Christmas is coming

Christmas is Coming

How many times do you think you’ll hear that between now and December?

Well whether we like it or not, Christmas is just around the corner and now is the perfect time to start planning and get ready.

No matter whether you have a whopping big family get-together or just a small one, it’s wise to do some pre-planning for the big day (or days if it extends into Boxing Day).

Prepare a menu and if your whole family is coming – split it into manageable bits to share the workload around. If everyone helps, it’s going to be a whole lot easier; particularly on your wallet. Start stocking up now and look out for those specials at the supermarket, liquor shop or wherever. There are heaps of opportunities now to buy the things you need, at the price you want.

When it comes to gifts – start with a list of everybody that you have to buy for and then keep it handy every time you go shopping. Look out for bargains, cross them off the list and put them away for Christmas. It makes heaps of sense to do this gradually now rather than running around like a head-less chook a few days before Christmas.

It’s even better if you can spread the shopping over the next 2 months– that way you can pay for it more easily rather than leaving it to the last minute. Nobody likes getting that terrible credit card bill in January; it certainly takes the gloss off a wonderful event.

So get on your skates, get your list out and go for it. 

And by the way – it’s less than 90 days to Christmas.

 

 

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

How to buy less at the supermarket

How often have you gone to the supermarket for just a few things, and ended up with a huge trolley full?

It’s a common complaint and one way to completely blow your food budget out of the water. Why do we do this?

Well, perhaps one reason is that you’ve gone to the shops without a list of what you need. Once there, it’s very hard to wrack your brain to remember, particularly when the shop is busy and full of bright advertising with great ideas on what to buy. You grab a trolley and start to wander the aisles, hoping you’ll remember and looking for inspiration.

Along the way you see items that look good, or are new and you’d love to give them a try. You see ‘great deals’ like the two-for-one sale that not only puts extra in your cupboard but also on your hips.

Another reason for exiting the supermarket with a full trolley is that you’re a sucker for all the ‘best buys’ and ‘super sales’ that they have. You feel that if you don’t get it now, then you’ll be paying much more next time. You tell yourself that its best to stock up now, while you can.

But have you ever noticed that there is always a good sale in the supermarket? Every week the catalogues announce all the special prices and invariably there’s not a week that goes by when you can’t find something that you need.

How to avoid over-spending at the supermarket? Well the obvious way is to always take a list and stick to what is written down. Do not buy anything that is not on the list.

Or – if you are only popping in for a few items, then make sure you only use a small basket to put them in. Once the basket gets heavy, you’ll soon stop putting things into it.

 

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

 

Budgeting for wedding flowers

 

 

 

It is believed that carrying flowers by the bride began in ancient times. Strong smelling herbs and spices were thought to ward off and drive away evil spirits, bad luck and ill health. During Roman times, this tradition was extended, with the bride and groom wearing floral garlands signifying new life and hope for fertility.

Brides of today don’t necessarily carry herbs and spices but they do spend a lot of time arranging for the floral pieces to be worn or carried by the bridal party.

You don’t have to spend a lot of money in order to have beautiful flowers for your wedding. All you need to do is plan carefully, order well in advance and not be too fussy by wanting flowers that are out of season.

 

 

  • Order bouquets without saying it’s for a wedding and you’ll keep the costs down. You can add the wedding ribbons etc at home (much more cheaply than a florist can)
  • Contact a local floral design school and hire them to provide your flowers. I am sure they would love to have a project such as your wedding to work on.
  • Using beautifully toned foliage for a lot of your displays, maybe with just a few accent flowers, can be magnificent. These can easily be obtained from trees and bushes of friends and family for little or no cost.
  • Tossing the bouquet is a tradition that stems from England. Apparently the women at the wedding used to try to rip pieces of the bride’s dress and flowers in order to obtain some of her good luck. To escape from the crowd the bride would toss her bouquet and run away. Unless your plan is to keep your bouquet on display in your home, don’t bother with a duplicate to toss.
  • Instead of tossing your whole bouquet, just pick one flower to throw. We all know what condition the bride’s bouquet is in after a horde of women start clawing at it.
  • Common sense tells us that having smaller bouquets will mean having a smaller florist bill.
  • Choosing flowers that are in season will keep your costs lower. It can be hideously expensive to buy flowers that are out of season. In many cases, after a few years most brides don’t remember what flowers were in their bouquet.
  • Silk flowers save you a lot of money and they’re already preserved. The Bride could have fresh flowers, but there really isn’t any need for everyone else to have them.
  • When decorating the church or reception venue consider using silk flowers. Once again, these can be purchased inexpensively at large department stores or via the internet.
  • Buy flowers at wholesale prices from the local market for your decoration needs. You’ll need to be up early for this activity so perhaps you could ask a friend to cover this task for you.
  • Check with your florist or garden centre to see if you can rent plants to decorate the church or venue. Offer to place business cards on the arrangements and mention the benefits of free marketing.

