Tips for managing your finances

The key to managing your money is planning and preparation!

12 Weeks of Christmas

Tip #1

Christmas Gift List.jpg

Pay Cash for your gifts - Write your Christmas list today of all the people you will buy gifts for and how much you would like to spend on each person, i.e. 12 people x $20 = $240.

Remember, nobody really cares how much you spend on them, it’s the fact that you have thought about them at Christmas and taken the time to have a small gift to say Merry Christmas.

Now, divide that amount of money by 12 and you will have a weekly figure, i.e. $240 divided by 12 = $20/week.

Now, write down how much money you would like for Christmas food, etc., let's say $360, divided by 12 = $30/week.

Either put this amount ($50/week in this scenario) into another bank account (sub-account) or take the cash out and put it in an envelope and hide it somewhere!

Next week, we will talk about how you can get creative with your Christmas gift giving – everyone loves a sentimental gift or a gift that you have taken the time to make, bake or create 😊

Tip #2

Christmas gingerbread.jpg

Get creative this year – make it, bake it, create it!

Look online for a ton of ideas on creative gift ideas for Christmas. A couple of great websites to check out…..

Simply bake some cookies or gingerbread with the children and fill glass jars tied with ribbon.

Create a photobook of memories at

Christmas jars.jpeg

Check out for some great inexpensive ideas for making Christmas special for someone you love

Making a gift for someone not only saves you money but tells the person who is receiving it that you cared enough to spend the time to make something special just for them.

Next week we will look at alternative ways to shop for Christmas and how to avoid impulse buying – hope you enjoy making, baking & creating 😊

Tip #3

How to avoid Impulse Buying

On sale.jpg

Plan your purchases – you have written your list, you know what you are going to buy (or make) for people – so stick to your plan!

Avoid shopping centres – and if you must go, take a list, tick it off as you go, and don’t buy anything that isn’t on the list.

Don’t be swayed by Sale signs – almost everything is on sale almost all of the time!

Shop online – online retailers are generally cheaper as they have less overheads. Just this morning in the space of 3 hours I received 7 emails from online retailers offering great deals on everything from tools & gadgets, photobooks, clothing, accessories, homewares and experiences, all at reduced prices. Don’t ruin your budget with last minute gift purchases!

Do your research – don’t buy from the first place you see something, it may be cheaper somewhere else – make sure you get the best deal!

Avoid shopping with rich friends (or friends with more money than you have) – you are more likely to be talked into buying something that you don’t really want or need or buying something that is more money than you were intending to spend.

Next week we will look at Gift Giving for the ‘hard to buy for’ person 😊

Tip #4

 What to buy for the person who has everything

So, you ask your Mother, Daughter, Sister, Friend, Husband etc. what they want for Christmas and often the response is ‘I don’t really know’ or ‘I have everything I need’.

gifts of time and love.jpg

But you obviously have to have something under the tree this year. Let’s think outside the box about what to give this person which they will appreciate and enjoy (and perhaps even save them some money)

·       A gift voucher for their favourite hairdresser or salon

·       Manicure/Pedicure voucher

·       A gift voucher for their regular Remedial Massage therapist/Chiropractor/Acupuncturist

·       An experience – there are great options available through Scoupon – what about a Holoverse on the Gold Coast (Virtual Reality) experience!

·       Plant Shop/Nursery vouchers or plants are always a great idea for the green thumb (or not so green) in the family – succulents are really easy to keep alive!

·       A Fishing Charter for the fishing enthusiast

·       A day trip to a great destination

·       Coffee shop vouchers

·       Dinner for two

·       Movie vouchers (cheaper at RACQ/NRMA for members)

·       Give the gift of time (time spent with a favourite person, just hanging out together)

Next week we will talk about eating/food shopping for Christmas without breaking the spending plan 😊

Tip #5

Eating at Christmas without breaking the Spending Plan

So, the list is in place, you know who you’re buying for and how much you’re spending. Hopefully you’ve already started your shopping and been able to snag some bargains at the sales or online. You’re starting to feel good about Christmas and things are under control.

Now we need to think about the food budget and entertaining the guests who will be visiting this year. Around Christmas we will often have a number of get togethers, not necessarily always on Christmas Day.

Simple Christmas food.jpeg

Firstly, make a list of the occasions that you might be hosting or being invited to and what sort of food you will need to provide or take.

Set yourself a target amount to spend and stay within that limit.

Buy food and drinks in advance if you can. Most items will have a long shelf life so add an extra item or two in the shopping trolley over the next few shops to even out the cost.

Keep it simple – you don’t need to buy gourmet products just because it’s Christmas.

Next week we will talk about making personalised cards and wrapping.

Tip #6

Personalised Cards, Greetings and Gift Wrapping

This morning I visited the Samford Markets and the Samford Arts & Crafts Centre. I purchased some beautiful handmade cards for just $2 and supported the local community Artisans at the same time.

Personalised gift wrap.jpg

Think about how you are going to wrap your Christmas presents this year and get a little creative. Here’s some ideas…

·       Brown paper and string

·       Handmade gift tags/cards

·       Kids can paint and create personalised wrapping paper

Electronic greetings are a great way to say Merry Christmas to friends and family far away – videos are a lot of fun and appreciated by those who can’t be with you.

Send an email newsletter to friends and family.

The personal touch is always appreciated and can save you lots of money.

