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Save Money On Your Wedding

This post is brought to you by Bride.com.au

Planning your wedding is a super exciting time but it is so easy to get carried away and have your budget blown out of the water.  There is a whole industry set up to help you spend your money on a raft of things to make your day ‘perfect’.  Add the ‘W’ (Wedding) word to any conversation and it is amazing how fast the costs escalate.  So what is the best way to have the day you want without being saddled with debt that lasts far longer than the big day?

Firstly, you need to set a wedding budget (or spending plan if you like that term better :-)).  Sit down with your partner and anyone else who is helping you pay for the wedding and be clear who is contributing what and how much the total budget is.  Discussing money is difficult but it is better to have these conversations up front, as you do not want any money resentments to creep in and harm your relationship, especially when you are just starting out on your new life together.

No one has an endless budget, except maybe Kim Kardashian, so the next thing is to figure out your priorities.  What are the things that you and your partner feel are most important to make your day what you want it to be?  Everybody is different so for some people it is all about the dress or the venue or the cake.  Make sure you rank your priorities.  This ranking will give you guidance on how to spend your budget.

I got married in 2007.  We wanted a relaxed, fun wedding, that wasn’t too traditional and reflected us as a couple.  Our priorities were the food at the reception, the cake and some photography.   Lesser ranking priorities were the invites, flowers, bonbonniere, bridesmaids outfits and transport to the wedding.  Our budget was $10,000 and these are the ways we made our budget stretch further:

(1)    Avoid getting married in the big cities if you can.  We had a choice of getting married in Sydney or my husband’s home town of Rotorua in New Zealand.  Rotorua, despite being know as ‘the smelly town’, was an easy choice.  He had more family than me and everything was a lot cheaper than Sydney.  The favourable Australian dollar/New Zealand dollar exchange rate gave our budget an extra 20% boost!

(2)    Keep the guest list down.  My husband is Maori, so he has a tonne of relatives.  We could have had a cast of thousands but we decided to talk to his family and find out who we absolutely had to invite.  In the end we invited 29 people, mind you 36 turned up but that is another story!  Keeping the numbers down is a big money and stress saver.  You actually have time to talk to your guests as opposed to being on some tour of duty!!!  We were lucky as we were paying for the wedding it meant that we had more control over the guest list, which made it easier.

(3)    Skip traditions that don’t work for you.  We totally dumped the idea of bonbonniere.  We figured none of our guests would want another candle or packet of sugared almonds.  It saved us time and money.

(4)    Get your craft on.  Making things your self can save you money and give a real personal touch.  We had a friend make our wedding invitations for us.  Friends of mine have made their own head-pieces, wrist- pieces and table settings.

(5)    Say ‘Yes to the dress’, but keep it in perspective.  You don’t think it at the time but your wedding dress is something that you will probably never wear again.  Mine was worn once and has sat in the closet ever since.  Given the dress was never a major thing for me, it was a great place to keep costs down.   I did look into renting, but they tended to be the more ‘princess’ style dresses not really my thing.  I thought about going non-traditional, but in the end I settled on a simple dress and got 10% off for paying upfront.  Then a further 10% off when I took it out of the country to my wedding!  One of the advantages of getting married overseas!

(6)    Figure out if there is something your bridesmaid/s can wear that they already own.  Yes I really did this!  (Check out the photo above!) My bridesmaids wore black and something they already owned.  Yes they didn’t match but that was not important to me.  I wanted them to be comfortable and happy and not roped into wearing some dress that they never liked or would wear again.

(7)    If you hire a photographer, don’t have them for the whole day.  Photography is crazy expensive.  We had a fantastic photographer but we only hired her for a few hours around the ceremony.  For the reception we just had friends and family take pictures and we put some disposable cameras on the table for some very funny selfies!

(8)    Skip the video all together, we just had a couple of friends video the ceremony for us on their hand held cameras.

(9)    Shop around.   It pays to shop around and if you are spending a lot of money don’t be afraid to ask for a discount.  You might be surprised what suppliers will do to get your business.  Check Facebook and Esty for many wonderful small businesses that might be more affordable.

(10) Keep it simple.  Try and keep it as simple as possible so that you enjoy it and your budget will thank you for it.

Weddings can be expensive affairs.  Make sure you set your budget and stick to it.  I always remember what my mother told me when ‘financial problems walk in the door, love flies out the window’.  So make sure you don’t fall into the trap of starting your new married life with an unmanageable wedding debt and make sure most of all that you relax and enjoy your big day.  It goes really fast!