A bride will always look beautiful on her wedding day. Flowers are only meant to be an enhancement not a focal point.

It certainly pays to remember that when choosing them for your wedding.

 

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

 

Is there a cheaper way to have a wedding party?

So, you’re getting married and you want to have a party! Of course, you want to ask everybody that you know, to help celebrate this special day but how big is your budget when it comes to food and drink? The total cost for the ‘wedding reception’  will depend on where you hold the party, who does the catering and how many people you invite.

There’s much to think about –so it will pay you to give some thought to the many options available before you make a final decision. Here’s some help with your decision of what to do –

Most of the large formal wedding reception places will have a caterer / chef in residence. Often you’ll find there is a choice in menus to accommodate various budgets. But food is not the only thing to consider – liquid refreshments are also a large part of the catering account.

If you’re able to, and you decide to organise the catering company yourself, you will need to get several quotes from several companies. Ask your friends for recommendations, and if it’s possible, visit the caterers whilst they are working a function. See what they do, and how they do it whilst they are working. Don’t be afraid to ask many questions about the type of food and how it is prepared. A good catering company will also have photos of previous functions and customer testimonials for you to look at.

And don’t forget to ask these sorts of things:

  • How much does each course cost?
  • How many staff do you have? Waiters etc
  • Who is to provide the table arrangements / decorations?
  • Who is to provide the napkins etc
  • How do you expect to be paid?
  • Can you cater for special diets eg: vegetarians etc?
  • Will you clean up after yourself?
  • Can we have a choice of menu?
  • Do you need a deposit? If so, how much?
  • How long before the day, do you need to have numbers confirmed?
  • Do you cater for outside parties?
  • Do you have the correct liquor licences?
  • Do you provide the bar staff?
  • Can you organise the drinks? Champagne?

When it comes to the drinks / alcohol account, once again, it pays to discuss this before the wedding day. Many couples divide the catering bill into two – food and beverages. This can be a reasonable way of sharing the costs between families. There’s no easy answer to the drinks bill – there will always be complaints that some people drank more than was budgeted for.

It can be quite embarrassing if the ‘bar tab’ runs out before the reception is over. If you’re paying for all the drinks yourself then it’s a much more cost effective plan to stick to some basic drinks, (beer, wine, soft drink) and let the guests know that if they desire anything else, they will have to pay for it themselves.

With some planning and a little forethought you can make your wedding day party one to remember – and it needn’t cost a fortune to do so!

 

 

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

 

Can you afford a helicopter?

Often these days we hear the term ‘Helicopter parents’ which is a term used for parents who tend to ‘hover around their children’. But have you heard of the dilemma surrounding Helicopter kids?

“Helicopter Kids” is a term used to describe young and not-so-young adults who live with their parents. Bernard Salt, one of Australia’s leading demographic commentators, coined the term in his book, The Big Picture, as a name for the off-spring who “hover around the family home refusing to fully move out and establish their own household”. (1)

Some family therapists are of the opinion that if you treat your 22 year old like 12 year olds by doing their washing and cooking for them and also paying their bills, then you are depriving them of the opportunity to learn crucial skills for living independently.

Of course, money is an area that can become a stumbling block for parental pride. While most would agree that it’s wonderful knowing your kids want to live with you, admitting that it puts a large financial strain on the household is a real challenge.

Most parents want to give their kids a financial start. By allowing them to live in the family home it means that a HECS debt can be repaid, a rental bond or home deposit can be saved. Let’s face it – the way things are looking, this might be the only financial assistance we’ll be able to give them.

But while giving them reduced rent (or no rent) is one thing, living costs are another issue. I vividly remember the family who rang me in desperation after one of their adult sons had once again eaten a whole chicken from the fridge as a snack. Little did he realise that the cooked chook was to have been part of the family dinner  for that evening.

