Mentor Mumma

03/12/2017

How to save money on Christmas or ‘Tis the season to be.. .freaking out about our budgets!

I didn’t know what to call this article, How to save money at Christmas or ‘Tis the season to be freaking out about our budgets! So I chose both!  For many Christmas is a decision on not what we want to get the kids for Christmas but what we can afford. Sadly for some they have it the other way around which sends them into the new year in debt.

So let’s share our top Christmas budget tips with each other so we can all enter 2018 debt free (or at least no new debt from Christmas 2017).

Top tips to bring in 2018 without a financial Christmas hangover: 

  1. Set your budget, know your budget, don’t spend more than you budgeted. And make a list of all the gifts you need to buy, fit them into the list and stick to your list.
  2. Start early (Bit late for that THIS year but after Christmas get saving for next year). Get the $2 coin bottle or Christmas account or buy your $5 gift card each week at shopping, or open a Christmas savings account or whatever your strategy is, happening stat.
  3. Make a choice RIGHT NOW that you won’t go into debt for Christmas. This changes your future. It changes what you role model to your kids and teens. It sets the standard to live within your means and this changes your financial future for the better.
  4.  Set a new trend in 2017 to show your children you value their futures and yours rather than instant gratification on things that will put you into debt or financially cripple you.

So with just 3 weeks to (AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!) what do you do if times are tough. Improvise! 

Top tips for improvising when times are tough (AKA How to do Christmas on a budget):

  1. The calendar. This is my go to.. you buy a $2 calendar for each of the kids, and write in it future events that you WILL honour such as 1 on 1 kid dates, family movie outtings, concerts, whatever your family and kid’s things are. What this does is gives them experiences over ‘things’ and you don’t have to fork out prior to Christmas, but instead can budget throughout the year for events. Some do vouchers instead of the calendar and wrap individually in a gift box.
  2. Share the cost: Is there something expensive they’ve asked for that you really want to get them but just can’t afford? Then perhaps you can give them half or a quarter or third of the cost so they can choose to add their own money in or buy something less expensive. Eg this year a lot of teens are asking for iphone 6, 7’s and 8’s. The iphone 6 is around $600 give or take. You could put $250 into a box with a note saying toward your new phone if you choose one more than this price, or you can use this to purchase a new phone. Help them contribute to larger ticket items.
  3. Relatives: Ask your kids, even the teens, to write a Letter to Santa, that you can keep in your handbag and when rellies ask what can they get them you can pull out the list and let them choose one of the items from the list. This spreads the blessings and the burdens.
  4. Charity shops have some amazing bargains. I have noticed that more affluent areas have a lot better things so have a shopping day with friends in a richer suburb’s charity shops. The Gold Coast has some fantastic ones around Harbourtown.
  5.  Shop around. It really does pay to shop around and if you find it cheaper in one store mention it to the store closest to you, they may just match the price.
  6. Help your children re-evaluate what’s important at Christmas.
  7. Start new family traditions that don’t cost the earth.
  8. If you have a large extended family and it’s stressful buying for everyone, instigate a Secret Santa style gift giving for adults (or everyone) with an appropriate budget limit.
  9. It’s still not too late to sell off any unwanted things around the house on Ebay, Gumtree or in a garage sale to make some last minute money.
  10. Shop on Ebay and Gumtree! So many bargains to be had. 
  11. Are there other ways you can earn some last minute cash in the next fortnight? Babysitting so other parents can go shopping in peace? Working extra shifts at work? Taking on an extra client or two? Doing some pet sitting for people going on holidays  early? I overheard two working mums discussing how good it would be to be able to give someone a list and have them go shopping for you! (Not a bad side business idea for someone). What’s your thing? What can you do to earn a bit extra in the next fortnight?
  12. If looking for electronics check out EB games etc they do reburbished items at much cheaper prices.
  13. Check your Woolies, Coles and other rewards cards. You might be surprised to find you have enough to trade in points for some gift cards.
  14. DO NOT go to the shops without a list because impulse buying will send you broke quicker than a teen uses their data!
  15. Make Santa Sacks the ‘practical’ items bag including new pyjamas, school supplies like coloured pencils, specialised pens and pencils and colours, underwear, snacks.
  16. Do you have a friend or a friend with a teen who works at a shop that has items you want to buy? Ask to borrow them so you can get a 5% discount. It all adds up and friends help friends.
  17. Get creative with younger kids at Christmas time. Google is your friend for a whole heap of super cheap presents and ideas. I remember when Dan was 2 I was pretty broke that year so his main present was a large box filled with blown up balloons. He and the girls played with that for weeks after Christmas and a restock of balloons was about $2 until the novelty wore off.
  18. Shopping online can save you money – you only buy what you need and impulse buying isn’t as dangerous (for most of us, I know some of you are click happy but you can control that πŸ™‚ ).
  19. Make a list, check it twice. Who are you buying for? What are you going to get them or what budget do you have for them? Stick to your list and don’t detour, and you’ll be just fine. Sometimes combining gifts can save you money for example rather than buying your sisters family of four a $30 gift each why not a family gift for $100 – such as a trip to the local movies, outdoor cinemas, is there a drive in close by to send them to, family restaurant voucher, local sporting event, how about buy all their favourite snacks and make a hamper with instructions on a hike or picnic or whatever they’re in to ..maybe it’s a sports event.
  20. Think experiences more than ‘stuff and things’. The memory lasts longer.
  21. When shopping stick to your list only and make sure you don’t touch items – I was reading an article that said if you pick something up you are much more likely to buy it. Tell yourself the same mantra you’ve been yelling at your kids for years ‘Look, DON”T touch!”.
  22.  Shop earlier rather than later to avoid the crowds, the stress and overspending because ‘they’ve run out’ of whatever it is you’re looking for.

