“Feeling the Stress?”
It’s the 21st of December,
- Have you still got Christmas presents to buy?
- Is your electricity bill and water bill due?
- Have you got people staying with you? (are you using a lot more electricity?)
- Is your monthly credit card payment due?
- Have the lights on your Christmas tree stopped working?
- Is your car registration due 2 days after Christmas?
- Are your children asking the age-old question, ‘How does Santa get into the house when we don’t have a chimney?’
- Have you got the money to pay for petrol to drive the hour to your brother’s house for Christmas lunch?
Christmas can be a stressful time of year.
Even if we have a list…and check it twice, something will always pop up this time of year us to add to our ever-increasing stress levels. The important thing to remember is that we can not control everything…take the weather for example.
It is important to focus on the things that we can control and the steps that we can take now and into the new year so next Christmas doesn’t have to be as stressful.
To start planning for Christmas 2020, consider creating (and sticking to) a budget.
For tips and tricks around budgeting, see the attached link from the ABC.
If you are are feeling stressed about your financial situation and you would like to discuss your options with a Financial Counsellor, call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or search for Financial Counselling on the Affordable SA App.
“Right to be Safe”
The idea of home is an important part of the festive season.
- “When is your sister flying home?”
- “We are not going to be home for Christmas”
- “Can we go home, my feet hurt!” (one of the pitfalls of Christmas shopping)
- “Are you going to be home on Boxing Day, I’ll drop off your salad bowl?"
One of the most important things about your home, is that it is a safe place.
For some of us, home is not a safe place.
You might feel unsafe around the people that you share your home with or who come to visit you in your home.
This Christmas, everyone has the right to feel safe in their home.
If you are feeling unsafe in your home, contact 1800 Respect on 1800 737 732 to speak to a trained counsellor or search for 1800 Respect on the Affordable SA App.
For more information about Domestic Violence, see the attached document 'A Right to be Heard'
“Perks of Boxing Day”
Boxing Day is an odd day of the year. You don’t really know where you should be or what you should be doing.
For many people it’s a day for eating left overs, assembling Christmas gifts, relaxing, watching/playing cricket, sleeping in or getting up at the crack of dawn to be first in line for the Boxing Day sales
Boxing Day is also a great day to prepare for next year’s Christmas. There is nothing like being prepared 364 days in advance.
If it works within your budget, consider buying your Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, etc for next year’s Christmas on Boxing Day. If you are quick enough, some Christmas related stock may be discounted by up to 75% (the shops don’t want it – it’s not Christmas anymore).
Furthermore, take advantage of the sales by stocking up on any gifts/items that you could use as presents for next year’s Christmas.
“Santa’s Debt Hangover”
The tricky thing about the festive season is that life doesn’t stop. Your real estate agent will still direct debit your rental payment, your electricity company will still want your quarterly bill paid and your telco company will still demand your BPay payment on a set day of the month.
With the added expense of Christmas, the end of the year can put a lot of pressure on people’s financial situation and unfortunately here on the helpline we tend to see the aftermath at the start of the new year.
Being part of the billion dollar Christmas debt hangover is no way to start the New Year. If you are struggling with your expenses call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 to speak to a Financial Counsellor.
If you want to start planning now for Christmas 2020 or just want to get on top of your budget for the new year, consider exploring the Moneysmart website and their interactive Budget Planner.
"Lunch on a Budget"
With just over a week to go, I am pretty sure that by now you would have heard Bruce Springsteen’s version of ‘Santa Claus is Coming to Town’ through your car radio at least once while driving around Adelaide.
With Christmas fast approaching, many people are now starting to plan their Christmas Day lunch/dinner.
· “Shall we do a hot roast or cold meat and salads?”
· “We don’t need a whole leg of ham, there is only 4 of us!”
· “I’m happy just to go to the beach and have sandwiches”
· “I think I am going to do a vegetarian menu this year”
· “I’m going to take my favourite cereal and a frozen pizza to my sister’s house and watch movies”
Christmas day is different for everyone and the important thing to remember is that there is no right or wrong answer, but most importantly it does not need to be expensive.
ABC Life has compared the great Australian Christmas dinner from the 1960s with today. It's not surprising that many Australians have either made the shift or reflected our multicultural approach to Christmas meals.