This sponsored post is brought to you by:

Bride.com.au: the best place to find inspirational wedding ideas, competitions, advice and the latest in bridal fashion and style.  Click here to visit their website or here to follow them on facebook.

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03/12/2013 15 comments
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Save Electricity Bill

I hate to think about it, but our electricity bill is high, really high.  I opened it recently and was shocked to find it was $1400 for the last quarter!  Ouch! Okay our house is all electric with no gas, but really?  It is not even a big house, it is a small house.  We don’t even have hordes of people living with us.  It is just the 3 of us.  Yes, the bill was for over the winter period but even then it seems ridiculous.  Surely I could get a better deal?

With my mission set, I went off in search of more spark for my buck.   My first stop was the Australian Government website called ‘Energy Made Easy’ (click here to check it out)   This site is designed to help you compare all the electricity and gas retailers in your area to see if you are on the best energy deal for your needs.  All you need is a recent bill and they will give you a run down on the most appropriate deals for your location and usage levels.

From the bill I needed:

(1)    The time period for the bill

(2)    The total amount of electricity we used (usually on the second page)

Then the only other things I needed were my postcode and what type of tariff you are on (they help you figure out that).  The results came back that there were 3 providers that had the best deals for me and interestingly they were 3 companies that I had never heard of!!

Next I visited the individual company’s websites.  As it turned out one of the companies was in Tasmania so they were out of the running given I lived in New South Wales!!!  So I contacted the remaining two companies and got them to give me a call.  It is a bit of a pain to have to go through all the rigmarole of talking to the companies – but nothing beats leg-work when it comes to getting a great deal!  Besides you learn a lot about how your bill works and how electricity is charged.

In the end I went with a company that gives me:

(1)    A rate structure that is far more favourable than my current provider.

(2)    5% off the total bill for paying on time.  This is an easy win for us as I always pay on time using direct debit.  This discount alone is worth $70 a quarter off my bill as with my previous energy company I did not get any discount.  (Note: If you have a Healthcare card you are also eligible for a further discount so make sure you tell your electricity/gas or telephone company if you have one).

(3)    No surcharge for using my credit card to pay by direct debit, unlike my previous provider.

(4)    It is a two year contract but with no break fee if we leave the house.

My guesstimate this change in supplier will save us $160 per quarter or $640 per year.  Not a bad payoff for a couple of hours work.

Now my next project is to get our electricity usage down 🙂

p.s always contact your current provider before making a change and find out any costs that may be involved in switching.

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03/12/2013 19 comments
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Road Safety Saves Your Wallet

This post is brought to you by Prime Lawyers.

Last week I popped out to my letterbox to see what the postman had brought.  No bills; fabulous, a few pieces of junk mail; ok, but then I saw an ominous looking envelope.  You know the sort, official looking but you can’t tell who has sent it.  I started to get nervous.  Could it be the dreaded Tax Department?  No, we already had a pay up notice from them and it wasn’t even due yet.  The Department of Social Security or Human Services or whatever they call themselves nowadays?  Nope.  It didn’t look good.  So with great hesitation I opened it.

It was a speeding fine!  Agggggghhhhhhhhhh!!!!!  I didn’t realise the main road next to my new job was a 50 km/h zone and I had been caught by a speed camera doing 64 km/h!!   The total cost of my misadventure the loss of 3 demerit points and $248!!!!  Ouch!!!

I hate paying fines.  My husband says I drive like ‘Miss Daisy’ and maybe I do.  I think it is best to try and avoid fines at all costs.  Clearly this time I was not ‘Miss Daisy’ enough.  My bad.  I broke the rules and now I have to pay.  However, I cannot help but think of all the other things I could have done with that money.  Money that is now going into the government’s coffers.

However, it could have been worse.  Another 6 kms/h over the speed limit and it would have cost me $425 and 4 demerit points!  Eeeek!!!   And if you are travelling 30 kms/h over the speed limit it costs you $815!  And don’t even think of touching your mobile phone while driving, that will cost you another $298!

Although being fined is, by far, not the worst outcome you can face from breaking the road rules.  No, there are far worse outcomes.  You could cause an accident.  Then not only do you have the hassle and cost of dealing with repairers and insurance companies to get everything fixed, but you could also face negligent driving charge.  The maximum penalty for an offence of negligent driving is a $1,100 fine.  Ouch!

But even that is not the worst of it.  If you have an accident, especially at speed or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol,  you are more likely to hurt or kill yourself, your family or someone else and their family.  It really does not get any worse than that.