 

What would you add to the list? 

If you’re looking for a gift for teens then check out our $10 book Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens. You can pick up your copy HERE

So my top tips: Work out your budget and stick to it, make your list, don’t deviate from it and get creative. 

Happy Christmas shopping everyone. I’d love to hear your tips? and how you and your family do Christmas?

Love 

 

Jo

25/06/2017

The B word … Budgeting – for all types of parents.

The B word.. Budgeting, none of us particularly like it. Most of us cringe at the thought of it. It is however a necessity in getting ahead and not spending your life looking back. I think it was John Maxwell who said Budgeting is telling your money what to do rather than wondering where it went! 

Google, and a host of well meaning Facebook memes tell me it’s just 26 weeks until Christmas 2017. That’s half a year! And the good news is with some small changes in your household, you can change financial direction and have a great Christmas, a great holiday and pay off any debts you have (some will take a lot longer). Great doesn’t have to mean big and expensive. Some of our most memorable family moments have been camping in a National Park that cost us less than $25 a night.

Only a few years ago I was counting every cent and had to beg friends for help by laying my heart, and our situation, on the line. Fast forward a few years, a few changes (physical and mentally) and a few improvements and here I am having just taken the kids on an amazing overseas holiday, I’m debt free (apart from that pesky HECS debt) and planning on buying myself and the kids a home (yep I regret selling our family home a decade ago). So here’s some of the top tips I’ve learnt and hope they help you too.

 

Oh but first have you joined our Facebook Group: Parenting Australia with Mentor Mumma? If not, click HERE 

Top Tip – Set your intention! Get a goal. Keep it in mind, every, single, day. Write it on your fridge and toilet door.

Tip 1 – Keep a record, even if just for two months

You will be amazed when you start keeping a record of where waste appears and areas you’re spending in that you never realised. By keeping a record of every cent spent you get an idea of where the ‘holes in your bucket are’ and where you can make changes. A 25c exercise book from Woolworths will do.