For tips to save money on food this Christmas, take a look at our ’[50 days to go…50 Ways to save for an Australian Christmas”](https://affordablesa.com.au/news-articles/50-days-to-go50-ways-to-save-for-an-australian-christmas)
'Avoiding Debt Traps'
It seems like every few months our Financial Counsellors come across a new 'pay day lender' or 'buy now, pay later scheme', where the repayments make a considerable dent in people's fortnightly budgets. Unfortunately, if someone is in financial hardship this extra fortnightly expense can get a whole lot bigger with account keeping fees, late fees, establishment fees, interest, dishonor fees, default fees...the list goes on.
With Christmas only days away, the temptation to use 'pay day lenders' and 'buy now, pay later schemes' to pay for Christmas is incredibly high. However, keep in mind that our Financial Counsellors will often see the repercussions of these decisions. From rent arrears to broken electricity payment arrangements, our Financial Counsellors see essential living expenses get put aside to accommodate the fortnightly direct debit payments paid to these lenders.
Before you sign up for a 'pay day loan' or 'buy now, pay later scheme' for Christmas consider the following:
- If I can not make a repayment, what will happen?
- If I take out a 'pay day loan', is what I am using it for really worth the extra fees, interest and charges?
- Next year, is there the option to put money away each fortnight so I don't need to rely on 'pay day lenders' or 'buy now, pay later schemes'?
- Will the repayments put extra pressure on my fortnightly essential living expenses (e.g. rent, electricity, food, etc)?
For more information about the traps of 'pay day lenders' see the attached link for the ABC interview with Gerard Brody from the Consumer Action Law Centre
If you are struggling with expenses or debts and would like to speak to a Financial Counsellor, call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or search for the National Debt Helpline on the Affordable SA App.
Christmas Credit Traps
Back in the day when you wanted to use your credit card you had to sign the receipt to authorise the transaction. Now you just need to bump your smart watch or phone against the EFTPOS machine and…BAM!...you have a brand new wardrobe.
It’s frightening how easy it is.
Now add some tinsel, fake snow, carols, fairy lights, fresh seafood, hot weather and extended shopping hours into the mix and it gets a whole lot easier to swipe or tap that little piece of plastic.
We all know that it is super easy to get caught up in the Christmas hype, however keep in mind that in a few weeks, when supermarkets start stocking hot cross buns, people will start to receive their monthly credit card statements, demanding payment for their last few weeks of festive spending.
We see a lot of credit card debt on the Helpline and the negative effects that it can have on financial situations. This Christmas and into the new year, be mindful of your spending and the way you use your credit card. For more information, check out the link from the Moneysmart website for 'Smart ways to use your credit card'.
If you are struggling with credit card debt and you would like to discuss your options with a Financial Counsellor, call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 or search for the National Debt Helpline on the Affordable SA App.
'Risks of Impulse Shopping'
With Christmas creeping up on us and with school finishing up for the year, it will start to get more and more difficult to find a car park at your local shopping centre as people get caught up in the adrenaline and excitement of Christmas shopping.
If you wander through you local department store this time of year (if you can find a car park), you will find that it is so easy to become hypnotized by the all sights, sounds and smells of Christmas, which can ultimately leave you vulnerable to impulse shopping (keep in mind, these places want you to spend your money).
Therefore, when and if you decide to tackle you Christmas shopping it is important to be prepared.
- Write a list
- Do your research (e.g. compare online to in store prices)
- Commit to a Budget
- Consider taking advantage of the extended shopping Christmas hours
- Avoid the temptation of using high interest pay day lenders to get 'quick, easy money'
- Avoid shopping with others so you don't feel pressured to buy certain things
For more information, see the attached link to the Moneysmart page for '12 Money Tips for Christmas'
With 12 days to go until Christmas, we are now well and truly into the festive season (see if you can find a department store that isn’t playing Michael Buble’s Christmas album).
For the next few weeks, we will be bombarded with Christmas songs on the radio, fairy lights,elves, tinsel and celebrity chefs on TV showing you how to cook the perfect Christmas lunch. For many of us, Christmas is a time for celebration and relaxation, when we get together with friends and family and reflect on the year that has been.
However, Christmas can also be a difficult time for many people. Spare a thought for your elderly neighbor who lives alone, your friend who is experiencing financial hardship, your relative who is going through a separation or your co worker who is struggling with depression.
If you know someone who finds this time of year especially difficult, consider reaching out to them to show that you are thinking of them. As the Grinch said, ‘It came without ribbons, it came without tags. It came without packages, boxes, or bags. Maybe Christmas doesn’t come from a store. Maybe Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more’.
If you or someone you know finds this time of year especially difficult, services such as Lifeline are available 24 hours a day 7 days a week to take your call.
For more tips to get through the festive season, see the link for the ABC interview with Clinical and Health Psychologist, Sabina Lane.