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Christmas Club Savings Accounts

You have probably never even heard of a Christmas Club Savings Account.  They are an account that helps you save for Christmas by allowing you to make direct deposits of your savings during the year but you can’t access the account without penalty until Christmas time, generally from the 1st of November.  Christmas Club  Savings Accounts were really popular in the 1970s and 1980s and are now becoming harder to find.  The big banks no longer offer them but you can still find them with some of the smaller banks and credit unions.   So are Christmas Club Savings Accounts worth it?

Well, the biggest pro for a Christmas Club Savings Account is that they allow you to start a regular savings habit for Christmas, while restricting your access during the year.  Generally speaking most accounts allow you to access your money for free from the 1st of November until the 31st of January.  You can set up a direct debit from your regular account when you get paid, straight to your Christmas Club Account.  Even at $10 per week for a year you will have $520 by the time Christmas rolls around.  Another pro is that these accounts generally have no account keeping fees and when you withdraw the money it does not have to be used on Christmas, the money can be used for bills or birthday presents, whatever you like.

The downside is that if you do need to access your money before the specified period you will be penalised.  Each account has different rules around this so make sure you are aware of how your specific account works.  Also, generally speaking, the interest rate on these accounts is not as good as other types of savings accounts.

So are Christmas Club Savings Accounts worth it?  It depends what you are after, like all accounts there are pros and cons.  If you are interested in a Christmas Club Savings account make sure you shop around for the one that suits you the most.  And given each one is different make sure you understand all the terms and conditions of the one you choose.  There are also loads of other ways to save for Christmas, apart from using a Christmas Club account so click here check to some of them out.

What is your favourite way to save for Christmas?

If you liked this post, you might also like:

How I Raised An Extra $910 To Pay For Christmas

Chrisco Hampers Are They Good Value?

5 Ways To Save For Christmas

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

5 Websites That Will Help You Make Or Save 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

20/11/2014 11 comments
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How To Raise Extra Cash For Christmas

Freaky!  How fast has this year flown!!  I cannot believe it is already the first week of November and it is only 7 weeks until Christmas!!!  Yowsers!!!  So given the time pressure lately I have been putting a lot of thought into how to raise some extra cash to help pay for our Christmas.  Not that our Christmas is particularly elaborate, usually it is a pretty simple roast chicken lunch at my house for my mum, sister, hubby, daughter and myself.  We try to keep Christmas simple and low key.  No pressure.

However, this year Miss Money is hankering after a Barbie Dream House and with $270 being the best price I can find on the internet, it is a big chunk of the Christmas budget.  Given I have fond memories of my 1970s/early 80s Barbie Townhouse I would really like to get it for her.  Also on the Christmas shopping list is a GPS.  Let us just say the one place Mr Money and I fight is in the car, usually over directions and one of us not following them.  Hopefully a GPS will resolve this problem, so this is the Christmas gift we want to buy for the whole family and any poor bugger that has to be trapped in the car with us 🙂  So with a quite expensive shopping list, this year I set about looking to raise some extra cash for Christmas, and this is how I did it.

(1) Converting Our Frequent Flyers – $350 raised

As part of our strategy to pay off our mortgage faster using our offset account (read about it here), we use out credit cards a lot, always paying off the balance in full :-).  This means we had accumulated a fair few frequent flyer points (53,736 this year to be precise).  Now if you follow the advice of all the frequent flyer gurus they say that points are best used for flight upgrades, however, we would have to save points for an age to be able to do that plus who wants to take a four year old in business class?  Not me!  So every year we choose to redeem our points in vouchers to help pay for Christmas.  So this year we got 2 $100 JB HiFi vouchers which has paid for our marriage-saving GPS!  And an extra $150 in Woolworths vouchers to help pay for the Christmas food bill.  The cool thing is now with some of the vouchers, such as JB HiFi, they email them to you direct the same day!  No more waiting!   Yay!!!  Vouchers might not be the most value way to use your points but they certainly work for us.

(2) Selling Things That We No Longer Needed – $440 raised

From a balance bike that was only ridden once, to Xbox games to kids clothes, below is a picture of only some of the things that I have sold and are no longer a part of my house.

 

How To Raise Money For Christmas

Here are just some of the things I have sold… yay!

I sold them all on a local parents facebook group for free!  It was so easy I just uploaded the photos, gave each item a price, told them which suburb to pick it up from and hey presto I converted a tonne of stuff we no longer needed or wanted into cash!  Sure it took a bit of effort but it was very worthwhile.  The $440 raised pays for the $270 Barbie Dreamhouse and maybe Santa might even bring her a most revered Elsa doll as well!  Not to mention after cleaning out all that stuff I have some space in my cupboards and can actually see what I own!!!  Win-win! Besides, who keeps a portacot when they have a four year old? – Oh that would be me! – But not anymore it was sold for $40 – yay!

