Christmas – what do you remember?

I still have my first doll. Actually, it’s the only doll I’ve ever owned and it’s possibly stood the test of time because I didn’t play with it much. Why would you play with a doll when there was always a real live baby in the house to play with?

I got it for Christmas when I was a pre-schooler. I don’t remember actually ‘getting’ it but I know that it was a Christmas present.

When I think back through all those Christmas festivities in my life, I can’t remember too much about the gifts I received. But I do remember the games we played with the family members that visited.

As we grew older our games became a little more sophisticated and the laughter became louder.

There was no shortage of food and we always ate too much. As a kid, I always wondered why the adults always had to have a nap after dinner. As an adult, I’ve discovered the reason why.

They were happy times and my memories are filled with love and laughter. With all the emphasis that’s put onto gift buying these days, you’d think that I’d remember everything I got and who gave it to me. But I just simply don’t.

I remember the good times but I can’t remember the gifts.

 

Sometimes I think we’ve all forgotten that  the best Christmas memories are about people and events – the size and cost of the gifts are insignificant.

©   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)

Planning your budget for Christmas

A Tip – Money Tips from the Budget Bitch

 

With just a month until Christmas Day, I thought I would share an excerpt from my book – “Money Tips from the Budget Bitch”

 

12 .  Don’t leave your Christmas shopping till the last minute.

There are so many of us that do this… and then we find that because we’re out of time, we dash about in a frenzy and actually spend more than we intended. Sometimes we even buy things that are totally unsuitable, either as gifts or refreshments.

How many times have you finished the festive season with almost half the foodstuffs that you started with? Sure, it means you may not have to shop for a week or two but are mince pies, nuts and pretzels really something you want to eat everyday?

A little pre-Christmas planning and thought will go a long way in making sure your budget parameters are met.

 

Do make lists well before December.

Buy gifts to suit the tastes of a particular person rather than buying a gift to suit a monetary figure.

 

You can also find more great tips and hints by clicking this link

 

©   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 fit Christmas into your budget

In just a few weeks’ time it will be Christmas – one of the most financially stressful times of the year.

We all know how important it is to not have a financial blow-out, yet every year we hear horror stories about families that suffer terribly as a result of over-spending.

Whilst we all seem to over-eat and drink too much over the holiday season, it’s the money carnage that has the biggest impact.

It’s a crazy time of year for sure. Before you get too embroiled in all the celebrations, let’s take a moment to share some thoughts about the festive season…

Christmas is just one day of the year.

If Christmas is a time for your family traditions, then now is the time to talk about changing or adding some new ones that won’t break anybody’s budget. You’ll possibly find that there are some other family members who are secretly longing for this to happen.

Perhaps your family would benefit from a ‘pre-Christmas planning’ day which will give everybody a chance to plan for the event properly. Why only get together once a year?

Christmas is a time of sharing.

Not only do we share food and drinks but we also share time with our family. Some do that willingly; some do that because it’s expected of them.

It’s not always easy to get a family of different personalities together for a day of bonding. There are bound to be some frayed and jagged nerves by the end of the day.

If you’re hosting the family Christmas party and will have a house full of guests, then hopefully they’ll contribute something or share some of the chores. Let’s face it – it’s no fun cooking for a crowd and then having to wash all the dishes as well.

If this is what usually happens at your place (or wherever you spend Christmas), then maybe it’s time to change some of your Christmas traditions. You’re probably not the only person who needs to watch their money.

Perhaps your ‘traditional dinner’ could be divided into parts that each guest could provide (eg: somebody brings the turkey / ham, somebody else provides the veggies. The pudding could be supplied by somebody else, and the custard could also be made by another guest. Are you getting the idea here?)

  • Consider keeping it simple – you could always arrange for a ‘buffet’ lunch, where everybody brings a platter.
  • If you are cooking lunch at home, delegate tasks. You don’t need to do everything yourself.
  • Share the cooking – ask guests to participate by contributing a part of the menu. Don’t forget that there are other people who would love to bring their ‘family favourite’
  • Plan your menu in advance and also use a shopping list
  • Store brands are great for side dishes and salads etc – nobody will even realise!

And of course, it’s not just the food costs that need to be calculated, liquid refreshments also need to be considered.

  • A lot of money is spent on alcohol at Christmas. Try serving guests a festive glass of punch – you can even stretch out servings with apple juice.
  • Christmas Punch goes a long way, and is less expensive (alcoholic and non-alcoholic).
  • Use lots of ice – this also helps make drinks last longer when the weather is hot

Christmas is a time of giving.