So be careful this Christmas and stick to the road rules.  Remember double demerit points will apply on the major holiday periods.  Make sure you stick to the speed limits, don’t touch your mobile phone while driving and especially make sure you do not drink and drive.  Your wallet, your family and potentially someone else’s will thank you.  In the meantime it is back to being ‘Miss Daisy’ for me!

{Please note the cost of fines quoted in this post are from the NSW Roads and Maritime Services Department.}

This sponsored post is brought to you by:

Prime Lawyers:  Prime Lawyers is a premium service law firm with offices in the Sydney CBD, Chatswood, Parramatta, Sutherland and Wollongong.  They have a team of lawyers who specialise in traffic law/negligent driving charges.  Click here to find out more.

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28/11/2013 19 comments
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                                                                                                                                                                         Written by Cassandra from This Is Wellbeing

Are you fed up with the amount you spend on groceries? Me too! I refuse to accept that prices are rising and am determined to take control of my weekly spend!

My grocery shopping has always been reactive and mindless. I go to the supermarket on autopilot and buy what I think I need. This usually results in spending hundreds of dollars for about half a week!

Here are my tips for reducing your shopping bill and taking back control from the marketing beast, which is Australia’s supermarket duopoly.  My tips might not all apply to you, but I hope they trigger some thought about your own spending habits:

1. Shop locally and source alternatives to your supermarket
Research your local area for alternatives to your large supermarket. Try local farmers markets, butchers or greengrocers, online delivery services and large produce markets.
If you live regionally, source from direct farmers wholesale stores!  My local suburb even has a food swap, where you can grow your own and take your surplus to swap with a local. Check your listings with your council and local newspapers.

I have local Greek market that stocks delicatessen and produce at a fraction of the supermarkets prices. An example, I regularly get premium gypsy ham for $10 per kilogram instead of $26 per kilogram form the supermarket. Learn your prices and look around neighbouring suburbs for alternatives

2. Menu plan
This is a classic but often forgotten tip. Don’t shop hungry and without a plan!

When menu planning try to incorporate your existing ingredients and include your fresh produce which has a limited shelf life. Do a stock take of your pantry, freezer and fridge before you plan.

Try to repeat ingredients in different meals. You may get a cheaper price for a larger quantity, which will be cheaper split over multiple meals. For example, purchase bulk pack of rump steak (at a lower price per kilo) and then slice in strips for stroganoff or stir fry, and cube for stews or kebabs. Freeze the portions for use later.

3. Watch the specials and ignore the specials
It’s great to grab the specials for items you need. Be careful being swayed to purchase items with aren’t on your pre-planned list, and are not essential. It doesn’t matter if a packet of Corn Chips was only $2. It’s $2 more than you need to spend. Supermarkets conveniently put all those non-essential products in one or two aisles. Just skip those aisles!

Have you ever read a ‘Specials’ sign and seen that the original price is $2.98 and the sale price is $2.95 (true, I have seen this many times!) Not much of a saving, but I have been guilty of picking up the brand with the big red sale sign without reading (bit deceitful hey).  If you are in the market for yoghurt, and it is heavily discounted, by all means save a penny, but just take the specials you actually need and analyse the savings carefully.

4. Ditch the convenience
Supermarkets specialise in convenience. The more convenient, the more we will pay a premium for it. Take for example green beans. My local supermarket packages a portion of green beans (375 grams) and sells it at $12.00 per kilogram. However, if you buy beans loose, the cost is $8.98 per kilogram.  However, the $3.02 per kilogram saving isn’t the biggest difference. You may only really need 100 grams of beans for a dish, but you have bought nearly 4 times as much subconsciously.

For those of us that have a few extra pennies you might be thinking ‘oh well, it’s not going to break the bank’. But doesn’t it make sense to simply buy what we need and stop wasting food?

5. Be conscious to marketing when you shop
Anyone that has seen the Gruen Planet will be familiar with the commercial marketing tactics of the supermarkets. The junk food (i.e the food that is always on special, that you don’t need), is in prime position with big flashing signs. Supermarkets dedicate a lot of money to researching the best layout that promotes spending.

There is a reason that ‘peanuts’ they are placed in three different sections (Fruit & Veg, Baking & Health Section). It is to get you moving about and discovering more things you ‘need’.
Unhealthy packaged food takes prime position in the catalogues and it makes the supermarkets a lot of money by promoting extras for you to pop into your trolley.

How many times have you just gone for milk to spend $100 on other ‘stuff’? This is why milk is placed at the back of the supermarket, making you walk past the chocolate to find it. The more I’m ‘aware’ of these tactics, the more it annoys me and I purposely avoid purchasing non essentials.