(3) Checking My Spending Leaks – $120 raised so far

The last 4 weeks I have been focusing on my spending leaks.  A spending leak is something you spend money on regularly that you could do differently to save money.  So in my case I used to buy my lunch and a hot chocolate the 3 days I work per week (sorry, I don’t drink coffee – crazy, I know).  So I calculated this one habit was costing me approximately $15 per day or $45 per working week.  Over the past 4 weeks I have been bringing my lunch to work at say $5 per day and drinking the free tea at work.  That has saved me approximately $120 over the last four weeks and I hope to at least double that by Christmas.  Such a simple change has been a great savings tool for me.  It is amazing how making small, simple changes can really add up.

So that is how Christmas in the Money household will be paid for.  Any excess cash will be used on maybe a few small extra festivities leading up to Christmas, but certainly not a photo with Santa as my daughter is terrified of him!!  Good luck on your Christmas savings journey.  It pays to start thinking about it now as before you know it Christmas day will be here 🙂

If you liked this post, you might also like

Chrisco Hampers: Are They Worth It?

5 Websites That Will Help You Make Or Save Money

How To Stretch Your Christmas Toy Budget Further

5 Financial Tips You Need To Know Now You Are A Parent

Simple Savings Tips Absolutely Everyone Can Use

 

06/11/2014 22 comments
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Save for Christmas

I know what you are thinking!  Hasn’t Christmas been and gone?  Yes, but I have decided that if the stores can start stocking Easter eggs and hot cross buns in January!  I can talk about saving for Christmas 2014.  Besides, the best time to start saving for it is now!

So, to get ready for Christmas 2014, the first thing you need to do is to set your goal.  You need to know how much money you would like to have saved by a set date in 2014 when you would like to hit the shops.

Next you need a plan.  As the saying goes, “a goal without a plan is just a wish”, so break your goal down into a weekly, fornightly or monthly savings amount.  So if your savings goal is $300 for Christmas by the 3rd of December 2014.  This calculates to 48 weeks from the 1st of January or $6.25 per week.  $6.25 per week is not much, hey?  So you give up a couple of coffees a week?  Just doing that one small thing can result in $300 for Christmas!

Next you need to figure out where to put your savings.  This is where it is different for everyone but here are my top 5 suggestions for how to save, not just for Christmas but for any goal.

(1)    Find an online fee free account with a high interest rate and direct debit in your regular savings amount.

Have the direct debit come straight out of your pay so you ‘pay yourself first’ and watch the savings build.  If you are anything like me, make sure the account has limited access so that temptation is minimized J  Watch out for bonus rates, where an account has a high rate of interest for 3 or 6 months then reverts to a low rate.  There is nothing wrong with taking advantage of these rates, then moving if there is a better offer.  (Click here to see extra tips on how to make your savings work harder).  This method should give you the highest pot of cash at the end of the period as you compound your savings using the best interest possible.

(2)    Put your regular savings amount in a jar.

It is certainly fee free and you can even stick Christmas pictures on it to remind you of your goal.  However, you do not get any benefit from earning any interest.

(3)    Regularly purchase gift vouchers.

If having money around the house is too tempting, why not try regularly buying gift vouchers from your favourite stores.  For example, if every two weeks you buy a Woolworths or Coles gift voucher you will have $520 in vouchers by the end of the year.  Make sure you stash them somewhere difficult to get to and watch expiry dates.  Most vouchers have a one year expiry but it pays to check.

(4)    Start a Christmas Club account.

Many of the big banks don’t offer these types of accounts any more but many credit unions and building societies do.  They allow you to squirrel away your regular savings amount, with access to the funds often not allowed until November, which helps to keep your savings goals on track.  Interest rates on the accounts are small but many the accounts are fee free.

(5)    Leave the money in your mortgage offset account.

The advantage of this is that the money will be earning the equivalent of 5% tax free (see my post on how offset accounts work here for a full explanation).  The key here is to keep a diary of the money set aside and the trick is to not give into the temptation to spend it.

Saving for Christmas is not difficult.  The keys are to start early, save regularly and to make sure you do not touch your savings during the year.  These easy steps will help you sail through to a stress free Christmas 2014!

If you liked this you might also like:

How I raised An Extra $910 To Pay For Christmas

How I Saved Big On My Electricity Bill

How To Create A Budget

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

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

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.

21/01/2014 3 comments
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Hamper King

Ok I will admit it!  I am a little bit obsessed!  But after being horrified that Chrisco charges 28% more than Woolworths for the same hamper of goods (click here to see the post) I wondered whether Hamper King would be better value.  So I decided to do the numbers on Hamper King and find out.

