Dear Fellow Floridians:
Like you, I am reflecting on the many blessings 2015 has brought to
my family and me. I hope your Thanksgiving holiday is full of good food,
even better company, and an appreciation of the protection and freedom
we’re afforded. Thanksgiving is a wonderful reminder of all we have to
be grateful for—we live in a country in which we can celebrate freely,
speak freely, and live freely.
While most of us will be carving turkeys, watching football, and
spending time with our families, many dedicated members of our armed
forces won’t be a phone call or short drive away from their loved ones.
They’ll be many time zones, many miles and many missed memories away
from their families – standing in harm’s way to defend the freedoms we
enjoy each day. For their service, the sacrifices they willingly make,
and their selfless commitment to our country, we should be most humbly
grateful. There are also many first responders who will spend
Thanksgiving in their firehouses, patrol cars, or hospitals. These
remarkable men and women sacrifice holidays with their families to
ensure that the rest of us can enjoy a peaceful and safe one with ours.
As you reflect on the things we all have to be thankful for, include
them in your expressions of gratitude, thank them when you see them, and
remember that even if they are at the periphery of your thoughts, you
are at the center of theirs.
Another hope I have for Floridians this holiday weekend is that they take
every precaution possible to remain safe. Thanksgiving often brings with it many
distractions, be they houseguests or hectic schedules, and it’s very easy to
forget about food cooking in the kitchen or outside. As State Fire Marshal, it
bears repeating that according to the National Fire Protection Agency,
Thanksgiving is the peak day for home cooking fires. Before you fire up the
oven, make sure you know where your fire extinguisher is—just in case. If fried
turkey is on the menu, remember that oil and water don’t mix, so never throw
water on a grease fire. The consequences can be catastrophic. Read through
this tip sheet provided by the NFPA to help ensure you, your
family, and your belongings make it through this holiday week safely.
And of course, many of us see Black Friday as the unofficial start to the
holiday shopping season. Before you hit the stores, I urge you to make a
spending plan so your spending doesn’t spiral out of control. Our Department
offers many budgeting tools through our
Money Matter$ website. We offer a
holiday budgeting calculator, tools to help manage
travel spending, tips sheets on how to
entertain on a budget, and more. But the best money
management system available won’t help if consumers don’t take a few steps to
protect their money from the con artists who tend to creep up during the holiday
season. With the rise of online and mobile shopping, I urge you to be prudent
with your banking information. More often than not, greater consumer protections
are in place when using a credit card to make online purchases, and using a
credit card is certain to keep the money in your bank account safe—money
necessary to pay the monthly household expenses. Where possible, consider
supporting local, small businesses and don’t forget that Black Friday may not
provide the lowest prices of the season—many retailers offer Cyber Monday sales
and deals throughout the month of December.
There are many things to be thankful for—loved ones, Florida’s beautiful
weather, a weekend full of rivalry football games to name a few—but let’s strive
to keep those who keep us safe, who can’t be with their families this season, in
our thoughts today. I’m thankful for them, for this great state we call home,
and for the many blessings that have been bestowed upon us.
Chief Financial Officer
State of Florida