Tip 2 – Get a water bottle or old coke bottle

From this day forward any $2 coins you get, go straight into this bottle. Cut a hole in the top and super glue the lid shut so you can’t get anything out (nor can the kids!). Just keep filling it until it gets to the top, and when you do you should have close to $1000. Some people put any new $5 notes they get in theirs too. Depends on where your budget’s at. This is your ‘adventure’ money. Money set aside for a family memory making event.

Tip 3 – Plan, Plan and Plan some more

Every year get new prices on your insurances.

Set up a direct debit or credit situation where you automatically make payments to your main bills ahead of time, each fortnight (or pay period) for electricity, phone, internet, etc so that you never have a bill again, you’re always ahead.

Shop wisely by creating meal plans, using what’s in the pantry and avoiding as much wastage as possible.

Simple Savings taught me the $21 challenge which I adapted to the $30 challenge. One week take an inventory of what’s in your fridge, freezer and pantry. Then work out what meals you can make with that. The $30 for the little extras you need to complete a week’s worth of meals using what’s already in the fridge/freezer and pantry. This will save a small fortune when done every six to eight weeks.

Plan, plan, plan.

Tip 4 – DO NOT USE CREDIT CARDS

Unless you own your own home and have a redraw facility that benefits your mortgage, and you are also extremely disciplined to pay the card off every month without fail, then do not ever have a credit card. They give you a false sense of security. They teach you bad habits – living off what you don’t have yet. And they 99.9% of the time lead people into financial hardship and a never ending cycle of debt. Instead, only live on what you have and that may at times mean going without, sacrificing and having a few baked beans on toast meals. It’s worth it in the end. You’d also be surprised how many meals you can make with baked beans, just saying.

Tip 5 – Set yourself financial goals

I saw a billboard recently that said most humans spend more time planning their annual holiday than they do their future and retirement. It’s true. Start to set yourself financial goals. Get your superannuation in order. Dare to dream.

Tip 6 – Team effort: Get the kids on board

As a single mum I run my family like a team. Everyone plays their part. That means when we have holidays, everyone saves their own spending money, everyone contributes to the family in some way be that saving their own money or turning off the lights, turning power points off at the wall when not in use (this saves a small fortune too), having cold showers in summer, using a timer for hot showers in winter (cause let’s face it we all want to stay in there for an hour!), etc.

Tip 7 – 60/10/10/20 rule. 

I’m reading a great book at the moment by Scott Pape called the Barefoot Investor.  For it to be any good to you, you have to be above the poverty line and earning a decent income. HOWEVER, some of his basic principles can be applied:

  1. Ensure your bank account does not have annual fees.
  2. Set up four accounts: 1. Spendings/Daily living = 60% of your income. 2. Savings = 10% of your income. 3. Splurge = 10% of your income. 4. Fire Extinguisher (which is used to pay down and off debts quickly) = 20% of your income.

Tip 8 – Christmas bottle

Christmas is what you make it. If you choose to make it about gifts and overspending and getting in to debt, then that’s what you are teaching your children. THIS is the year you get to decide what legacy you want for your children’s future. DO NOT go into debt for Christmas, or anything else for that matter other than a roof over your head. Rediscover family, rediscover connectedness, put balance into your lives, and start the new year without a Christmas debt hangover. Start your Christmas bottle now – start putting $2 coins into it and what’s in there at Christmas time is what you spend. Nothing easier than that.

Tip 9 – Dream.

Don’t be afraid to dream. Work on your mindset. If things are working for you, change yourself first. I have a great ebook to help you do this if you’re struggling. Hat Trick Therapy: Three ways to change your life – Just $4.95 HERE 

There are so many more tips to get ahead financially, but prioritising your expenditure is a key one. I would love to hear your budgeting tips and tricks, success stories, and even failures too because everyone wise knows, failure is a major step in the success process.

Wherever you’re at financially, this is not where you have to live. This is not where your story ends. This is just the beginning.. you get to write the rest of your chapters. YOU get to make changes that change your life, and that of your kids lives. You’ve got this. If I can do it, then seriously, anyone can.

Have an amazing week,

Jo