Davis CFP, MBA (copyright 2010)

Every day the choice is mine
Whether to win or whether to whine.
Whether to spend or whether to save
Whether to be fearful or whether to be brave.

The choices are mine, it’s up to me
Whether I’ll be poor, or financially free.
Whether to be rich, or whether to be poor
It’s up to me what the future has in store

Every day, I know I am free
To choose the future awaiting me.
So bottom line, in the end
my financial future on me depends.

An understanding of different investments
Is something I need know
To design the composition of
my wealth portfolio.

Compound interest
Can be friend or foe
Depending on if it’s of debt
Or investments designed to grow

There are some basic rules
To becoming financially set.
Saving part of all I earn
And staying out of debt

Investing those savings
So they work for me
In emergency reserves
and diversified categories.

Whether I can afford the life
I’d one day like to have
Will most likely depend on me
And my willingness to save.

Choices I make day by day
On how I save,  spend and invest
Can help destroy or make very strong,
My future income -  my financial nest

It’s important to have
both dreams and wishes
But I need to remember it’s the daily discipline
That is needed to turn  wages into riches.

To compliment Ilene on her poetry skills or seek her counsel about retirement planning tips for your employees, you can reach her at 321-631-1127. And by way of disclaimers, she wants you to know that: "Investing involves risk including the potential loss of principal. No investment strategy, such as diversification, can guarantee a profit or protect against loss in periods of declining values. Past performance is no guarantee of future results."

Cool? Good. Enjoy the spirit of the season, and offer your poetry slam critiques and financial education tips in the comments.

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