Emerging from the storerooms and spilling from every corner of the big shopping centres, a very glittery Christmas is coming out. The shelves are starting to move around and the red and white is an invading force into the high traffic thoroughfares. It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas and if the thought of holiday shopping anxiety is taking hold then its time for you to get yourself ready for an Affordable SA Christmas. Its just under 12 weeks to go!
Make a list and check it twice. Its not a case of whose naughty and whose nice, its just better to identify the people you want to give presents to and those that you can send cards and best wishes. Many people simply cannot afford to spend money on everyone they know such as their work colleagues and the neighbours.
Start planning early and don’t wait for the tinsel to roll out and carol music to begin. This provides time to save and look for gifts in the pre-Christmas sales and before the car parks start bulging every day.
2. BUDGET FOR THE WHOLE OF CHRISTMAS
Using your gift list write out how much you want to spend on presents and add any substantial food purchases such as a ham. Include posting cards, wrapping paper, and decorations. Extra meals and extra mouths add to what you usually allocate for your normal expenses. Even money for petrol to travel to visit family is a relative cost (sorry for the pun). Add 10% to your budget to make allowance for last minute details.
When Christmas is over assess this budget and be honest about how you managed or how you can improve the plan for next year.
3. BUYING GIFTS
Christmas is a time for connecting with those we love. Speak to friends and family members and set realistic expectations. Very much in vogue is to create a gift pool for extended family where each person is given the task of buying a gift for a different member of the family. Each person receives one gift and buys one gift. Pulling names out of a hat can be made fun and a good talking point between family members. Set a maximum cost for each gift of $5 or $10 or what ever you think is appropriate but affordable and get everyone to stay on budget.
4. SAVE FOR CHRISTMAS
Create a Christmas savings account or have a change jar for coins that you can periodically bank. A small amount put away each fortnight can help to take the debt out Christmas. Is it too late to save? Its never too late to save but if the milk and cookies are already set and Santa is throwing a leg over the chimney then before the tree and the decorations are packed away start a saving account for next year.
Homemade gifts are usually less expensive and are a wonderful, unique expression of your love. Freshly baked treats tied in a festive bow might make the perfect gift for a teacher or friend. Hand-sewn or knitted toys or clothes are cherished. Show off your talents with creative wrapping – affordable presents can look extravagant.
Not all of us are as talented as a budding Master-chef or home show presenter and sometimes buying all the materials needed to make something can quickly add up. Look online for ideas and judge for yourself what is achievable or not.
Stick to your lists and your budget and try to use cash or debit card rather than credit to make your purchases.
Paying for parking and travelling around hunting for gifts can be time consuming and costly if long hours of parking fees are involved. Plan your trips wisely to avoid duplicate travel expenses.
Keep your receipts. There are several reasons to keep receipts. It makes it easier to return items and it provides you with a way of quickly identifying what you have purchased and confirms your real costs.
Last-minute Christmas shopping is for the brave and the fool hardy. If you can get it done before the Carols start then your well on your way to the head of the cue and a stress less Christmas.
If you know what you want you can quite often get an online bargain without the hassle of congested shopping. Purchase online items early to avoid the disappointment of having to wait till after Christmas to receive the gift. Mail moves slowly closer to Christmas. Looking at items online or in catalogues also provides a guide to what you should expect and budget to pay.
Plan for the holiday menu and look where you can buy ingredients in bulk to save money. Holiday time sees many types of leftovers, which can be stretched over several days. A good meal with the family is about celebration and sharing, not excess.
Look for the specials before the Christmas period for items that have long best before dates.
9. POST CHRISTMAS DEBT
That warm Christmas glow can quickly disappear when the credit card bills come rolling in at the start of the New Year. Using savings or debit cards rather than credit provides a realistic way of monitoring your spending. Spending your own money and reducing debt is always a good idea all year round if possible.
10. NEW YEAR BARGAINS
If the big ticket family purchase like a telly is on your Christmas list create an IOU to be used during the big sales in January. If you have managed to create a saving plan for Christmas then its time to reward yourself.
Once the Christmas rush is over Christmas themed items are greatly reduced and many people purchase cards and decorations or even a new plastic tree for next year.