Families can alleviate the stress that surrounds this complex issue by sitting down and openly discussing the costs of running a household which is now full of adults. All parties need the opportunity to negotiate a reasonable board that honestly reflects the full costs of additional food and utility bills.

If you can no longer afford the cost of a helicopter, and the whole subject is too daunting to organise, maybe it’s time to ask an independent person to help your family plan a strategy that will work for your individual family.

Remember! Your kids are now adults, and they need to learn this valuable lesson – before they leave home!

 

 

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)  

(1)  Bernard Salt, The Big Picture , Hardie Grant Books, Prahran, Victoria 2006

How to stop worrying about your mortgage

In 2016 the mortgage brokers, Mortgage Choice, published survey results that showed that the biggest concern for a First Home Buyer (FHB) is repaying the debt. The survey quoted that 29.2% had said that they worried about how they could afford the repayments.

As we all know, buying a property is possibly the biggest expense that most people will ever have in a lifetime. Unless you have won the lotto, it’s necessary to borrow money for this purchase. And that means making a commitment to the repayments.

In a world where commitment is not taken as seriously as it once was, it’s important for anybody who has a mortgage to know how they will make the repayments. This concern is not exclusive to FHBs.

Some years ago when I worked as a real estate agent, I learned that the ‘buying process’ took one hundred days. This started from the first day when you think ‘let’s buy a house’ to the actual day when you sign the contract.

I would suggest that it takes longer.

Before you purchase a property, you need to have a deposit. You also need to be able to show The Lender that you are able to make regular and consistent payments. Therefore, just getting a deposit will require a commitment to putting money aside into an account on a regular basis.

With the rising costs of housing these days, this could take a little time.

Your ability to prove to yourself and The Lender that you are responsible with money must start with your budget. If you don’t know how much it costs you to live each week, then how will you know how much you can either save or put towards a mortgage on a weekly or fortnightly basis.

A good working budget will allow you to make these payments without too much worry. A worry-free budget will cover all your current expenses and will have a contingency plan for extra-ordinary expenses.

Once you have a mortgage, then it’s important that you review it each year to ensure you are still able to make the repayments. Of course, this will be done with your annual budgeting review.

 

 

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

 

 

Happy New Financial Year

It’s July! And the start of a New Year! Well, it’s the beginning of a New Financial Year and hopefully, we can all put the financial woes from the past year behind us and focus on making this next year the best one ever.

If it really is the start of a New Year, then we’re sure to be looking forward to making all those New Year Resolutions again. (Remember? The ones you made on December 31st) If you forgot to do it six months ago, then now is a perfect opportunity to make a fresh start and put some plans in place.

Apparently, more than 70% of new year resolutions are financial ones – you know the sort – get the finances in shape, stop spending so much money, clear the credit card, start a savings account etc etc. And with 92% of all resolutions failing – there’s a lot of room for improvement.

I know somebody who is always saying that he’ll make his financial New Year promises in July, and then when July comes he says he’ll be ready by January and so on…. by the time the end of any year comes around he’s never done what he says he will and wonders why he is financially always behind the eight ball.

Sometimes we can all be a bit like that – putting off the hard decisions and finding lots of excuses as to why we haven’t or can’t change something. It actually takes more energy to find a plausible reason for not doing something, than it does to do what we’re trying to avoid.

In the meantime – The only way you’ll have a happy year, financially – is if you do something to make it happier.

The simplest way – is to organise a budget!

Happy New Financial Year!

 

 

(c) Carmel McCartin –  Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

How easily will you retire?

 

Every year, the RaboDirect Super & Retirement Report is released in June.

The important findings of the report this year show that a lot of work in the savings departmnent is needed by Australians to set themselves up successfully for retirement:

It also shows that only 32% of Australians make voluntary contributions to their super. This fact is hardly surprising. When compulsory superannuation came into being during the 1990s, many people saw this as their golden ticket to retirement. They believed that the money their employer had to contribute to their workers retirement funds would be enough for them. In many cases it’s not.

The report shows that nearly 20% of Australians are relying on an inheritance from relatives for their retirement. Sadly, I see this quite often. With little or no money put aside for the future some people are hoping that parental support will continue long after the parents have passed away.

In this report you’ll read that the super ‘gap’ between what people expect to retire with and what they’ll need has grown from $268,502 in 2014 to $353,125 in 2017. The question I ask here is quite simply – have we increased our weekly retirement savings to match our future retirement spending?