6. Spend more on quality not quantity
We are a nation of over eaters. Maybe this tip doesn’t apply to you and you have found the right balance. But levels of obesity in most Western countries suggest most of us are still trying to find the right balance.

I often let supermarkets dictate portion control to me. For example, if I make some bolognaise for dinner I would use a 500 gram pack of beef for 4 serves. I intend to freeze some for later, but ultimately I overeat because ‘it’s there!’

Did you know that the recommended amount of lean beef per serve is 65 grams cooked beef. This means a serve for 4 people would be 360 grams of uncooked beef. Save money by ordering 360 grams of premium beef from a butcher! Our portions as a nation are increasing and this benefits supermarket profit, as you unintentionally eat twice what you need.

7. Motivation
Let’s be realistic here. It’s much easier to pop into the supermarket, buy mindlessly and get through the week. We are tired and need to be fed. All this planning is exhausting. What is the point if you are managing to make it through the weeks?

Well, give yourself some incentive. What could saving $50 or $100 mean to you. You could direct the extra funds to saving for a new car? Put it towards a new holiday? Or could that extra money be driven into your mortgage? An extra $200 a month towards the average mortgage of $300,000 could take 6 years and 5 months off you mortgage.

I would love to hear how you have reduced your shopping bill and share your local finds in the comments below! Good luck.

About the Author: My name is Cassandra, I write a blog with healthy recipes called This is Wellbeing.  I love food and cooking all day, so I look for economical and healthy ingredients to give my recipes some excitement!

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25/11/2013 9 comments
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Chrisco Hamper

To be honest, I have always wondered whether it is worth purchasing a Chrisco hamper.  Every year around Christmas time when the glossy Chrisco TV adverts appear, I wonder whether it would work for me and my family.  You see, there are many parts of the Chrisco concept that really appeal to me.  The simplicity of choosing your hamper at the start of the year, then making automated payments weekly/fornightly or monthly and then ‘ta da’ a bunch of branded food products arrive at your door just in time for Christmas.  It does sound like it takes some of the hassle out of Christmas.  Yet, I have never done it.  So this year, I decided to do the math and figure out whether the value really stacks up.  This is how I went about it and what I found out.

I went on to the Chrisco site and I chose the “Traditional Christmas” hamper (click here to check it out).  It includes a range of sweets, a ham, a couple of chickens, ice cream, frozen veges, loads of sauces and of course the all important Tim Tams!  It might be a little bit big for my small family of 3 but my mother and sister join us for Christmas day and then the relos from New Zealand pop across on boxing day so I think it is the type of hamper that would get us through the Christmas/New Year period relatively well fed :-).  Now Chrisco say that the total value of the hamper is $426.40 or $8.89 per week.

It was really easy to check the value of the hamper, I just went to the Woolworths internet shopping site (which could have just as easily been the Coles site), typed in each product and found the Woolworths price.  If I could not find an exact match for the product I chose another brand with the same size or for some things I found the same brand but a different size (these are all annotated in my spreadsheet, us finance geeks love a good spreadsheet :-)).

To my surprise, the hamper valued at $426.40 according to Chrisco was only worth $306 according to Woolworths!!!!  Which means I save $120.40 by buying the same goods direct from Woolworths!!!   A whopping 28% difference!!!!   I thought there might be some difference, but I had no idea that the difference would be that big.  On their website Chrisco admit that they “do charge a little more than some supermarkets because of all the extra costs”, including the costs of collecting payments, special packaging and distribution.  But to me 29% is a whole lot more than “a little more”.  So, I am sorry Chrisco, in 2014 you will not be getting any of my hard earned cash,  as the value of your hampers simply does not stack up.

Note:  If you would like to check out my calculations please click here.  Interestingly, my blogging buddy Elise from Mummy Hearts Money looked at her Chrisco order in 2012 and came to a similar conclusion.  Click here to see her post.

If you would like to read more from me in 2015 don’t forget to sign up to my weekly email using the form below:



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21/11/2013 65 comments
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Save Children's Christmas Presents

Can you believe it?  Christmas time is creeping up!  I was stunned when on a trip to my local Woolies, my daughter picked up pink tinsel and put it in the trolley.  Really?  Christmas stuff already?   After a bit of debate, mainly consisting of me saying the words “put it back”, she insisted it was on my shopping list.  I told her that despite wearing glasses, I was sure I could see the list clearly and that I was sure that pink tinsel was not on the list.  Oats, yes, milk, yes, eggs, yes and even bread but pink tinsel, no it was definitely not there.  Welcome to Christmas!