When it comes to gifts, many of us tend to go overboard in that department. How many times have we heard people tell us that Christmas has become too commercial? Or – ‘it’s the thought that counts’ when it comes to gift giving.

Have you ever wondered why so many people seem to place such great importance on the price of the gifts from family members that they only just tolerate and hardly see throughout the year?

We’ve all heard many times, the complaint – “the stingy so and so only bought me a measly ….”

Of course, for those whom we love unconditionally, we’d accept the button off their shirt as a gift – if we knew that was all they could afford.

Maybe this Christmas we could give an extra gift of tolerance and understanding to those relatives who we find hard to love. It won’t cost anything and you may be surprised by the results.

When it comes to buying presents, the first thing to do is to make a list of everybody that you need to buy a Christmas gift for and stick to the list! Then –

  • Work out how much you can comfortably afford to spend on each gift, and do not overspend.
  • Consider a Kris Kringle (Secret Santa) for large family gift-giving events; where everyone draws a name out of a hat and buys a present only for that person. (You’re not the only one on a budget)
  • Choose a theme for your gifts – Calendars, books, chocolates, home-made treats, socks, pens, glasses, pillows, etc. This works really well with a Kris Kringle because the focus is then placed on getting the most suitable gift to for each recipient.
  • Give vouchers – lawn mowing; painting; baby-sitting; house cleaning etc. Nowadays people are time poor, not possession poor.
  • Spending time with loved ones is the best gift of all. Consider a family day pass to the zoo or theme park. Movie tickets for a family outing will also be appreciated

If you are one of those people that just love to decorate the house to celebrate the season, then you may also need to keep an eye on those costs.

  • Don’t over-spend on decorations. Recycle the ones from last year or just add one or two new pieces
  • Wrap gifts in bright and glossy junk mail—it all ends up in the same place in the end!
  • If you must have Christmas lights all over the place – get solar-powered ones and at least cut down on your electricity usage
  • Buy inexpensive candles and decorate them yourself with a Christmas theme. Use tinsel, glitter and ribbons to decorate and save money instead of buying pre-packaged Christmas ones.
  • When decorating the dinner table: Buy inexpensive glasses and paint each guests name on the side, or attach a tag with each name to a glass stem. As an extra gift for everyone this also helps with having heaps of glasses to wash. (each guest takes their gift-glass home)

 For lots of people, spending time with family and loved ones is the best part of Christmas and it’s important to remember that the best Christmas memories are about people and events. The size and cost of the gifts are insignificant.

If you haven’t already, it’s a good idea to start your Christmas planning now. Doing this will avoid a major ‘money melt-down’ due to lack of preparation.

Did you know that people who leave everything to the last minute will spend more money because they’ve run out of time?

So it doesn’t matter how much money you do or don’t have, you can fit Christmas into your budget. If you spend more time on the planning, you can make sure you spend less money on the event.

 

© 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 never too late

This morning I sat down to write something about budgeting for the blog and then realised that the end of 2016 is really not that far away.

Once again, the year seems to have slipped away so fast and it made me think about all the things I said I’d do this year. I’m not talking about New Year Resolutions because let’s face it – who keeps those anyway?

So let’s see if some of the things I promised myself I’d try to improve have been done …

  • Go to the gym on a regular basis – check
  • Put a regular amount into my holiday account – check
  • Write another book – Have got it started, but it’s going slowly
  • Go to bed earlier every night – well … I’m working on it, ok?
  • Lose 7 kilos – errrrrrr…. Next…..

So now that it’s November, I realise that I still have time to put some steps in place so as to improve the areas where I have been a little slack.  I know I won’t get everything finished before the end of the year; but at least I won’t be putting off making a start.

And I can still hear my mother saying – “Never put off till tomorrow what you can do today” *sigh*

Nonetheless, I’m not going to be too hard on myself for being a little slow off the mark in getting these projects started. It’s human nature to procrastinate when it comes to ‘difficult’ tasks. Sometimes it’s the very thought of doing something that makes us want to procrastinate.

What have you put off starting this year?

Could you get cracking today to finish the year on a high note? It’s surely got to be better than just sliding to the end on empty promises that you made to yourself.

 

 

©   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)

 

Renovating can help your budget

Whilst we continually hear that the property market is big business across Australia, would it surprise you to know how many people are getting stuck into renovating?

One in four Aussies are planning to renovate their home in the next year according to a new survey by ServiceSeeking.com.au. That’s a lot of plumbers, painters and carpenters needed across Australia so it’s a great sign for the buoyant renovation trade sector.

And more than half of all homeowners (54 per cent) have renovated in the past.  So are we really are a nation in love with the idea of renovating, or are we taking a more cost effective approach to improving the space in which we live?

