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 🙂 ).
  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

26/11/2017

Hang on.. school holidays are nearly here!

Tis the season… to batten down the hatches parents. School holidays are fast approaching, but first, the last two weeks of school need to be survived! We can do it. Hang on!

We all know what I”m talking about. That last two weeks of term. The tireds. The tanties. The “I just can’t be bothereds” and that’s just us let alone our kids.

You are not alone. Almost every parent of school kids is on the same journey.

5 tips to get you through the next fortnight:

  1. Pick your battles.

    This is the time of year to let a ‘tude or two slide, the time of year to cut your kid some slack, but not if they’re being disrespectful. It’s okay for them to lose their cool, but not at you. You are not a punching bag. Let them cool off in their own way – often hiding in their room or jumping on the trampoline for two hours! Let them know it’s okay to lose it occasionally, but not at others. Teach them how to handle the ‘meltdowns’ of life. They’ll need it as adults too!

  2. Don’t micro manage.

    This is the busy time of year. We’re in a hurry. Nothing sets teens, and primary school kids off more than having their every move controlled, planned, manouvered and checked. Give them some space. 

  3. Prioritise.

    You don’t have to do everything. There will be carols nights, fireworks nights, award ceremonies, concerts, mini concerts, parades, tree lightings, break up parties etc etc etc You don’t have to attend everything you’re invited to. It’s okay to prioritise what’s important to you and your family, and let everything else slide.

  4. Relax. Chill. Destress.

    Kids pick up parent’s anxieties. Take an extra 10 minutes at night as you collapse into bed to meditate. Try getting up 10 minutes earlier and meditating of a morning. Long. Deep. Regular breaths are crucial as is remaining grateful – keep that gratitude list replaying in your head. When you’re stuck in traffic, running 10 minutes late for your child’s “insert any activity”, and all the mummy guilt in the world is running through your head and heart.. take a big breath, relax your shoulders and think of some things you’re grateful for. You’ll be late. That’s life.

  5. Have something to look forward to.

    Over dinner one night get a piece of paper and have each child come up with a school holiday FREE event that you can all do as a family. Their answers may surprise you. Set a date that you WILL do each. Write these on a sheet of paper, put them on the fridge. This gives you all something to look forward to, and reminds you just two weeks to go, you can make it! 

Enjoy as much of the last two weeks as you can – swimming carnivals, school discos, carols nights, performance nights/days, awards days/nights, parent teacher interviews, excursions, break up parties etc etc etc.

HANG ON..we’re nearly there, then the real fun begins 😉 

Have you joined our Facebook group yet? You can do so HERE

Looking for a book for your teens for Christmas? Check out Beyond School: Practical Tips for Teens HERE

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

12/01/2017

How many did you create?

Office supply shops are doing their biggest trade of the year. Shoe shops are inundated. Socks are flying off the racks. “omg what is that smell’ has been found, in the bottom of someone’s school back from 6 weeks ago! Yep, it’s the lead up to back to school which means just one more week of school holidays *insert sad face*.

Which brings me to my question, how many memories did you and yours create these holidays?

We created some big ones. Master 8’s first ever plane ride (which was part of a work junket). Kids spending time with one of the most amazeballs people in the world in Townsville. Checking out beaches, rock pools and anywhere to keep cool. Spending Christmas with my brother and his family at mums and her pool and ocean breezes! A midnight to 6am road trip to get to Mums! Lots of memories created. Most were free or very low cost. All included lots of laughs, jokes, fun and of course the occasional tired tanty (often by me!!). Then there were the high cost events we did that were great memory makers such as taking the kids to speedway for my birthday! A trip to the movies with recliner seats and all the bells and whistles, popcorn and treats. (Almost had to sell a kidney for that one!).

One of the big tricks I use to keeping costs down is at the start of each week or holiday I give the kids a lump sum of money, they can spend that any way they like but once it’s gone it’s gone. If there’s anything left over it’s theirs to spend. This is when you see them making smart choices, learning to budget and prioritise, and it saves me a small fortune. Highly recommend it. Eg when we went to Townsville for the week I paid for them to visit Magnetic Island and they had an additional $80 for the six days we were there for the movies, lunches, outings they’d do with Aunty Jarrxi. They all came home with money! Jax wondered why they were so grateful when she bought them all an ice-cream at the movies hehehe.

Memories are created from people who love each other spending time together doing things they enjoy. That’s what makes a great holiday and lifetime memories, not the cost. I hope whatever you did you enjoyed it and I”d love to hear what you did to create memories with yours these holidays. Still a week left to create more……

Mentor Mumma
aka Jo xo

30/12/2016

It was the best of times, it was the worst of times!

Farewell 2016 you mixed bag of emotions. Helloooooo 2017 you bright shiny blank canvas of hope.

 

We can all agree that 2016 brought some horrendous news. I personally had several friends who lost loved ones – children, adult children, parents and step parents. Those kinds of events break your heart repeatedly ad infinitum and there’s no recovery, there’s just learning to live with the pain. I had friends who had some horrendous diagnosis themselves which has required strength from them they never knew they possessed. Then of course there was the horrid news of so many celebrity deaths. And a host of other ‘bad/sad’ news from other friends and acquaintenances. Other friends had struggles to overcome. We stand with those we love, our hearts break with theirs yet life has to go on and that doesn’t diminish their pain, their experiences or their ongoing journeys. 

 

So then on the other hand, having said the above, 2016 also held some amazingly awesome moments. For starters I wrote, published and sold my first book. V V exciting! My kids all excelled and put in 110% effort at school and life. I got to travel for work which is really one of my favourite ways to do it … the free way! AND it took me to one of the great loves of my lives place, three times! 

And around the world amazing things also happened. 

My top 5 are:

  1. Getting to spend time with my kids and extended family who are all healthy. I know what a blessing this is from the friends who have lost theirs.
  2. In 2016, some of the world’s biggest diseases, like colon cancer, dementia, and heart disease, started declining in wealthy countries. New York Times 
  3. Malawi achieved a 67% reduction in the number of children acquiring HIV, the biggest success story across all sub-Saharan nations. Since 2006, they’ve saved 260,000 lives. Al Jazeera
  4. The Brisbane duo famous for launching the world’s first free mobile laundry for the homeless launched their second charitable venture in June — a shower van. The van, built from scratch by Nic Marchesi and Lucas Patchett of Orange Sky — means homeless people will have access to a free hot shower every day.
  5. Forgiveness. This makes me tear up: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-12-30/adrian-murray-embraced-by-karl-sisson/8154526 

For more you can read a list of another 94 here at Quartz  

As for 2017, it holds so much hope. It’s a blank canvas all set for you to create any way you want!

Have you set your goals yet? Have you done a vision board and got the family dreaming and setting goals? 

I love the quote: “A dream without a goal is just a wish!”

As you farewell 2016 may you be surrounded by people you love. May your healing begin where needed. May you begin to dream for yourself.  May your celebrations place 2016 in the past. And as you welcome 2017 May your families be blessed. May your goals be set. May you know peace, love, happiness and amazingly awesome adventures throughout the coming year. It’s yours to create.

And don’t forget to kick start 2017 by entering our competition to win a 2 night family getaway here   

Farewell 2016. Welcome 2017 you shiny blank canvas of hope.