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Byline author: Bessie Hassan

Christmas is just around the corner and Aussies are tipped to spend $464 on presents alone, equivalent to $8.8 billion nationwide. Though it’s nice to spoil your loved ones, it can be deceptively easy to overspend during the festive season. Decorations, entertaining, gifts and food can all add up, and you don’t want to start the new year with a financial hangover.

Bessie Hassan, Money Expert at finder.com.au, shares tips to help you cut down the cost of Christmas.

Make a list (and check it twice)

Keep an organised list of everything you’ll need to buy in the lead up to Christmas. This will help you keep track of your spending and prevent unnecessary purchases. Apps such as ASIC’s TrackMySPEND can also be a useful way to monitor your finances. Just remember to cross items off as you go to prevent doubling up.

Compare the pair

If you like to shop online, make sure to price check against other sites before making a purchase. Smaller brands are often stocked by larger retailers who may offer a more competitive price for the same item – particularly during a sale. Bear in mind that postage and handling costs may differ across sites, so take this into consideration when deciding which is the more cost-efficient option.

Stick to your budget

The sentiment “go on, it’s Christmas!” certainly rings true, but just because it’s the silly season, it doesn’t mean you should lose all financial sense. The average Australian faces around $1,727 in holiday debt. To avoid being stung, assess your finances in the lead up to Christmas to create a realistic and workable budget. Set a gift limit

Though it may feel uncomfortable, try to speak with friends and family about setting a spending limit for gifts, or only buying for one person. This can significantly reduce your overall spend, and chances are that everyone else feels the same. Use those unclaimed vouchers

We all end up with a handful of unused vouchers or gift cards wedged in our wallets. Christmas is the perfect time to make the most if them before their expiration date. Every dollar of gift card credit spent is less money from your own pocket. Use them to stock up on food and supplies, or to purchase a gift for someone else. You’ll be amazed how much you can end up saving.

Open a Christmas cracker account

Few people are aware of the benefits of opening one of these hidden gems. Christmas cracker accounts allow you to make deposits throughout the year, but your funds won’t become available until November. By transferring just $20 per week into the account, you can easily have $1,000 saved by the time Santa comes to town. Though it may be a little late this Christmas, now is the perfect time to start saving for next year.

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When people think of saving, their first thought is to pull out a piggy or deposit money into a savings account. Or they might ask a friend how to invest in stocks or bonds, or get into buying real estate. But this isn’t the only way people can put their savings on steroids. Think outside the square when it comes to saving.
 
Today we’ll take a look at some of the everyday items you can buy which will prove to be good investments in the long run.
 

An Expensive Watch

 
Blowing money on an overpriced watch to save money might seem crazy but hear me out. Buying an expensive watch is not a fashion statement – it’s an investment. Some watch brands such as Longine, Rolex and Pater Phillipe increase in value over time. This is true for certain discontinued models. That’s because they become more rare as time goes on. The best part about this strategy is that people have been doing this for years, if not centuries. This also means you don’t have to buy a new watch. There are many online marketplaces for luxury watches, like this one. You can secure yours for a fraction of its retail price, yet still accumulate value well into the future.

amh1988 / Pixabay

 

Custom Furniture

 
Custom furniture is another investment which will net you savings in the long run. Think beautiful idiosyncratic furnishings in the short term. If you’re in doubt, take a look at Marc Newson’s Lockheed Lounge. This is a 20th century statement piece with the staying power to last a lifetime. Ditch the IKEA-quality bookshelves which will no doubt fall apart in a couple of years. Instead, opt for robust, tasteful investment pieces that will look as good half a decade from now. At first, this might seem expensive, but again, this is a long-term investment. You’re paying for creativity, ingenuity, high quality materials and vision. In the future, someone will be happy to pay more for the same piece.

