Year-End Financial Checklist

We hope you had a lovely Christmas and have a rocking new year.  Now back to business.  It’s the end of the year again and now is the time to kick your financial planning into high gear for the next year.   Here is a checklist to help you start planning in the new year.

Has your life changed in the past year?

A variety of things could make you rethink your budget for the next year.  For example, a baby, new job, health insurance, moving, or marriage, etc.  Don’t forget to take in account anything new that may have changed or will change in the new year.

Retirement fund.

Continue contributing or start to contribute as much as you can to your 401(k) or other retirement funds.  Evaluate current plans and research throughout the year to update your retirement portfolio.


Ask yourself if any recent changes affect your taxes?  Do you have any deductibles or exemptions?

Know your debt.

Make sure to figure out what you owe.  Try to combine your bills into easier payments.  Remember, the bills that should be paid off first are the ones that carry the highest interest rates.

Look over your will and adjust as needed.

Does it need any updating?  Are your current wishes reflected in the will?


What is your insurance coverage for home or rental, for life and disability?  Do you still like the insurance you have?

Consider the children (if you have kids)?

If they are at the appropriate age, establish good financial habits in their lives by opening a savings and/or checking account.  Also, talk about creating an education savings account or taking advantage of a 529 college savings plan.   After all, the cost of education continues to increase.

Pumpkin Pie Dip & Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips

I recently was a sub for a card club.  For the card club you are required to bring a snack.  This is what I brought and it went over really well and it was super easy to make.  If you want, you could make either of these items by themselves too as some people did prefer one or the other.  A perfect holiday snack.

Note: The pumpkin pie dip can be either eaten like pudding or eaten with apples, crackers, strawberries, etc.  The tortilla chips taste delicious even without any accompaniments.

Pumpkin Pie Dip


  • 6 oz Vanilla Greek Yogurt
  • 1/2 cup light brown sugar, packed
  • 1 can (15oz) pure pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp allspice
  • 4 oz Cool Whip


For the dip, whisk yogurt with sugar and pumpkin until combined. Add in seasonings. Fold in Cool Whip and refrigerate dip for at least one hour to allow flavors to mingle. Serve cold!


Cinnamon Sugar Tortilla Chips


  • 6 (8inch) flour tortillas
  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
  • 1/2 cup cinnamon/sugar mix


For the chips, brush butter on each tortilla and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar mixture. Stack until all tortillas have been buttered then cut into wedges. Bake tortilla wedges in single layer on a cookie sheet in a 350 degree oven for 12-14 minutes. Cool and enjoy. Store in an airtight container for up to 2 days.

Chicken Corn Chowder

I actually received this recipe as a crock pot recipe, but changed it to stove top because I don’t have a crock pot.  Also, vegan (soy) chicken was used instead of chicken and ham, because I am a vegetarian and it still turned out delicious.  This is a very thick and hearty soup.  Hope you enjoy!


  • 2 TBS Olive Oil
  • 1 Medium Onion, Diced
  • 2 cups of Zucchini, chopped (or can sub 2 Stalks Celery, Chopped)
  • 1 Medium Red or Green Bell Pepper, diced
  • 1 Medium Jalapeno Pepper, minced
  • 4 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 Cup Thick Ham slice, cut into slivers 1/4 inch square, about 2 inches long (NOTE: could also use leftover turkey instead)
  • 2 Cups Chicken Stock
  • 2 TBS Flour
  • Salt and Pepper, a couple of pinches
  • 1 Brick Cream Cheese, softened to room temperature
  • 1 Cup Half and Half
  • 2 Cups Chicken from a Rotisserie Chicken, chopped
  • 1 Cup Cheddar Cheese, Grated
  • 1 Cup Frozen Corn, be sure to partially thaw under running HOT water
  • To Taste Salt and Pepper (especially Pepper)

Cooking Directions (w/crock pot)

  1. This was a two stage Crock Pot dish… Took about 6 hours for everything to mix, melt and mingle correctly. 4 Hours for the base and another couple of hours for the guts to cook…
  2. In a large heavy bottomed frying pan, heat the Olive Oil, add the onions, zucchini and peppers and saute for about 5 minutes or until the onions soften and begin to turn translucent.
  3. Add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes
  4. Move the vegetables to your crock pot and add the Chicken Stock
  5. Add 2 TBS Flour to help thicken the soup and stir to completely mix.
  6. Add the Ham slivers (NOTE: if using turkey add it in when you add the chicken)
  7. Turn Crock Pot up to high and allow everything to heat up for about 30 minutes. Then add the Cream cheese and stir to melt and mix
  8. Add the Half and Half, Season with Salt and Pepper,. Cover crock pot, lower to the medium setting and forget for 4 hours
  9. After 4 hours, add the chicken and Cheddar Cheese, stir, season again with Salt and Pepper, Cover and forget for 2 hours
  10. After 2 hours, add the thawed frozen corn, mix again, wait about 5 minutes for the corn to warm and serve
  11. Garnish with Oyster Crackers, season with Salt and Pepper to taste
  12. Serve HOT and enjoy!

Cooking Directions (on stove-top)

  • In a large soup pot, heat the Olive Oil, add the onions, zucchini and peppers and saute for about 5 minutes or until the onions soften and begin to turn translucent.
  • Add the garlic and saute for another 2 minutes
  • Then add the Chicken Stock
  • Add 2 TBS Flour to help thicken the soup and stir to completely mix about 5-10 minutes to let thicken and heat up.  Stove should be on med-high
  • Add the Ham slivers(/or turkey) and chicken, cooked and chopped
  • Add the thawed frozen corn, and mix
  • Allow everything to heat up, then add the Cream cheese and stir to melt and mix
  • Add the Half and Half, Season with Salt and Pepper
  • Once everything has been melted add the Cheddar Cheese, stir, season again with Salt and Pepper
  • After everything is stirred in and melted, garnish with Oyster Crackers (optional), season with Salt and Pepper to taste
  • Serve HOT and enjoy!

Just a Note (Our word)

Dear Friends,

For a lot of families, fall ushers in a new “learning season.”  As kids head off to new classrooms and new experiences, sometimes you can’t help remembering your own school days.

During my time in school, I learned some basics that have stuck with me year after year.

For example, there will always be someone who knows more than I do.  And there will always be someone I can help.  Those two facts are a big part of running this business.  The team around here is committed to learning more ways that we can make your home more comfortable.

Sometimes we do this in a classroom setting of our own, but many times we learn as we serve.  And that leads to the second part: we are committed to sharing our knowledge with you and are here to help whenever you have a concern.

Go Big Red

Go Big Red