I chose the ‘Traditional Feast’ Hamper with Hamper King (click here to see what it includes), which was the closest comparable I could find to the hamper I used for Chrisco.  The ‘Traditional Feast’ hamper is valued by Hamper King at $348 or $7.57 per week.  The methodology I used was exactly the same too.  I found out from the Hamper King website what was included in the hamper then simply went on to the Woolworths internet shopping site (which could have just as easily been the Coles site) and found out the value of each product in the hamper.  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!)

So what did I find out?  I was blown away to find out that Hamper King actually is worse value than Chrisco on the hamper that I looked at!!!!!  The hamper I examined at had products in it to the value of $204 according to Woolworths compared to the $348 that Hamper King were charging.  A whopping 41% difference!  Horrifying!!!  Yes I know their prices include delivery but Hamper King would be getting the goods for the hamper at wholesale rates so I cannot see how such a difference can be justified.  Not to mention they are earning interest on the money they collect from you during the year before they pay the suppliers at Christmas!

I also have no doubt that you could easily do better than the hamper cost I came up with by using sales and buying from a combination of Coles, Woolworths and Aldi.

A further look around their website shows more price differences.  Hamper King sells regular vouchers to places like Flight Centre or Target or Kmart with a 10% mark up.  So for a voucher worth $100, you pay $110 or a voucher worth $500 you pay $550.  These vouchers can be brought for their exact worth directly from the store or for example a Flight Centre voucher can be brought on the internet for it’s face value plus $7.95 for postage.   So a $500 voucher would cost you $507.95 rather than $550 through Hamper King.

Easy Save Holidays is affiliated with Hamper King

It really does pay to do your numbers on these sorts of hampers and it is so quickly and easily done using the internet shopping sites of the likes of Woolworths and Coles.  I would urge anyone considering getting one of these hampers to check the value first and then to have a look at other ways to save the money for themselves.  From the hampers that I have looked at it certainly seems you will get far more bang for your Christmas buck doing it yourself.

If you would like to check out my spreadsheet with the calculations please click here.

If you liked this post you might also like:

Chrisco Hampers: Are They Good Value?

10 Easy Ways To Save Money

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

15/12/2013 15 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.

If you liked this post you might also like:

Chrisco Hampers: Are They Good Value?

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

Is Costco Worth It?

5 Financial Tips You Need To Know Now You Are A Parent

28/11/2013 19 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.

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If  you liked this post you might also like:

How I raised An Extra $910 To Pay For Christmas

Hamper King: Are They Value For Money?

How To Create A Budget

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

Is Costco Worth It?

 

 

 

21/11/2013 65 comments
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Christmas is a great time to “get your craft on” and save some cash by making gifts instead of heading to the shops.  Given I am not at all talented in the area of craft, I asked the brilliant Bel from Mums Take Five to guest post with one of her fabulous craft ideas for Christmas.  This one is one is super easy and looks amazing.  I can’t wait to get “my craft on”  with Miss Money and make one myself!  Over to you Bel!

Written by Bel from Mums Take Five

This is an easy craft for kids to build and looks so cute when its done. Our Grandma loves hers!

You’ll need:

  • A paper plate
  • Green paper for the hands (we used 12 hands in this one so six sheets with two hands per sheet)
  • Glue
  • Coloured paper squares and pompoms or similar for the centre
  • Piece of ribbon or string

handwreathinstructioncollage

 

I let my 5 year old do most of this craft to get that authentic made by me look. You may want to do more or less pending on your child’s scissor and tracing skills.

So here are the steps:

  1. Trace your hand on the green paper and cut them out you may need more or less pending on your hand size.  We used 12 in this one.  Cut more than you’ll need they look nicer over lapped.
  2. Take your paper plate and cut out the middle section. Your child will probably need help with this.
  3. Turn the plate so the curve is facing down and put glue all around the top rim.
  4. Lay all your hands down, gluing in between if required.
  5. Around the centre glue on your coloured squares and then finish off with the pom poms
  6. Once it has dried turn it over and put a hole through the top of the paper plate and then thread through your ribbon.

Ta dah!  A beautiful made by me Christmas wreath.  An ideal gift for family and friends.

handwreathcollage1

 

If you liked this post you might also like:

10 Ways To Save On Your Children’s Christmas Presents

How To Teach Your Children About Money

Is Costco Membership Worth It?

 

MT5_Logo_TransBG

“Mums Take Five” Are two stay at home Mums who like to share their lives on roller coaster that is Family life. Writing in the areas of Food and Entertaining, Home and Garden, Parenting, Craft and Education as well as anything else that comes along for a ride. Check out our site at Mums Take Five or like us on Facebook here.

20/11/2013 14 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

5 Financial Tips You Should  Know Now You’re A Parent

How To Pay Off Your Mortgage Faster

Is Costco Membership Worth It?

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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