This unexpected run-in with Christmas made me realise it really isn’t that far away, so I had better get organised.  A Peppa Pig play house is the main request in our household.  They are not particularly cheap so here are some ideas on how to stretch Santa’s toy budget further….

  1. Draw up a budget and stick to it!  It is hard to resist the temptation to overspend when it comes to your children and it is even harder at Christmas time.  The best way to avoid a big Christmas financial hangover is to figure out what you can afford to spend and stick to it.  I note good ideas for gifts as they come up so that I am not struggling for ideas right before Christmas and end up spending too much money.
  2. Stock up in the toy sales throughout the year.  Make sure you are on the email list for all your favourite stores so that you don’t miss a sale.  I have done an epic fail on this one so far but it is something I will be keeping in mind for next year!
  3. Buy overseas.  The Australian dollar is holding strong against many other currencies such as the US dollar and the British Pound, making it cheaper to buy toys overseas.  Check out the overseas prices before making your purchases, just remember to include the shipping costs.  Many people focus on buying from the US but don’t forget the United Kingdom (UK), they have great websites that often ship to Australia for free.
  4. Use Frequent Flyer points to purchase gift cards.  Nowadays you don’t even have to put your bum on an airline seat to get frequent flyers.  You can get them all over the place; using your credit card, shopping at the supermarket, getting certain brands of insurance and paying your mobile phone bill.  Now I am not saying you should change your shopping habits or buy unnecessary things to get points, but if you do have them maybe you should look into using them to help fund your Christmas toy purchases.  We quite often convert our points into gift cards, which gives us a bit of choice as to how we spend them.  However, according to the frequent flyer gurus, this is not actually the most efficient way to spend your points.  But it works for us because with a 3 year old it is unlikely we are going to do an around the world trip anytime soon!  Also, according to the gurus, buying vouchers is better than buying goods directly at the frequent flyer store (Click here to learn about how to spend your points in the most efficient way)
  5. Re-gift to your own child!  I suspect that this one only works when your children are small but it is a loophole I am going to exploit while I can! 🙂  Miss Money got an excessive amount of presents for her birthday, especially from her grandparents, so I have put a few aside to give to her again at Christmas time.  Cheeky, I know but for the moment it works!
  6. Check out places that you might not normally look for toys in like The Reject Shop, Daiso (where everything is $2.80) and your local $2 shop.  Miss Money’s favourite doll cost me $7 from The Reject Shop.  After 6 months of hard use the arm fell off, so I went back and brought her another one, without breaking the budget.
  7. Sell old toys to raise some cash to fund your Christmas toy purchases.  We are in the process of selling some of Miss Money’s baby toys and her pram that we no longer use.  We use the Kids Size Living Facebook page, which lets you list and trade goods in our area for free but there are many other sites that let you do the same.  It is a great way to de-clutter the house before Christmas sends more toys our way! 🙂
  8. Buy second hand.  When you are listing your stuff to sell check out what others are selling – you could pick up a bargain!  We also regularly stop by our local op shop and have been surprised at what we could find.  We have picked up some toys in perfect condition at a fraction of the retail price and we have brought her a pile of books for $3 in great condition.  Not only are you saving cash, you are helping a great cause and recycling, all at the same time.
  9. Enter competitions.  I had never paid much attention to the giveaways being run by other bloggers until a couple of weeks ago when I entered a competition and won a new t-shirt for Miss Money.  It was quite a score!  Going into Christmas, I expect there will be some great giveaways happening.  Entering is usually pretty easy so it is definitely worth doing.  You have to be in it to win it as they say!  Stay tuned to my Money Mummy Facebook page as I will be putting all the good giveaways I find on there.
  10. Make presents.  If you have a crafty streak make some of the gifts yourself such as dolls clothes, bags of sweets or small activity packs.  Some of my friends do treasure hunts for small home made gifts in the backyard adding some extra fun to the process.

Christmas with children can be lots of fun but also a time of stress.  It is hard not to want to give your children everything, but deciding on an amount that you can afford to spend and sticking to it is the key to keeping your finances on track and avoiding a big New Year financial hangover.   So, get started early and think about how it is best to fund Santa’s Christmas visit to your house.

If you liked this post you might also like:

How I raised An Extra $910 To Pay For Christmas

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How To Teach Your Children About Money

 

Disclaimer:

The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.  Please see your financial advisor for advice specific to your individual circumstances.

23/10/2013 33 comments
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How to teach your kids about money

There are so many things I want to teach my daughter but money smarts is very close to the top of my list.  It is an essential life skill and I am very aware that it is my responsibility to teach her.  Many parents feel the same way, and I often get asked “What is the best way to teach my child about money?”   The truth is, like with many things, there is no one correct way.  Each child is an individual and some ways will work well with some kids, but not with others.

