What does a Trump administration mean for health care insurance coverage, financial regulation and immigration? Is inflation poised to come roaring back? What are the odds of a sharp plunge in stock market values next year? These are only some of the many critical social and economic topics shrouded in uncertainty.

We are in the traditional season for prognostication about the new year. To be sure, everyone in the forecasting business eventually recalls ruefully the malapropism usually attributed to movie mogul Samuel Goldwyn: “Never make predictions, especially about the future.”

This time of year is also marked by the holiday spirit. Thanksgiving is in a few days, with Hanukkah and Christmas close behind. The holiday season is a time for giving and for gratitude. Less appreciated is that both giving and gratitude are critical guides for managing money well over a lifetime — no matter what happens next year to equity values and interest rates and trade relations.

Look at it this way: You can’t control what will happen to the economy and markets. You can’t get rid of the uncertainty about next year or subsequent years. What you can control is your giving. The impact of giving on how we handle money over a lifetime goes far beyond savvy year-end tax planning.

The thoughtfulness that comes from deciding where to give money creates strong connections to our community. Giving helps break the hold money can have on us. Giving is a powerful tool for teaching children about values.

Thing is, we ask the right personal financial questions when thinking through our giving. How would we like the world to be a better place? What issues and causes move us deeply? What values do we want our money to reflect? What kind of legacy would we like to leave? What are we truly grateful for? The personal finance trick is to extend the same questions to our other money decisions — spending, saving and investing.

The giving and gratitude mind-set involves more than a healthy relationship with money. For many of you reading this column your most valuable asset is your experience, your knowledge and your accumulated skills, especially when it comes to using them to help out younger generations. How can you encourage and guide younger people in our community to succeed at life and in their careers?

An added bonus: As any teacher or mentor knows, you’ll end up learning more from the people you help than they’ll learn from you.


Chris Farrell is senior economics contributor, “Marketplace,” commentator, Minnesota Public Radio.