Pexels / Pixabay

Comic Books

 
This one is for the super nerds out there. You may still have a stack of comic books from when you were a kid. If you did, check through them to see if you have any super rare editions such as a Superman No. 1. If you find that you do, vacuum seal this relic and put it in a bank vault. It’s worth thousands! But if you don’t, it’s never too late to invest in comic books. This is great way to meet your inner geek. You’ll also invest money in a lucrative and worthwhile venture. You’ll need a critical eye to know what to look for. But if you’ve got the patience and money, you might be sitting on a goldmine.

jackmac34 / Pixabay

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If you live where winter temperatures drop below freezing for long periods of time, listen in. The risk of pipes freezing is a major concern. Professionals like the Plumbing Detectives, a busy plumber in Lane Cove, have seen this a thousand times. They’ve sent us a few suggestions to protect pipes from freezing up your money too.
 
More can happen than stopping  water flow. Water expands when it freezes, meaning pipes and fixtures can burst and crack too. More damage, means more expensive repairs. There’s even the risk of serious damage with water flowing into plaster in the home. Now that’s a costly lesson. 

Insulate

This is the most common way to deal with pipes that might freeze. Wrapping pipes in insulation will protect them from the cold.
 
 Yo can use heavy-duty tape and flexible foam batts to wrap  pipes. Otherwise, you can use pre-formed tubes. These are usually light-weight foam , which you can cut with scissors to fit along the length of the pipe. An added bonus is you will save money on hot water costs, as the pipes will hold the heat for longer..

Warm Them Up

If simple insulation isn’t enough to keep out the cold out, you can take this step to warm them up. Use a space heater for exposed basements or under cold kitchen cabinets. Do this if this is the best place to access your pipes. Applying specialised heating wires or wraps directly to plumbing will also work.
 
Tip: To use heaters or warming tape, you need to have easy access to electrical outlets. Pipes that are difficult to get to, will make this job too hard.

A Last Resort Fix

As a last resort you can leave water running – until you can get some professional help in. This is not ideal at all, but in an emergency you could consider this.
 
Moving water is less likely to freeze up. A slow trickle is enough to save the day.
 
Note: No – don’t do this for longer than a day or even a few hours or you’ll get an astronomical water bill. For that one night when temperatures to drop too low, this might save the day.

Move the Pipes

If you’ve been battling this issue for a while, consider getting this problem fixed – for good. If the insulation or heating wraps aren’t the answer, consider doing some work to move the pipes.
 
Does the plumbing in your home run through unheated crawl spaces? Or along the inside of an exterior wall? If so, you will fight to keep the water flowing well. Rather than struggle year after year, talk to a professional plumber. Consider re-routing the pipes to a better area. At least, move the pipes to a place with good access so you can use the cheaper ideas mentioned here.
 

terimakasih0 / Pixabay

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Over the course of a lifetime we make some big purchases. From cars to holidays, we spend too much. Here are some money saving tips you can use for saving on three of the biggest ticket items.
Car

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Buying a car is exciting but it can be expensive. The problem most of us face is that we want a car that will last, but for a good price. It can be hard to get the quality and price right when buying a car. Then there’s the upkeep. Car’s need MOT’s and fuel. Before you know it you’ve spent a huge amount of money. But there are ways to keep costs down.
The first thing to consider is what car you buy. The chances are you won’t need a brand new car. New cars will lose you money very quickly. It’s estimated that a new car loses roughly half its value in the first three years alone. This means you’re effectively pouring money down the drain. Make sure, new or old, you buy a model which hold its value. Small engines can be cheaper, as can cars which run on petrol rather than diesel. But diesel is more economical in the long run. Manual cars are also cheaper than automatics. Finally, smaller cars are cheaper to insure. So keep all of this in mind when you select a new car.
Holidays

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Holidays are another big expense that most of us will pay many times in a lifetime. Cutting the cost of holidays is doable, but this requires thought. Sit down and think about what you want out of the holiday. If it’s a relaxing break then spending more money on a quality hotel makes sense. If you want to explore the culture and cuisine of a country then opt for cheaper accommodation.
Booking holidays well in advance is another good idea. You’ll have time to compare the best rates with travel websites and choose what’s right for you. At the other end of the spectrum, and if you have the nerve, waiting for last minute deals works. While this is a risk, booking hotels and flights can really pay off. Airlines and hotels don’t want empty seats and beds. Similarly, try looking out of season.
Home

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Buying a home is the single most expensive all do. There are so many costs involved and saving a deposit can seem insurmountable for many.
Use a real estate calculator. These tools will help you break down what you can afford to pay, how much your mortgage repayments to be, and deliver your borrowing power. This is a good option in terms of saving money, because you’ll get your finances in order anyway. Opting for a deal that covers some of the legal costs is also a worth. In terms of moving in, use the help of friends and family rather than a moving company. Be savvy with any new furniture purchases. These are big ticket items too. Buy secondhand and save even more.