Next week we will look at earning some extra money for the Christmas season 😊

Tip #7

Earn some extra money for the Christmas holiday season

·       Do a Christmas cleanup and sell what is no longer required on Gumtree or

·       Sell stuff on a Virtual Garage Sale – search for virtual garage sales in your local area on facebook.

earn extra cash for Christmas.jpg

·       Offer a babysitting service for parents in the neighbourhood so they can shop in peace.

·       Sign up as an Uber driver- there will be many people partying over the holiday season and Uber will be in high demand.

·       If you put up a Christmas Light Display, bake some cookies and wrap and sell to people passing by.

·       Become a Pamphlet Delivery person – check out

·       Get the kids involved – the more money they make the more activities they can do during the holiday break

Next week we will talk about how to share the load and have a Christmas feast.

Tip #8

What’s Cooking and Who’s Bringing What

So, you’re the Christmas host this year and there are 15 people coming for lunch – What will you serve that is beautiful, filling and won’t break the bank?

Prepare your menu ahead of time

christmas dinner.jpg

·       Are you going to serve hot or cold? – a roast pork, chicken or glazed ham with vegetables can be an inexpensive way to serve a lot of people but also can mean you spend a lot of time in the kitchen on Christmas Day.

·       Cold meats and beautiful salads on a hot Christmas Day is a favourite of mine for several reasons

o   The meats can be pre-prepared

o   Salads can be shared around the people coming – you determine the menu and ask people to bring something to share

o   The leftovers can last for several days 😊

Who’s bringing what

·       Ask all of your guests to contribute something – the adults can bring a salad or dessert, younger members of the family (if they are working) can also contribute by bringing some nibblies. Ask the 'grandies' to bring the fruit platter.

·       All guests should bring their own drinks

It’s so important at Christmas to share the load among family members so all can have a relaxed and enjoyable day.

Tip #9

How to enjoy Christmas Day and RELAX!

Pre-prepare – the key to a stress free Christmas Day is to do as much as you can beforehand.

·       Wrap the presents as you buy them and keep a list of what you have so you don’t overspend

·       Organise your menu, make a list and stick to it

Relaxing on Christmas Day.jpg

·       Prepare the majority of the food the day before Christmas and serve cold food – BBQ chickens, Leg Ham and Prawns – the perfect Aussie celebration!

·       Involve the kids the day before – they can set the table, fold the serviettes, prepare simple food items and choose a movie for the next day.

·       Organise everyone else to bring food to share – Christmas is all about sharing and caring!

·       Plan a later in the day celebration for other family members so you can relax and enjoy the morning with the children

·       Wrap every item individually in the kids Santa stockings and place them at the foot of their bed – write a note and tell them they can open their stockings as soon as they wake up – hopefully you will have an extra hour or so to lie in while the kids are occupied.

·       If you have a number of children to cater for, consider feeding the kids early and then put on a Christmas movie – that way the adults can enjoy each other’s company around the Christmas table.

·       Consider having a Secret Santa for the adults – saves money and takes the stress out of knowing what to buy for family and friends.

·       If you are travelling with the children on Christmas Day make sure they take some activities or new toys to keep them occupied both during the trip and when you get there.

·       If you’re out in the evening make sure you pack the kids pyjamas and something that might help them wind down at the end of an over-stimulating day.

Hopefully these tips will help you and the family all enjoy a wonderfully relaxing and stress-free day full of fond memories to look back on 😊

Tip #10

Don’t last minute shop – Why?

·       It’s stressful!

last minute shopping.jpg

·       The shops are full of people rushing here and there and queues are long

·       You are more likely to spend more money and buy something useless because you’re running out of time

·       Shop shelves are almost empty

We all overindulge over Christmas

·       Indulge in the beautiful fruits of the season rather than the chocolate and rich desserts

·       Remember portion control

·       Slow down the alcohol consumption – for every alcoholic drink, enjoy a sparkling mineral water in between

·       Fill your fridge and cupboards with healthy alternatives

And remember, the shops are only closed for two days so it’s not necessary to pack the pantry and fridge for a month.

Tip #11

Christmas is over and you survived!

The big day has come and gone and now you are left with a messy house, piles of dishes, toys everywhere, new items waiting for a new home and possibly feelings of sadness as family members depart.

puppy dog christmas.jpg

So what now?

·       Take some quiet time to reflect on the good times had with family and extended family and friends

·       Play with the kids and their new toys

·       Read your new book

·       Post some photos and share your day

·       Get the rest of the family, kids included, involved in the cleanup

·       Make a list of the things you will do differently next year

·       Don’t cook – eat leftovers

·       Start preparing for the New Year

Tip #12

Plan for a stunning 2018

Yes I can.jpg

·       Start your new year with a Spending Plan and give yourself a roadmap to achieving your goals.

·       Set your goals for the year – what one thing will you achieve in the next 12 months?

Tomorrow is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one. – Brad Paisley


Tip #1

Control what is controllable....

  • Open a dedicated regular expenses account for controllable expenses
  • Put money aside for what is uncontrollable.

Tip #2

Enjoy the free things in life.....

  • Family, friends, air, water, sight, sound, children, taste, smell.
  • Take a walk in the park, swim at the beach, skip stones on a pond, climb a mountain.

Tip #3

Think before you buy....

  • Do you really need the item you are about to purchase?
  • Before you buy that new car, expensive dress or outdoor setting – take a night to sleep on it!
Success does not consist in never making mistakes but in never making the same one a second time
— George Bernard Shaw