With a plethora of renovation television programs such as House Rules, The Block and Selling Houses Australia, more homeowners are inspired to take the plunge in redesigning and improving their own homes. And let’s face it – that has to be more affordable than buying bigger and better than what you already have.

“Renovating is big business at the moment. Homeowners love to update, experiment and change their surroundings so there is always plenty of work around for tradies,” says ServiceSeeking.com.au CEO Jeremy Levitt.

He also said, “…the rewards will be in not only the satisfaction a newly renovated space brings, but in the (possible) monetary rewards should they be renovating to sell.”

Whether it’s one room or a whole house renovation, there are many considerations to make before donning the tool belt or placing a job listing for a carpenter. For help with where to start, see: www.serviceseeking.com.au/blog/

Statistics are from a recent survey of nearly 800 ServiceSeeking.com.au customers. (September 2016)

Whether you decide to do it yourself or get some professional help, don’t forget to budget for your renovation before you start. Always make sure that you have allowed a little extra for hiccups along the way.

 

 

 

©   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)

 

The value of getting help

Scott and Annalise are just like most people they know – married, in their mid-30s’, with a young family who are all at primary school. They both have great jobs and enjoy a full and active social life as well as holiday weekends every month. A holiday weekend consists of a short stay on the coast or in the mountains.

Their combined income is $150,000 and the only debt that they consider to be large is their mortgage. They also have a car loan which they say is “nothing to worry about”. With no savings in the bank, they haven’t even started to consider putting some money away for the future yet.

Like many people – every week, the first thing they do with their income is to pay the mortgage and make a car loan payment.  After that; whatever bills that are hanging on the fridge are paid and then they spend the rest. ‘The rest’ is food, fuel, entertainment and whatever else they want.

If you asked them, Scott and Annalise would say they are living the dream. They have everything they want and can afford to participate in what they know others would see as an enviable lifestyle.

Within a year or two, their children will be ready for high school. Scott and Annalise would like them to attend a private school that is not too far away from their home. They think the school fees are manageable, but they’re not sure what impact it will make on their lifestyle.

They decided to book an appointment with a Budget Bitch consultant to ensure they could afford their education choice without too many sacrifices. They also wanted to set up a plan to put some money aside as savings. They had no idea how to do this, and could see the value of getting help from somebody who was impartial about the way they spent their money.

If you are in a similar position and would like to improve your financial future, please give me a call.

 

 

©   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)

Another type of saving

One of the best parts of this time of year is the start of ‘daylight saving’.

Being a nation where we have so much daylight it makes sense to make the most of it.

Let’s face it – there are so many advantages. You can do more of the things you love after work and on the weekends because of the extra daylight; you can spend more daylight time with family and friends. And have you ever noticed how most people seem happier because of all this?

But isn’t it funny that while we love this sort of saving – we’re not so keen when it comes to other types of saving?

What if we exchanged the word daylight for ‘money’? Go on – re–read the last few sentences but put the word money in where you see the word daylight.

Did you see it? The benefits are the same!

So why don’t we embrace the habit of saving money with the same spirit that we approach daylight saving? Who knows – we just might love it also.

 

 

©   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 all in the planning

With all the ‘finance’ information that has come across my desk this year there are two things that have stood out thus far –

  • Australians who are unprepared for retirement, risk a significant change in their lifestyle
  • As life expectancy increases and the population ages, planning for retirement continues to be ignored

These issues will become quite significant for many people in the very near future.

Because life expectancy is now over 80 for both men and women, the way people plan for their retirement needs to change. This is even more critical as the first wave of Baby Boomers is aged between 50 and 69 years old and many are starting to think about retiring from the workforce.

Obviously financial security is a key factor in making decisions about when to retire. For many people it’s important to be able to maintain the same lifestyle that they have become accustomed to before retirement.

Because interest rates are so low, it is now quite difficult to live from savings alone. That is of course, if you have a considerable amount of money put aside which can be invested to create a steady stream of income.

Some Australians have sought to invest in bricks & mortar via residential property to fund their future.  If you’re retired and own the property outright, this can help to provide a monthly income, tax breaks and perhaps some potential for capital gains.

You can also find information about how commercial real estate is becoming accessible as an investment through unlisted property funds.  And of course, there is information available about shares and the stock market and various other income making schemes.

When you are no longer in the workforce and receiving a regular pay-packet, you will need some form of regular income.

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.

Today, you can easily address those two retirement concerns that I mentioned earlier –

  • A simple household budget now (before you retire) can put some money into a savings account. That will 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)

 

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)

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