I believe there are two essential elements you need to help your children learn about money: you need to talk to them about it and you need to show them about it.  The following are some practical ideas of how you can combine talking and showing, to give your children a solid real-world foundation in the art of handling their own finances.  Here are some ideas are roughly split by age group but some ideas span ages groups and some children might be ready for older concepts at a younger age.  It is an entirely individual process so take the ideas that suit you, your family and your beliefs about money.

3-5 years old

  • Buy them a money-box in which you put some spare change.  Take out the money do some basic counting.  Talk about the differences between the coins, shapes, numbers.   Once they are a bit older, introduce notes and discuss the differences between notes and coins.
  • Play shops.  My daughter loves this.  We even use loose coins from my wallet to “pay” for things.  I ask her how much things cost.  Mind you everything costs either $2 or $30 according to her!  We will work on some more realistic pricing when she is older 🙂
  • Explain why you, your partner or both of you, go to work.
  • Give them $2 or $5 to spend at the supermarket, so they can see how much they can purchase.  This used to be a lot more fun when lollies were 2c or 5c at the local Milk Bar!
  • Start to talk to them about the difference between the things they need and the things they want.
  • Start to talk about how much things cost, they are still very young and they won’t really understand it for a while but it helps to start the conversation.
  • Introduce the idea of pocket money when you think they are old enough to understand it.  You could set age appropriate tasks and have a chart to tick off when a task is done.
  • Help them to start thinking of saving for something they want to buy.  Get them to put aside some money in a jar or money-box to work towards their goal.
  • You are probably like me and you rarely visit a bank branch.  However, opening a bank account for each child and taking them to the bank to make deposits, is a great opportunity to explain to them how the bank works.  (Remember beware of the high tax rates on kids savings after certain thresholds.  Click here to find out more)
  • Start to talk about the ATM and where the money actually comes from, that it doesn’t just magically appear from a hole in the wall.

5-13 years old

  • Consider saving as a family for something fun like a visit to the zoo or local theme park.  Figure out together how much you need then create a plan to save for it.
  • Set up a business for a day such as a Lemonade Stand, or help them set up their own small business for family and friends such as dog walking, babysitting or lawn mowing.  This allows them to understand some of the mechanics of earning money in the real world.
  • Bring them to work for a day.  It gives them a better understanding of where the money actually comes from.
  • Have a garage sale or car boot sale, where your child sells a small number of items that they have chosen.  Help them to set the prices and then they decide what happens to the money once they have earned it.  Talk through their options in terms of spending versus saving.
  • Talk about purchasing items without cash, how items are paid for and where the actually money comes from.  Parents often use their cards so it is difficult for children to understand the relationship between physical money and putting a card in a machine.
  • Give children a set daily allowance for holiday spending and get them to figure out how much things cost, whether they can afford it and how much change they should expect.
  • Understanding the value of money – talk about making choices with your money, buying things on sale versus paying full price, spending versus saving, bringing your lunch from home versus buying take-away.
  • Get them to write a list of things that they need and things that they want.  Explain that sometimes you have to wait to get the things that you want and save for them.
  • Discuss ways to save money around the house such as turning off the lights or the heater.

13-18 years old

  • Once they are old enough encourage them to get a job part-time job or work over the summer holidays.  My husband dug graves and cleaned offices during his formative years and I worked in a library.  Having a job teaches you not only about money but more importantly about the politics of the work place, a critical life lesson and one I did not learn fast enough!
  • Give them a budget for them to cost and plan their own birthday party or major event.
  • Give them a budget to plan, cost and cook a family dinner.
  • Don’t restrict their spending.  My husband always tells me that the best money lesson he ever learnt was spending all his money on the spaceys (as they were known in those days) only to have to survive the rest of the week with no cash.  Let them make mistakes now.  It is much better now than later.
  • Sit them down and explain to them how to read a bill.  Explain to them about different payment options and that some bills are monthly, some quarterly etc.
  • Run them through the amounts of money involved in paying different household bills,  especially the hidden ones such as  insurance and electricity.  Let them know how much things cost, so they don’t get bill shock when they move out of home.
  • Tell them how much your mortgage repayments or rent is every month.
  • Explain how a credit card actually works.
  • Talk about mobile phone plans and how they actually work.

Last but not least, I believe absolutely the BEST way to teach your children about money is to be a good money role model yourself.  As they say actions speak louder than words, and we all know our children are sponges for everything that we say and do.  Let’s face it who hasn’t been shocked by something our child has said or done and thought to ourselves “where on earth did they learn that?”  Model the money behavior that you want your children to learn and you will be successful in creating a confident, financially savvy member of the next generation.