The cost of a gift is not a reflection of your love. Not only are the best things in life free, the best things in life are not “things”. Christmas is a time for family and making time for activities and games are gifts of fond memories for everyone. They don't come with a guarantee or a warranty but they usually last longer and increase in value over the years.
If you or a friend struggle to make ends meet there is help. Speak with a financial Counsellor for free and get some control on your finances.
The Financial Counselling helpline can be contacted on 1800 007 007
9.30-8pm Monday to Thursday and 9.30 – 4.30pm on Fridays.
In Australia, 15 out of every 100 women and 7 out of every 100 men experience financial abuse.
Financial abuse often occurs alongside other forms of domestic violence, such as physical, sexual and psychological abuse. It is reported that up to 9 out of 10 women who access domestic violence services have experienced financial abuse.
Who can be a perpetrator of financial abuse?
- Partners, husbands, wives, girlfriends or boyfriends (including exes)
- Carers or paid support workers
- Parents, guardians or other family members
- Adult children
- Other people you live with or see often
What are some of the signs of financial abuse?
- Has someone stopped, or attempted to stop you from accessing your bank account?
- Has someone stopped, or attempted to stop you from working or studying?
- Has someone refused to contribute financially to the household, or does contribute but not enough to cover basic household living expenses?
- Has someone pressured you to sign up for loans, credit cards, consumer leases, pay day loans or utility accounts in your name?
- Has someone damaged, stole or sold your property without your permission?
- Has someone stopped, or attempted to stop you from using social media, your mobile phone, internet or the family car?
- Has someone made you feel like you cannot manage money on your own?
If you, or someone you know, answered yes to any of the above questions it is important to speak to someone about the situation.
Who do I contact?
- 1800 Respect (1800 737 732) – 24 Hour counselling and support service for people impacted by sexual assault, domestic or family violence and abuse.
- National Debt Helpline – 1800 007 007 – Free, confidential and independent service provided by Financial Counsellors who can guide you through your options to help you plan your way out of debt
For more information about financial abuse, see the attached video from 1800 Respect
For more information about domestic violence, see the attached link to the Domestic Violence section of the Affordable SA App
Back to school costs are no longer just about uniforms and stationery.
Over the last decade the emphasis on the technology used for education has meant kids require more access to laptops and mobile devices as part of their every day learning. This has meant a huge increase in schooling costs and puts even more pressure on parents finding it hard to cope with cost of living pressures.
Computers and mobile devices are now by far the most significant part of schooling costs for many families and finding the money at this time of the year can send people spiralling into more debt. Many will still have outstanding bills from Christmas.
How can you pay for your kids essential learning needs without sinking further into debt or needing to think about other forms of loans that may cost you a lot more?
Have you heard of NILS? The No Interest Loans Scheme run by Good Finance loans has helped many families to purchase white goods and household items such as fridges and washing machines without paying any interest or charges. No interest, no charges at all! Now the Good Finance NILS is available to help with your back to school needs including computer and text books.
Low Income earners and people in hardship can access this help.
No interest loans are the best and cheapest way for people on low incomes to cover household expenses and necessities, you only repay what you borrow, so you don’t get caught in a cycle of borrowing and debt.
To apply for a no interest loan, visit nils.com.au to find your nearest provider or check out more about NILS and other assistance available in South Australia see the Affordable SA App (download free on Apple and Google play) and website [www.affordablesa.com.au](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/) or ring the [Affordable SA Helpline](https://www.affordablesa.com.au/programs/money-and-finances/affordable-sa-helpline) on 1800 025 539.
And just like that the school holidays are over.
If you have children, the back to school frenzy is probably the next big financial thing in your life.
Whether a child is starting Reception or Year 12, the cost of education can have an extremely large impact on household finances.
Uniforms, bags, textbooks, stationery, school fees, camps, excursions, school photos, swimming carnivals, laptops, lunches…the list goes on.
Here on the Helpline, particularly this time of year, we hear many stories of families who are trying to juggle everyday living expenses in an attempt to buy laptops, school jumpers, school shoes or any other extra cost that may surface for the new school year.
For more information about how to reduce back to school costs, see the attached link to the Moneysmart website.
The Affordable SA App also has a dedicated section for Education. See the following link for more information https://www.affordablesa.com.au/programs/education