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One thing that really gets my goat is waste. Food waste. Wasting time and money. The list goes on. There are plenty of ways to minimise waste, with composting and recycling being two popular ones. Here’s a quick list of tricks and tips, to help minimise your household waste while you stack some cash.

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Reduce

There’s a lot of water leaving homes and that water is also washing away money. The leaky taps and showers in the bathroom may sound and look like a slow drip, but over time these can be very costly.
Do this: 
Fix leaks, drips and cracked pipes as soon as you recognise a problem.
If you’re fortunate enough to have a swimming pool in the backyard, invest in pool covers and rollers. Most people think that covers are only good for covering a pool when not in use. But think about the amount of water that can evaporate off the surface on a steaming hot day. Now imagine your money floating off the top of that pool in that heat.
Do this: 
Cover your pool – always.
Kids turn lights on and forget to turn them off. Adults walk out of rooms to do something in a rush and forget to turn lights off. Would you like your money to walk out of a room on you? Well, that’s effectively what you are doing if you don’t manage your light-switching on-and-off habits.
Do this: 
Get into the habit of turning off lights and invest in LED and lower watt bulbs to reduce consumption.

Unsplash / Pixabay

Reuse

Wherever you can, reuse what you have.
Do this: 

  • Buy and take reusable shopping bags to the supermarket
  • Refill a water bottle from the tap
  • Send lunches off in lunch boxes to avoid using cling wrap
  • Consider installing solar panels to reuse the sun’s awesomeness

Tip: Click here to learn more about solar energy and the benefits. Powering the home with mostly solar energy is a smart and efficient way to save money.

jarmoluk / Pixabay

Recycle

Do these – all small actions have a big effect: 
Nappies:
If you are a parent, nappies are the one thing you don’t want to have to think about but you must manage. The number of disposables that end up in landfill is crazy.  Why not swap to cloth versions? There are awesome snap-and-go nappies now that are cute and functional.
Paper:
Recycle office paper by giving it to kids to colour in. Use as notepaper in the office instead of buying new notebooks.  Also give the kids old envelopes to draw on. These can also be used to store small items neatly in a drawer or box.
Gift Bags:
Gift bags and wrapping paper can also be reused if opened carefully. You’ll also save yourself a trip to the shops where you might be tempted to buy something else or overspend.

castleguard / Pixabay


There are many ways to reduce household waste. Build on the basic concepts above over time. Save money and get eco-friendly.
Get some great karma too! The Earth always gives back.
 
 
 
 
 
 

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Newlyweds have a lot on their plate. Their to-do lists are mammoth and can include big jobs and small pesky tasks. Many might be moving house, most will jet off on a honeymoon, and it’s likely everyone will send off thank you notes to guests.
However, there is one pressing issue that most seem to put off. Yes, you know I was going to say it:
Getting finances in order.
It ain’t all about love see?
Now that the law recognises you as a couple, you’re finances are officially shared.  There are some more jobs to put on that list to make sure you’ve wrapped your financial life up in a nice little bow. 

Gellinger / Pixabay

Figure Out Long-Term Goals

Now that it’s official you’ll be spending a new life together, be open and honest about your financial goals. For example, a family home will probably be on the list. So, the question will be whether to buy or build. Before deciding, it’s worth weighing up whether buying a house and land package might be right for you.

193584 / Pixabay

To Kid Or Not To Kid

Of course, there’s always the question of kids. Consider your financial situation as part of the kid equation and whether to commit. It costs on average over $400,000 to raise a child – and that’s not included the time you invest in these little devils. Of course, they’re worth it, but you’ll want to be ready for this ride. Let me assure you. 

TawnyNina / Pixabay

Think About Bank Accounts