If you liked this post you might also like:

Why Money Is Just As Important As Sex (When Talking To Your Children)

5 Financial Tips You Need To Know Now You’re a Parent

How to Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

Winter Family Meals On A Budget

Disclaimer: The information contained in this post is general in nature and does not constitute financial advice.  Please see your financial adviser for advice specific to your individual circumstances.

10/10/2013 32 comments
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Easy Ways To Save Money

Ok, here is a confession.  I am not very good at sticking to a strict budget.  For me, it’s like being on a soup diet, it is just not possible!  However, on my journey from being a spender to a saver I have learnt several tips that have helped my bank balance to grow.  Most of them are small things but the best part is that instead of being a chore or a punishment they have simply become a part of the way I live my life.

So today I would like to share them with you:

  1. I always write a shopping list and stick to it.  Supermarkets are the land of temptation.  They are deliberately designed that way.  Where and how each product is placed is planned to get you to spend more.  They call it the “theatre” of the shopping experience.  Have you ever wondered why the milk is always on the back wall of the store, furthest from the door?  It is so you have to walk through the whole store to get to this one essential item, hopefully picking up a few unintended purchases on the way.  I find a  shopping list helps to keep me focussed on the task at hand.
  2. At the supermarket, compare products on a per unit basis.  The shelf pricing sticker for each product shows how much the product is on a per unit basis (per 100g or per litre etc).  I sometimes find that the largest size does not represent the best value on a per unit basis, especially if the smaller version is on sale.  This method also gives you a common basis to assesses whether the branded good is worth it versus the “home” brand, without having to worry about different package sizes.
  3. I have a $100 single purchase spending limit.  This means that anything I want to buy that has a price tag of over $100 (you can pick the number that suits you), I have to wait until the next day to buy it.  Let’s just say it helps slow down my spending and gets me out of the shop environment where I can think more clearly.  It is surprising how many times I have decided with the clarity of time that I don’t need to go back and purchase something.
  4. Embrace the hand-me-down and buy second-hand!  I am so grateful to have a wonderful friend who has given me loads of hand-me-downs, anything from clothes to toys and bedding.  She gets great joy in seeing her children’s things having a second/third life and it has saved me a fortune.  I am continuing the tradition by handing Miss Money’s clothes etc on to someone else.
  5. Buy an Entertainment Book and use coupons when you can.  Ok I realise that it is a complete oxymoron to tell you to buy something to save money!  (Though I have tried using this argument on my husband!)  However, there are great savings to be had using this book of coupons and part of the proceeds raised from the sale of the book go help great causes such as hospitals and charities.  Back in our pre-children days, my husband and I used to be regular users of “fine dining” section of the book.  Now, it is all about the coupons at the back.  So far we have used the vouchers to get 25% off our local pizza, 25% of Adult entry to the zoo and buy one get one free ice cream.  It doesn’t take long for the savings to add up, even after accounting for the cost of the book.  If you are interested in checking it out click here.
  6. Hook into your local networks to find ways to entertain your children for free.  Check out your local council’s website for free activities for children, especially during the school holidays.  There are also websites such as Kid Size Living that tell you of free activities going on in your area.
  7. Turn off the lights and don’t leave electrical goods on standby.  It’s an oldie but a goodie and such a simple way to save money.
  8. Avoid fees where possible.  This includes things like fees for using another bank’s ATM, or fees for using your credit card.  I have an ATM finder app on my phone which directs me to the closest ATM for my bank.  I also do my best to avoid parking and all other fines as I see them as a big fat waste of money.
  9. Pay off your credit card.  Running a balance on your credit card and not paying it off every month is costing you cash.  Cut it up and pay it down.  Click here to see my tips on how to do so.
  10. Make your savings work harder.  Making sure you have the best account possible for your savings is another easy way to move towards your savings goals.  This means an account with low or no fees and the best interest rate possible for your timeframe/goals.  Great places to compare accounts include Canstar and Money Buddy.

I hope you found my tips useful!

If you liked this post you might also like to read:

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

5 Financial Tips You Need To Know Now You’re A Parent

How To Make Your Savings Work Harder

Is Costco Membership Worth It?

* Please note this is for your general information only and does not constitute financial advice.