Regardless of all the information that you hear and read about, the one thing that won’t change into the future is the need to adjust your lifestyle to suit the retirement income that you have. And the first way to do this is by careful consideration of how you will spend your money.

The report is certainly worth reading .

Today, you can easily address your retirement concerns  –

  • A simple household budget now (before you retire) can put some money into a savings account. That will certainly help in the future.
  • And for those who have already retired? A simple household budget will help take the ‘struggle’ out of meeting basic expenses and managing your money on a daily basis.

Regardless of how much money you have now and or will have into the future – the easiest financial plan is a budget.

But you knew I would say that, didn’t you!

 

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

It’s almost that time of year again

How quickly the year flies!  Soon it will be the last week of June which means we’re halfway through 2017. It’s a great time of year to take stock of the promises we made to ourselves when the year had just started.

Are we on track to achieve what we wanted for this year? Are we making a little progress at least? Or have we not started as yet?

It’s also at this time of year that our thoughts turn to the shape of our finances. Are they shiny and bright like a crisp new apple? Or have they gone a little ‘pear-shaped’?

It doesn’t seem to be easy to make ends meet at the moment – Money doesn’t seem to stretch as far at the supermarket; car, health and household insurances have gone up again; council rates are due to rise and of course – electricity and gas prices  are elevated at least once every year.

It seems like our wallets are being attacked from all sides – I guess you don’t need anyone to remind you how tough it is at the moment.

The 30th of June marks the end of the current financial year – the time when we gather together all our paperwork and receipts in preparation for filing our tax return. It’s traditionally the time when a lot of financial decisions are made or re-evaluated.

For every person and/or household that has an income now is the time to assess your money and how you’re managing. If you’ve fallen behind in your savings plan – then now is the time to make amends. If you’re falling behind in paying your bills when they’re due – then now is the time to organise or re-organise your budget.

If you don’t know how to get things started or back on track then call us!  The worst thing you can do is to leave things till they are beyond repair.

The end of the financial year doesn’t have to mean the end of your financial focus.

 

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

Is it a good idea to access your super to use as a home deposit?

Before you get excited about the recent Government budget that suggests that first home buyers could access their superannuation as a deposit for a home, just take a breath and think about this…

I was reading an article by Tegan Taylor and Michael Janda and this is what I learned….

According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) an average 25 to 34-year-old earns  around $75,000 a year.

That means the 9.5 per cent compulsory super contribution is $7,125 per annum, this is what the employer contributes for your retirement.

With the Government plan that you can divert three years of super contributions into a home deposit saving fund, as long as you match that with an equivalent amount of savings from your after-tax income you would then add another $7,125 per annum from post-tax income as the required co-contribution.

If that money is invested in a deposit account earning 3.2 per cent per annum, which are the higher three-year term deposit rates at the moment, then the average person in this target age group for first home buyers could probably save about $45,545 after three years.

All of this means that you’ll have a deposit of around $45,545. If you were hoping to live in Sydney, Melbourne, Darwin or Canberra and use that money as a 20% deposit, then you’ll be disappointed to know that there are no suburbs that have a place where you can do this.

If you’re prepared to spend 50 – 60 minutes travelling to the city then you will find some suburbs in Sydney or Melbourne where it’s possible to get a small house or apartment for a 10% down payment. Of course you will also have to pay the extra cost of lender mortgage insurance (which only protects the bank, not the borrower, from loss).

Adelaide, Perth, Brisbane and Hobart have some better options and are worth looking at if you live in those cities.

Foregoing a few years of super at the beginning of your career almost seems a sensible idea. However because of compound interest, losing three to five years’ worth of super early in your working life is the equivalent of losing seven to 12 years at the end of your career, according to Industry Super chief economist Stephen Anthony.

I guess if you’re prepared to work until you’re 70+ to catch up the money you spent at the start of your super fund, then maybe it’s a workable solution for you. Working that bit extra also means you’ll certainly be able to have your home loan paid off by the time you retire.

Whichever way you choose to get a deposit for a home of your own – you’ll still need a budget to make sure that you’re financially safe throughout your whole life as well as your working life.

 

 

 

©   Carmel McCartin – Budget Bitch

And don’t forget – (The views expressed in this blog are the personal opinions of the author. Don’t rely on them to make financial decisions; you have to make up your own mind. If you don’t like the content – then either stop reading or send me an email)

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