Christmas is usually about festive joy and fiscal stress. So, it’s time to make the most of the next 12 days of Christmas to limit any fiscal follies and ensure your gifts are financially fruitful.
So here’s your 12-day action plan:
1. Gifts that don’t cost
Be creative in your gift giving. Many parents with younger children will appreciate your gift to babysit while they spend time alone. Do you like dogs and cats? A gift certificate to a pet owner for walking, grooming or pet-sitting will be appreciated. Basically, giving the gift of your time in any way is always well received.
2. Sneaky shopper
If you don’t catch up with family until after Christmas, do all your shopping at the Boxing Day sales. You’ll save a bundle not only on gifts, but also the food and table decorations. Even hams are slashed up to 50 per cent the very next day after Christmas.
3. Use a debit card rather than a credit card
All banks offer debit cards, which can be used in the same way as credit cards. Except you’re using your own money, in your own account, rather than someone else’s and paying an exorbitant interest rate for the privilege. It’s a great way to keep your Christmas shopping budget on track. Once the money’s gone, it’s gone.
4. Earn extra cash to cover Christmas expenses
The Christmas/summer period can be a great time to turn that hobby in to a money spinner. If you love knitting, craft, cooking or whatever, start a stall at the local markets. You can even sell through local or online shops to earn a little extra cash to help survive Christmas. Stash the extra cash away to pay for Christmas festivities or for when the January credit card bill comes in (but not if you stuck to tip #3 above!).
5. Give a charity gift
Many charities like World Vision and Oxfam offer gift vouchers at Christmas where you can you buy things like a chook, clean water or birthing kit for someone in need but in the name of your friend or relative. It really is the heart of the Christmas spirit… and it should be tax deductible to you. Here are just a few of the charities you can support:
6. Shop online
If you can’t afford the time to shop around and compare prices, do it online. It saves time and the maddening Christmas melee around the cash register. Tools like Get Price and Price Me can help you compare prices available online for all kinds of items. At least sites like this will give you a benchmark from which to bargain with the store.
7. Organise a financial assessment
Having a blueprint for what should be done with your savings now and what to do with them in the future is a vital ingredient of building wealth. It can be put together by a financial planner but make sure they are a member of the Financial Planning Association or Association of Financial Advisers. Fees vary markedly depending on the complexity of the plan, but start at about $800 with the average about $2000.
It is an ideal present for a loved one who is continually in financial disarray.
8. Help start a savings discipline
Most people have the best intentions, but very few actually start a disciplined savings program. Open a savings plan for that relative or grown-up child who simply refuses to save and needs the incentive. Most major fund managers offer savings plans which can be opened with as little as $200 and require $50 a month to achieve maximum benefit.
The money is invested in a balance portfolio of shares, property and fixed interest investments.
Open the account in the name of the beneficiary, contribute the first $50 and then leave it with them to keep their end of the bargain each month. It is a great incentive.
9. The gift of knowledge
Knowledge is one of the best investments anyone can make and there are plenty of good books around.
Stick to authors such as Paul Clitheroe and Noel Whittaker who are both mates of mine. And, of course, look out for my books as well:
More good books: 15 of the best money books to give to your mates
New books on the scene that are worth gifting include:
- Get Started Investing by our very own Equity Mates Alec and Bryce
- Sort Your Money Out and Get Invested by YMYL contributor and founder of My Millennial Money, Glen James
- She’s On the Money by Victoria Devine
- The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel
- The Art of Frugal Headonism by Annie Raser-Rowland and Adam Grubb
10. Get involved in the sharemarket
Much of the attention this year has focussed on the red hot property market, but the sharemarket is also up 15 per cent. Yes, there is much debate about whether this is the top of the market, but every investor needs exposure to the sharemarket for balance in their portfolio.
Working Australians have that exposure through their superannuation funds, but others have added to this through using Exchange Traded Funds (ETF’s), which are a low-cost, low maintenance way of investing shares.
ETF’s are incredibly popular as they are similar to a managed fund or listed investment company, but with much lower fees.
11. Protect the future
Amazingly more than half the adult population does not have a will. If your spouse has simply not got around to making a will, stop nagging and give them one for Christmas.
Ring up a local solicitor for a gift voucher to do a will up to a certain value, or buy one of the will kits which have been endorsed by the legal professional bodies. The average cost of doing a will is $1000-2000 depending on the complexity.
Like wills, thousands of Australians do not have the protection of a life insurance policy.
Term life insurance cover is an absolute essential for anyone with dependants and financial commitments. Just be careful the way you present your loved one with a term life insurance policy, otherwise they could get the wrong impression ☺️.
12. Start them young
The next step would using bank youth accounts which offer pretty good savings rates or an investment program or app like Spriggy.