02/08/2013 21 comments
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Costco

For quite a while I have been wanting to check out a Costco store.  They promise big savings but I find it hard to stomach the concept of paying a $60 yearly membership fee for the privilege of shopping at their store, without knowing whether the savings stack up.  After much consideration, I decided to take a leap of faith and sign up for a year to find out what all the fuss was about.  So I powered off down Parramatta Road, handed over my cash and added an extra card to my wallet.  But the big question is was it all worth it?

In a word, I think, yes.  But let’s start at the beginning first.  For those who haven’t been Costco it is true American shopping experience.  Everything is super sized!  In terms of the store itself, think Bunnings with food!

But it is not just food you can buy there.  They have everything from TVs, to beer, cubby houses, lounge chairs, clothes and you can even buy an $8000 watch if you feel so inclined!

Do you have a spare $8,000?

In terms of groceries in most areas the big brands are covered but like most of these things may not have the exact product or brand you are after.

Not only is the store super sized but everything you buy is huge too!  Butter comes in 1.5kg blocks, toilet paper in slabs of 60 rolls, you can’t buy one loaf of bread you have to buy two and even Nutella comes in packs of 2×1 kilo tubs!  Luckily, the trolleys are tank sized to help you cart your haul.  Needless to say good storage space is a must if you are going to be a regular Costco shopper.

Yummmm – but maybe somewhat oversized even for me!

So what about the savings?  Are they worth it?  I think yes.  I took a random sample of 10 pretty common household items from my regular shopping list and did a quick price comparison with my local big name store.  This was the results:

Product Costco Price Quantity Local Store Price Quantity Costco Unit Price Local Store Unit Price % Saving
OMO Top Load (5kg) $54.99 10 kg $30.00 5 kg $5.50 per kg $6.00 per kg 8.33%
Finish All In One Dish Washer Tabs $37.69 112 tabs $21 48 tabs $0.34 per tab $0.44 per tab 22.73%
Cottonelle Toliet Paper $25.38 60 rolls $15.99 24 rolls $0.42 per roll $0.66 per roll 36.36%
Colgate Total 360 Toothpaste $15.99 3 x 220g $2.94 1 x 110g $2.42 per 100g $2.67 per 100g 9.36%
Radox Oxygen Shower Gel $11.99 2x 1 litre $8.89 1 litre $0.60 per 100ml $0.89 per 100ml 32.58%
Heinz Big Red Tomato Sauce $7.79 2 x 1itre $3.96 1 litre $3.89 per litre $3.96 per litre 1.77%
Old El Paso Soft Taco Kit $9.29 785g $5.00 405g $1.18 per 100g $1.23 per 100g 4.07%
Pine O Clean Multipurpose Spray $8.59 3 x 500ml $2.99 1 x 500ml $0.57 per 100 ml $0.60 per 100ml 5.00%
Mortein Fast Knockdown $15.29 3 x 300g $6.77 300g $1.70 per 100g $2.26 per 100g 24.78%
Huggies Nappies Walker Girl $65.99 132 nappies $33 64 nappies $0.50 per nappy $0.52 per nappy 3.85%
Average Saving 14.88%
NB. Prices as per Thursday the 20th of June
NB. I used price per unit to measure the cost savings, given the difference in quantities between my local store and Costco

 

On every product, Costco performed better than my local store.  On some products the savings were substantially better than others, but I think an overall average saving of 15% makes the membership fee and 30 minute drive worth it for me.  I think the savings would have been even bigger, if I had included fresh meat or vegetables but we have a small family and do not have enough room in our fridge to freeze the excess.  For example, lean mince is substantially cheaper than my local store at $6.99 per kilo but I would have to buy 3 kilos at a time, rather than the 500g that I buy now.  If you have a big family then I think the savings over time should be worth it and I will be planning a trip to Costco for Miss Money’s 3rd birthday party supplies.

A word of warning though!  Costco is the land of temptation and you can walk out of there with things that you do not need.  Yes, I am talking from experience.  I will admit that on a whim, I brought a packet of 100 Chupa Chups.  I only have one child! What was I thinking?

Chupa Chup…anyone?

So, yes Costco I will be back.  Once a quarter or so, for household items, like toilet paper, tissues, cleaning products that have long storage lives, oh and maybe a couple more Chupa Chups 🙂

If you would like to read more from me in 2015 don’t forget to sign up to my weekly email using the form below:



If you liked this post you might also like to read:

How Much Can You Save Shopping At Aldi?

Home & Contents Insurance: How Do You Know If You Have Enough?

Winter Family Meals On A Budget

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

5 Websites That Will Help You Make Or Save Money

How To Save On Your Electricity Bill

(Please note this is not a paid post.  It was done out of my own curiosity.)

 

10/07/2013 47 comments
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